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F.A. Cup 1st Qualifying Round

Hednesford Town

Barnett (10)

Atherstone Town

Barlone (21), Miley (59)

(1) 1

(1) 2



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Sean Platt


Cammell Laird (A) 20.9.08

The Pitmen's F.A. Cup campaign is once again over before September is out, as the lower league team curse struck Hednesford once again this afternoon. British Gas Southern League Midlands side Atherstone Town soaked up many spells of pressure from the home side, but took their two chances and move into the second qualifying round tonight


Manager Dean Edwards was once again loyal to his troops, sending out an unchanged side from the team that lost to Eastwood Town on Tuesday as he looked for continuity from his team ahead of today's clash

Step four Atherstone made the short trip up the A5 having already beaten Quorn in the preliminary round of this season's competition. The Adders had adapted well to life at the new level having won the Midland Alliance last season, with Jimmy Ginnelly's side not to be treated lightly after a good start to the new season

The home side came flying out of the blocks early doors, and in truth should have been at least three goals to the good after the first ten minutes. Top scorer Ross Dyer was first to test the Adders defence, shimmying his way past two challenges before laying the ball off to Louis Briscoe, whose attempted shot was blocked at the last moment

From the resultant Chad Sheppard corner, Pitmen skipper Ross Draper also tried his luck as he connected with a fierce shot from outside the area that was only inches away

Dyer was causing Atherstone all sorts of problems with his pace, and on five minutes very nearly opened the scoring. His run from the left-hand side saw him wriggle free of his man before he fired in a shot from the angle that only just missed the far post

Dyer then turned provider for Tyrone Barnett on seven minutes, playing the ball into the path of the in-form striker but his effort was well saved by former Hednesford goalkeeper Richard Williams, who conceded a corner

You felt that the pressure would pay off sooner rather than later, and three minutes later it did. A long ball up by Stuart Brock found Barnett, who slalomed his way past two defenders before drawing Williams out and calmly passing the ball into the far corner of the net

Atherstone could not get out of their own half in the first quarter, and it could have been more for the hosts when Barnet got on the end of the impressive Sean Platt's cross but saw Williams save again

However, we forget that this is the F.A. Cup, and in recent years the Pitmen's fortunes have dwindled after the highs of the late nineties. They allowed Atherstone to build up momentum, with the away side grabbing a leveller with their first real attack on twenty-one minutes. Tamworth's Luke Edwards, on loan to the Adders, crossed from the right for Luke Barlone to fire home at the near post, despite Brock's best efforts

Stung by the surprise equaliser, the Pitmen responded with Dyer getting on the end of a Maguire cross on the half-hour mark, but headed agonisingly wide of goal at the far post

Edwards almost put the visitors into a shock lead two minutes later, leaving a static Hednesford defence standing, but his shot sailed over the bar with only Brock in his way

The final ten minutes of the half saw the Pitmen return to their domination of the first ten minutes, Williams was having a great game, saving well to deny Briscoe. He also denied Dyer by turning his shot round the post for a corner

Tom Marshall, having scored a rocket of a goal at against Eastwood, attempted to repeat the feat with a powerfully struck free-kick but Williams was happy to watch the shot over the bar

Atherstone's Danny Miley almost gifted the Pitmen the lead right on half-time, diverting Platt's ball past Williams but watched as the ball rolled wide of goal

After receiving what was no doubt a frosty reception at half time from Edwards, the Pitmen continued to knock on the door in the early stages of the second half. Briscoe was playing his usual swashbuckling role, holding off two challenges to turn and shoot towards goal, but again his shot was blocked by a defender

Barnett was looking to add to his tally for the day, and another one of his powerful runs almost came to fruition on fifty-six minutes. He beat Miley with his pace on the edge of the area, but dallying in the area allowed two defenders to stop his progress

Hednesford's inability to take their chances soon came back to haunt them, as the Adders took the lead just before the hour mark. A free-kick out on the Atherstone right caused panic in the Pitmen's defence, allowing Miley to force the ball over the line with some part of his anatomy from close range

Immediately Edwards made changes, with Mark Briggs and Elliott Durrell going on in place of Chad Sheppard and Briscoe

Shocked into action, the Pitmen went in search of an equaliser, something they could not imagine they would have to do after the first ten minutes of play. Draper had the ball in the net with twenty minutes to go, firing home from close range, but the linesman ruled the goal out for offside against the Hednesford skipper

Williams saved well to deny Durrell his first goal for the Pitmen, as the clock ticked into the final five minutes of the game. Durrell was involved again two minutes later, floating a ball over to Barnett, who headed wide of the post

Edwards talked before the game about being heroes and pointing to the past for inspiration but it seems as though his players failed to listen to his offerings, as they became the third successive Hednesford team to go out of the world's most famous competition at the hands of lower league opposition. A return to league action next week sees the Pitmen make a first-ever trip to Cammell Laird next weekend looking to put an end this the back-to-back defeats suffered this week

Hednesford Town: Brock, Platt, Maguire, Gomes, Harvey (Stamps 82), Marshall, Sheppard (Briggs 59), Briscoe (Durrell 59), Barnett, Dyer, Draper ©       Subs Unused: Morris, Hall

Atherstone Town: Williams, Wells, Woolaston, Tullin, Bates, Storer, Edwards, Miley, Barlone, Greenway, Dance (Everitt 75)      Subs Unused: Belford, Miles, Simmonds, Dunkley

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