Skrill North

Hednesford Town

Durrell (15) (penalty), MacPherson (19), Harvey (60)


Johnson (25)

(2) 3

(1) 1



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Neil Harvey


North Ferriby United (A) 7.9.13

The Pitmen's near-perfect start to the season continued unabated this afternoon at a sunny Keys Park as three more goals for Rob Smith's side saw them dispatch a useful Barrow side and return them to the top of the Skrill North table on goal difference after five games

 Following Bank Holiday Monday's battling draw against Worcester City, Smith made just the one change to his side to face the Bluebirds - midfielder Kris Taylor was restored to his role in the centre of the park in place of Nathan Woolfe, who dropped to the bench. Aaron Rey was available again after missing the Worcester game due to work commitments, taking Charlie Anagho-Ntamark's place amongst the substitutes. Influential defender Francino Francis was passed fit just before kick-off, having been put through a rigorous fitness test after complaining of a bad back

Barrow - relegated from last season's Blue Square Bet Premier - arrived at Keys Park having made a stuttering start to life back at step two. One win, one draw and two defeats was the return for Dave Bayliss' side, who beat much-fancied Harrogate Town at Holker Street on Monday afternoon to lift them into mid-table

In the bright late summer sunshine, Barrow had the first chance of the game on just four minutes through a long ball from keeper Tony McMillan. His punt down the park found striker Jamie Allen, who volleyed narrowly over the bar with a first time effort from range

The away side were gifted an excellent chance by the referee on nine minutes, as the ball rebounded off Francis's knee and ran back to Dan Crane, who picked the ball up a couple of yards from goal, just to the right of the net. The referee deemed the ball to be a back pass and awarded Barrow an indirect free-kick just eight yards from goal. Sam Sheridan took the resultant free-kick, but only succeeded in firing into the side netting from an acute angle

The Pitmen's first foray into the Barrow penalty area reaped immediate rewards on fifteen minutes, as neat build-up play saw Elliott Durrell dart into the box before he was tripped by Rob Williams. Durrell dusted himself down and rifled the resultant penalty kick past McMillan for his eighth goal in just five games this term

Durrell's opener spurred the Pitmen forward after their quiet start to the game, with the hosts doubling their lead four minutes later. A bustling run from veteran midfielder MacPherson saw him latch onto a Jamey Osborne through ball and slot past McMillan with a first time shot to register his first goal of the season from fifteen yards out

Barrow's reaction to this two-goal whammy was swift, as Durrell was called upon to hack the ball off his own goal line after the Bluebirds had forced a corner on the left

They reduced arrears on twenty-five minutes, as the Hednesford defence failed to clear a cross from the left-hand side. Dale Johnson - on loan from Skrill Premier side FC Halifax Town - headed the ball against the post before nodding the rebound home after the ball had come straight back to him

A common factor in many of the games so far this season, particularly against seasoned Conference North sides, is the neat, patient and quality build-up play of sides at this level. Barrow, much like Stalybridge and Worcester, were very much a step up on the more crude, aggressive Evo-Stik League sides that Hednesford had been accustomed to playing against. Barrow enjoyed plenty of good, solid possession, with Francis and Ben Bailey having to concentrate hard on Johnson and Allen as they dragged the Pitmen around the park in search of the ball

Francis was involved at the other end of the pitch on twenty-seven minutes - a Taylor corner kick was partially cleared before being played back in, where Francis reached the ball and skied his shot into the Hednesford end

Crane was called into action on thirty-four minutes, as a neat Barrow move played Johnson in. His low drive was fielded well by Crane, who made a regulation save to his right

Neil Harvey - still looking for his first goal of the season - was again putting himself about and creating problems for the opposition defence with his movement. He managed to wriggle away from the attention of Danny O'Donnell on thirty-seven minutes to head Durrell's hanging cross well wide of the far post

Former Telford midfielder Greg Mills was to have the final good chance of a keenly fought first half for Barrow, driving forward into the Hednesford box before firing wide of goal with his shot

Osborne, like Harvey, is still looking for his first goal of the campaign, despite getting into a number of excellent scoring positions. His wait for a goal went on just three minutes after the restart as he dragged a drive wide of goal from just outside the penalty area

The Pitmen seized the initiative by restoring their two-goal cushion on the hour mark, courtesy of a well-earned goal for Harvey. A delightful team move involving six players saw the ball worked across the park and into the Barrow penalty area. Wayne Riley nodded the ball into the path of strike partner Harvey, who lashed a swerving volley across McMillan's goal and into the far bottom corner of the net - a brilliant strike

The hosts attacked in waves during a dominant next ten minutes, taking advantage of the gaps opening up at the back for Barrow. Durrell, Riley and Harvey threatened to open up the Bluebirds defence with their pace, creativity and power, but were limited to a header from Durrell on sixty-nine minutes that drifted over the crossbar

With Barrow leaving more and more space behind them, Smith saw this as an ideal opportunity to throw on the pacy, tricky Rey, replacing Riley with the experienced Scouser on seventy-four minutes

Rey was quickly into the play, winning a corner off O'Donnell with his first touch after chasing a lost ball down on the left-wing

Both Harvey and Osborne put long-range shots into the Heath Hayes terrace as the game entered the final fifteen minutes before the Pitmen looked to close the game out with a double change eleven minutes from time. Robbie Thompson-Brown came on in place of the tiring MacPherson, whilst Sam Barnes made his first appearance of the season after Francis was taken off as a precaution

Thompson-Brown drew cheers and jeers in equal amount four minutes from time, as Durrell's pass to him on the edge of the box was completely missed by the youngster, who swung his right boot at the ball and allowed the ball to pass him by

In the final minute, Rey looked to improve the Pitmen's already impressive goal tally for the season as he turned two Barrow players inside out in the penalty area and fired a shot towards goal. McMillan produced a fingertip save to deny Rey, turning his goalbound shot away from goal at full stretch

With Altrincham drawing 2-2 at home to Histon,  three points and a +2 goal difference is enough to return the Pitmen to the Skrill North summit this evening. A challenging away schedule in the next month sees the Pitmen visit North Ferriby, Histon and Guiseley, but performances similar to this one will mean that Smith's troops should not go into any game in fear of the opposition in this league

Hednesford Town: Crane, Disney, Campion ©, Bailey, Francis (Barnes 79), MacPherson (Thompson-Brown 79), Osborne, Durrell, Harvey, Riley (Rey 73), Taylor      Subs Unused: Woolfe, Melbourne

Barrow: McMillan, Burns, Edwards, Williams (Reynolds 78), O’Donnell, Davies, Sutherland (Meechan 71), Sheridan, Johnson, Allen, Mills (Bowen 79)       Subs Unused: Arnison, Lacey

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