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Evo-Stik Northern Premier League

Hednesford Town

Bailey (18)


Broadhead (22), Wilson (56)

(1) 1

(1) 2



Current Form

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Darren Campion


Stourbridge (H) 7.4.18

The Pitmen's spluttering league form continues to frustrate and disappoint this evening, as they allowed Buxton to overhaul an early Ben Bailey goal to claim all three points at Keys Park


An unusual Thursday evening of football for both sides due to the fixture pile-up saw a sparse crowd inside Keys Park, just under forty-eight hours away from another home game for the hosts against Stourbridge. Monday's postponed game with Rushall Olympic had given manager Rob Smith a small amount of breathing space to put together a competitive squad, with no less than four of his squad unavailable following Saturday's defeat to Witton Albion. By some small miracle, however, Smith was able to call upon the services of top scorer Danny Glover, despite the striker going off at Witton with what appeared to be a serious injury. Sam Oji was named amongst the substitutes despite his hamstring troubles, but there was no sign of either James Fitzgibbon or Matt Curley, who were both ruled out. Curley's omission saw a return to the side for Darren Campion, with the left-back helping out the side due to a lack of numbers after a spell at Whitchurch Alport


Buxton arrived at Keys Park off the back of a disappointing defeat to local rivals Matlock Town on Tuesday, losing 3-2 at Silverlands despite leading 2-0  with seventeen minutes remaining. Joint managers Paul Phillips and Steve Halford could afford to rotate their squad, unlike the Pitmen, and left top scorer Liam Hardy on the bench as they relied on former North Ferriby striker Anthony Wilson to lead the line against a Hednesford defence conceding goals with alarming regularity in recent times


A dry, sunny day in Hednesford gave way to a crisp but not-too unpleasant evening, with the Keys Park pitch - nominated this week as the best pitch in the Evo-Stik League - looking better than it ever has done at this point in the season. The Pitmen threatened early on, with Buxton stopper Jan Budtz making an early save to deny Anthony Dwyer, saving low down to his left after James Lawrie's free-kick had been headed goalwards by the forward on three minutes


 Another Lawrie set-piece led to the Pitmen opening the scoring in the eighth minute, as his deep ball in was not dealt with by the Buxton defence. Bailey - who had just failed to connect with the initial ball in - found the loose ball drop kindly to his feet, lashing it home from six yards out for his second goal of the season


Buxton responded with a chance of their own a minute later as a deep free-kick into the Hednesford penalty area fell to Brad Grayson, who drove his shot high over the crossbar from the edge of the penalty area


 Despite starting well, the Pitmen started to sit deeper and deeper into their own half, giving possession away cheaply with a number of tired-looking, sloppy passes. Thom Thorley and Charlie Gatter were both guilty of handing possession cheaply to a busy, vibrant Buxton attack, with Wilson and the dangerous Jude Oyibo both pushing the hesitant Hednesford defence backwards


There was brief hope of a second goal for the Pitmen on eighteen minutes, as Joe Fitzpatrick played Joey Butlin in on goal on the right-hand side of the penalty area, but the burly striker only managed to fire into the side-netting from an angle


 Sloppy play from Fitzpatrick on twenty minutes gifted the ball to Buxton right-back Josh Meade, who drove in a low shot that was just wide of James Wren's right-hand post


Buxton pulled themselves level midway through the half, although the Pitmen felt harshly treated in the build-up to Jack Broadhead's leveller. Bailey's unconvincing clearance from Grayson's cross looped straight up into the air, with Wren going up to challenge for the loose ball with Wilson. There appeared to be an overly-aggressive push on Wren by Wilson as the two leapt up, with Wren unable to make the claim. The loose ball was fed to Broadhead by Wilson, who fired into the empty net and left the Pitmen to remonstrate with the referee about the alleged push on Wren


Powerful forward play by Wilson saw him drift past three Hednesford players on twenty-four minutes, firing in a low shot that was well fielded by Wren, low down to his left


More sloppy play at the back from the Pitmen saw them give the ball away once again on thirty-two minutes, this time to Oyibo down the right. The winger slipped his way past two half-hearted challenges before driving his shot into the side-netting when he probably should have worked the exposed Wren


A quick break from Wilson on thirty-five minutes saw him beat Gatter before his progress was checked by Bailey; Wilson still managed to maintain possession, though and fed Grayson, whose long-range effort was high and wide of the Hednesford goal


 Campion drive a long-range shot straight at Budtz on thirty-nine minutes, before Lawrie played in Butlin a minute later, only for the striker to stab his shot wide of goal from a good position ten yards from goal


The Pitmen's half-time team talk went to pot straightaway, as they emerged on the backfoot in the opening exchanges of the second half and allowed Buxton to take control of possession. It was perhaps no surprise, then, that Buxton capitalised on his with their second goal on fifty-six minutes after a spell of pressure. Ricky Ravenhill played Wilson in on goal, with his initial shot cannoning back off the post. The Pitmen failed to clear their lines, however, somehow allowing Buxton to wrestle the ball back and lay off into the path of Wilson once again, who fired home on the rebound to give Buxton the lead for the first time in the game


 The Pitmen started to look tired and de-motivated following Wilson's goal, despite having had two extra days rest than their rivals. Long balls forward from Bailey and Fitzpatrick were easily dealt with by the Buxton defence, with the likes of Lawrie and Thorley ineffective and on the periphery of the game


 Glover made an appearance from the substitute's bench on sixty-six minutes, completing his miracle turnaround as he came on up front in place of the unlucky Dwyer, who had faded after a bright start


Buxton had by now brought own their own top scorer Hardy, with the former Darlington man straight into the action on sixty-seven minutes as he crashed a shot off the post with his first chance of the game


The Pitmen made their second change of the evening a few minutes later, as Thorley came off in favour of Jack Rea, handing the captaincy over to Bailey


The threatening Hardy had the ball in the net for Buxton once again a minute later, but he was denied his 102nd Buxton goal by a late offside flag on the Wimblebury side


Bailey's eventful evening continued on seventy-five minutes, as his first-time volley from Lawrie's corner kick flew inches wide of the post, the closest the Pitmen had come to scoring in a disappointing second half so far


A driving run from Lawrie two minutes later saw the midfielder chip a cross into the six-yard box to find Reece King, only for the midfielder to volley a first-time shot into the side netting from a good position


 Lawrie was guilty of wasting a great opening for the hosts two minutes later, as he skied his shot from fifteen yards out after Glover had nodded the ball into his path


To be fair to Smith's side, they continued to press but in search of an equaliser, but lacked quality and decisiveness in the final third. They also started to leave more and more gaps at the back, which were very nearly exploited by Oyibo on eighty-eight minutes as he raced clear of the Hednesford defence but fired wide of goal with a shot across the face of Wren's goal


 As the Pitmen pushed for an injury-time equaliser, Wren gambled on a move forwards for one last-ditch free kick from Lawrie. Budtz managed to claim the ball ahead of Glover, with the pair clashing in the six-yard box. There was a reaction by the pair to each other's challenge, with a mass brawl breaking out inside the Buxton penalty area. Frankly, the actions of Budtz and then skipper Greg Young were laughable, as both players took comedy dives to the ground to hoodwink the officials, with Glover shown a yellow card for his part and, for some reason, Bailey shown a straight red card for a clash with Young. Truly embarrassing gamesmanship from the Bucks, something we have seen plenty of this season the Evo-Stik League Premier and a worrying trend that seems to be growing in non-league circles in a further drip-drip effect from the Premier League


The Pitmen only have a couple of days to lift themselves and recover once more, as Gary Hackett's under-performing Stourbridge side visit Keys Park on Saturday as Hednesford look to address this alarming slide in form in front of their own supporters

Hednesford Town: Wren, Mendez-Jones, Campion, Bailey ▆ (90), Gatter, King , Fitzpatrick, Thorley © (Rea 70), Butlin, Lawrie , Dwyer (Glover 66 )    Subs Unused: Oji, Harris, Veiga


Buxton: Budtz , Meade, McWilliams (De Girolamo 80), Baker, Young ©, Ravenhill , Doran (Hinsley 63), Broadhead, Wilson (Hardy 63), Grayson, Oyibo     Subs Unused: Taylor, Biggs

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