Vanarama Conference North

Hednesford Town

Robinson (4)

Bradford (Park Avenue)

Priestley (72)

(1) 1

(0) 1



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Ben Bailey


Oxford City (A) 25.10.14

Despite taking an early lead through Marvin Robinson's strike, the Pitmen fail to see off the challenge of Bradford (Park Avenue) this afternoon as Billy Priestley's second-half header gave the visitors a share of the points in an uninspiring encounter at Keys Park

Following up on last weekend's win over basement club Hyde, Hednesford boss Rob Smith was once again forced into changing a winning side due to injuries to key players - Francino Francis, James Hurst and Paul Sullivan were all ruled out due to various knocks, allowing Jamie Ashmore, Marvin Robinson and Steve Diggin to come into the side at the expense of the injured players. Alex Melbourne was dropped to the bench and was joined amongst the substitutes by Glenn Walker, who was deemed fit enough to be added to the matchday squad after nearly two months out injured

Bradford arrived at Keys Park with injury concerns of their own, with John Deacey shorn of no less than six players ahead of kick-off as the East Yorkshire outfit looked to build on their excellent 2-1 victory over title favourites Barrow last weekend and move away from the bottom three in the table

The visitors went close to opening the scoring with the very first attack of the game, as Danny Frost's cross was headed goalwards by Chib Chilaka. Dan Crane was alert to the early danger and got enough of a touch on the ball to turn Chilaka's header onto the crossbar and over for a Bradford corner kick

The Pitmen responded swiftly to Bradford's early opening and struck in the fourth minute through Robinson. Tom Thorley swung over a cross from the right-hand side and found Diggin in the penalty area. His neat lay-off fell nicely into the path of striker partner Robinson, who lashed the ball beyond John Danby in the Bradford goal and into the far corner of the net for his second goal of the season

An exciting opening five minutes of the game gave way to a tough, uncompromising encounter between two former Evo-Stik Premier League foes, with both playing the kind of industrial-style football at times more accustomed to step three than step two. Jamie Crowther was working hard in his defensive midfield role, as was the much-improved Jamey Osborne alongside him

Bradford wasted two good openings from successive free kicks on twenty minutes, lifting both attempts high over Crane's goal from promising positions just outside the Hednesford penalty area

Robinson incurred the wrath of referee Anthony Tankard on thirty-four minutes after the big man disagreed with a foul against him and gave the assistant on the Wimblebury side a mouthful for his efforts. After a lengthy lecture about his discipline, Robinson was shown a yellow card for dissent

Crowther made a rare foray deep into the Bradford half five minutes before half time, picking up the ball and trying his luck with a powerful strike that Danby turned over the crossbar at full stretch

Robinson was lucky not to receive a second yellow card just before half time, as a foul on Jack Rea saw the forward and skipper Darren Campion given a stern, and final, warning by the referee

The Pitmen went close to doubling their advantage seven minutes into the second half, as Campion's free-kick found Ben Bailey at the far post. The centre back - having another excellent game for the club - failed to turn the bouncing ball home, as a combination of Danby and his defenders managed to smuggle the ball away from goal

Five minutes later, a rangy pass from Osborne sent Diggin on his way, running in on goal to the right of the Bradford penalty area. The striker's instinct in Diggin saw the forward lash an early effort at goal, narrowly missing the far post with a powerfully-hit drive across the face of Danby's goal

A minute later, Bradford should have equalised through substitute Richard Marshall, as the striker headed wide at the far post under pressure from Bailey

The pressure on the Hednesford goal started to build, especially with the introduction of lanky Bradford forward Lamin Colley. He came up against Ashmore and gave the young right-back a nightmare time with his direct running and pace down the flank

Three successive corner kicks from the visitors further ramped the pressure up on the Pitmen's defence, with Crane getting enough on the third ball in to punch away from the head of Marshall at the far post

In an attempt to stem the flow of attacks and long balls over the top of the Hednesford defence, Smith converted to a 4-4-2 formation on sixty-three minutes by taking off goalscorer Robinson and bringing on the more defensive-minded Melbourne

Bailey made an outstanding block on sixty-nine minutes to deny Chilaka a certain goal, as the striker jinked his way through the Hednesford defence and pulled the trigger from fifteen yards out. Bailey came from nowhere to throw his body in front of the ball and turn the shot away from goal

Bailey could do very little however to deny Bradford a deserved equaliser on seventy-two minutes, as a cross from the Bradford left was glanced home from close range by centre back Billy Priestley, who was left unmarked just six yards from goal

Diggin - who had completed 120 minutes in midweek during the Birmingham Senior Cup game against Tamworth - was given a well-earned rest two minutes later, as Tom Peers was brought on in his place up front

Colley went close to putting Bradford ahead with fourteen minutes left, heading a deep corner kick just wide of goal as Avenue sensed a quick turnaround in the game

Danny Glover had had a quiet afternoon as he continued to work hard against his former club and could not add to his goal tally for the season with a wildly hit free kick on seventy-seven minutes that sailed over the crossbar

 Bradford continued to have the clearer of the opportunities as the game entered it's last ten minutes, with Marshall heading straight at Crane on eighty-five minutes, followed a minute later by a turn and shot from Colley on the edge of the penalty area that flew narrowly wide of goal

Peers was guilty of twice dallying on the ball in identical situations on the edge of the penalty area, as he chose to pass the ball rather than shoot first time as the ball sat up nicely for the teenager on both occasions

Bailey showed Peers how it should have been done with two minutes remaining, running onto a loose ball and driving a powerful effort towards goal from thirty yards out. Danby eventually managed to claim the ball after palming the ball away from goal and then struggling to contain the bobbling ball as Peers raced onto the rebound

On balance, a draw was probably a fair result, with neither team on top for long enough to claim that it was two points dropped. Diggin, Osborne and Bailey offered the home supporters plenty to enthuse about with good individual displays, but the old inconsistencies and frustrations were there for all to see. A trip to free-scoring (and conceding) Oxford City is next up for the Pitmen on Saturday, with Hednesford looking to record back-to-back away wins for the first time this season after victory at Boston two weeks ago

Hednesford Town: Crane, Ashmore, Campion ©, Bailey, Westwood, Crowther, Osborne, Robinson (Melbourne 63), Glover, Diggin (Peers 74), Thorley       Subs Unused: Love, Walker, Price

Bradford Park Avenue: Danby, Lever, Heaton, Rea, Qualter, Priestly, Colbeck (Colley 63), Howarth, Chilaka, Walker (Marshall 45), Frost (Barraclough 56)      Subs Unused: Black, Price

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