Vanarama National League North

Bradford (Park Avenue)

St.Juste (78)

Hednesford Town

Thomas (4)

(0) 1

(1) 1



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Adam Thomas


Leamington (A) 28.11.15

The Pitmen's recent improved form continued this afternoon at a bitterly cold Horsfall Stadium, as they claimed another useful point in the Vanarama National League North - but will once again rue another late goal conceded after they had led for the vast majority of the game

Last week's 0-0 draw at home to Solihull Moors had offered glimpses of hope for Hednesford supporters that the players could turn in strong performances against quality opposition, with manager Bernard McNally making only the one change to his side ahead of their trip to West Yorkshire. New signing Jack Dyer came straight into the side after his switch from Nuneaton Town, replacing Paul Ennis in midfield. Nathan Modest and Marvin Robinson had departed the club in the previous week, meaning Phil Trainer returned to the squad after serving a one match ban last week

Bradford had spent the summer rebuilding under new ownership, with Texas based businessman Gareth Roberts allowing new manager Martin Drury to bring in top Conference North names such as James Walshaw and Justin St. Juste in an attempt to push Avenue up the table. Form had been good at the Horsfall Stadium so far this term, with only AFC Fylde taking all three points from Bradford since August

A wintery night in Yorkshire had seen temperatures drop and a thin layer of snow fall on the notoriously poor pitch at the converted athletics stadium. After a push by Bradford volunteers, the snow was cleared and the pitch was passed fit to play on

Hednesford made light of the poor underfoot conditions and swept into an early lead with the first attack of the game on four minutes; Andy Todd played the ball back into the path of Tom James, whose superb deep cross found the head of Adam Thomas, who rose highest at the far post to head confidently past Jon Stewart in the Bradford goal

Buoyed by their early advantage, the Pitmen streamed forwards in search of a second goal, with Ahmed Obeng testing the reflexes of Stewart two minutes later as he made a dart forward and fired straight into the hands of the Bradford stopper

More good work down the left on eight minutes saw Todd and James combine once more, with Stewart preventing a carbon copy of the opening goal by claiming the high ball ahead of the incoming Thomas

Bradford were struggling to get going in the game, with a number of misplaced passes on the bumpy pitch met with derision from the small crowd huddled under the one and only stand at the Horsfall Stadium

Danico Johnson's perseverance saw him shrug off a challenge from Ryan Qualter on twelve minutes as he made a move forwards, but his low drive at goal was blocked well by Billy Priestley

The next fifteen minutes saw the two midfields on top of the game, with Sean Williams working hard to chase the ball down and Dyer playing a neat pass and move game that allowed the likes of Todd and Thomas to support Jonson and Obeng at will

 The game had to wait until thirty five minutes for the next real opening, with Bradford finally testing the reflexes of Dan Crane through the ever-present threat of Walshaw; a free kick from the big striker looked goalbound, but an excellent save from Crane saw the returning Hednesford stopper tip the ball over the crossbar for a Bradford corner

Walshaw went close to levelling matters two minutes before the break, firing just over the crossbar with a rising shot after cutting inside Tyrone Williams on the Hednesford right

Bradford emerged with far more purpose in the second period, pushing Hednesford back in the early stages as they looked to get back into the game. A Nathan Turner shot on forty eight minutes was deflected wide of goal by Ben Bailey, conceding the first of a succession of corner kicks for the hosts. The resultant corner was headed just over the crossbar by Priestley as the Pitmen allowed the defender too much space

Walshaw had a great chance to pull Bradford level a minute later, as St. Juste's cross dropped in front of him in the penalty area. However, the big striker could not get the ball out of his feet and allowed Matt Regan to hack the ball clear

With an hour on the clock, the hard-working Johnson was replaced by the burly presence of Kyle Perry, as the Pitmen looked to counter Bradford's attacking threat by having a more physical threat up front

A Sean Williams corner kick on sixty seven minutes found the head of Obeng, who placed his header just over the crossbar at the far post

Four minutes later, Perry had a similar chance at the far post, glancing Todd's cross inches over the crossbar

Bradford's threat had dissipated for a spell, but they came back into the game as it entered the final fifteen minutes. Another series of corners and free kicks tested the Pitmen's fragile confidence in defence, which they dealt with well in form of Bailey and Regan

However, the hosts finally found a way through with twelve minutes remaining, as a corner from the left fell to St. Juste, who was hovering on the edge of the Hednesford penalty area. He composed himself and fired a low shot beyond Crane, possibly via a small deflection through a forest of legs in front of him

It was hard on the Pitmen, who had looked comfortable for long periods of the game with their new-found confidence in defence. With five minutes of the game left, Trainer came on for the tiring Dyer to shore up a tiring midfield and see the game out

And yet, Sean Williams almost won it for the visitors with three minutes remaining as the midfielder fired in a shot that took a slight deflection off Turner and flew agonisingly wide of the foot of the post

In the final minute, Walshaw's free kick from just outside the penalty area was blocked by the Hednesford wall, with St. Juste firing the rebound straight into the grateful arms of Crane

Another battling performance from the Pitmen earns them the point to move up a place in the league table, although only six points separate the whole of the bottom half of the table. McNally's side take a break from league duty next week when they take a trip to either Rushall or Leamington in the next round of the F.A. Trophy

Bradford Park Avenue: Stewart, Pursehouse (Scott 45), St Juste, Price, Qualter, Priestley, Marshall, Turner, McDonald (King 77), Marshall (Chilaka 65), Walshaw       Subs Unused: Mather, Schofield

Hednesford Town: Crane, T. Williams, James, Bailey ©, Regan, Dyer (Trainer 85), S. Williams, Thomas, Johnson (Perry 60), Obeng, Todd      Subs Unused: Disney, Digie, Ennis

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