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Skrill North

Hednesford Town

Osborne (8), Bailey (75)

Bradford (Park Avenue)

(1) 2

(0) 0



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Jamey Osborne


Vauxhall Motors (A) 21.12.13

Hednesford firmly put their recent slump in form behind them this evening, as they recorded back-to-back home wins to return to the Skrill North summit after beating a tough Bradford (Park Avenue) at Keys Park

Looking to take advantage of their remaining game in hand on the rest of the top five, the Pitmen made three changes to the side that had swept aside Stalybridge Celtic on Saturday; in came Ben Bailey in place of Francino Francis at centre back, whilst Tom Thorley also missed out as Kris Taylor was restored to the starting XI. Nathan Woolfe was rewarded for his excellent cameo against Stalybridge by being handed Neil Harvey's number nine shirt. Robbie Thompson-Brown returned to the squad after a short injury lay-off, lining up amongst the substitutes

John Deacey's Avenue side arrived at Keys Park with a large number of injury concerns, with his squad stretched to its limit as they looked to push on up the league table. This was the first meeting between the sides since May 2012, when Avenue beat the Pitmen 5-0 in their Evo-Stik Premier play-off semi-final en route to promotion to Blue Square North two seasons ago

Looking to make another flying start to a home game, as they had done in their previous two fixtures at Keys Park. Woolfe went close to opening the scoring on four minutes, as Greg Pearson's cross was missed by Jason St Juste. The ball fell to Woolfe, whose swerving shot was brilliantly turned away by John Lamb in the Bradford goal

The Pitmen were rewarded for their positive start to proceedings four minutes later, with Woolfe picking the ball up out wide and sending over a delightful cross that was turned home by the onrushing Jamey Osborne for his fifth goal of the season

Shaken into action by the Pitmen's early opener, Bradford almost equalised straight from the restart. The ball was played wide to Alex Davidson, who ghosted inside Taylor and fired in a low shot that Dan Crane did well to palm away from goal

Two minutes later, a slick passing move played Avenue's Paul Walker in on goal. His long-range shot took a slight nick off Dave MacPherson and flew just over the crossbar for a Bradford corner kick

Skipper Darren Campion went close to providing Greg Pearson with a goalscoring chance midway through the first half, as his wicked left-footed cross just evaded the head of the on-loan striker as he gambled on a run across the face of goal

The Pitmen were playing much of their football on the counter-attack, with Elliott Durrell and the excellent Osborne both probing and testing the Bradford back line with clever, incisive runs and balls. Durrell had his fierce shot deflected into the arms of Lamb on twenty-seven minutes as he wound up one of his trademark piledrivers

A minute later, St Juste's deep cross found the head of Walker, who failed to test Crane with a wayward effort at the far post

With half time fast approaching, manager's son Jordan Deacey tested Crane's reflexes with a long-range shot that Crane pushed behind for a Bradford corner

In the final minute of the half, Durrell had a superb chance to send the Pitmen into the half time break two goals to the good; Taylor's deep corner kick found Durrell unmarked at the far post, with the midfielder miscuing his effort wide of the post

Looking to continue his recent goalscoring spree, Pearson missed a great chance to make it three goals in four games since arriving at Keys Park on loan. Put through by Osborne, Pearson somehow got the ball caught between his legs and allowed Lamb to make a smothering save

A quick break from Bradford on fifty-three minutes saw them go four against one with Bailey as Davidson made his way down the wing. Somehow, his cross failed to find Walker, St Juste or Tom Corner as they all made moves into the penalty area

Avenue went as close to equalising as they had done all evening on fifty-seven minutes as Nathan Hotte's through ball found Corner, whose first-time shot was turned away by the legs of Crane from twelve yards out

Crane came to the Pitmen's rescue again on the hour mark, saving well to turn Nicky Boshell's shot away from goal as Bradford continued to press

In an attempt to stem the flow of Avenue pressure, Hednesford made a substitution on sixty-one minutes with Alex Melbourne coming on in place of Taylor in midfield

This was followed three minutes later with the introduction of Thompson-Brown in place of the tiring Woolfe

After weathering the Bradford storm in the first twenty-five minutes of the second half, Hednesford came back into the game and settled the game as a contest with fifteen minutes remaining in spectacular circumstances

John Disney's free-kick deep into the Bradford half was cleared as far as Bailey, who turned on the ball and lofted a superb dipping half volley over the despairing reach of Lamb from fully twenty yards out - one of the contenders for the goal of the season for sure

 With the Pitmen in a strong position, they could afford to withdraw top scorer Durrell with fourteen minutes remaining, with Wayne Riley coming on in his place

Osborne continued to lead Bradford a merry dance in the final ten minutes, running at the tiring Avenue defence at will with his trickery. One run down the wing saw him beat three challenges and cross into the path of Riley, who just missed out on connecting with the ball

The Pitmen can be content with a good evening's work against a hard-working Bradford side, who on another side could have taken a point home with more composed finishing. Hednesford now have the chance to earn the much-coveted Christmas top spot in Skrill North as they travel to Ellesmere Port to take on Vauxhall Motors on Saturday

Hednesford Town: Crane, Disney, Campion © , Bailey, McCone, MacPherson, Osborne, Durrell (Riley 76), Woolfe (Thompson-Brown 64), Pearson, Taylor (Melbourne 61)      Subs Unused: Francis, Lennon

Bradford Park Avenue: Lamb, Howarth, Knowles , Deacey, Hotte ©, Maxfield , St.Juste (Clamp 70), Walker, Corner (Grayson 85), Davidson, Boshell      Subs Unused: Chilka, Grayson, Hume, McMurray


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