28.11.2009

Zamaretto Southern Premier League

Banbury United

Haisley (3), (63), Stone (90)

Hednesford Town

Dyer (12), (55)

(1) 3

(1) 2

Attendance

MoTM

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284

Ross Dyer

L D W D L W D D W L

Chippenham Town (H) 5.12.09

Hednesford's unbeaten run in the Southern League finally came to an end this evening at the Spencer Stadium - but Simon Line's men will have felt they should probably have earned a point from this encounter with fellow play-off hopefuls Banbury United

Line was forced into one changes to his side, with winger Luke Horrocks returning to parent club Northwich Victoria after his loan spell ended. Sam Aiston moved into his position after a one-match suspension had kept him out of the Pitmen's 4-2 win over Oxford City last weekend

Eighth-placed Banbury sat just one place below the Pitmen in the league table on the same number of points as their visitors ahead of play today, with manager Billy Jeffrey making one change to the side that had been beaten by Tiverton Town last weekend as David Stone was included at the expense of George Redknap up front to partner Nabil Shariff

Any hopes from the travelling faithful that the Pitmen would make the same swift start as they had against Oxford the previous week were dashed in the third minute, as the visitors were guilty of gifting Banbury the opening goal. Gavin Ward, looking to quickly get the ball out, threw the ball to Sean Platt, but only succeeded in playing the right back into trouble; Ward was thankful for Ben Bailey, who made a superb covering tackle to deny Glenn Walker after the Banbury winger had robbed Platt of the ball. However, from the resultant corner, Joe Coleman floated the ball into the near post, where Puritans skipper Nathan Haisley headed home unchallenged

Despite the shock of conceding so early, the Pitmen started to play the better football, and top scorer Tyrone Barnett should have equalised six minutes later. Elliott Durrell's ball into the feet of Barnett saw him cleverly jink inside, but only managed to fire wide of goal

The Pitmen's pressure told on twelve minutes, as the in-form Dyer grabbed his sixth goal of the campaign; Durrell was again at the heart of it, probing down the right before firing in a low cross that was turned away from goal by young Banbury keeper Joe Murrell, but he only succeeded in turning the ball into the path of the onrushing Dyer, who side-footed home

Banbury, as we have seen from a number of clubs in the Zamaretto Premier League this term, are another side who are dangerous on the break, with Walker almost taking advantage of a defensive lapse to break clear of the Hednesford centre backs on fourteen minutes, but he over-ran the ball at the crucial moment, allowing Ward to turn the ball away as he rushed out to narrow the angle

Platt, forever pushing forward as he looked to support Durrell and the front men, went close with a rising shot from the edge of the area on twenty-one minutes but watched as Murrell tipped the ball over the bar for a corner

 After Ward had made a smart save to deny Stone, Durrell went closest to putting the Pitmen into the lead just before the half-hour with a ferocious shot from range that only just missed the left-hand post

The hosts responded with Declan Benjamin somehow missing a great chance just before half time, picking up a ball from Stone before leaving Paul McMullen in his wake as he entered the penalty area. However, with the goal at his mercy, he only succeeded in firing wide of the far post

After only showing glimpses of their recent form in the first half, Hednesford took the game by the scruff of the neck at the start of the second period, pushing Banbury back into their own half as they searched for a second goal. Murrell was on hand to turn away Barnett's shot just a couple of minutes after the restart, followed by a Durrell corner that caused all sorts of confusion, culminating in the ball being headed off the line by a Banbury defender

 

Dyer should also have done better after racing away to get onto Aiston's through ball but allowed Murrell to smother the ball at his feet

You sensed that a goal was coming, and on fifty-five minutes it did, as Dyer moved within one goal of strike partner Barnett with his second of the game, a carbon copy of his first. Durrell's run and shot was saved by Murrell, but Dyer arrived late at the back post, turning the rebound into the net from a tight angle

Although things were looking good for the Pitmen, they once again slipped into their old ways of taking the foot off the gas when winning, and allowed Banbury to grab an equaliser just after the hour mark. Nabil Sharif's cross found Stone unmarked, allowing him to lay the ball into the path of Haisley, who fired past Ward from the edge of the area to score his second of the afternoon

Back came the Pitmen, and another headed clearance off the line denied Barnett a goal on sixty-seven minutes after Durrell's free-kick had been headed on by the Hednesford striker. Barnett then tested Murrell with a header a minute later from Bailey's long throw

Five minutes later, the busy Durrell thought he had given the away side the lead one more, but a late offside flag denied him a goal just as he lashed the ball past Murrell

Another defensive clearance denied the Pitmen on seventy-five minutes, as Banbury looked to hold on, but Hednesford supporters were still concerned about the ease in which Banbury were breaking out of defence, with Platt having to make a last-ditch tackle to deny Walker as he looked to scamper away from the Hednesford back line

As the final ten minutes ticked down, the game could have swung either way, but in added time, the home side snatched all three points in controversial circumstances. Referee Mr Scott, who had enjoyed a virtually flawless afternoon, awarded Banbury a free-kick wide on their left-hand side for a foul by McMullen - on closer inspection, the Hednesford centre back had won the ball cleanly. Coleman took the kick, finding Stone in the six-yard box - his header beat Ward and gave the Pitmen no time to respond from the restart 

A hugely disappointing result for the Pitmen and their supporters, but with a little more luck, this could well have been three points in the bag. Line must now prepare for another play-off hopeful next Saturday in the form of Chippenham Town, hoping for a little more luck than today's game

Banbury United: Murrell, Stanbridge (Redknap 75), Martin, Milner, Learoyd, Haisley ©, Coleman, Benjamin, Stone, Shariff (Forinton 63), Walker       Subs Unused: Stringfellow, Livous

Hednesford Town: Ward, Platt, Martin, Jagielka, McMullen, Goodhead, Durrell, Bailey, Barnett, Dyer ©, Horrocks (Carvey 78)       Subs Unused: Nisbett, Chapman, Walker, Flynn