4.2.2017

Evo-Stik Northern Premier League

Hednesford Town

Thorley (33)

Barwell

Barlone (65)

(1) 1

(0) 1

Attendance

MoTM

Current Form

Next Match

377

Kyle Haynes

L L W W L L L W L D

Blyth Spartans (A) 11.2.17

The Pitmen had to be content with a point at a cold Keys Park this afternoon as fellow mid-table dwellers Barwell came from behind to earn themselves a point in their first-ever visit to the home of Paul Casey's team. The point apiece does little to improve either side's fortunes, with the play-off places now looking a distant possibility after another largely flat and uninspiring performance from the hosts

 

Last week's defeat to the resurgent Corby Town saw Casey once again going back to the drawing board as he searched for a blend that worked for his team after five defeats in six games. This week's revolving door of ins and outs had seen Spencer Weir-Daley end his short association with the club and Tristian Dunkley complete a permanent move to Halesowen Town after a loan spell there. George Forsyth and Iwan Cartwright had returned to their parent clubs after their loan spells had expired. Incoming were striker Alfons Fosu-Mensah who joined from North Ferriby United, the popular Darren Campion rejoining the club after a short trial and wide midfielder George Washbourne coming in from Sutton Coldfield Town 

 

Barwell had beaten the Pitmen 2-0 earlier in the season in what was arguably the worst ninety minutes under Liam McDonald's stewardship and had slowly crept up the table to begin this afternoon's proceedings just above the Pitmen in eleventh place. Their recent form had been good since the start of December, only losing two of their last eight games in the Evo-Stik Premier League to move them away from the drop zone and into the relative safety of mid-table. Manager Jimmy Ginnelly made two changes to the side that has started their last game, a 2-1 win over basement side Ilkeston last weekend, as Declan Towers came in for Liam Kay and Nigel Julien replaced the now-departed Cleveland Taylor

 

Skipper Tom Thorley was straight into his stride for the home side in the third minute of the game, lifting his sidefooted effort over the crossbar after Kyle Haynes had made a run down the right and found his captain with a cross

Another good run from Haynes four minutes later saw him exchange passes with Danny Glover and cross for Vinny Mukendi, only for his header to sail harmlessly wide of the far post

 

The Pitmen's many aerial options almost opened the scoring for the hosts in the thirteenth minute, as a cross from Glover was headed back across goal by Vinny Mukendi to on-loan defender Dan Preston, whose goalbound header was well saved on the line by Barwell keeper Liam Castle

Two minutes later, Preston was involved once again as he saw a downward header from Thorley's free-kick hacked clear by Brady Hickey inside the Barwell six-yard box before Glover could react to the ball

On nineteen minutes, Glover and Thorley showed their excellent understanding honed over many years of playing together at a string of clubs as they played a neat one-two to slip Glover through on goal, only for an offside flag against Mulkeni to deny the former Port Vale striker a shot at goal from ten yards out

 

The hosts started to turn the screw as the half progressed, enjoying long periods in the Barwell half as they looked for the crucial breakthrough. After a period of pressure on twenty-three minutes, the tricky Mukendi played the ball back into the path of strike partner Glover, whose low drive was held by Castle

 

Mukendi himself went closest to adding to his recent goal glut on twenty-nine minutes, cutting inside from the left-wing and driving in an angled shot that was cleared off the goal line by Towers and into the grateful arms of Castle

 

 The Pitmen finally got the goal that their efforts deserved three minutes later, as great build-up play saw Glover and Thorley exchange a quick one-two before the Hednesford skipper tucked the ball underneath the body of Castle and turned the ball into the net. A fine build-up and a fine strike from the Hednesford skipper 

 

 Two minutes later, it could have got even better for the home side as a ball in from Glover appeared to be handled in the penalty area by auxiliary right-back Owen Story. The Pitmen's strong protests, however, were ignored by referee Sarah Garratt and the game continued

 

Fosu-Mensah - making his debut after coming in for the departed Weir-Daley - was making an impressive impact for his new club, using his strength well to hold off challenges from the Barwell defence and bring the likes of Glover and Thorley into the game alongside the ever-busy Mukendi. At left-back, Campion was back to his combative, busy best, looking a far better bet at number three than any other option seen since Cohen Bramall's departure after a string of underwhelming options in the number three shirt since December

Fosu-Mensah's strength saw him hold off the challenge of Towers on thirty-seven minutes and lay the ball off the ever-willing Haynes down the right flank, whose superb low cross skipped across the face of the Barwell defence ahead of both Mukendi and Glover

Three minutes later, Barwell broke quickly through Hickey's pass to Luke Barlone down the right. The former Rushall man cut in from the wing and attempted a curling effort that flew beyond the reach of Dan Crane and also the far post

 

Half-time will have seen the Barwell players having a tongue-lashing from manager Jimmy Ginnelly after a meek display from the visitors had allowed Hednesford to totally dominate proceedings are could count themselves lucky to only be a goal behind at the break. The second half was a very different affair, akin to the old clique of 'a game of two halves' as the hosts allowed their visitors back into the game with a limp second-half display

 

Dan Crane was called upon for the first time in the afternoon just a couple of minutes after the restart to make a dominant claim from a Barwell free-kick, conceded by Preston on Hickey in a dangerous position which the Barwell skipper floated into the near post

Good play from Lee Hildreth on fifty-one minutes saw the midfielder slip past a half-hearted challenge from Stuart McNaught and tee up Barlone, only fore his shot to lack any finesse as it sailed high over Crane's crossbar from eighteen yards out

 

On fifty-six minutes, Fosu-Mensah was to have a glorious chance to put the game to bed for the hosts as he broke clear of the Barwell defence and rounded Castle, only to skew his shot wide with the goal at his mercy. A great chance wasted by the debutant

 

Crane made his second good claim of the afternoon a minute later, smothering an effort from Barlone as the striker got goal side of Dan Brenan to fire in a low shot from just inside the Hednesford penalty area

 

Fosu-Mensah's encouraging debut was brought to an end on fifty-eight minutes, as Jamie Sheldon came on in the Dutchman's place which saw the Pitmen revert to a more conservative system as they looked to protect their goal advantage

 

This move seemed to upset the balance of the side, with Barwell pushing Hednesford back into their own third without the out-ball to Fosu-Mensah available anymore. Crane again came to claim a cross on the hour, but dropped the ball and nearly allowed Barlone to turn the ball home before Brenan's timely clearance inside the six-yard box

 

Barlone was to finally get his name on the scoresheet on sixty-five minutes as the Pitmen failed to clear their lines and allowed Story to cross from the right and find Barlone at the far post, with the striker having the simple task of nodding home from close-range to hand Barwell a deserved equaliser

The away side sensed a winner against a hesitant Hednesford side that suddenly lacked quality and composure up front to play up to. Brenan's rushed clearance fell to Julien on sixty-eight minutes, whose ball back into the box was eventually cleared by Campion

 

Julien's quickly-taken free-kick on seventy minutes found Eddy Nisevic in space down the right with the full-back crossing into the path of Barlone, only for his shot to be blocked at the near post by Preston

A poor, misplaced pass from Jordan Fitzpatrick three minutes later was seized upon by Alex Tomkinson, forcing the Hednesford midfielder to bring the player down as he tried to win the ball back and earned himself a yellow card for his challenge

 

The tiring Glover was removed from the field of play with fourteen minutes remaining having been starved of service during the second period and was replaced by the willing running of Tony Clarke for the final minutes

 

Barwell goalscorer Barlone nearly turned the game on its head with ten minutes remaining as he turned Brenan in a flash and fired narrowly wide of Crane's goal from twenty-five yards out after picking up a pass from Story

Nisevic and Callum Ball linked up well down the right on eighty-three minutes to play the ball around McNaught and cross to the far post, where Hickey arrived late to head wide of the target

 

Washbourne was given a late debut by the Pitmen with four minutes of the game left, as the unconvincing McNaught was forced off with injury after a clash in midfield with Tomkinson

 

Barwell went close to taking all three points away from Staffordshire in a late flurry of chances, as Nisevic's strike on eighty-seven minutes was headed off the line by Preston. A minute later, the highly-rated Hickey found Crane in the way of his low drive toward goal with the Hednesford stopper making another fine save to deny the visitors

 

And not for the first time this season, the Pitmen were thankful to the reflexes of Crane for keeping them in the game late on as the veteran made a great save to his right to deny Towers

 

In added time, Fitzpatrick tried his luck with a low drive that was well saved by Castle which led to a quick break from Barwell that culminated in Brenan clearing the ball away from Barlone at the crucial moment to save the Pitmen once more

 

A point apiece was a fair reflection of a desperately poor game in terms of overall quality, with Barwell smarting at not finishing off a Hednesford side that looked at sixes and sevens at times in the second half. Next weekend sees the Pitmen make the long trip up to the North East coast to face league leaders Blyth Spartans in a game that could prove a tough watch for the Hednesford fans if they are to continue their erratic and unconvincing form. Casey has built a side lacking in both confidence and quality after picking up the pieces from Liam McDonald's departure and it is hard to see where the next win is coming from on current projection

 

Hednesford Town: Crane, Haynes, Campion, McNaught (Washbourne 86), Brenan, Preston , Fitzpatrick , Thorley ©, Mukendi, Glover (Clarke 76), Fosu-Mensah (Sheldon 58)       Subs Unused: Ransome, Hutton

 

Barwell: Castle, Story, Nisevic, Stanley, Towers, Hildreth, Tomkinson (Baldwin 89), Julien, Barlone, Hickey ©, Ball      Subs Unused: Ballinger, Grouse, Hadland, Smith-Vernam

Images © copyright Pitmenweb