Pitching In Southern Premier League Central

Hednesford Town

Tilt (90)


Dunkley (16)

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Reece Styche



Nuneaton Borough (H) 14.9.21

The Pitmen leave it late to record a third consecutive 1-1 draw in the Southern Premier League Central as they grab an injury-time equaliser to claim a point against Barwell at the PRG Stadium @ Keys Park this afternoon

Tuesday night had seen Keenen Meakin-Richards' side bow tamely out of the F.A. Cup as they were beaten by step four Cleethorpes Town in their first qualifying round replay. Meakin-Richards was without several players through injury for today's game as Ryan Pryce, Jed Davies, George Cater, Ben Bailey and Andre Brown were all unavailable for selection. This saw four changes to the side from Tuesday night as Callam Mendez-Jones replaced Bailey, Reece Styche returned from International duty to come in for Brown, Reece Flanagan returned in place of Todd Parker and Chay Tilt was passed fit to come in for Jack Chambers. Niall Rooney, who had joined the Pitmen on loan from Solihull Moors this week, was named amongst a very young-looking set of substitutes for the hosts

Barwell's previous week had seen them also knocked out of the F.A. Cup to lower league opposition just four miles from Keys Park having been on the wrong end of a 2-1 defeat at Chasetown. Manager Guy Hadland made five changes to the side that had started at Church Street as Max Bramley, debutant Tyreace Brown, Isaiah Bazeley, ex-Pitman Tristian Dunkley and Lucas Powell all came into the side at the expense of Liam Castle, Eddie Nisevic, Joel Carta, Russ Oulton and Ben Stephens respectively. Former Hednesford favourite Osebi Abadaki was passed fit to line up against his former club after shaking off an injury that had kept him out since the opening day of the season

It was a beautiful bright sunny afternoon in South Staffordshire as the weather had defied the previously overcast predictions for Saturday afternoon. The visitors were first to show their hand in the second minute of the game as Kyron Stabana drilled in a shot at goal from just outside the penalty area that dropped into the hands of Andy Wycherley via a deflection off Mendez-Jones

Dunkley seized upon a lax clearance from Wycherley in the seventh minute of the game as he blocked the stopper's attempted kick and looked to turn the loose ball home, only for the former Tamworth and Worcester City man to tamely turn the ball wide of goal from a promising position just a few yards from goal

An inswinging Barwell corner from Micah Edwards in the eleventh minute somehow flew across the face of goal and away from danger as no one in green could get on the end of the ball in and the Pitmen cleared the danger

The Pitmen responded with a series of corner kicks themselves, although the familiar failings of not being able to clear the first man were in evidence once more as Josh Webb's crosses were easily dealt with by the Barwell defence

The visitors were rewarded for their bright start to the game as they took the lead in the sixteenth minute as Bazeley's long ball forwards caught the Hednesford defence ball-watching and found Dunkley behind them. The striker still had much to do but showed great composure to hold off Mendez-Jones and fire past Wycherley from a tight angle to find the far corner of the net

More sloppiness in the Hednesford ranks almost gifted Barwell a second goal in the twentieth minute as both Flanagan and Courtney Richards failed to clear their lines, allowing Abadaki to get to the byeline and pull the ball back to Dunkley, who saw his goalbound shot from six yards out eventually blocked by Richards

Styche - back in the fold after making headlines in midweek after scoring for Gibraltar against Norway in their World Cup qualifying game - was looking the Pitmen's best bet of a goal, working hard up front and forcing Barwell into taking action to stop him from getting in on goal. He made a fine run out to the right flank on twenty-two minutes as picked up a pass from Sam Griffiths, teasing his way past Bazeley as he came inside but saw his fiercely struck effort deflected behind by the shoulder of Bramley

A minute later, the firey striker was shown a yellow card alongside Brown as the pair clashed in midfield and provoked an angry reaction from the striker, leading to a bout of pushing and shoving from both sets of players before the pair were booked by referee Mr Clarke

The Pitmen were limited to set-pieces to create any chances in the Barwell thirds of the pitch, with Lewis Ison's long throw on twenty-seven minutes flicked on by Kyle Rowley and into the path of Tilt, whose shot was blocked at the far post before being cleared

Bazeley was the next player to be shown a yellow card for the visitors on the half-hour mark as he crudely brought Styche down from behind and was rightly cautioned for the foul. Flanagan's subsequent free-kick from just outside the penalty area was lifted high over the wall and over the crossbar as it lacked any real direction

Styche picked up another pass from Griffiths on thirty-four minutes and took the ball into the Barwell penalty area once more, but again found Bramley equal to his powerfully struck shot

The Pitmen were forced into making a substitution six minutes before the break as Webb fell heavily on the concrete pitch surround after a challenge from Bazeley forced him off the pitch and into the concrete. He was helped off and was replaced by Carter Lycett down the left-wing

More defensive uncertainty saw Bramley's long free-kick on forty-three minutes drop in the Hednesford penalty area and forced Wycherley to come off his line to challenge Dunkley in the air. The striker got there first and nodded the ball over the onrushing stopper, but could only direct his header into the side-netting from a tight angle

It had been another poor showing from the Pitmen, who had looked uninspired as a team going forwards and lacking assertiveness in midfield, whilst the defence's thrown-together look had seen players struggling to play in positions that they were no comfortable playing in. Barwell were forced into a half-time change as Abadaki was taken off in favour of Joel Carta down the left flank

Meakin-Richards sent his side out early for the second half and made several positional tweaks to his side, most notably swapping Griffiths and Mendez-Jones over to allow them to play in more natural positions on the pitch. This made them look a lot more solid and comfortable in the early stages of the second period as the chances started to flow

Successive corner kicks from Lycett failed to test the Barwell resolve, but a long throw from Ison on fifty minutes was headed into the danger zone by Mendez-Jones, only for Bazeley to clear the ball before Andre Landell could get to the ball and shoot

The Pitmen's second substitution of the afternoon was a like-for-like swap in the centre of midfield on fifty-two minutes as Flanagan - having another disappointing afternoon after failing to make his mark on the game - was replaced by Parker

Rowley had a chance to level the game for the hosts a minute later as he flicked a long throw from defensive partner Ison just wide of the far post after beating Dominic Brown-Hill to the looping ball with his head

Tilt had also been switched from the left flank to the right at half-time by Meakin-Richards and enjoyed good bouts of possession with Mendez-Jones offering himself on the overlap. One such move on fifty-five minutes saw him pull the ball back towards Styche, who was just too far behind the ball to be able to turn it home at the far post

A minute later, Styche turned provider for Landell, laying the ball off to his strike partner but seeing his shot from twenty yards out drift high over the crossbar


The Pitmen's pressure continued, with Lycett made a marauding run down the left on fifty-six minutes and left Stabana behind, crossing well for Styche who somehow failed to head home from close range as he tamely headed over

Lycett himself had a good chance for the hosts just before the hour mark as his own corner kick was played back out to him by the Barwell defence, only for his follow-up shot to lack direction and ended up wide of goal

At the other end, Barwell were still a threat on the counter-attack and were denied a second goal on the hour mark as Wycherley made a fine save low down to his left to claim a bobbling effort from Jahvan Davidson-Miller after Dunkley's lofted cross from the right

Another Lycett effort ended up sailing wide of goal on sixty-five minutes after the impressive Parker had played the ball into the feet of his fellow teenager just inside the Barwell penalty area

Mendez-Jones was booked two minutes later as he brought substitute Brady Hickey down as the midfielder made a run down the Barwell left-wing and teased the full-back into making the challenge

The hosts made their final change of the afternoon with nineteen minutes remaining as newcomer Rooney was handed a run-out by the Pitmen as he came on in place of Richards, who somewhat surprisingly handed the captaincy to Parker

Tilt won the Pitmen a corner kick on seventy-three minutes which Lycett whipped into the near post, only to see Ison narrowly head the ball over the crossbar as he arrived late to head goalwards; arguably the closest the Pitmen had come so far in the game

Two minutes later, new boy Rooney went close to making it a debut to remember as he headed a Parker free-kick wide of goal at the far post as he made a late run into the six-yard box

A neat flick 'around the corner' from Styche on seventy-eight minutes saw him clip the ball with his heel to turn Lycett's pass into the path of Landell, only for Bramley to stand firm at his near post and make the save once more

Wycherley was alert to the danger posed by the creative Hickey and made a good save to his right to claim the midfield man's low shot with ten minutes of the game remaining

Lycett had been impressive down the left since coming on, giving Stabana a torrid time with his direct running and pace. His cross on eighty-one minutes picked out Tilt at the far post, whose subsequent header lacked pace and was easily fielded by Bramley

With five minutes remaining, Styche resorted to unusual methods as Tilt's cross was slightly behind him, leaving the experienced frontman to attempt a scorpion kick at goal but turned the ball wide of Bramley's right-hand post

The Pitmen continued to plug away but there was a growing feeling that it was to be one of those days once more as the excellent Brown and his fellow Barwell defenders stood firm in the face of Hednesford's pressure

Two late Lycett corners failed to turn the screw on the Barwell defence as the game drifted into added time, until a moment of inspiration created by Parker and finished by Tilt in the fourth minute of added time rescued a point for the hosts; the midfielder picked the ball up from Lycett and played a delightful angled cross across the pitch and into the Barwell penalty area, where Ison met the ball and flicked it on into the path of the incoming Tilt, who volleyed the ball past Bramley with a sublime left-footed effort back across goal that found the far corner of the net to send Keys Park into raptures

A game of high late drama but mixed emotions for the hosts, who were firmly second best in another dreadfully disappointing first-half display but probably deserved at least a point on the balance of the second-half play. They face a familiar foe on Tuesday night when Nuneaton Borough make the short trip down the A5 to face the Pitmen on their home ground, looking to further an unbeaten league record against the Pitmen that dates back decades

Hednesford Town: Wycherley, Rowley, Mendez-Jones , Ison, Richards © (Rooney 71), Webb (Lycett 39), Flanagan (Parker 52), Styche , Landell, Tilt     Subs Unused: Morley, Wollaston

Barwell: Bramley, Stabana, Percival, Brown-Hill ©, Brown , Bazeley , Davidson-Miller, Edwards, Dunkley (Hickey 61), Powell , Abadaki (Carta 45)      Subs Unused: Castle, Walton, Stephens


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