30.3.2013

Evo-Stik Northern Premier League

Hednesford Town

Taylor (7), Harvey (54), (76)

Buxton

Towey (57), Reed (90)

(1) 3

(0) 2

Attendance

MoTM

Current Form

Next Match

459

Michael Lennon

W W D W D W D L W W

Rushall Olympic (A) 1.4.13

It's starting to look more and more as though it will be a two-horse race come the end of the season, as Hednesford keep pace with North Ferriby United courtesy of a narrow win over Buxton this afternoon at Keys Park

With the cold weather continuing to play havoc with the league's remaining fixtures, it was a testament to the hard work and dedication of the club's officials and supporters that this game took place at all, as a mammoth effort to clear snow off the Keys Park pitch saw three-foot-high piles of snow stacked up around the perimeter of the pitch

Winger Nathan Woolfe was ruled out of the game due to a hamstring injury, meaning manager Rob Smith took the opportunity to rotate his side once more, bringing skipper Darren Campion back in after serving a suspension. This saw Kris Taylor move to his preferred midfield role, alongside Dave MacPherson and Jamey Osborne. Francino Francis was also brought back into the team ahead of Sam Barnes after the centre back was given a rest in the win over Kendal in midweek

Play-off chasing Buxton arrived at Keys Park on a great run in the Evo-Stik Premier League, having lost only one of their last seven games. Traditionally, games between the two sides have been tight, even affairs, with the Bucks knocking the Pitmen out of the F.A. Cup in October after a replay, extra time and penalties

It was MacPherson who was presented with the first chance on five minutes, as he ran on to a clipped ball from Osborne, but just failed to get his foot to the drifting ball

Fellow midfielder Taylor had better luck two minutes later, as he picked the ball up from a similar position, just outside the penalty area. With very little backlift, the former Walsall man fired a superb swerving, dipping volley into the bottom corner of the  net, beating a perplexed Buxton keeper Ian Deakin with ease

The hard-working strike duo of Neil Harvey and Michael Lennon gave the Buxton defence the runaround all afternoon with their movement and enterprise, and nearly put the Pitmen two up on eleven minutes. Lennon's neat hold-up play played Harvey in on goal, but the big striker lashed his shot wide of goal

Following this bright opening, the hosts lost their way a little in the following fifteen minutes, as the game entered an untidy spell. Chances for both sides were at a premium, with set-pieces the most likely source of any goal in a disappointing fifteen-minute passage of play

It was Buxton's Adam Muller who was presented with a glorious opportunity to equalise for the Bucks on the half-hour mark, as he broke clear of a hesitant Hednesford defence to bear down on goal. However, his vital second touch was far too heavy, allowing Dan Crane to make up the yards and smother the ball at Muller's feet before he could get his shot away

A number of marginal decisions went the way of Buxton towards the end of the first half, with the referee awarding them two free-kicks in dangerous positions for debatable fouls. Crane was forced into a smart save to deny Kevin Sandwith from their first effort, with Ben Bailey heading away the second ball as it was clipped to the far post

The second half was barely two minutes old when Buxton were forced into a change as Sandwith came off worst in an innocuous-looking challenge with John Disney. The left-back was stretchered off after treatment, with Disney receiving a yellow card for his part in the challenge

Hednesford doubled their advantage on fifty-four minutes, as a smart move set up Harvey for his third goal in three games. Lennon's flick played Durrell in, with the midfielder pulling the ball back into the path of Harvey, who had the simple task of tapping the ball into the net from six yards out

The two-goal lead lasted barely three minutes, as Buxton pulled a goal back; substitute Mark Reed played in fellow substitute Michael Towey - on for the injured Sandwith - who fired low past Crane from twelve yards out to give the Bucks a lifeline

Buoyed by their goal, Buxton went in search of an equaliser and nearly found it on the hour mark. A corner from the right-hand side was headed goalwards by centre back Dave Haggarty, forcing Crane to turn the ball over for another corner kick

Lennon crafted a chance for himself on sixty-eight minutes, picking up a Durrell ball with his back to goal and twisting past his marker. However, he delayed getting his shot away and allowed Haggarty to block his low shot and turn it away for a Hednesford corner

The Pitmen restored their two-goal cushion on seventy-six minutes, with that man Harvey notching once again to record his thirteenth goal of the campaign. Disney did brilliantly to get to the bye-line by beating Towey before crossing to the near post. Lennon flicked the ball on with his head, leaving Harvey with another simple tap-in from just a couple of yards out

That was Harvey's day done as he was replaced on eighty-four minutes by Aaron Rey to a warm ovation from the freezing Hednesford supporters. With three games to come in the next seven days, the Hednesford squad will no doubt be stretched to the limit so some of it's key performers will need to be used sparingly

To Buxton's credit, they continued to plug away, with Crane making another good save late on from a free-kick awarded just outside the penalty area. A minute into added time, the Bucks set the game up for a grandstand finish courtesy of Reed, who headed Grant Black's deep cross past Crane from six yards out, despite protests from the Hednesford defenders that he had manhandled Bailey as they challenged for the high ball

There was still time for Buxton to go close to an equaliser, as Crane once again came to Hednesford's rescue as he palmed away Marc Roberts' goalbound header. An almighty scramble inside the Hednesford six-yard box followed as a number of Buxton players tried to force the ball over the line, but Crane held the loose ball at the second attempt

The Pitmen did enough to hang on to all three points, which keeps them in the title hunt ahead of a very busy week in the Evo-Stik Premier League. The Pitmen visit local rivals Rushall Olympic on Bank Holiday Monday afternoon, followed by a visit from Kendal Town on Thursday night to Keys Park. A frenetic week ends with a difficult looking trip to another play-off chasing team in the form of Marine next weekend

Hednesford Town: Crane, Disney , Campion ©, Bailey , Francis, MacPherson, Osborne, Durrell, Harvey (Rey 84), Lennon, Taylor      Subs Unused: O’Connor, Patterson, Barnes, Wright

Buxton: Deakin, Black © , Sandwith (Towey 49), Thornhill, Haggerty, Roberts, Stevens, Maxfield, Morris (Duncum 84), Muller (Reed 56), Green       Subs Unused: Palmer, Turner

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