Dr. Martens Southern Premier League

Bath City

Williams (14), Foster (41), (66)

Hednesford Town

Davis (45), (46), (55), (90)

(2) 3

(1) 4



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Neil Davis



Ilkeston Town (A) 8.10.01

Another astonishing game of football involving the Pitmen sees them once again edge out their opponents by the odd goal in seven as they leave it late to beat Bath City this afternoon at Twerton Park


Hednesford made the journey down the M5 off the back of a thrilling F.A. Cup game against Stafford Town last weekend, squeezing past their Midland Alliance neighbours courtesy of a late, late Jon Pickess strike - his first for the club. This had seen the growing pressure on player/manager Paul Raynor soften somewhat, although the manner in which his side had struggled for much of the Stafford game will still be of concern to many. Raynor made three changes to the side that had started against Stafford, welcoming back Mark Gayle in goal after his injury woes as he replaced Chris Wood whilst Paul Bagshaw came back into the team in place of Robbie Meacham. There was also a debut for new signing Andy Brownrigg after the former Hereford United and Kidderminster Harriers had joined the club in midweek from Northwich Victoria


Bath had been in mixed recent form in the Dr. Martens League so far this term and sat eighth in the table ahead of today's return to league duty. Their recent patchy form had contributed to last weekend's shock defeat to Bideford in the F.A. Cup, with Alan Pridham's side reduced to nine men by the end of their 3-1 defeat to the Western League side. Pridham made two changes to his misfiring side for today's game, bringing James Zabek and on-loan Yeovil man Glenn Poole in for Jamie Gosling and Mike Wyatt


England's crucial World Cup 2002 qualifier against Greece was being played at the same time as today's game, with the Bath fans (and a few Hednesford fans no doubt) still smarting at Raynor's decision to deny their club's request to move the game to an earlier kick-off to enable supporters to watch both games. The Hednesford manager was greeted with muted boos and cat-calls from the home supporters after emerging from the tunnel just before kick-off


The game started at a rapid pace with the Pitmen making the better start to the game. Skipper Mark Haran had a great chance to open the scoring in only the second minute as Dean Craven's cross was headed firmly onto the top of the crossbar by the centre-back, who had come up for a corner kick that had been partially cleared to Craven


Two minutes later, good play from Stuart Lake saw him clip the ball into the path of Stewart Airdrie down the right-wing; the winger whipped in a cross to find Graham Lancashire, only for the striker to strike tamely into the arms of Mark Hervin in the Bath goal


With only eight minutes on the clock, the Pitmen were again ruing their luck as Craven's excellent cross from the left dipped into the path of Neil Davis, whose dipping header cleared Hervin's crossbar


Despite being second best for much of the first fifteen minutes, Bath went up the other end and took the lead very much against the run of play in the fourteenth minute. Gary Powell's long ball forwards saw Paul Milsom get the better of Wayne Simpson and cross for Andy Williams, who got a favourable bounce on the ball to latch onto it and fire past Gayle from just inside the Hednesford penalty area


It was a real early blow to the Pitmen's confidence but Raynor's side continued to press forwards and create more chances. A great run from Airdrie on twenty minutes saw him drift past the challenge of Powell and cross to the near post, where Davis turned Airdrie's ball in just wide of Hervin's near post with a first-time effort


Lancashire should have levelled matters for the away side on twenty-four minutes, slicing horribly wide after Davis's neat downward header had played his strike partner into space


Two minutes later, the former Rochdale man was denied once more as his low shot was well blocked by the leg of Thorne, who did enough to divert Lancashire's shot away for a corner kick


Davis's instincts up front saw him break the Bath offside trap on thirty-three minutes to get on the end of a pass from Lake, only for a tight and marginal offside call against him on the main stand side to deny him a free shot at goal


Hervin - one of the players sent off last weekend in the Romans' forgettable cup exit to Bideford - made another fine save to keep his side in front four minutes later, turning a rising shot from Airdrie over the crossbar after the winger had cut inside from the right-wing and into the Bath penalty area


The Pitmen were getting frustrated at not being able to find a way through the stubborn Bath defence and saw two players booked in quick succession for petulant fouls as both Simpson and Lake incurred the wrath of referee Mr. Harries


Bath doubled their lead four minutes before the break as the Hednesford defence went AWOL as Zabek's cross into the danger zone fell at the feet of Williams, who found himself unmarked ten yards from goal. Rather than shoot, Williams elected to square the ball to former Rushden man Adrian Foster, who fired home past a horribly exposed Gayle from close-range


Raynor and assistant Gavan Walker were once again staring down the barrel after somehow dominating the game but found themselves with it all to do. In added time at the end of the first period, Davis got the away side back into the game as Airdrie's deep free-kick was knocked down by Lake and into the path of the Pitmen's top scorer last term, who fired an unstoppable volley past Hervin


There was still time for Bath to have a chance to restore their two-goal lead through Williams, who tried his luck from long-range with an opportunistic strike that bounced narrowly wide of the post


Raynor - conscious of his job being under severe threat - read his side the riot act at the break and sent his side back out with a different attitude at the start of the second period. This paid instant dividends as the men in blue struck just nineteen seconds after the restart; straight from the kick-off, the Pitmen worked the ball forwards through Brownrigg and Bagshaw and found Davis just outside the Bath penalty area, curling the ball past the dive of Hervin and into the far corner of the net to level matters once more


The Pitmen almost completed a turnaround four minutes later as Lancashire somehow dragged his shot wide of Hervin's post after being played in on goal by Craven's clever through ball


It was the main man Davis who was to take centre stage once more on fifty-five minutes as he put the away side into the lead for the first time in the game. Bagshaw dispossessed Powell in midfield and crossed well for Davis, who showed his supreme poacher's ability once more to fire a crisp drive beyond Hervin once more and into the corner of the net to complete his hat-trick


Changes followed for both sides around the hour mark, with Bath making two tactical changes and the Pitmen bringing on Adam Shakespeare for Lake on sixty-three minutes


Bath's change of tactics worked for them as they levelled matters once more in a crazy, topsy-turvy encounter on sixty-six minutes. Substitute Wyatt was involved straight away, playing a great pass in behind the Hednesford defence to set Foster on his way. The former West Brom striker showed great composure to lift his shot over the head of the advancing Gayle and nestle the ball in the far corner of the net to make it 3-3


Gayle kept the Pitmen in the game on seventy-one minutes by making a superb one-handed save to deny Iain Harvey after the midfielder had unleashed a long-range effort at goal


Kevin Francis was introduced to the Pitmen attack a minute later as Lancashire's luck in front of goal had deserted him this afternoon and was replaced by the 6' 7" presence of the former Blues man


With thirteen minutes remaining, Gayle was once again called upon to protect the Pitmen's point as he turned a curling free-kick from substitute Mark Thomas away from danger


The game was end-to-end in the final ten minutes as both sides threw players forwards, only for both defences to hold firm and a draw looking likely. Just as it seemed as though both sets of players had settled for a point apiece, the Pitmen struck late into added time for the second successive Saturday, this time though goal hero Davis once more. Craven's cross into the Bath box saw Davis take advantage of tired Bath defending to turn on a sixpence and fire past Hervin for his fourth goal of the game and the winning goal


The referee brought to an end a breathless game of football before Bath could react to Hednesford's winner, finishing a game that had seen supporters of both sides go through the full range of emotions after the game had to'd and fro'd from the first whistle onwards. The Pitmen's last seven games have seen an astounding thirty-six goals plundered to make them the great entertainers of the Southern League in the past four weeks. Today's win gives manager Raynor more breathing space to work with as he continues to find a blend in his squad as players recover from their injury issues and return to the matchday squad. Monday night sees Raynor return to his former club Ilkeston Town with his side looking to complete an early-season league double over the Robins


Bath City: Hervin, Towler ©, Powell, Thorne , Kemp, Harvey , Poole (Wyatt 65), Zabek (Thomas 60), Foster, Milsom, Williams        Sub Unused: MacLean


Hednesford Town: Gayle, Brownrigg, Lucas, Simpson , Haran ©, Lake  (Shakespeare 63), Airdrie, Craven , Lancashire (Francis 72), Davis, Bagshaw      Subs Unused: Pickess