27.9.2008

UniBond Northern Premier League

Hednesford Town

Draper (41), Durrell (57)

Ashton United

Talbot (59)

(1) 2

(0) 1

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Elliott Durrell

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North Ferriby United (H) 4.10.08

Hednesford consolidated their second-place standing in the UniBond Premier League with a hard-fought win over the season's surprise package Ashton United at a sunny Keys Park this afternoon

 

Manager Dean Edwards stuck with the mantra of never changing a winning team and kept faith in the starting XI that had beaten Matlock Town on Tuesday night, with new signing Shane O'Reilly making up the numbers on the bench as the Pitmen went in search of a fifth home league win of the season

Ashton - lurking in sixth place in the table - arrived at Keys Park for this re-arranged game off the back of a narrow defeat to Kendal Town at Hurst Cross in midweek. Manager Danny Johnson made three changes to the side that had started against Kendal as Ben Smith, Robbie Talbot and Matty O'Neill replaced Chris Middleton, Ben Deegan and Ryan Moore

Clearly in confident form following his hat-trick against Matlock, it took Tyrone Barnett only forty-five seconds to test Ashton keeper Terry Smith with the visiting stopper having to turn away a fierce shot from the number nine and concede an early corner for the Pitmen

There were loud shouts for a penalty two minutes later as Ross Dyer's pace got him clear in the area, but appeared to be hauled back in the process by Ian Kearney. Nothing was forthcoming from the referee, however, who was thirty yards behind the play and was in no position to make a clear judgement

 There was an even louder shout for a spot-kick two minutes later with the ball appearing to strike the arm of an Ashton defender after a ball into the area from Barnett. The referee was unimpressed with the Pitmen's appeals and the game continued

It was all Hednesford, as they looked to force home their early domination of the ball. Dyer should have done better with a downward header that was saved at the near post by Smith following a corner from Mark Briggs

Danny Harvey's aerial presence was causing Ashton problems at set-pieces, and he almost grabbed the opener with a powerful header towards goal that Smith tipped over the bar

On twenty minutes, Briggs tried his luck with a twenty-five-yard drive that was only inches wide of goal. In the very next move, Sean Platt's cross found Dyer unmarked at the far post, but the out-of-sorts striker headed wide of goal

Despite all of the changes coming the Pitmen's way, Ashton caused a major scare on the half-hour by finding the net. Ian Fitzpatrick fired home after a mistake from Tom Marshall, but the referee pulled the Ashton striker up for a handball in the build-up and disallowed the goal

Dyer, for all of his efforts, could not find that all-important goal to end his mini-slump, and two further efforts before the break failed to hit the target

The Pitmen did get the goal their efforts deserved four minutes before half time. Platt's run and cross from the right was flicked on by Elliott Durrell, finding skipper Ross Draper making a late run into the area. His header past Smith came off the post and trickled over the line, with Draper following up to knock the ball into the net to make absolutely certain

Draper could have grabbed another just sixty seconds later, picking up a pass from Briggs before hitting a shot against the bar

The second half started in much the same vein as the first, with the Pitmen continuing to press Ashton back. Durrell was having another fine game, linking play well between midfield and attack. His twenty-yard effort was held by Smith only two minutes into the second half, which he followed up three minutes later with another drive that was diverted away from goal by an Ashton defender for a corner

Danny Woodhall, on loan to the Pitmen from Team Bath, had had very little to do in either of his appearances for the club so far. However, a shot from substitute Robbie Talbot on fifty-five minutes almost beat him at the far post, with the ball only just dipping wide as Woodhall scrambled back to save

Durrell capped another fine performance with his third goal in three games two minutes later. In an almost carbon copy of his goal against Matlock, he picked up a ball from Draper before firing past Smith, high into the top right-hand corner of the net

Despite putting daylight between themselves and Ashton, the Pitmen let the away side grab a lifeline almost immediately. Fitzpatrick's run and pass out on the right found Talbott, who sidefooted past Woodhall from close range

Ashton sensed an unlikely comeback and pressed in search of an equaliser. Ian Kearney should have done better with a header that cleared the crossbar from a Haydn Eames corner

The Pitmen weathered a late storm to ease their way to three points with Barnett almost grabbing a goal in added time, heading over the bar from a Dyer cross from the left

Another home game and another victory for the Pitmen, who remain in second place in the table behind early table-toppers Ilkeston Town. Its a third home game in a row at fortress Keys Park next weekend as tenth-placed North Ferriby United make the journey down from Humberside 

Hednesford Town: Woodhall, Platt, Charlton, Gomes, Harvey, Marshall, Briggs, Durrell, Barnett, Dyer, Draper ©       Subs Unused: Hall, Sheppard, Morris, Maguire, O'Reilly

Ashton United: T. Smith, Rose, Ralph, Eames, Kearney, Frost, O'Neill (Connell 45), B. Smith (Richards 45), Talbot, Fitzpatrick (Caldecott 69), Howard      Subs Unused: Middleton, Mullen

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