16.10.2018

Evo-Stik Northern Premier League

Hednesford Town

Lancaster City

Wilson (27)

(0) 0

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(1) 1

Attendance

MoTM

Current Form

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324

 

Charley Edge

 

W L W W L W L L W L

 

Matlock Town (A) 20.10.18

The Pitmen once again failed to follow up a fine win with another positive result this evening, as another limp attacking display sees them crash to defeat at home to improving Lancaster City at Keys Park

 

Saturday's fine win over South Shields had moved the Pitmen back into the top ten after two indifferent away performances at Kettering and Nantwich. Lewis Archer's indifferent display on Saturday saw him moved to the substitute's bench and was replaced by Michael Howard in the only change to his side. Goalkeeper Sheridan Martinez lined up for what was likely to be his final game for the club with regular stopper Josef Bursik returning from England U19 duty this week 

 

Lancaster's start to the season had been awful, with manager Phil Brown resigning following a run of only two wins in the first ten games, leaving the Dolly Blues in the bottom three in the Evo-Stik Premier League table. Former Ramsbottom United manager Mark Fell was appointed as Brown's replacement and has overseen an improvement in form since taking over two weeks ago, holding Basford to a draw in his first game before winning 2-0 at Grantham Town at the weekend. Fell had also brought a familiar face to Hednesford fans with him to Lancaster, with ex-Pitmen striker Graham Lancashire appointed Fell's assistant at the Giant Axe

 

On a cool, early autumn evening in South Staffordshire, Lancaster were first to get a shot in on goal in the third minute. A neat piece of build-up play on the edge of the Hednesford penalty area saw Matty Blinkhorn's shot smothered by Stefan Galinski as the striker broke into the Hednesford penalty area

 

Dan Cockerline's first involvement saw him take advantage of a slip from Lancaster's Ben Hudson in the fifth minute, robbing the defender of the ball just inside the Lancaster half and advancing on goal, only to waste his chance with a tame chip at goal that drifted wide

 

On-loan Dan Sweeney went agonisingly close to adding to his recent goal glut on eight minutes, bringing down a Matt Curley cross before cutting inside from the left wing and firing in a low shot across the face of goal that only just missed the far post

 

A minute later, the Pitmen went even closer to opening the scoring through a Joe Fitzpatrick free kick that was turned towards his own goal by Lancaster's Paul Dugdale, prompting an outstanding save from keeper Jack Sims low to his left to tip the ball away and deny the Pitmen the opener

 

After an opening ten minutes that had seen the home side very much on top, Lancaster came back into the game with a good spell of their own with two free-kicks in dangerous areas cleared by the Hednesford defence. Fitzpatrick tried his luck with a dipping free-kick on twenty-three minutes, driving his effort wide of the Lancaster's right-hand post from just outside the penalty area

 

It was Fitzpatrick who gave away the free-kick from which the eventual winner was conceived four minutes later, as a challenge on Blinkhorn earned the Dolly Blues a free-kick wide on the Lancaster left. Midfielder Rob Wilson stepped up and whipped in a dangerous cross-cum-shot that caught out Martinez, drifting over the head of the keeper and finding the far corner of the net from a tight angle. It was a chance Martinez will have been expected to deal with but made an error of judgment with the flight of the ball

 

The Pitmen offered only half-chances in their quest to get themselves back into the game, with Reece King lifting a shot high over the crossbar from the edge of the penalty area on the half-hour mark. Indeed, Lancaster went closer to adding to their lead on thirty-four minutes with Wilson heading a deep free-kick wide of goal from eight yards out

 

Sam Griffiths thought he had opened his scoring account for the Pitmen on thirty-nine minutes, as he hit the foot of the post following another Fitzpatrick corner kick from the right that found the defender in the penalty area

 

In added time, the quiet Howard lashed a shot inches wide of the post following a cross from Nathan Fox, only for the referee to pull the play back for a foul by Cockelrine on the edge of the penalty area

 

Half-time saw a visibly frustrated Smith make two changes to his misfiring side, with the desperately disappointing pair of King and Cockerline hauled off unceremoniously and replaced by Charley Edge and Archer. The experienced Blinkhorn was replaced by Lancaster too, with midfielder Ryan McLean coming on in place of the former Fylde man

 

Archer's first dealings in the game were to create a simply glorious opportunity for Sweeny in the first minute of the second half, rampaging down the right wing and squaring the ball to his strike partner, who inexplicably put his effort wide of goal from close-range when it seemed easier to tap the ball home at the far post. A great chance and one the Pitmen would rue missing at the end of the game

 

A positive period of play from the Pitmen saw Griffiths head wide of goal from an Edge corner, followed by a powerful run from Sewweny down the left that was halted by a last-ditch tackle from Lewis Fensome

 

The Pitmen were handed a boost on fifty-eight minutes with Lancaster defender Craig Stanley shown a straight red card for pulling back Sweeney as the striker broke through the Lancaster rearguard. The referee gave himself a moment to survey the situation before sending the defender off, who refused to go off initially as he felt that he had got a touch on the ball before making contact with the striker

 

Whilst Lancaster remonstrated with the referee about the nature of the red card, the Pitmen made their third and final change of the evening; Curley had been clutching his leg for a few moments and was quickly replaced by Callam Mendez-Jones at right-back

 

From the resultant free-kick, the impressive Edge struck the wall with a powerfully-struck effort from twenty-five yards out that ended up in the hands of Sims

 

A neat passage of play from the Pitmen on sixty-five minutes saw the ball worked out wide to Howard via Edge and Coyle, with Howard swinging in a cross that was headed straight into the arms of Sims by Archer from ten yards out

 

Despite having the numerical advantage, the Pitmen were only creating chances sporadically and even those tended to be half-chances. Sweeney headed an Edge corner wide of goal on seventy-two minutes, followed by a chance for Galinski - still looking for his first Hednesford goal - who headed wide of the post after reaching another Edge corner

 

Edge was taking responsibility for many of the Pitmen's set-pieces since coming on at the break, winning a free-kick for the hosts on eighty minutes after a challenge on him from Simon Wills. Edge's powerfully-struck shot was well fielded by Sims, who watched the ball all the way into his gloves

 

Galinski had the best chance of the closing minutes for the Pitmen as they committed more men forwards in search of a late equaliser, heading a Fitzpatrick corner kick straight into the arms of Sims from close-range with the final effort of a frustrating game for the hosts

 

All on all, another sobering reminder of the sheer inconsistency and lack of conviction this young side has when they come up against a typically big, strong, well-organised Northern League team. Another tough encounter is on the cards for the Pitmen at the weekend when they travel to Matlock Town, who have been similarly inconsistent this term and lie three points below the Pitmen in the league table 

 

Hednesford Town: Martinez, Curley (Mendez-Jones 58), Fox, Fitzpatrick, Galinski ©, Griffiths, King (Edge 45), Coyle, Cockerline  (Archer 45), Sweeney, Howard    Subs Unused: Hollis, Veiga

 

Lancaster City: Sims, Fensome, Dugdale, Wills , Hudson, Stanley (58), Winder, Russell, Blinkhorn (McLean 45), Wilson (Gorj 82), Kilifin    Subs Unused: Muir, Stone

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