23.4.2005

Southern Premier League

Aylesbury United

Roberts (25)

Hednesford Town

Teesdale (38), Maguire (45), McMahon (73), Brindley (83)

(1) 1

(2) 4

Attendance

MoTM

Current Form

Next Match

596

Lee Williams

D W L W W W L L W W

 

Dunstable Town (H) 30.4.05

The Pitmen give themselves a massive boost heading into next weekend's final round of games as they blow away fellow play-off chasers Aylesbury United on their own patch to keep touch with the chasing pack

Last Saturday had seen the Pitmen give their flagging play-off hopes a huge boost with a superb 4-1 win at home to mid-table dwellers Gloucester City. Hednesford manager Chris Brindley was hit with several injuries and suspensions to his squad for today's crucial six-pointer as he was without Andy Bell (injured), Marlon Walters (suspended), Carl Palmer (injured) and Grant Beckett (injured), leaving the Pitmen with only fourteen fit and available players for today's game. With this in mind, Brindley brought Paul McMahon back into the side in place of Bell, whilst having the luxury of being able to bring Anthony Maguire back into the fray after he had recovered from injury to replace the suspended Walters. The third change saw Steve Brannan come back into the XI in place of Beckett, meaning the visitors only had Nicky Campbell, assistant manager Steve Anthrobus and young goalkeeper Paul Evans as options off the bench

Aylesbury's form had started to slip at the worst possible time, as they now sat outside the play-off places following a run of two wins in their last five games. Manager Danny Nicholls made two changes to his side following a 1-0 defeat at King's Lynn last weekend as Paul Edgeworth and Andrew Hodges came back in for injured duo Greg Williams and Matt Hayward

On an impressively green and flat Buckingham Road pitch for the time in the season, the hosts started well and had the better of the opening exchanges. In the fourth minute of the game, the Ducks earned a corner kick out on right, which was partially cleared as far as Daniel French, whose powerfully-struck effort from an angle hit the side-netting

Four minutes later, French found a pocket of space down the left and supplied Daniel Mead with the ball as he arrived on the overlap; his deep cross was met by Edgeworth at the far post but his header lacked direction and dropped wide of Ryan Young's right-hand post

The Pitmen's first foray into the Aylesbury penalty area came through a free-kick in the twelfth minute as Brannan was fouled by Ryan Doherty to the left of the Ducks penalty area. Lee Williams assumed responsibility and played a short pass into the path of Maguire, whose first-time shot sailed high over goalkeeper Jack Rasid's crossbar

Maguire went on a mazy run through two Aylesbury challenges three minutes later, making his way into the Aylesbury penalty area before Jamie Kearns halted his progress with a timely challenge

French was causing the Pitmen all sorts of issues with his pace, coming in off the left flank and giving Ross Adams a torrid time in closing him down. A long ball forwards from Kearns in the eighteenth minute picked the winger out once more. After selling Adams another clever dummy, the winger elected to go for power with his angled shot and once again struck the side-netting from fifteen yards out

Midway through the first half, Paul Lamb won the ball from Brannan and sent Edgeworth away down the centre of the park, beating Lee Barrow for pace but taking a touch too many as he arrived in the penalty area, allowing Adams to toe-poke the ball away from him and back to Young

Two minutes later, Brannan played a quick one-two with Williams in the centre of midfield and unleashed a shot from nearly thirty yards out that was straight at Rashid

The hosts were rewarded for their bright start to the game with the opening goal of the afternoon on twenty-five minutes; Lamb's fine forward pass caught the Pitmen on their heels, finding Drew Roberts on the move in behind a static away backline. The striker did not need to break his stride as he toe-poked the ball beyond the reach of the oncoming Young and into the corner of the net from ten yards out

With so much riding on this one result, the Pitmen looked for an immediate response through Williams, whose brilliantly executed volley from twenty yards out on twenty-eight minutes narrowly cleared Rashid's crossbar

Leon McSweeney had struggled to get himself into the game so far and was left frustrated by an offside flag against him on thirty-two minutes as Maguire's perfectly-weighted pass found him in behind Hodges, only for the flag to go up against him on this occasion

On thirty-five minutes, Williams turned provider from a corner kick as he clipped his ball into the near post, where player/manager Brindley arrived with a flick header towards goal which Rashid tipped over his crossbar for another flag-kick to the Pitmen

Three minutes later, the Pitmen's pressure on the Aylesbury backline finally told as another inch-perfect corner-kick delivery from Williams was met by Richard Teesdale at the near post, with the big defender heading firmly past Rasid from six yards out to equalise

The Pitmen had their tails up and Maguire should have done better with a good chance on forty-one minutes as the Aylesbury defence dropped off him as he made his way towards the penalty area but dragged his shot well wide of goal from twenty yards out

Maguire atoned for this right on half-time as the visitors turned the game on its head by taking the lead with the last action of the half; McSweeney's chest-down and lay-off found Maguire just outside the box, with the youngster executing a fine half-volley that dipped and curled beyond the reach of Rasid and nestled in the far bottom corner of the net

It had been a timely one-two from the Pitmen and something that will have completely changed both managers' half-time talks with the scoreline now turned on its head in just seven minutes at the end of the first period. Half-time saw the Ducks make a substitution, as Edgeworth was forced off and replaced by Neil Lazarus in midfield

The Pitmen continued to look confident and well-organised at the start of the second period as they gave no quarter to the Aylesbury attack, underlining their reputation as the league's meanest defence this season. On forty-nine minutes, man of the match Williams delivered another fine free-kick from the left that was headed goalwards by Brindley once more, only for his header to skip just over the bar

Substitute Lazarus got the better of Mark Branch on fifty-two minutes as he made a run inside from the flank and struck a left-footed drive that was easily held by Young

The hosts - who still had a mathematical chance of making the play-offs if results elsewhere went their way - came back into the game with several good chances to pull themselves level. On fifty-eight minutes, Liam Folds picked up a loose ball and laid it off to Kearns, only for the former Kettering man to drill his effort over the crossbar from just outside the Hednesford penalty area

On sixty-two minutes, successive corner kicks from the home side turned the screw on the Hednesford defence, with the second kick, taken by Lamb, headed wide by Hodges via a deflection off Brindley for yet another corner kick

Three minutes later, Lazarus picked up a pass from Lamb and picked out Roberts in the Hednesford penalty area; the ball was slightly in front of the striker, who stretched to reach the cross and weakly touch it straight into the arms of Young

Gavin Jaggard was the first player to be shown a yellow card on sixty-seven minutes as he was penalised for a mistimed challenge on Maguire just inside the Hednesford half

Despite offering very little going forward in the second half, the Pitmen hit Aylesbury with a sucker punch on seventy-three minutes as they put the game bey9ond their hosts. Branch's long throw-in was flicked on at the near post by Brindley, who drew both centre-backs towards him and away from McMahon, who was handed the simple task of nodding past Rashid from close-range to make it 3-1

The Pitmen made their one and only substitution in the game two minutes later as winger Nicky Campbell was given another late run-out as he replaced goalscorer McMahon as the visitors looked to protect their valuable lead

Hednesford's third goal seemed to have knocked the stuffing out of Aylesbury's attack, as they struggled to create clear-cut chances in a bid to get themselves back into contention and set up a grandstand finish. A long-range effort from Jaggard on eighty minutes bounced twice and was easily fielded by the under-worked Young on his six-yard line

With seven minutes remaining, the Pitmen put the result beyond doubt as they made it 4-1 through the gaffer himself; having been a constant threat in the air all afternoon, Brindley once again got on the end of another peerless delivery from Williams, rising to meet the corner kick at the far post and powerfully head beyond Rashid from close-range

Late changes from the Ducks saw Colin Baker and John De Souza introduced, with Baker having a late chance saved by Young as he was played into space by Lazarus

In added time, McSweeney turned well to beat Folds to a long pass forwards from Maguire but dragged his shot from the edge of the Aylesbury penalty area well wide of goal and into the Hednesford fans gathered behind Rashid's goal

The final whistle was greeted with joy from the travelling support, who warmly applauded their players off after another fine victory - their second 4-1 win on the bounce - that gives them a fantastic chance of finishing in the top five and qualifying for the play-offs. They will still need to get a positive result against Dunstable Town next weekend at Keys Park to be absolutely sure, as there is still a scenario that could play out that denies Brindley's men a play-off place. It is sure to a fine atmosphere next weekend at Keys Park as the Pitmen look to wrap up what has been a fine 2004-2005 campaign for the club

Aylesbury United: Rashid, Doherty, Mead, French, Hodges, Folds, Kearns, Lamb, Jaggard  (De Souza 85), Roberts (Baker 85), Edgeworth (Lazarus 45)       Subs Unused: Wright, Nicholls

Hednesford Town: Young, Adams, Branch, Barrow ©, Teesdale, Williams, Maguire, Brindley, McMahon (Campbell 75), McSweeney, Brannan     Subs Unused: Anthrobus, Evans