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Skrill North

Bradford (Park Avenue)

Gardner (90)

Hednesford Town

Taylor (12), Durrell (90)

(0) 1

(1) 2



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Neil Harvey


Solihull Moors (A) 25.1.14

An extraordinary end to proceedings at the Horsfall Stadium this afternoon saw Hednesford emerge victorious, completing a league double over Bradford (Park Avenue) in the process and earning their third win in a week to move joint top of the Skrill North table, taking advantage of North Ferriby's wobble at home to Histon

Having seen off ex-Football League sides Boston United and Stockport County in the last seven days, Hednesford arrived in a drizzly and cold West Yorkshire full of confidence as they looked to continue their recent run of good form. Manager Rob Smith did, however, have several headaches to deal with before kick-off, as both Marvin Robinson and Nathan Blissett were ruled out of the clash with injury. With fellow strikers Michael Lennon and Charlie Anagho-Ntamark out on loan, plus Wayne Riley not being risked due to a persistent niggling injury, Smith was limited in his striking options. With this in mind, he went with Neil Harvey playing up front on his own with Elliott Durrell playing a free role behind the big striker. This saw a recall for Kris Taylor in midfield, meaning that the Pitmen could only muster up four substitutes - one of which was the injured Riley

John Deacey's Bradford side have been frustratingly inconsistent during this campaign, with injuries having an impact on his small squad as they looked towards the top six places in the table. A run of five league defeats through December - including a 2-0 defeat at Keys Park just before Christmas - had threatened their progress, but successive wins over Worcester and Gloucester in the last week had put Avenue back on track in mid-table

  On a heavy, muddy pitch at the Horsfall Stadium, Bradford almost took advantage of an early slip from Paul McCone to gift former Stafford and Port Vale man Danny Glover a great chance to open his Avenue account. Chasing a ball over the top, McCone lost his footing at the worst possible moment as he allowed the ball to drift over his head. Glover raced onto the loose ball but wasted an excellent opening by clearing the crossbar with his left-footed shot

Hednesford responded with a neat move down the right involving John Disney, who slipped the ball into the path of Harvey. The big striker's effort was on target, but John Lamb in the Bradford goal was equal to his effort and saved well

The Pitmen were by far the better side in the opening ten minutes, getting to grips with the difficult underfoot conditions quicker and peppering the Avenue goal with several free-kicks and corner kicks that Lamb and his defence did well to deal with under pressure

A great cross from Taylor on eight minutes, drifting in from the right, found the head of Jamey Osborne at the far post - the midfielder, not renowned for his heading ability, headed narrowly wide under pressure from a Bradford defender

Neat play from skipper Darren Campion on the left on eleven minutes saw him play a great ball through the channels to Durrell, whose powerful effort was palmed away by Lamb. Bradford struggled to clear their lines, with Osborne brought down just outside the penalty area as he drove towards goal

From the resultant free-kick, Taylor took responsibility with his left foot, curling his shot beyond the reach of Lamb at his near post to register his first goal of the season

Glover's pace was giving the Pitmen cause for concern, with the striker appealing for a penalty after clashing with McCone just inside the penalty area on fourteen minutes

Bradford were almost architects of their own downfall on eighteen minutes, as lax defending from Richard Marshall allowed Harvey to steal the ball from him in a dangerous position, with Lamb turning Harvey's striker away for a Hednesford corner

From the resultant corner from Durrell, Bradford again failed to clear their lines effectively, with Taylor picking up the loose ball on the edge of the penalty area and fired in a rising shot that looked to be heading for the corner of the net. However, last-ditch defending from Adam Clayton saw him somehow head the ball away from goal as he stood on the goal line

Avenue's Alex Davidson was rightly shown a yellow card by the referee for simulation on twenty-four minutes, as he went down far too easily in the Hednesford penalty area as Francino Francis challenged him

A minute later, the same player did test the reflexes of the in-form Dan Crane as his swerving effort from range was tipped over the bar by Crane, diving to his left to deny the midfielder an equaliser

Hednesford's extra man in midfield was making a big difference to the visitors, as they bossed the first half across the centre of the park. Bradford were guilty of a number of misplaced passes, although home debutant Glover was a threat on the counter-attack with his pace

McCone was breathing a sigh of relief five minutes before half time, as he had a coming together with Glover as the two chased down a long ball over the top. The defender won the race by knocking the ball back to Crane but seemed to clip Glover as the striker tried to get past him and close Crane down. Despite howls of derision from the home supporters and demands for a red card, McCone was shown a yellow card and Bradford awarded a free-kick, which was wasted

The confidence Hednesford had built up from successive home wins was severely tested at the start of the second half, as Bradford emerged much the better as they forced the visitors back into their own third. Crane made a good early save from Paul Walker and followed this up on fifty-four minutes to deny Alex Davidson with a tip over the crossbar

In an effort to stem the flow through midfield, the Pitmen introduced the powerful Dave MacPherson in place of Robbie Thompson-Brown, playing with three central midfielders in the process with Osborne seemingly playing in a more advanced role

The pitch continued to cause problems as it cut up down the middle of the park, with a number of players losing their footing. Osborne managed to keep his feet on sixty-five minutes driving in a shot that Lamb did well to save low down

Bradford's best chance of the game to date fell to Glover on sixty-nine minutes. A towering header from Marshall found Glover alone in the six-yard box, but his miscued volley drifted wide of goal, much to the relief of Crane and his defenders

Osborne was forced off with what looked like a reoccurrence of the groin problems he suffered before Christmas on seventy-four minutes, with Nathan Woolfe coming on in his place

Four minutes later, MacPherson somehow failed to settle proceedings with a great chance from six yards out after Harvey had won the ball out on the right-wing and played the ball into the substitute's path. MacPherson weakly sidefooted the ball towards goal and allowed Lamb to make a reasonably easy stop from close range

Bradford turned the screw in the final ten minutes, introducing recent signing Ross Gardner as they looked for that elusive equaliser. A run and cross from Glover on eighty-five minutes was just begging to be turned into the empty net by Davidson, but he somehow failed to get a connection on the cross as he slid in at the far post

The Pitmen were playing deeper and deeper in their own half in the final minutes, and with the game three minutes into added time they eventually succumbed to Bradford's pressure. The ball was worked across the penalty area from left to right, with Gardener seizing upon the ball before stepping inside Campion's challenge and forcing the ball past Crane at his near post to send the home fans wild...

.... But those celebrations were cut short within fifteen seconds, as the Pitmen snatched victory with one of the most memorable goals in recent times courtesy of Durrell; Harvey and Durrell restarted the game, with the striker touching the ball to Hednesford's top scorer. With little to lose, Durrell went on a surging run from halfway, dribbling around no less than six Bradford players as he took the ball to the edge of the Avenue box. Even when he looked to have lost the momentum, Durrell regained his composure to step past two further challenges before firing a low shot under Lamb and into the bottom corner of the net to send the players and supporters wild at what they had just witnessed. Simply put - a staggering piece of individual skill to win the game

The Pitmen celebrated a well-earned and spectacular three points at the final whistle, with news filtering through from North Ferriby of a 4-4 draw for the league leaders that meant the Pitmen moved level on points at the top of Skrill North once again. Durrell's goal will be spoken about fondly for many years to come, with Hednesford searching for a fourth win on the bounce next week at out-of-sorts Solihull Moors

Bradford Park Avenue: Lamb, Price (Chilaka 65), Knowles, Marshall, Clayton, Howarth, Davidson, Hotte ©, Glover (Beesley 77), Deacey (Gardner 80), Walker       Subs Unused: Qualter, Maxfield

Hednesford Town: Crane, Disney, Campion ©, McCone, Francis, Taylor, Osborne (Woolfe 74 (Bailey 90), Durrell, Harvey, Thompson-Brown (MacPherson 60), Thorley        Sub Unused: Riley

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