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Pitching In Southern Premier League Central

Biggleswade Town

Hednesford Town

Flanagan (31) (penalty), Lita (39)

(0) 0

(2) 2



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Todd Parker



Tamworth (H) 18.4.22

The Pitmen get themselves back to winning ways this afternoon as they hammer a nail in relegation-threatened Biggleswade's coffin with two goals in the first half to claim the points 

Last weekend's dreadful defeat at home to Alvechurch had seen the side come in for stinging criticism for their performance in the 4-1 defeat on Saturday, with the Pitmen having very little to play for in their final few games of the campaign. Manager Keenen Meakin-Richards made two changes to the side that had started against Alvechurch as Martin Riley replaced Carter Lycett in defence and Chay Tilt returned to the side in a like-for-like swap with George Cater

Biggleswade sat second bottom of the league table ahead of play, five points from safety with only four games remaining; manager Robbie O'Keefe made three changes from the side that had battled back to earn a 2-2 draw against Coalville Town last weekend as Morgan Mahoney, Joe Dearman and Francis Mampulo came in for Jalen Jones, Joe Howe and Dean Parrett

The Easter Bank Holiday weekend had blessed the UK with a rare spell of warm and sunny weather, although there were only 155 paying spectators in attendance to enjoy the Easter weather. It was a tight start to the game, with both sides struggling to get going on a terrible pitch at Langford Road that was hard and bobbly. Successive corner kicks from the hosts in the sixth minute saw them test the Hednesford defence, only for Martin Riley and Oliver Basey to deal with two inswinging efforts with ease

In the seventh minute, Todd Parker won a free-kick for the hosts just inside the Biggleswade half of the pitch; Reece Flanagan took the resultant kick and lofted it into the penalty area, where Leroy Lita's downward header towards goal lacked power and was easily fielded by goalkeeper Josh Hill inside his six-yard box

Former Hednesford winger Enoch Andoh made a marauding run through the centre of the Pitmen's side in the tenth minute, drifting past Todd Paker and into space but saw his pass towards Harry Lodovia cut out by Harvey Portman and cleared from danger

A neat passing move in midfield from the men in sky blue in the fourteenth minute saw Kyle Bennett and Todd Parker link up well in midfielder to send Lita away in behind the Biggleswade defence, with the veteran striker taking the ball round the onrushing Hill and looked to square the ball to Tilt, who was denied a tap-in from a yard out by a last-ditch interception from Kane Farrell to turn the ball behind for a Hednesford corner kick

Three minutes later, Riley O'Sullivan's run in behind the Biggleswade defence to latch onto another good pass from Todd Parker was pulled back for an offside flag against him on the far side of the pitch

Midway through the first half, a free-kick for the hosts saw Dearman play the ball into the Hednesford penalty area from the right, with Todd Parker heading the ball away from danger but only as far as Andoh on the edge of the penalty area. The forward turned past Josh Webb and played a neat reverse pass into the path of Rob Parker, who was denied a shot from a tight angle by Lewis Ison's resolute defending

From Cain Keller's resultant corner kick, the ball was met by a firm header from defender Luke Middleton, who out-jumped Lita but directed his header a yard or so beyond Oliver Basey's left-hand post from ten yards out

In the twenty-fifth minute, Ison was presented with an excellent chance to open the scoring for the visitors as Portman was once again bundled the ground in exactly the same position as the earlier free-kick, just inside the Biggleswade half. Flanagan once again took the free-kick and swung the ball into the penalty area, where Ison leapt to meet the ball but glanced his header from ten yards out drifted just wide of Hill's right-hand upright. Ison held his head in his hands, knowing full well that he had missed a great chance to put the Pitmen in front

Basey was on hand to make an unorthodox save with his left leg three minutes later as Biggleswade took a throw-in quickly down the right through Andoh, who found Farrell in space further down the flank. The full-back worked the ball onto his left foot and sent over a cross to the far post, where the ball bounced beyond Webb and into the path of Liam Smyth, whose side-footed effort at goal was turned away by the leg of the on-loan Birmingham City stopper as he made himself big in front of the forward to turn the ball behind for a Biggleswade corner kick

The game turned in the Pitmen's favour on thirty-one minutes as they were awarded a penalty kick; Ison's quickly-taken free-kick on the halfway line was sprayed out to the left flank, where O'Sullivan brought the ball under his control as he chested it down before making a run into the penalty area. Andoh and Keller looked to halt his progress but only succeeded in squeezing the striker as he drifted into the box, thus bringing him down in full flight. Referee Mr Horsman took a long, hard look at the incident before awarding the visitors a spot-kick, which was taken by Flanagan. However, the former Walsall man's spot-kick was pushed away by Hill but only into the path of Lita, who turned the rebound home. Lita's celebrations were cut short, however, as a flag from the assistant penalised Hill for moving on his line before the kick was taken. This meant a re-take, with Flanagan sending the Bigglsewade stopper the wrong way the second time around to score his tenth goal of the season and give Hednesford the lead

The Pitmen could have doubled their lead on thirty-three minutes as they managed to recycle the ball on two separate occasions to keep the pressure on the Biggleswade defence. Flanagan's pass was cut out by Middelton, who could only play the ball as far as Webb down the right flank. The former Kidderminster Harriers utility man sent over a curling ball into the path of Lita, who stooped to head the ball goalwards but was denied by Hill from close-range, who held the ball at the second attempt

Andoh kept Basey on his toes two minutes later as he pick the ball up on the right wing and attempted a wicked cross-cum-shot at goal with a looping effort that the young stopper held at his near post

The Pitmen stretched their lead further on thirty-nine minutes as a quick break through the middle of the park saw Ison's long punt forwards picked up in midfield by Bennett, who headed the ball on beyond Farrell and turned the full-back with ease as he entered the penalty area. The attacking midfielder steadied himself and picked out Lita with a fine square pass to the far post, where the former Reading and Middlesbrough striker turned the ball home from close range for his fourth since joining the club

The hosts looked to strike back before the half-time break with Farrell's long throw on forty-two minutes inexplicably flicked on by Ison to Dearman, whose volley from twelve yards out was tipped over the crossbar by Basey

The Pitmen had taken full advantage of the clear-cut chances that had come their way in the first period, whereas the hosts had struggled with any sort of cutting edge so far, perhaps highlighting their plight towards the foot of the table. Todd Parker and Flanagan had dominated the midfield area, whilst O'Sullivan and Lita had been a constant threat to the home side's defence throughout the first period

It was to prove something of a damp squib of a second period, as both teams toiled in the sunshine and the game meandered to a disappointing conclusion. Good play from Andoh once more on fifty-one minutes saw the former Nuneaton Borough man skip past two challenges and play Lodovia through on goal, only for some excellent play from veteran defender Riley to deny the striker a shot at goal as he snuffed the danger out

Five minutes later, Bennett's mazy run down the right saw him beat two players but his low cross towards O'Sullivan was hacked away by Middleton before it could reach the striker at the far post

On the hour mark, the Pitmen made their first substitution of the afternoon as on-loan Yoane Zohore came on to play on the left flank as he replaced the tiring Lita; this saw a shift in position for O'Sullivan, who moved up front to allow Zohore to join him as the inside-forward from the left

On sixty-five minutes, Webb was the only player to pick up a booking in the game as he was shown a yellow card by Mr Horsman for bringing down Smyth in full flight down the left flank

Basey was called upon to make a quick-witted save midway through the second half as a daisy-cutter of a free-kick from Dearman from thirty-five yards out took a deflection off the Hednesford wall and made its way through to Rob Parker, who was denied a shot at goal by Basey's quick reactions to smother the ball at the midfielder's feet on this six-yard line

Basey - culpable for at least two of Alvechurch's goals last weekend - looked far more confident between the sticks for the Pitmen and looked to protect his clean sheet with a punch away from goal on sixty-nine minutes to deny Middleton a free header at goal from six yards out after Andoh had crossed from the right flank

Two minutes later, Zohore and Flanagan exchanged passes before laying the ball off the Todd Parker, whose run and shot was blocked by Mahoney and deflected safely into the arms of Hill

More good play from Todd Parker on seventy-five minutes saw the midfielder play another delightful pass into the path of O'Sullivan, who shrugged off Middleton's challenge but drive his shot from eighteen yards out well, well wide of Hill's goal

Zohore's game was to only last seventeen minutes, however, as the substitute was substituted on seventy-seven minutes as he picked up a knock and was replaced by Cameron Ebbutt for the remainder of the game

With ten minutes remaining, a cross from Keller out on the right was partially cleared by Ison, with the ball eventually finding the feet of Cardines on the left-hand side of the Hednesford penalty area. His lay-off found Andoh just outside the penalty area, with the winger shooting from distance but lifting his effort over Basey's crossbar from twenty-five yards out

On eighty-three minutes and with the game fast petering out, former Mansfield Town midfielder Cain Smith was given a late run-out by Meakin-Richards as he replaced the tireless Todd Parker in midfield

Good pressing from the Pitmen on eighty-seven minutes saw Tilt win the ball from a misplaced Middleton pass and sent Bennett away down the right flank. The former Doncaster Rovers man entered the penalty area before being brought down by Farrell, only for Mr Horsman to deny the visitors a second penalty kick as he felt that the full-back had got a touch on the ball

It had been a relatively straightforward win for the visitors, who had simply held firm in the second half to deny a very limited and out-of-ideas Biggleswade side time and space to get up a head of steam. The Pitmen move on to fifty-one points for the season and will be confident of a top-half finish for the first time in several seasons with only two games to go. Biggleswade remain five points from safety and could be relegated on Bank Holiday Monday, dependent on how they get on at Royston Town and how other results go. The Pitmen return to the PRG Stadium @ Keys Park in forty-eight hours' time when they face old rivals Tamworth in a mid-table Staffordshire derby clash

Biggleswade Town: Hill, Keller, Farrell, Middleton, Mahoney, R. Parker, Dearman, Mampolo (Cardines 69), Lodovia, Andoh, Smyth       Subs Unused: Parrett, Devine

Hednesford Town: Basey, Webb , Portman, Riley, Ison ©, Flanagan, Tilt, T. Parker (Smith 83)Lita (Zohore 60 (Ebbutt 77)), Bennett, O'Sullivan     Subs Unused: Hayden, Williams

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