Evo-Stik Northern Premier League

Nantwich Town

Lindfield (10), (49)

Hednesford Town

Sweeney (29)

(1) 2

(1) 1



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Nathan Fox



South Shields (H) 13.10.18

It's not been a happy week for the Pitmen, who suffer their second tame reverse in four days with defeat to Nantwich Town at the Weaver Stadium this evening to leave them languishing in mid-table in the Evo-Stik Premier League


Having been outplayed, outthought and out-scored by Kettering Town at the weekend, Hednesford manager Rob Smith had some thinking to do ahead of the Pitmen's return to league action. He remained without the services of the injured quintet of Charlie Gatter, Sam Grimshaw, Jed Davies, Matt Dodd and Josh Craddock, whilst young goalkeeper Josef Bursik was once again on England U19 duty for the next ten days. This saw former Telford keeper Sheridan Martinez make his Hednesford debut between the sticks, joined by young striker Dan Sweeney who was also making his debut after coming into the starting XI in place of Michael Howard. There was also a recall for Reece King in midfield following Jermain Hollis's indifferent performance at Latimer Park


Nantwich had made a fairly good start to the new season under Dave Cooke, sitting seventh in the table ahead of tonight's proceedings following a 2-1 win over Farsley Celtic at the weekend. Former Hednesford midfielder James Lawrie was named in the Nantwich starting line-up, but there was no place for the injured Danny Glover, currently suffering from a back problem that was keeping him out of the Dabbers' side


On a heavily-watered Weaver Stadium pitch, Nantwich went close to striking first thanks to a mazy run from left-back Jamie Morgan in the third minutes, beating Matt Curley down the wing before cutting inside and firing a shot just over the crossbar from long-range


The tricky Joe Mwasile - formerly with Ashton United and Marine and a well-known face to Hednesford supporters - made his presence felt in the seventh minute with a quick break down the right wing, pulling the ball back into the path of Troy Bourne. Bourne's inswinging cross towards goal was aimed at the onrushing Joe Malkin, who was inches away from turning the ball home from close-range as the ball flashed across the face of the Hednesford penalty area


The pressure on the Hednesford defence continued, with Mwasile involved once more in the ninth minute as he traded passes with Morgan before having his shot deflected away by Stefan Galinski for a Nantwich corner kick


From the resultant corner, Nantwich took a deserved lead with a well-worked manoeuvre; Lawrie's corner picked out Sean Cooke on the edge of the penalty area, with the striker clipping the ball over the top and into the path of Craig Lindfield. The former Chester forward took full advantage of the dithering in the Pitmen's ranks to fire home on the volley after Martinez and his defenders left the ball to each other, possibly expecting an offside flag that never arrived


More defensive mistakes were to follow for the away side, who looked completely disjointed in the opening quarter of the game, as a loose pass from the usually-reliable Sam Griffiths gifted the ball to Cooke on thirteen minutes. Fortunately for the centre-back, the striker rushed his shot and lifted his speculative effort high over the crossbar


Two minutes later, the shaky-looking Martinez made another blunder that almost cost his side, inexplicably throwing the ball straight into the path of Cooke, who in turn slipped the ball through to Lawrie. Before the ex-Pitman could get his shot away, however, Martinez made up for his error with a smothering stop to deny Lawrie a further Nantwich goal


Nathan Fox - one of the rare breed of consistent performers for the Pitmen in a wholly inconsistent campaign so far - went close to opening his account for the club on seventeen minutes as Lewis Archer made a bold run and crossed to pick out the left-back, but his goalbound header was straight into the arms of Fabian Spiess in the Nantwich goal


Joe Fitzpatrick stung the hand of the Nantwich stopper on twenty-four minutes with a free-kick from a similar range to the one his scored from at Grantham Town last week. On this occasion, however, Spiess was equal to the effort and made a good save low down to his left


Matt Curley was having a decent game at right wing-back and went closest of anyone in a red shirt to scoring on twenty-eight minutes, curling his effort narrowly wide of the far post after picking the ball up on the corner of the Nantwich penalty area


 A minute later, the Pitmen got their equalising goal through debutant Sweeney, who capitalised on an error from Nantwich captain Theo Stair to score his first goal for the Pitmen. Stair allowed the ball to bounce past him and gifted possession to Sweeney, who made no mistake after advancing on goal to fire low past Spiess


The Pitmen were now on top in the game for the first time, with Sweeney denied the chance of a second goal on thirty-five minutes by a late, late offside flag after Fox had slipped the ball through the middle of the Nantwich defence


A powerful run from Archer on thirty-eight minutes saw the big forward win the ball and break away from the Nantwich defence. However, a covering challenge from Toby Mullarkey denied the youngster a clear shot on goal, deflecting his effort behind for a corner kick


Curley was the first of five Hednesford players to be shown a yellow card in the game on forty-one minutes, pushing Morgan over down the Nantwich left and deservedly going into the book


It was another game that the Pitmen probably didn't want half-time to come, as they ended the half on top and pressing for a second goal after a very shaky start. And so it proved once more, as they were made to pay for another slow start to the second period by conceding on forty-nine minutes


A neat piece of build-up play from the Dabbers saw Lawrie play a good ball into Bourne, whose low driven cross was turned home by Lindfield from close-range for his second goal of the evening. A simple goal well crafted by the hosts as they became the latest side to score against the Pitmen in the early stages of the second half. Smith must really look at the content of his half-time team talks, as this seems far more than coincidental


Nantwich looked to kill the game off as a contest in the early stages of the second half, with Bourne doing well to force another error out of Martinez on fifty-one minutes, with the big stopper skewing his rushed clearance back into danger. After Nantwich had recycled the ball from a throw-in, Cooke's deep cross was claimed by Martinez at his far post, although he caused mild panic in the ranks after initially dropping the ball in front of goal


Sweeney's powerful run down the left saw him escape the attention of the Nantwich defence on fifty-five minutes, delivering a great cross into the Dabbers six-yard box but finding no-one in a red shirt willing to gamble on a run into the box to turn the tempting ball home


 Martinez had the Hednesford management worried on fifty-seven minutes as he went down and stayed down following a goal-kick. After intensive treatment, however, he continued to play on, despite Jose Veiga being in the early stages of preparing to come on and replace him


With this in mind, Smith made a double change a minute later with Dan Cockerline coming on for Curley and Howard replacing Archer in a like-for-like swap up front


Griffiths denied Nantwich a certain third goal on sixty-one minutes, somehow managing to turn a left-wing cross from Morgan over his own crossbar and away for a corner to deny Malkin a tap-in at the near post


Coyle followed Curley into the book with a poor challenge to stop Mwasile in his tracks on sixty-four minutes, deservedly receiving a caution after deliberately stopping the winger from getting away from him


An inswinging Fitzpatrick corner kick a minute later found the head of Griffiths, whose flick header flew just wide of Spiess' left-hand post as he rose highest at the near post


On sixty-eight minutes, the Pitmen made their final change of the evening as Charley Edge got a run-out as he replaced King, who had had a disappointing night of conceding possession cheaply. Edge moved to left-back and allowed Fox to play further forward in midfield


Cockerline did well to shimmy his way past two players on seventy-three minutes, sending over an excellent cross that was again wasted as Spiess claimed unchallenged. It had been a poor limp display from the Pitmen up front in a disappointingly lacklustre second-half display 


After Edge had been booked for protesting too much, Howard got away from the Nantwich defence on seventy-nine minutes, only to be pulled up by another late offside flag as he shaped to shoot


Martinez partially atoned for his shaky first-half display with a fine save on eighty minutes, palming a shot deflected towards goal by the boot of Galinski away from goal at his right-hand post


A minute later, Martinez went one better with a fine double save to deny substitute Callum Saunders, denying the striker not once but twice in quick succession after Cooke had played him in on goal


A rare long-range effort from the Pitmen almost brought them level on eigh-three minutes, as Edge tried his luck from twenty-five yards out with a powerful left-footed strike, only to miss the target by inches


Cockerline created an opening for himself with two minutes remaining, turning his Morgan on the edge of the penalty area but firing straight into the grateful hands of Spiess


Saunders was denied a late goal through some industrial last-ditch defending from the Pitmen through Galinski, who was booked in added time for more dissent - another area of the team that is causing concern now that suspensions are creeping into the squad


Another miserable night for the Pitmen, who drop to thirteenth in the table following tonight's results after another lame display that saw them offer little in any sector of the pitch from the shaky defence, through an ineffective midfield and a shot-shy attack. A number of sidelined players will likely come into play as Smith loses patience in a number of his first picks, starting with the tough home encounter over high-flying South Shields on Saturday


Nantwich Town: Spiess, Bourne, Morgan, Stair ©, Mullarkey, Bell, Mwasile (Phillips 87), Lawrie , Malkin, Cooke, Lindfield (Saunders 67)     Subs Unused: Hawkins, Jones, Knight


Hednesford Town: Martinez, Mendez-Jones, Griffiths, Fitzpatrick , Galinski © , King (Edge 68 ), Curley ▆ (Cockerline 58), Coyle , Archer (Howard 58), Sweeney, Fox    Subs Unused: Veiga, Hollis

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