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Evo-Stik Northern Premier League

Hednesford Town

Disney (53)

Ashton United

Burns (27), (40)

(0) 1

(2) 2



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Nathan Woolfe


Nantwich Town (A) 16.10.12

Hednesford crashed to their second home league defeat of the season this afternoon, as high-flying Ashton took advantage of a makeshift Hednesford defence to record an excellent away win

Coming off the midweek extra-time defeat to Buxton in the F.A. Cup, Hednesford manager Rob Smith made a couple of changes to his starting line-up. New signing Luke Bottomer, who joined the club last week from Tamworth, was thrust straight into the line-up, with Michael Lennon given a run out up front alongside Neil Harvey. Jamey Osborne and Aaron Rey were the men to miss out. John Disney was named amongst the substitutes after missing Wednesday night's game due to the death of his father

Ashton have been one of the surprise packages in the NPL this season, alongside North Ferriby United and Rushall Olympic. They made a confident start as they looked to take advantage early on. On seven minutes, Astley Mulholland played the ball in to Chris Lynch, who forced a save out of Dan Crane in the Hednesford goal. The ball fell kindly to Mulholland, who wasted the rebound by firing wide of goal

The Pitmen responded eight minutes later with Nathan Woolfe sending over a superb cross that Neil Harvey headed wide of goal - you would have expected better from such a quality player from that position

Four minutes later, Mark Peers - a thorn in previous Hednesford sides when at Witton Albion - crossed for Tom Baker, but he pulled his shot wide of Crane's right-hand post

The Harvey-Woolfe partnership nearly conjured up an opener for the Pitmen a minute later, as Woolfe again crossed well for Harvey, with the Barbadian heading wide of goal once again

However, the Pitmen's defending once again was to prove their undoing on twenty-seven minutes, as Sam Barnes' poor clearance fell kindly for Aaron Burns, who struck a beautiful swerving shot past Crane and into the top corner of the net

Try as they might, Hednesford could not get a foothold in the game. Rob Smith took the unusual step of making a tactical switch just before half time, taking the disappointing Watkis off in favour of Disney

However, it was Ashton who struck the next blow on forty minutes, as Matty Kosylo beat Disney for pace and whipped in a cross that Burns headed home, despite Crane's best efforts to keep it out

Hednesford's responded with a ball in from Durrell that was headed back into the danger zone by Lennon, only for Harvey to once again miss the target with a wayward effort

In added time, Lennon forced a good save out of Ashton keeper Paul Phillips, hitting a snap-shot at goal that Phillips did well to hold at the first attempt

Half-time saw Hednesford make another early tactical change, with Bottomer's debut cut short as Osborne was brought on in his place

This seemed to galvanise the Pitmen, as they made a better start to the second half; a Woolfe cross early on caused panic in the Ashton ranks, with the ball dropping in the six-yard box. However, on-one in a white shirt could take advantage, and the ball was eventually hacked clear

The Pitmen did get themselves back into the game on fifty-two minutes, as Osborne crossed from the right to allow Disney to sweep the ball into the net for what was an emotional moment for the young full-back

Tails up, the home side pushed Ashton back into their own half as they searched for an equaliser. Another scramble in the United penalty area on fifty-eight minutes was again cleared before a Hednesford player could turn the ball home

From the resultant corner, Woolfe's ball in found Harvey, but as had been the case all game, his radar was off and he headed well over the bar

On sixty-six minutes, the same combination saw Woolfe play yet another quality ball into the path of Harvey, with the big striker heading straight at Phillips


The Ashton keeper was called into action again ten minutes later, as Woolfe tried his luck with a fearsome low shot from twenty-five yards that was saved low down by Phillips

Keen to add more pace to the attack as they continued to search for a leveller, Hednesford brought on Rey in place of the tiring Dave MacPherson

Harvey's hapless afternoon in front of goal was summed up on eighty-three minutes, as once again he was presented with a chance from the left boot of Woolfe. He headed the ball goalwards, but only succeeded in guiding the ball into the arms of the grateful Phillips

Durrell's late free-kick offered the Pitmen a last chance at an equaliser, but his dipping effort was again well fielded by Phillips

Indeed, it could have been worse for the Pitmen in added time as Ben Deegan broke clear down the wing and pulled the ball back into the path of Kosylo. His shot was blocked by Francis before Stephen Johnson's attempted rebound dropped wide of goal

So it is successive league defeats at home for the Pitmen who have dropped to ninth in the table in the process after an indifferent last couple of weeks. A trip to fellow high flyers Nantwich Town is next up on Tuesday night, with the Pitmen keen to get back to winning ways

Hednesford Town: Crane, Barnes, Watkis (Disney 37), Bailey, Francis, MacPherson © (Rey 81), Bottomer (Osborne 45), Durrell, Harvey, Lennon, Woolfe       Subs Not Used: O’Connor, Hornby

Ashton United: Philips, Frost, Caldecott, Beattie, Robinson, Lynch ©, Peers (Kosylo 19), Baker, Burns  (Baguley 90), Mulholland (Deegan 73), Johnson       Subs Unused: Burke, Harrop

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