11.4.2009

UniBond Northern Premier League

Hednesford Town

Boston United

Miller (88)

(0) 0

(0) 1

Attendance

MoTM

Current Form

Next Match

520

Decio Gomes

L L L W D W W L W L

Matlock Town (A) 13.4.09

Hednesford gave their supporters a sense of deja vu this afternoon, as for the second weekend in succession, they failed to follow up an excellent midweek win with a home win to cement their play-off place. Instead, an apathetic display saw them drop to seventh place in the table, courtesy of a late Ricky Miller goal for the visitors

Danny Harvey's injury looked to have cleared up sufficiently for him to take his place in defence, but a late change to the side saw the Pitmen line up with the same side as the one that had beaten Nantwich Town so convincingly on Tuesday night as Harvey failed a fitness test. Indeed, the bench also remained unchanged, as Hednesford searched for that elusive back-to-back winning streak that could take them up to the giddy heights of third place in the table if results go their way

It had been a rotten season for the Pilgrims, who are still not completely safe from the drop in fifteenth place in the UniBond Premier League table. A late Leigh Genesis penalty last Saturday had denied Steve Welsh's side a crucial three points, although they were in the midst of an unbeaten run stretching back four games. The under-fire Welsh made one change to his side from the side that had started against Leigh with Adam Millson coming for the injured Ben Sedgemore

The home side started well, pushing Boston back as they looked for an early goal. Skipper Ross Draper, who now only has one game left this term ahead of his three-match ban, was first to get a sight on goal, picking up a loose clearance from Paul Ellender on the edge of the area, but got his weight under the ball and fired well over

Elliott Durrell was the main architect of everything positive for the hosts in the first ten minutes, getting involved in the move that saw Draper play in Tyrone Barnett for a chance on four minutes, but the striker dragged his effort wide of goal

Durrell was involved again a few minutes later, as top scorer Ross Dyer raced onto a through ball, but he also failed to test Boston goalkeeper Aaron Butcher

Boston had struggled for form for the majority of the season, which had left them in a fight to avoid yet another relegation this term. Their limited attacking options were clear to see, as the only chances they created in the first half came as a result of errors by the Hednesford defence. On fifteen minutes, Decio Gomes gave the ball away as he casually allowed the ball to find Alex Beck, whose drive was well held by Stuart Brock down by his near post

Barnett was presented with a real chance to open the scoring midway through the half when Miller played a wild ball straight into the path of the striker, but he failed to take advantage of the opportunity, as he fired straight at Butcher

Brock made a smart double save on the half-hour mark, claiming Beck's header, then denying the same player with a great save low down after more slack defending allowed the Boston man a run on goal. He could do nothing to stop Ellender from nodding the ball towards goal as half-time approached, with the big defender getting above a static Hednesford defence to head across goal, but no one in a blue shirt could take advantage

The Pitmen's attacking threat seemed to be reliant on the likes of Dyer and Barnett, as time and again they played long balls over the top for the two to chase down the channels. Dyer made one of his characteristic runs in from the wing, but once again failed to make the net bulge with an off-target effort

Sam Hall tried his luck as half-time approached, picking the ball up deep, before setting himself and hitting a good shot from twenty-five yards that Butcher had to be alert to deal with

In added time at the end of the half Dyer almost opened up the stubborn Boston defence, weaving his way through and getting a shot in, but to his frustration, the ball was hacked clear

The Pitmen continued to have the better of the chances at the start of the second half. Anthony Maguire was the latest player to test Butcher, cutting in from the right and hitting a rising shot that Butcher turned over the bar for a corner kick

Durrell's influence on the game had waned, as Boston's tactics in marking him out of it seemed to be working. However, Steve Melton's aggressive challenge on the youngster was one challenge too many, as the Boston man raised his arm to stop the playmaker, and promptly received a yellow card for his troubles

Draper was doing his best to drag the Pitmen forward, with the skipper once again getting into a good position on the edge of the area, but he fired well over after Ludovic Quistin had squared the ball to him

The Pilgrims had had very little of the play during the third quarter of the game, with only half chances to really talk of. Beck tested Brock with a drive before Mitchell Griffiths hit the roof of the Heath Hayes Terrace with a wild effort after an hour

The chances were really tallying up for the Pitmen as the game entered the final twenty minutes; Draper again managed to get an effort in, heading narrowly over the bar from a Quistin free-kick. This was followed up soon after by a great chance for Dyer, as he headed Durrell's cross agonisingly wide at the far post

Possibly the best chance of the game for the Pitmen fell to Tom Marshall on seventy-four minutes; Quistin's free-kick found the head of the centre-back but from close range, the big defender failed to get his header on target, heading over when it seemed easier to head home

Barnett will have wondered how none of his opportunities had gone in, as two excellent chances went begging for the hitman in quick succession. Firstly, Butcher made a save from Barnett's driven shot, before Hednesford's number nine headed high over the bar with an awkward header from Maguire's cross

Whilst the scoreline stayed goalless, there was always a feeling that the home side would rue missing so many chances, and that Boston could always snatch a goal. Ryan Clarke got a sniff of goal for the Pilgrims six minutes from time, but he allowed Brock to wrestle the ball away from him inside the area

The Pitmen's defensive frailties came to the fore once again two minutes from the end, as a hopeful Boston attack turned into the winning goal. After the Pitmen had wasted a corner kick, Boston broke up the field and won one of their own - their first of the game. Melton's corner was not dealt with, allowing the ball to drop to Miller, who hammered the ball home from a couple of yards out

The goal stunned the Pitmen, with them failing to test Butcher in the generous six minutes of added time given by the referee. They now have to rely on other teams' results to have a chance of the play-offs, with three wins from the final three games a must if they are to have any chance at all of being in the mix come April 25th. However, form and confidence is now at odds with the early-season domination of the league and it would take a huge slice of good fortune for the Pitmen to make it into the top five at the end of the season; even if they do somehow gatecrash the end of season play-offs, their form is so poor that they could not be confident of going all the way

Hednesford Town: Brock, Maguire, Quistin, Gomes, Abraham, Marshall, Hall, Durrell (West 61), Barnett, Dyer, Draper ©        Subs Unused: Coulston, Bailey, Gill, Woolley

Boston United: Butcher, Matthews, Millson, Ellender, Bloomer; T. Parker, Griffiths, Clarke, Beck (Farrell 74), Miller, Melton     Subs Unused: Jackson, L. Parker, Wood, Green

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