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Pitching In Southern Premier League Central

Bromsgrove Sporting

Smalley (10), Sebbeh-Njie (49), T. Taylor (57)

Hednesford Town

McQuilkin (16)

(1) 3

(1) 1



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Jordan Graham



Coalville Town (H) 11.2.23

The Pitmen are plunged deeper into the mire this afternoon as Bromsgrove Sporting ease to all three points over their hapless visitors to hand Danny Glover's side their third defeat in succession

Defeat to Bromsgrove's local rivals Alvechurch last weekend had left the Pitmen eleven points from safety moving into a tough set of fixtures in February. Glover had seen goalkeeper Ronnie Hollingshead depart at the end of his loan and return to parent club West Bromwich Albion and was replaced by yet another in a seemingly endless run of young loanee stoppers, as Sheffield Wednesday's Luke Jackson joined the Pitmen on loan yesterday. He was also shorn of another young loanee in the form of Luke Redfern, who had been recalled by parent club Stoke City in midweek. The Pitmen also announced the re-signing of forward Jordan Graham on loan from Kettering Town just before the game with Graham replaced Riley O'Sullivan, Jackson taking up the spot between the sticks in place of Hollingshead, on-loan Ben Kaninda stepping into the hole left by Redfern and Kemy Agustien returning to the side in place of Kyle Bennett

Hosts Bromsgrove had lost 2-0 at local rivals Redditch United last weekend and started the day fourteenth in the table, six points clear of the drop zone. Player/manager and former Hednesford midfielder Mike McGrath made two changes to his Sporting side for their return to the Victoria Ground as Jack  Newell replaced former Pitman Lewis Wright at full-back and Ayo Lekuti came in for another ex-Hednesford man, Dan Sweeney

On a fairly mild early February afternoon, the hosts set their stall out straightaway as their first foray into the Hednesford third of the pitch drew a foul out of Steph Morley on Miro Pais and handed the Rouslers a free-kick in a dangerous position in just the second minute. Brandon Smalley took the resultant kick, to the right-hand side of the penalty area, and curled his effort inches wide of Jackson's left-hand post and rippled the side-netting. Some in the main stand celebrated prematurely as they thought that the ball had found the back of the net

Back came the Pitmen after this left-off, working the ball from left to right and back again a minute later and finding Morley, whose cross found Graham unmarked at the far post, only for an offside flag to be raised against the forward as he brought the ball down

Looking to play a more direct and aggressive game than in previous weeks, the Pitmen worked the ball into the box once more from the left in the fifth minute as Morley once again picked out Graham in space at the far post, only for the former Mansfield Town man to shoot well wide from an angle

The Pitmen had their best chance to open the scoring in the eighth minute through Graham as Hartley's deep free-kick from the halfway line was played to the opposite corner of the box to find Morley, whose cross was turned goalwards by Graham at the far post but saw his bobbling effort cleared off the line by the alert presence of player/manager McGrath. Kemy Agustien followed the ball in and picked up the rebound, but saw his low-driven shot claimed by Ollie Taylor in the Rouslers goal

However, as has been proven on several occasions this term, the Pitmen failed to heed the earlier warning signs from Smalley as the striker put Bromsgrove into the lead in the tenth minute from another free-kick; former Stafford Rangers man Mo Sebbeh-Njie was hauled down by Lewis Ison's clumsy challenge on the edge of the box, which saw the Hednesford skipper pick up the game's first booking for the challenge from referee Mr Enever. Smalley had already had his 'sighter' at goal earlier and produced a fine low, curling shot from this resultant free-kick that evaded the grasp of Jackson and found the far corner of the net

The visitors looked to put this blow behind them and continued to press high up the pitch as they went in search of an immediate response; Graham - having a lively second debut for the club - picked up a ball from Hartley down the right and tried to force his way into the box that was hacked clear by the hosts before he could shoot

Hartley won a free-kick for the Pitmen adjacent to the Bromsgrove penalty area two minutes later as he was brought down by Kartell Dawkins. Morley took the resultant free-kick and swung it into the box, with the ball headed up in the air twice by McGrath to stop both Ison and James McQuilkin from getting any purchase on the ball towards goal inside the six-yard box

Good play on fifteen minutes from the Pitmen saw Morley and Graham once again link up via a knock-down from Glover, with Graham's flick into the feet of McQuilkin sliced well wide of goal by the incoming midfielder

Hednesford were rewarded for their positive response to falling behind with an equalising goal a minute later through McQuilkin. Graham was involved once more as he found space out on the right flank to cross for Glover, whose flick-on found Todd Parker on the left-hand side of the box. The former Wolves man in turn picked out McQuilkin, who had the simple task of tapping home from close range for his third goal of the season

A tight offside call denied Bromsgrove an immediate goal from the restart as Smalley was sent clear by a long, raking ball forwards from Ammar Dyer, only for the assistant on the far side of the pitch to raise his flag against the striker as he slotted the ball past Jackson

Ison was breathing a little heavily in the nineteenth minute as he appeared to haul Smalley down in full flight to stop a clear goalscoring opportunity. Despite the home crowd demanding a second yellow card for the defender, Mr Enever instead awarded the free-kick in favour of the defender as he believed that Smalley had gone down under his own steam, rather than a touch from the former Nuneaton Borough man  

Midway through the first period, Agustien took a free-kick to the left-hand side of the Bromsgrove penalty area and delivered a fine cross to the far post, where Kaninda rose highest to meet the ball but glanced his header well wide of goal

Glover came off worst in a challenge with Tom Taylor a minute later as he won another free-kick to the left of the Bromsgrove penalty area once more. Morley took the free-kick which was cleared as far as Tom Thorley, whose lay-off to Agustien eventually ended up in the hands of Ollie Taylor once more

The Pitmen were content to allow Bromsgrove to keep the ball in their third of the pitch and press them high up the pitch, forcing several errors out of the home side as they were rushed into early clearances. One such moment caused a moment of humour as Dawkins was forced into an almighty lump into the grey skies under pressure from Graham, with the ball landing in one of the large, tall trees backing onto the main stand and getting stuck

Veteran midfield man Agustien had seen plenty of the ball in the opening quarter of the game for the Pitmen, playing a deep ball into the box on twenty-four minutes that Glover once again out-jumped Tom Taylor to win but saw the ball cleared before Parker could take advantage

Agustien was a little lucky not to pick up the Pitmen's second yellow card of the afternoon on twenty-six minutes as he blatantly shoved the lively Miro Pais over on the left-hand side of the pitch but was only given a ticking-off by the referee. Smalley's deep free-kick was met by McGrath, but his header lacked both power and direction and drifted well wide of goal

Hartley - having a very topsy-turvy game on the right for the Pitmen in his first game back in some time - was also lucky to avoid the wrath of Mr Enever a minute later as he tangled with Pais and brought the striker down near the corner flag but also avoided further punishment other than a talking-to

McQuilkin had a chance to put the Pitmen ahead in a spectacular manner on the half-hour mark as Morley's cross found its way through to Thorley on the right flank, with the experienced midfielder sending the ball back into the box where the former Kidderminster Harriers man attempted an overhead kick from ten yards out that just cleared the crossbar. Glover was steaming in to meet the ball just behind the midfielder and may have been in a better position to turn the ball home with the benefit of hindsight

Ison's long throw out on the right on thirty-two minutes was flicked on by both Glover and Graham and into the path of Kaninda, who showed why he is a centre-back and not an attacking player as his low pass back into the danger zone was cleared by the hosts

Another poor challenge from Hartley on Lakuti incensed the home crowd three minutes later, with Mr Enever still unwilling to show the full-back a card for a totting-up of mistimed challenges

Good play from Graham again saw him slip past a challenge from Dawkins on thirty-six minutes and set up Glover, whose attempted pass through to Parker down the right-hand side of the penalty area was cleared promptly by Tom Taylor

Incredibly, the first corner of the afternoon came on thirty-eight minutes as Smalley swung in a ball from the right that was hacked clear by Thorley and into the path of McQuilkin, who in turn sent Parker away in behind the retreating Bromsgrove defence. Parker's first touch was a little too heavy though, allowing Tom Taylor enough time to get himself back in front of the ball and turned it behind for a corner kick to the Pitmen

Glover did well to play Parker into space once more with another nice knockdown into the path of the youngster on forty minutes, only for an offside flag against Parker to deny him a shooting chance from an angle

The Pitmen could be fairly pleased with their first-half efforts at the break, considering how they had battled back well after conceding the early goal to Smalley and had looked a threat themselves on the counter attack through the likes of Graham, Glover and McQuilkin

Any positivity radiating through the Hednesford team off the back of their first-half performance was very swiftly extinguished within four minutes of the restart, as Bromsgrove got their noses in front once more with the first attack of the second period; Sebbeh-Njie was allowed to make a run from deep down the left, waltzing past no less than three heart-hearted Hednesford challenges from Thorley, Parker and Hartley before sidefooting the ball past the advancing Jackson from a tight angle. A sloppy goal to concede and one that should have been cut out at source much earlier in the move


Glover and McQuilkin combined to set up Graham once more on fifty-two minutes, but the Kettering loanee could not quite connect with the ball as it came across to him in the penalty area and Ollie Taylor claimed the bobbling ball

Another quick break from Bromsgrove - using the wide areas to much better effect already this half - saw Pais pick the ball up out on the right flank on fifty-four minutes and make a move into the Hednesford penalty area, only to be called offside for the umpteenth time in the game by the assistant on the main stand side

The home side put the game beyond their visitors with a killer third goal on fifty-seven minutes, unsurprisingly coming from a set-piece once more as Smalley's free-kick right in the corner arc was crossed into the box from the right-hand side and found the head of the impressive Tom Taylor, who had the simple task of heading into the net as he leapt unchallenged to meet the ball from six yards out. So easy for the Rouslers skipper with no one in a white shirt anywhere near him to challenge him for the ball

The Pitmen's first substitution of the afternoon came before the game could restart as McQuilkin - who had again been the pick of a desperately underwhelming and one-paced midfield - was surprisingly replaced by the out-of-form Bennett

The home fans were feeling that they were getting the short straw on refereeing decisions as another questionable free-kick was handed to the Pitmen on sixty-one minutes after Parker had fallen under a challenge from Dawkins on the right. Bennett's first involvement was to whip in a free-kick that Ollie Taylor put behind for a Hednesford corner at his near post

Hartley was having something of a nightmare game and very nearly gifted Pais a clear sight at goal a minute later as his lax backpass was seized upon by the striker, only for the covering Kaninda to make a timely challenge and take the ball away from the forward before he could shoot

Bromsgrove also made their first change of the afternoon before play restarted as Lekuti - who had struggled to get into the game for the hosts - was taken off in favour of Jack Tolley

Jackson kept the Pitmen in contention with his first real involvement in the game on sixty-four minutes as he managed to get a strong hand on a shot from Pais to turn the striker's low driven shot from just inside the penalty area from goal for a Bromsgrove corner kick

Hartley was deservedly shown a yellow card a minute later as his succession of poorly-timed challenges over the course of the game finally led to a caution and a final warning from Mr Enever

Midway through the second period and with the game slowly slipping away from them, the visitors made another attacking change to their personnel as O'Sullivan came on up front in place of Agustien, who had really struggled with the pace of the game in the second period

The Pitmen had offered the square route of nothing so far in what had been a desperately disappointing second half thus far, failing to offer any pressure on the Bromsgrove defence that had been superbly marshalled by the experienced Tom Taylor. Glover had won more than his fair share of headers against the Rouslers defenders, but more often than not no-one in a white shirt was available to take the ball on

Kaninda - having a better game than his nightmare debut at Tamworth a couple of weeks ago - got a crucial block tackle in to deny Pais on seventy-one minutes as a quick break down the left from the hosts saw Smalley play the ball into the Hednesford penalty area

Bromsgrove's second change of the afternoon came on seventy-four minutes as scorer of the opening goal Smalley was replaced by Dewain Sewell up front alongside Pais

With thirteen minutes remaining, the Pitmen made their final change of the game as the gaffer Glover - still hobbling in certain places after recovering from the knock he picked up against St. Ives Town last month - elected to replace himself with recent signing Stanley Asomugha, who made his league debut for the club after his recent switch from Worcester Raiders

Ison and Kaninda got themselves into a muddle as they tried to clear their lines two minutes later but somehow the ball ended up at the feet of Pais, who had strayed offside once more and gave the centre-backs a huge let-off in the process

A dive in the box from Pais saw a few muted calls for a penalty kick from the home supporters a minute later as he and Kaninda clashed, but Mr Enever was unconvinced by the whole episode and play continued

With six minutes remaining, we saw that uncommon moment in football where a substitute had to be substituted himself, as Sewell was forced off with an injury barely ten minutes after coming on as was replaced by Dom Perkins

The game was very much fizzling out at this stage, with Bromsgrove happy to keep possession but having no real want to press their poor visitors any further in search of a fourth goal. The Pitmen had punted plenty of aimless balls forwards in the past ten minutes through the likes of Hartley, Ison and Morley but had failed to find a team-mate on many of those occasions

With a minute of the game remaining, Ollie Taylor was called upon to make his one and only real contribution to the afternoon as Parker's fine threaded ball down the right sent Asomugha away, in behind Newell for the first time in the game. His low, angled shot looked destined for the far corner of the net, but Taylor made a fine save to turn the ball away and concede a late corner kick

It had been a poor and uninspiring second-half display from the visitors, who can have no complaints about the result overall as that constant double whammy of poor defending and a lack of quality up front continues to cost them points. After today's round of games, the Pitmen are now thirteen points from safety with only thirteen games remaining, and due to face old nemesis Coalville Town at the RACE Stadium next weekend in what could well be another high-scoring defeat if Glover's men continue to turn in meagre performances such as this one against one of the more powerful and direct teams in the league

Bromsgrove Sporting: O. Taylor, Newell, Dawkins, Curtis, T. Taylor ©, McGrath, Dyer, Sebbeh-Njie, Pais, Smalley (Sewell 74 (Perkins 84)), Lekuti (Tolley 62)       Subs Unused: King-Harmes, Kindred

Hednesford Town: Jackson, Hartley , Morley, Agustien (O'Sullivan 65), Ison © , Kaninda, Parker, Thorley, Glover (Asomugha 77), Graham, McQuilkin (Bennett 58)      Sub Unused: Tilt, Williams


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