F.A. Cup 1st Qualifying Round

Hednesford Town

Bramall (79)

Hednesford Town

Wiggins-Thomas (15), Guy (75)

(0) 1

(1) 2



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Tom Thorley


Frickley Athletic (H) 10.9.16

Bromsgrove Rovers; Gedling Town; Pegasus Juniors; Newcastle Town; all side from lower leagues that have turned the Pitmen over in recent times in the F.A. Cup. The name of Belper Town can be added to the ever-growing list, as the Nailers survived a first-half onslaught from the Pitmen to lead at the break before sealing the win with John Guy's strike with fifteen minutes left

Bank Holiday Monday had seen the Pitmen produce arguably their best performance of the season so far, beating Halesowen Town at the Grove to move up to sixth place in the table. Manager Liam McDonald resisted making major tweaks to the side, bringing Lewis Wright in for Kyle Rowley in the only change to his starting XI

  Belper arrived at Keys Park having made a slow start to their Evo-Stik Division One South campaign; a 2-1 defeat to local rivals Gresley on Monday had left the Nailers down in the fourteenth position after four games, leaving manager and former Walsall man Charlie Palmer - assisted by former Hednesford favourite Lee Barrow - with the task of picking their players up ahead of the Keys Park clash

 The Pitmen were quickly into their stride in the opening exchanges, with Sammons unsurprisingly trying his luck with an early long-range free-kick that was easily fielded by Dan Haystead in the Belper goal

James Mutton went close to breaking his Hednesford duck in the eighth minute, heading wide at the near post after a Sammons corner had been headed back into the defender's path by George Carline

Simeon Maye tried his luck for the hosts in the twelfth minute, making a run down the right before driving in a shot that was deflected away for a corner kick

Despite the Pitmen's domination of the opening fifteen minutes, slack defending once again saw them fall behind in a game as Belper stole into the lead with their first meaningful attack. A superb cross from Jonathan Williams was met by the much-travelled Ruben Wiggins-Thomas, who headed confidently beyond the reach of Dan Crane

The Pitmen were left feeling frustrated for the first time in the afternoon just two minutes later, as neat build-up play down the left saw Maye lay the ball off to Carline, who somehow failed to find the net with an unconvincing shot/pass that was cleared off the line by Kyle Bryant

A mazy run fro Gurjit Singh saw the forward test the reflexes of Haystead midway through the half, firing in a low shot that was well held by the Belper keeper

Carline blotted his copybook once more on twenty-seven minutes, making an incredible run through the heart of the Belper defence and leaving five players in his wake. With only Haystead to beat, however, the midfielder wildly lashed his shot high over the crossbar from just inside the penalty area

After Joel Logan had seen his snapshot saved by Haystead, another flowing move down the Hednesford right saw Cohen Bramall send over a delightful deep cross that Carline headed well wide from a promising position eight yards out

Haystead came to Belper's rescue a minute later, making a superb full-length save to deny Sammons as the midfielder's powerful drive looked destined for the bottom corner. The Belper stopper also did well from the resultant corner, making a save on his line to hold Maye's goalbound header

Another header from Maye on the stroke of half time saw the midfielder rise highest at the far post to head a Sammons corner narrowly wide of the upright

The Pitmen continued to be frustrated during the opening exchanges of the second half, as Belper stuck to a solid 4-4-2 shape that made life difficult for the lone man up front Logan. Singh was finding it difficult to express himself, with Carline also losing several midfield battles with the hardworking Nailers midfield

In a bid to change the flow of the game, McDonald brought Sean Geddes on in place of Ashley Sammons with just under an hour on the clock to play behind Logan in midfield

Another towering Carline header looked to be heading for the Belper net on sixty-four minutes, only to be denied by Jerome Palmer's last-ditch clearance as the ball headed for the corner of the net

Danny Glover was introduced into the game a minute later in place of the ineffective Singh, looking to repeat his heroics against Halesowen on Monday after a superb cameo

The former Port Vale man did come close to levelling matters on seventy minutes, gambling at the near post to get goal side of Palmer and toe-poke Bramall's low cross inches wide of the near post

The Pitmen made their final substitution of the afternoon with nineteen minutes left, as Tristian Dunkley came on in place of the tiring Wright with the hosts making an attacking change to their personnel

Bramall was shown a yellow card in the seventy-fifth minute for what was, on first viewing, a superb, clean tackle that the assistant failed to flag for. From the resultant kick from the combative Jermain Hollis, Wiggins-Thomas headed the ball into the path of John Guy, whose diving header beat Crane and doubled Belper's advantage

The Pitmen were now desperate for any break to get them back into a tie they should, in all reality, have sealed in the first half; Carline was again denied at the far post by more last-ditch defending by Belper, before Bramall finally got the Pitmen back into the game with eleven minutes left. A swift run down the left saw the full-back escape the Belper defence, before driving a shot across goal that took a slight deflection beyond the reach of Haystead

The final ten minutes of this cup tie saw the Pitmen camped inside the Belper half, with a great chance falling to substitute Dunkley on eighty-one minutes as he dragged a close-range effort wide of goal with a low driven effort


Three minutes later, Maye was also guilty of firing wide of goal from a good position after substitute Charlie Gatter's scuffed clearance fell at the feet of the midfielder

In the final minute, Carline once again was gifted a golden opportunity to earn the Pitmen a replay, as Maye played the ball into the midfielder's path, but with the goal gaping, Carline skewed his shot wide of the far post

So, another season without F.A. Cup prize money to fall back on again for the Pitmen, with departures now likely from a bloated squad this week as McDonald ponders his next move. It was once again a 'what could have been' game for the Pitmen, who again dominated play but lacked a cutting edge up front to convert the various excellent chances that came their way. They return to league action on Saturday with the visit of basement club Frickley Athletic to Keys Park


Hednesford Town: Crane, Wright (Dunkley 71), Bramall, Maye, Flanagan, Mutton, Singh (Glover 65), Thorley ©Logan, Sammons (Geddes 58), Carline      Subs Unused: Ransome, Francis, Williams, Rowley

Belper Town: Haystead, Bryant, Guy, Graves, Palmer, Watt, Armstrong, Williams (Gatter 58), Wiggins-Thomas ©, Hollis (Palmer 85), Steadman       Subs Unused: Ball, Constable, Reid, Haynes, Rathbone

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