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Zamaretto Southern Premier League

Hednesford Town

Francis (9)


(1) 1

(0) 0



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Ross Davidson


Hemel Hempstead Town (H) 5.2.11

Momentum certainly appears to be with the Pitmen at the moment as they make it three wins in a row this evening to edge past mid-table dwellers Bashley by a solitary Liam Francis goal at Keys Park to move up into the play-off places

Having beaten fellow play-off chasers Chippenham Town at the weekend, Rob Smith's side returned home looking for the win that would move them above Leamington on goal difference and into the final play-off spot in the process. Despite the quick turnaround of games, Smith elected to stick with the same XI that had won 1-0 at Hardenhuish Park for tonight's encounter

Bashley - sitting thirteenth in the table and ten points above the relegation scrap - made the long and winding journey up from the New Forest having been soundly beaten 4-0 at home to Leamington at the weekend. Bashley manager Steve Riley also decided against making any changes to his XI from the weekend, despite the heavy defeat inflicted on them by the play-off chasing Brakes

It was another freezing evening at Keys Park, with temperatures hovering around the freezing mark at kick-off. This was reflected in the low turnout of fans, as only 240 hardy souls showed up to witness the encounter with others electing to remain in the warmth to watch the Monday Night Football instead

The Pitmen were quickly out of the blocks and forced an early corner out of the portly David Elm in the Bashley goal as Danny Quinn's shot from a tight angle was punched behind by the Bashley captain. Jay Denny floated the corner kick in from the left and found the head of Ben Bailey, who nodded the ball the wrong side of the post from eight yards out

In the sixth minute, good play from Kyle Patterson saw the striker turn away from Chris Knowles and play the ball out to Ross Davidson, in acres of space down the left. The former Stafford Rangers winger crossed low into the penalty area to Nick Wellecomme, who had the ball taken off his toes by a last-ditch challenge from Gary Middleton to put the ball behind for another corner kick

The home side struck with their next attack however as another set-piece finally paid off; Patterson won a free-kick thirty yards from goal and took the kick himself, sending over a lofted ball that Elm completely flapped at, losing the flight of the ball and allowing Francis to rise above Middleton and nod the ball home from close-range

Bashley responded with a free-kick of their own from Tom Hill in the twelfth minute, whipping in a cross from the right that was headed over dan Crane's crossbar from ten yards out by Knowles

In the fifteenth minute, a corner kick from Chris Ferrett was glanced towards goal at the near post by Dave Allen, forcing Crane into an acrobatic save on his line to turn the ball behind for another corner on the opposite side of the pitch

Sixty seconds later, Ferrett himself headed wide at the far post as he made a late run into the six-yard box to meet the corner from the other side taken by Hill

Good play from Jay Denny in the nineteenth minute saw the former USA U20 international win the ball from Allen and sent Wellecomme clear of the Bashley defence with a long ball forwards, only for Wellecomme to be pulled back for an offside flag against him

Midway through the first period, a quick break down the left from Bashley saw Ian Oliver trick his way past Cheyenne Dunkley and pull the ball back into the penalty area from the byeline, where Mike Spinney's toe-poked effort was deflected behind at his near post by Crane for another corner kick

In the twenty-fifth minute, Decio Gomes punted a long free-kick into the Bashley third of the pitch from his own half and found Quinn, who brought the ball down well before laying it off the Patterson - his fierce right-footed shot from twenty yards out was parried away by Elm to his right to deny the former LA Galaxy man what would have been a great strike

Three minutes later, Allen chipped a pass into the path of Spinney, who made a run in behind the Hednesford defence but was denied a shot at goal by a late offside flag

On the half-hour mark, youngster Bailey made a late run into the Bashley penalty area to meet a free-kick from Denny, looping a header over the reach of Elm but over the crossbar from ten yards out

A minute later, Mark Gamble linked up well with strike partner Spinney as pair plays the ball around Francis and into the Hednesford penalty area, only for Gamble to drag his angled shot across the face of Crane's goal and wide of the post

The Pitmen were dealt a blow on thirty-four minutes as the in-form Quinn went down in the Bashley penalty area holding his leg after chasing a pass from Davidson, requiring a lengthy bout of treatment from physio Gavin Blackwell before being taken off; he was replaced by Marvin Robinson up front

With eight minutes of the first half remaining, a superb slide-rule pass from Allen intersected Francis and Dunkley to find Gamble in on goal, only for the striker to take an early shot at goal and tamely struck the ball well, well wide of Crane's right-hand post from eighteen yards out

On forty-one minutes, the Pitmen worked the ball well into the Bashley penalty area before Davidson laid the ball off the Bailey, whose shot from the corner of the penalty area arrowed into the path of Robinson at the far post, coming at him at a real pace and giving the substitute no time to react as he miscued his header back across goal rather than turning it home from close-range. Wellecomme was still alert to the ball in play and met the ball with a header from six yards out, only to be denied by Elm

In the final minute of the first half, the excellent Davidson made a tricky run down the right-wing and crossed to the far post, where left-back Darren Campion arrived late to head narrowly wide of goal when he really should have tested Elm from close range. Campion beat the ground in frustration as he knew that he should have done better from a good position

It had been a surprisingly entertaining first period in the baltic temperatures, with both sides having chances and the Pitmen taking an early one through Francis to hold the half-time lead. There was some concern about Quinn's injury around the ground at half-time, as news spread of a potential hamstring pull that would most likely rule the youngster out of the next month's action

Hednesford continued to press in the early stages of the second half as Denny's searching pass on forty-eight minutes was flicked on by Wellecomme and into the path of Robinson, who dragged his low shot well wide of goal from sixteen yards out when an extra touch was most likely needed

Four minutes later, Gamble was sent clear down the right by a long ball forwards from Jack Smith, turning inside of Campion and laying the ball back to Allen, whose shot was blocked by Dunjkley before Gomes cleared the danger for the hosts

On fifty-five minutes, Bailey intercepted a loose pass from Knowles and sprayed the ball out to Campion, who jinked his way past Smith and took the ball into space down the left. He stood up a cross to the far post that had Elm backtracking as it threatened to dip over his head, prompting the stopper to tip the ball over the crossbar ahead of Wellecomme

Two minutes later, Oliver's free-kick to the left-hand side of the Hednesford penalty area was claimed by Crane at his near post as the winger's shot lacked any real power

The home side's second substitution of the evening came just after the hour mark as young utility man Alex Melbourne - recently of Wolves - made his Hednesford debut in place of Bailey on the right side of midfield

Melbourne was straight into the action on sixty-four minutes as Davidson played the ball into his path, with the teenager bringing the ball back onto his left foot and chipping a cross to the far post, slightly too high for either Wellecomme or Robinson to get their heads to inside the six-yard box

Patterson - enjoying his role as the playmaker just behind the strikers - sent Davidson off into acres of space down the right midway through the second period as he chested down a Gomes clearance before slotting the ball through to the midfielder, who was given time and space to look up and square the ball into the path of Wellecomme, who was denied by Elm initially at his near post before the hapless stopper spilt the ball and pushed it onto the boot of the incoming striker, who could only turn the ball behind from a couple of yards out

Crane denied Gamble with some quick-thinking goalkeeping on seventy minutes, racing out of his goal to beat the striker to a long ball forwards from Hill and showing his basketball skills to push it up and over the head of the striker before claiming it at the second attempt

With fifteen minutes remaining, the hosts made their final change of the evening as Jamey Osborne returned to the side after missing the last three games due to injury as he replaced Patterson

Robinson headed high over the crossbar and into the Heath Hayes terrace two minutes later, as the big striker beat Knowles to Denny's corner inside the Bashley six-yard box but got a little too much on it and lifted his head over over

With nine minutes remaining, Osborne picked up a loose ball in midfield and took the ball into the Bashley half as the visiting defence backed off him, allowing the midfielder to shoot from twenty-five yards out, but lifted his shot over Elm's crossbar despite Wellecomme making a run across the defensive line

On eighty-five minutes, Bashley thought that they had grabbed themselves an equaliser as Smith's long ball out of defence was flicked on by Gamble and into the path of substitute Jason Brookes, who lobbed the ball over Crane and into the net from twenty-five yards out. However, the substitute's celebrations were cut short after an offside flag against him had gone up on the Wimblebury side. The Bashley players were insistent that Brookes was onside when the ball was played and surrounded the assistant, all to no avail as the goal was chalked off

Two minutes from time, a corner from Hill was flicked on at the near post by Knowles but only into the path of Gomes, who hacked the ball clear inside his own six-yard box

It had been a regulation win in the end for the Pitmen, who had struck early through Francis and never really looked in any real danger of relinquishing that lead against a Bashley side that lacked quality in the final third of the pitch. Struggling Hemel Hempstead Town make the trip to Keys Park on Saturday looking to put a dent in the Pitmen's rising confidence as the belief that Smith's men can reach the play-offs for the second successive year continues to grow

Hednesford Town: Crane, Gomes, Campion, Dunkley, Francis ©, Denny, Bailey (Melbourne 61), Patterson (Osborne 75), Wellecomme, Quinn (Robinson 34), Davidson      Subs Unused: Keenan, Gibson

Bashley: Elm ©, Smith, Ferrett, Middleton, Whitley, Knowles, Hill, Allen, Spinney (Brookes 73), Gamble, Oliver     Subs Unused: Prodomo, Collins, Digby, Riley

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