6.3.2010

Zamaretto Southern Premier League

Brackley Town

Hednesford Town

Dyer (85)

(0) 0

(0) 1

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241

Zak Martin

D L L W D W W L W W

Leamington (A) 9.3.10

The last seventy-two hours have seen the Pitmen's season quite literally turned on its head, as tonight Bernard McNally and his players celebrate a second win in three days - the first a 4-0 wind against runaway league leaders Farnborough, followed up by this, an away win at second-placed Brackley. The double win gives the Pitmen fresh impetuous as they look to push towards the play-offs

McNally could find little fault in the side that had so soundly beaten Farnborough on Thursday night and decided against making any changes to his starting line-up. However, there were eyebrows raised with regards the substitutes bench, as only three replacements were named by McNally; Ross Dyer, Luke Chapman and reserve keeper Liam Flynn were named, with Aaron Gibson missing due to illness

Jon Brady's Brackley side continued to be the side that looked to keep runaway leaders Farnborough honest in the race for the title as they sat in second place in the Zamaretto League table, a full eleven points behind the Hampshire side. A 1-1 draw at fellow play-off chasers Halesowen Town last weekend had extended the Saints' unbeaten run to nine games

Clearly 'up' for the game following Thursday night's fine win, the Pitmen made a bright start; Tyrone Barnett made a typically defiant leap to meet Elliott Durrell's corner kick on eight minutes but headed wide at the near post after beating his man to the ball

Durrell was also continuing his fine form from two nights previously when he bagged a hat-trick. He picked the ball up midway inside the Brackley half on twenty minutes before hitting a powerful rising shot that flew half a yard over the crossbar

In a tentative first period, chances were very much at a premium, as both sides tested each other in midfield. Brackley produced a clutch of chances as the half wore on, with Brackley danger man Tom Winters crossing from a free-kick for Ben Mackey to head narrowly over Stuart Brock's crossbar

Winters was the architect for Brackley's best chance of the half on thirty-seven minutes, again taking a fine free-kick to find Josh Green, whose firm header again failed to test Brock, dropping wide of goal

The ever-dangerous Barnett continued to cause the Brackley defenders headaches as half time approached. A fine run from centre back Ben Bailey set Barnett up on the edge of the area, with the tall striker turning brilliantly and volleying just over the bar

Half time saw McNally make a change, bringing off the ineffective Dorryll Proffitt in favour of Dyer, reuniting Dyer, Barnett and Durrell up front in an attempt to seal what would have been an unlikely double win a week ago

Brady's team talk must have had the desired effect on his team at the break, as the hosts emerged with a much-improved attitude in the second half. Winters was a constant threat down the flank, teasing and testing with a number of runs and crosses for the likes of Mark Rawle and Ollie Burgess

Despite the threats, Hednesford's defence held firm superbly, with Decio Gomes once again a calming influence on his young charges. Indeed, they limited Brackley to the extent that their first real effort in the second half came on sixty-eight minutes when a ball from Owen Story found Winters, who attempted to outpace the Hednesford defence but fired wide with Gomes in close attendance

Mackey could have broken the deadlock on seventy-four minutes, picking the ball up but failing to get enough behind the ball, hitting it straight at Brock

Brock almost blotted his copybook two minutes later, making a meal of a shot from Burgess by allowing it squirm out of his grasp and only just miss the goal

There had been very little for the Hednesford supporters to get excited about in the second half, but with ten minutes to go they probably should have taken the lead. Josh Craddock's firm shot was goal bound until Zak Martin accidentally got in the way of his effort and deflected the ball away from goal as looked to have beaten Brackley keeper Ryan Harrison

The home side responded with a fine passing move that for the first time opened up the Hednesford back line, with Burgess on the end of it to fire at goal - Brock, however, was equal to his effort, pushing the ball away for a Brackley corner

With five minutes to go, just as all in the ground seemed to be settling for a fairly uninspiring draw, the away side snatched the winner courtesy of Dyer; Durrell's turn and pass put Dyer in on goal, with the striker making light of Green's challenge to fire low past Harrison, much in the same vein as his goal against Didcot earlier in the season

Despite a frenetic final couple of minutes, the resolute Hednesford defence held firm to clinch what has been one of the finest weeks in recent seasons for the club. The play-offs still seem a touch fanciful (eight points off fifth-placed Nuneaton), but there are few teams in better recent form than the Pitmen in recent weeks, and with the games coming thick and fast - fourth-placed Leamington are next - this is an ideal opportunity to get up a head of steam and push for that elusive fifth place

Brackley Town: TBC

Hednesford Town: Brock, Platt ©, Martin ▆  Bailey, Francis, Gomes, Durrell , Craddock, Barnett, Proffitt (Dyer 45), Dunkley         Subs Unused: Chapman, Flynn

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