Evo-Stik Northern Premier League

Bradford (Park Avenue)

Hednesford Town

Dunkley (5)

(0) 0

(1) 1



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Cheyenne Dunkley


Buxton (H) 16.8.11

Hednesford's return to the Northern Premier League proved to be a successful one this afternoon, as the Pitmen put in a superb defensive performance to claim all three points at Bradford (Park Avenue) this afternoon

Most of last season's successful Zamaretto League Premier side had re-signed for this season, so manager Rob Smith's side had a familiar look to it ahead of kick-off. A handful of new signings made their full debuts for the side, with defenders Pedro Monteiro and Chris Shaw and midfielder Phil Clarke all getting the nod. Mark Danks, who had returned to Keys Park after seven years away, also started alongside Danny Quinn up front

Bradford's pre-season programme had been impressive, with John Deacey's side beating Leeds United and local rivals Bradford City during the summer. Having finished in the play-offs last season, hopes were high at Horsfall Stadium of another push for promotion to Blue Square Bet North

The away side looked to start off on the front foot, kicking off with purpose and forcing Bradford onto the back foot in the early moments of the game. This tactic paid immediate dividends, as Bradford's Sam Denton conceded a free-kick out on the right-hand side after pressure from Quinn. Chris Clements swung over a sublime free-kick, giving Cheyenne Dunkley the perfect opportunity to head firmly home from six yards out

Despite an excellent start, Hednesford sat back on their lead following the goal and allowed Bradford to get a foothold in the game. The hosts forced a host of corners during the first quarter of the game, with Monteiro, Shaw and Dunkley all dealing with balls played dangerously into the Pitmen's six-yard box

For all of the pressure created from set-pieces, Bradford were still struggling to create any clear cut chances. On twenty-one minutes, Dan Crane was called upon for the first time in the game as he reacted quickly to make a smart save at his far post to deny Nicky Boshell

Boshell was again involved on twenty-seven minutes, looping a header goalwards from yet another Bradford corner kick, but watched as the ball hit the crossbar and bounced away from danger

The Pitmen were only offering sporadic threats to the Bradford defence going forward, with Quinn working hard in the role of the target man and Danks looking to exploit any knockdowns or loose balls

Bradford still looked the more likely to score during a disjointed first period, with the home side denied a penalty on thirty-seven minutes when Aiden Savory took a tumble in the area under a challenge from Dunkley

Danks incurred the wrath of the referee and the home supporters by ending up in the book for a late challenge on Rob O'Brien just before the break

A half time gee-up was needed by Smith and assistant Larry Chambers, with Hednesford's players lacking any real threat since the goal. They emerged with a far more positive attitude and had a clutch of chances to extend their lead in the early stages of the second half

Firstly, the ball was whipped off the toe of Danks as the little striker shaped to shoot from the edge of the box, closely followed by a great chance for Quinn, as Danks played a great ball into the feet of his striker partner; Quinn's smart shot was brilliantly turned away from goal by James Coates in the Bradford goal

Bradford's response came in the form of a well-worked move involving four players, but a superb goal-saving block by Shaw ensured the score stayed 1-0 to the Pitmen

The Hednesford faithful recognised the need to have a more physical presence up front, a fact that Smith and Chambers acted upon with twenty minutes remaining. The tiring Danks was replaced by the tall, powerful Nick Wellecomme, and immediately the Pitmen looked a more solid unit up front. He was joined up front by the equally powerful Marvin Robinson eight minute later, as the former Nantwich man replaced the hard-working Quinn

Wellecomme went closest to sealing the win for the Pitmen with nine minutes remaining, as he darted into the area and fired a low shot towards goal, only to be denied by another excellent stop from Coates

Another raft of Bradford corners in the final minutes gave cause for concern at the back for Hednesford, but again the three centre backs refused to be broken, with Dunkley particularly outstanding in the air

In the final minute of the game, Robinson went down heavily under a challenge wide on the left and was quickly substituted as a precaution, with Ben Bailey coming on for the final seconds

After seeing out the final minutes of pressure from the home side, the celebrations were slightly tainted after an altercation involving Wellecomme and Martin Drury saw the Hednesford substitute raise his hand to the Bradford man, leaving the referee with little option but to send Wellecomme off

All in all, however, getting three points on the board on the opening day is a fine start for Smith's team, who now face back-to-back home games in the next week as they firstly host Buxton on Tuesday night before the much-fancied Chester make the trip down the M6 next weekend

Bradford (Park Avenue): Coates, Plimmer, Drury, O'Brien © (Graves 64), Denton (Daly 64), Clayton , Duckworth (Law 76), Hotte , Marshall, Savory, Boshell      Subs Unused: Tiani, Deacey

Hednesford Town: Crane, Monteiro, Campion ©, Shaw, Dunkley, Denny, Haynes, Clements, Quinn  (Robinson 76), Danks  (Wellecomme 69 (90)), Clarke       Subs Unused: Osborne, Gomes

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