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Southern Premier League

Hednesford Town

Bell (62)

Bath City

Sykes (53)

(0) 1

(0) 1



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Matt Turner



King's Lynn (H) 13.11.04

The Pitmen were held to a draw in this evening's rearranged Southern Premier League clash as fellow mid-table dwellers Bath claimed a point against their long-term league rivals at a chilly Keys Park

Having seen games against Cirencester Town and Tiverton Town called off in the past fortnight due to the recent wet spell of weather, the Pitmen finally returned to action looking to shake off successive 1-0 defeats to Halesowen Town and Stratford Town last month. Player/manager Chris Brindley made twos change to his side as fit-again duo Lee Williams and Matt Turner returned in place of Marlon Walters and Chris Gray in midfield. Youth team graduate Steve Brannan was called up into the first-team to make up the numbers on the substitute's bench alongside a fit-again Carl Palmer

Bath arrived in Staffordshire for tonight's game off successive cup wins, having beaten Leatherhead in the F.A. Cup fourth qualifying round two weeks ago and followed it up with victory over league rivals Tiverton Town in the F.A. Trophy first round on Saturday. Player/manager Gary Owers was forced into one change to his side for tonight's clash as top scorer John Williams was ruled out late on due to a migraine and was replaced by Renier Moor - scorer of the Romans' first goal at Ladysmead at the weekend

The visitors hit the ground running on a hard and bumpy Keys Park pitch and went close twice in the opening exchanges; in the fifth minute, veteran Owers forced Ryan Young into an early stop as he pushed the former Sunderland man's right-footed effort from eighteen yards out around the post for a Bath corner kick

Just a minute later, Alex Sykes also tested Young's reflexes as his rising shot was pushed over the crossbar by the former Hucknall Town man for another corner to the visitors

The visitors responded through Leon McSweeney as he got on the end of a mazy run from strike partner Andy Bell but drove his low shot just wide of the left-hand post from twelve yards out

In the ninth minute of a busy opening period, good play from the returning Turner teed up Grant Beckett, whose late run into the penalty area from the left saw the former Telford man fire a rising shot narrowly over Bath goalkeeper Steve Perrin's crossbar

A good move from Bath down the left-wing in the thirteenth minute saw Moor find a pocket of space to pick out Scott Partridge with a fine threaded pass, only for the midfielder to pull his shot wide of Young's right-hand post from just inside the penalty area

The Pitmen enjoyed more of the ball as the frenetic pace of the game dropped, with Williams picking the ball up at every opportunity to spray passes around the pitch. A superb floated pass out to Beckett in the sixteenth minute saw Beckett cut inside of Jim Rollo's challenge and pick out McSweeney, whose tame effort was easily saved by Perrin

With twenty minutes gone, Williams got on the end of a cross from Turner, but could not keep his first-time volley from sixteen yards out on target and fired wide of the post

Anthony Maguire made a darting run into the Bath third of the pitch three minutes later before trying his luck with a long-range effort that bounced awkwardly in front of Perrin but was handled by the stopper at the second attempt

A fine piece of wing play from Turner just before the half-hour mark saw him twist and turn past the experienced Rollo and crossed towards Bell, who was caught on his heels and just failed to make the connection at the far post

Turner's return to the side was certainly proving a positive one as he won a free-kick to the left of the Bath penalty area three minutes later after tricking Bobby Ford into bringing him down. Williams took the resultant kick and picked Lee Barrow out at the far post, but the veteran centre-back could not keep his header down and headed into the hardy fans huddled in the Hednesford end of the ground

On thirty-five minutes, a great piece of play from Maguire saw him beat Partridge and Ford before skipping the ball to Turner, whose well-struck left-footed effort from twenty yards out had Perrin scrambling across his goal to make the save

With five minutes of a competitive half remaining, player/managers Brindley and Owers clashed just outside the Hednesford penalty area as Brindley clattered his opposite manager with a firm tackle. Despite Owers taking exception to the tackle, referee Mr Ashton played on as he felt that May's F.A. Trophy hero had won the ball

Young's long goal kick almost caught Bath out on forty-three minutes as Mike Trought allowed the ball to bounce in front of him, allowing McSweeney to rob him of the ball and play Bell into space. The former Blackburn man wanted a little too much time to decide what to do with the ball however and allowed Ford to make a smothering tackle

Both sides had appeared to have left their shooting boots in the dressing room in the first half as chances had come and gone at both ends with neither goalkeeper being over-worked

The second started with a bang, as Williams was sent clear down the left flank by Beckett just a minute after the restart, firing in a low angled shot that Forest Green Rovers loanee Perrin blocked at his near post


Bath went agonisingly close to opening the scoring in the fiftieth minute as a corner kick from Ford was met by the unmarked Trought, whose powerful header from eight yards out came back off the crossbar before being cleared by Mark Branch

The game continued to yo-yo as the Pitmen went down the other end a minute later through McSweeney, who played Williams through on goal with a finely-weighed pass. The midfielder lacked composure however and allowed Perrin to make a smothering save at his feet

City did, however, get their noses in front on fifty-three minutes later as Rollo was allowed time and space to get to the byeline down the right, pulling the ball back into the path of Partridge, who inexplicably missed the ball as it skipped past him. Sykes followed Partridge into the six-yard box and was on hand to tap home the loose ball at the far post

The away side looked to take the game away from the Pitmen but spurned several good chances in the next ten minutes to make it 2-0; Moor was guilty of wasting a good chance on fifty-five minutes as he scuffed his close-range effort wide of goal, followed two minutes later by Partridge drilling wide and into the thirty or so Bath fans that had gathered behind Young's goal

On the hour mark, Sykes made another late run into the Hednesford penalty area to meet a pass from Owers, but Young made a fairly straightforward save to deny the midfielder a second goal of the evening

The Pitmen came back into contention with an equalising goal on sixty-two minutes as Young's long, searching ball forwards was flicked on by Maguire and into the path of Bell, who did well to hold off the attentions of Steve Jones before firing confidently past Perrin from twelve yards out for his twelfth goal of the season

The game now swung towards the home side and they won a series of free-kicks and corners that City desperately looked to defend in their own penalty area as Williams and Turner looked to turn the screw. On sixty-seven minutes, man of the match Turner latched on to a long ball forwards from Williams and charge into the Bath penalty area unchallenged, but saw his low driven shot come back off the base of Perrin's post with the stopper well beaten

Referee Mr Ashton - having avoided handing out any bookings in the first half - went card crazy from the seventieth minute onwards, with both McSweeney and Trought going into the book as the Irishman brought Trought down and prompted an angry reaction from the Bath defender

This was to be Trought's final action of the game as he was taken off still fuming at McSweeney's challenge, with the centre-back replaced by youngster Sam Bailey

On seventy-four minutes, Turner picked up another long ball forwards, this time from Branch, as the Bath defence stood off the winger. Turner drifted inside and shot at goal, only to be dined by a timely block by Rollo on his own goal line

With fifteen minutes remaining, the Pitmen made a double change in midfield as the returning pair of Williams and Turner were taken off in favour of the fresher legs of Palmer and Brannan

Full-back Graeme Power was booked for clattering youngster Brannan just two minutes after the Hednesford substitute had come on, allowing Maguire to cross from the right and find Barrow at the far post, only for a late flag to go up against McSweeney, who had earlier drifted into an offside position

Both sides were keen to grab three points in a topsy-turvy final ten minutes, with Maguire being denied by Perrin once more on eighty-one minutes as his daisy-cutter from twenty-five yards out was well saved by the veteran stopper

Two minutes later, Power was involved at the other end of the pitch as his hopeful effort from the corner of the penalty area beat the unsighted Young but came back off the far post before landing back at the feet of the relieved Hednesford number one

Owers handed the Pitmen an excellent sight at goal with four minutes remaining as he brought Bell down just to the right of the Bath penalty area, picking up a yellow card for his efforts. Brannan assumed responsibility for the kick but lifted his effort high over the crossbar with an off-target curling shot

In the final minute, McSweeney broke clear of the Bath defence but was hacked down on the edge of the penalty area by the backtracking Bailey, who received the game's final yellow card of the night for his tackle. Maguire elected to take the kick, but chipped his effort a foot or so too high for both Brindley and Barrow at the far post and the ball drifted out of play

Neither side can really lay claim to deserving the three points, having lacked a cutting edge in front of goal all evening long after ninety minutes of tame efforts at both ends. The Pitmen have now won only one of their last five games in all competitions but have an ideal opportunity to return to winning ways at the weekend when they face basement side King's Lynn at Keys Park

Hednesford Town: Young; Teesdale, Branch, Barrow ©, Brindley, Williams (Palmer 75), Maguire, Beckett, Bell, McSweeney , Turner (Brannan 75)     Subs Unused: Anthrobus, Bailey, Evans

Bath City: Perrin, Rollo, Power  , Jones, Trought  ▆ (Bailey 72 ), Ford © , Benefield, Owers , Partridge, Moor (Tweddle 81), Sykes       Subs Unused: Shuttlewood, Coupe, Klukowski

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