15.3.2011

Zamaretto Southern Premier League

Hednesford Town

Patterson (20)

Banbury United

(1) 1

(0) 0

Attendance

MoTM

Current Form

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321

Chris Clements

W W W L W W W W W W

Cirencester Town (A) 19.3.11

Despite being one of the less memorable games of the season so far, the Pitmen grind out a sixth win on the bounce to move into fifth place in the league table ahead of Leamington this evening courtesy of a Kyle Patterson goal to down mid-table Banbury United at Keys Park

Saturday's narrow 1-0 win at home to Tiverton Town had kept the Pitmen in the hunt for the play-off places and continued their fine fun of recent form as they looked to finally break into the top five. Manager Rob Smith, perhaps unsurprisingly, stuck with the same XI that had started the Tiverton game - the third game in a row the same side had lined up together having also started the previous game, a 2-1 win at Swindon Supermarine

Banbury made the trip from Oxfordshire off the back of a 4-1 defeat to league leaders Salisbury City at the weekend, with manager Billy Jeffrey making two changes to his side as Aynsley McDonald and Nathan Haisley and replacing Ollie Stanbridge and Henry Rose

It was a cold and somewhat misty evening in South Staffordshire, as once again the low turn-out reflected the temperature and weather conditions of the day. The Pitmen were quickest out of the blocks, with Banbury goalkeeper smothering the ball at the feet of Patterson in the third minute of the game as a searching pass from Chris Clements had a little too much on it for the striker to get a touch on inside the Purtians' penalty area

Three minutes later, Clements crossed from the left as he whipped in a corner kick that was met by the gangly figure of Liam Francis, only for the Hednesford skipper to head down into a crowd of players and allow Banbury to clear their lines

Good play from the visitors in the eleventh minute saw Haisley play the ball out to Robbie Maddxox, standing out on the left-hand touchline. He managed to out-muscle Gomes and cross low into the near post, where Dan Crane was on hand to scoop the ball up ahead of David Stone

Patterson drew a foul out of defender Adam Learoyd in the fifteenth minute as the Banbury man tripped the striker to the left-hand side of the penalty area. Clements took the resultant free-kick and whipped in a curling ball that Murrell, under pressure from Francis, flapped at and allowed the ball to drop to Decio Gomes before claiming the ball at the second attempt to deny the Portuguese defender a shot at goal from six yards out

The visitors won two free-kicks in quick succession just outside the Hednesford penalty area, both delivered by Jack Ashton, but found the tall and powerful Hednesford back line in charge on both occasions as the ball was hammered away from danger

The hosts stole into the lead in the twentieth minute of the game as their direct approach paid off with what was to prove to be the winning goal from Patterson; Ross Davidson spotted the early run from the striker in midfield and played a superb ball through the middle of the Banbury defence and into the path of the striker, who cleverly clipped the ball over the onrushing Murrell before slotting the ball into the empty net from a couple of yards out

The hosts continued to press as they searched for a second goal in quick succession; two minutes later, Francis headed high over the crossbar from ten yards out after meeting Darren Campion's cross after a Clements corner was headed as far as the left-back, who sent the ball back into the penalty area from the touchline

On twenty-seven minutes, Nick Wellecomme was pulled up for offside by the assistant on the Wimblebury side as he ran onto Jay Denny's pass, giving the official a mouthful as he wandered back to the halfway line as he felt that he had come from behind the paly to latch onto the midfielder's pass

The away side were really struggling to make any inroads on the Hednesford defence, with Declan Benjamin's low, bobbling shot from long-range that drifted wide of goal the best that the Puritans could offer in the opening half-hour of play

Patterson was unhappy at the award of a free-kick against him on thirty-three minutes as he was pushed over onto the ball by Ashton but penalised for handball by the referee, much to Patterson's bemusement

Three minutes later, the combative Wellecomme was also pulled up by the referee as he battled with Delroy Gordon to reach a pass from Clements before pulling the Banbury man back illegally

On forty minutes, Davidson's tricky wing play saw him steal a yard on McDonald and send over a cross to Patterson, who was just a little too short to reach the cross and looped a header high over the crossbar from ten yards out as he stretched to reach the ball

Cheyenne Dunkley headed wide of goal of the Pitmen with the final action of the first half as he rose highest to meet another fine corner kick from Clements but saw his effort drift wide of the far post

The Pitmen had deserved the lead in a game of few clear-cut chances, threatening in short bursts against a Banbury side that had offered very little in the way of attacking threat but had done well to limit their hosts to just the one goal and remain in contention going into the second half

Three minutes into the second half, some enterprising play from the Puritans saw McDonald's long ball forwards find Maddox running in behind Francis, with the pair coming together just inside the penalty area as Crane raced out of his goal to claim the ball. Despite loud calls for a spot-kick from Banbury, the referee was unmoved and the game continued

On fifty-two minutes, a quickly-taken free-kick from Joe Coleman sent Maddox away into space down the left once more, bringing the ball back inside from the flank before attempting a curling shot at goal that Crane watched wide of his far post

A corner kick from Ashton on fifty-five minutes saw the hosts struggle to clear their lines as Gomes's header dropped kindly to Benjamin, whose low right-footed shot from twenty yards out drifted well wide of goal

Clements almost embarrassed Murrell from a free-kick three minutes later as the talented youngster lined the ball up twenty-five yards out and spotted Murrell drifting across his goal, presumably anticipating a cross to the far post. Clements elected to try a shot at goal into the space left by Murrell but failed to get enough power on his curling shot at the Banbury stopper got back across his goal to save

Just after the hour mark, the Pitmen finally found their range up front once more as Alex Melbourne's lofted cross from wide on the right found the head of Wellecomme, who nodded the ball down to striker partner Patterson. The goalscorer took a touch before striking a firm rising shot over the crossbar from the edge of the penalty area

Francis - a constant threat from set-pieces due to his height - headed over the crossbar for the home side on sixty-three minutes after rising highest at the far post to meet a Clements free-kick that came in from the left-wing

Four minutes later, Banbury made their first substitution of the evening as Henry Rose came on for Malachi Farquharson in an attacking tactical shift for the away side

Banbury went close to levelling matters on sixty-nine minutes as an Ashton corner kick from the left was punched straight up in the air by Crane at his near post, dropping kindly to Rose whose turn and subsequent shot from six yards out was cleared off the line by the chest of Clements for another corner kick. The resultant kick on the opposite side of the pitch was taken by Coleman and found Benjamin lurking by the penalty spot, only for his header to be cleared by Campion. The ball was recycled once more by Banbury as Coleman's cross dropped to Ashton, who fired wide from twenty-five yards out

A minute later, the hosts made their first substitution of the evening as Cheltenham Town loanee Kyle Haynes came on to replace Davidson down the right flank

Learoyd was indebted to Murrell for being alert on seventy-three minutes as a fine run from Haynes down the right saw the substitute play Melbourne into the penalty area - his chipped cross to the far post was headed back to Murrell by Learoyd, who got more on the ball than he intended to and looped it up and over Murrell's head. Fortunately for Learoyd, Murrell stretched backwards and managed to make the catch and save his defender's blushes

Wellecomme was next to test the away side's resolve with thirteen minutes of the game remaining as a wicked swerving corner from Clements was headed narrowly over the crossbar by the striker, standing six yards from goal

Banbury's best chance of the whole evening came and went on eighty minutes as patient build-up around the Hednesford penalty area from the visitors saw Coleman lay the ball off to Gordon, whose low driven shot beat Crane at his near post but came back off the base of the woodwork and rolled along the goal line before falling to the incoming Rose, who saw his follow-up shot cleared off the line by a last-ditch diving stop from the excellent Clements

More good play from the visitors just sixty seconds later saw the ball worked into the path of Learoyd on the edge of the penalty area, only for his rising shot to clear the crossbar by a foot or so

The game was ebbing and flowing from box to box at this point, much like a cup game, with both sides taking pot-shots at goal at every opportunity. The Pitmen looked to a more cautious approach on eighty-four minutes as Ben Bailey replaced Dunkley at centre-back to give the home side's defence more solidity in the final moments

A minute later, Louis Keenan also made a rare appearance from the bench as the Pitmen's final change of the evening as he replaced a tiring Patterson for the last six minutes or so

Clements saw his shot blocked by Gordon two minutes later after Denny had teed him up just outside the penalty area; Banbury broke quickly down the left through Maddox, whose cross was slightly too far in front of Stone and Crane managed to smother the loose ball

The home side almost finished the game off with a killer second goal on eighty-nine minutes as Campion struck a fierce free-kick through the Banbury wall which was pushed away by Murrell. The ball ran kindly to Melbourne, who wanted far too much time to decide what he wanted to do with it and allowed Murrell to make a smothering save

Wellecomme was denied a one-on-one chance with Murrell in added time as a fine threaded pass from Haynes found the striker in behind the Banbury defence, only for a last-ditch tackle from the recovering McDonald denied Wellecomme a shot at goal

It had been a hard-fought three points for the Pitmen, who had been made to work in the second half by a Banbury side that will be smarting at not taking one of the good chances that came their way in the second period. However, form and confidence are very much with the Pitmen at the moment and they must now be confident of making one of the top five places their own in the final nine games of the season. The next team that will look to stop the Hednesford juggernaught will be fifteenth-placed Cirencester Town, who host Smith's side at the Coronium Stadium on Saturday afternoon trying to deny the Pitmen a seventh win in succession

Hednesford Town: Crane, Gomes, Campion, Dunkley (Bailey 84), Francis ©, Denny, Melbourne, Patterson (Keenan 84), Wellecomme, Clements, Davidson (Haynes 70)       Sub Unused: Gibson

Banbury United: Murrell, McDonald, Ashton, Gordon, Learoyd, Farquharson (Rose 67), Coleman, Benjamin, Stone (Howkins 89), Haisley, Maddox       Subs Unused: Stanbridge, Hynes, Sambrook