12.12.2009

Zamaretto Southern Premier League

Hednesford Town

McMullen (14), Dyer (61)

Cambridge City

Burke (25), Fuller (63)

(0) 1

(1) 1

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335

Sam Aiston

W D L W D D W L D D

Bedford Town (A) 15.12.09

The Pitmen earned their second point in a week at home, this time having to dig deep against a talented Cambridge side that almost took all three points back with them at a baltic Keys Park

After the midweek postponement of the game against Bedford, Simon Line took the opportunity to field a new signing, with former Market Drayton Town left-back Gary Anslow slotting into the spot vacated by Zak Martin, who had been left in limbo after the collapse this week of parent club King's Lynn, thus ending his loan at Keys Park suddenly. Another Market Drayton man Stuart Ellis, was the second new face to the Pitmen's supporters and was named amongst the substitutes

Cambridge sat in third place at the start of play after a good first half of the Zamaretto League season, although they had been fortunate to come away with a point on Tuesday night against lowly Hemel Hempstead Town. Manager Gary Roberts kept faith in the same side that had started in midweek as he looked for his side to narrow the gap on both runaway leaders Farnborough and second-placed Brackley Town

The visitors started brightly, passing the ball to feet quickly and pushing the Pitmen back. Ashley Fuller was first to register a shot on six minutes, turning Grant Goodhead before firing in a rising shot that Stuart Brock saw over the bar

Three minutes later, former Canvey Island man Neil Midgeley should have scored after being put through a static Hednesford back line, but he shot straight at Brock when he had time to steady himself and pick his spot

After two consecutive games where the Pitmen had fallen behind early on, the home side redressed the balance with an early goal of their own, albeit against the run of play. Three minutes after Tyrone Barnett had had a shot saved by Cambridge keeper Zac Barrett, a free-kick out on the left was floated in by Elliott Durrell, finding the head of Paul McMullen at the far post, who powerfully headed past Barrett to score his first goal since joining the club last month

Suddenly it was Hednesford who were taking the game by the scruff of the neck, and on twenty minutes they almost doubled their lead. Durrell got on the end of an arrowing cross, volleying the ball downwards towards goal. The bounce of the ball beat Barrett but failed to beat the crossbar, with the ball coming back off the woodwork

Durrell's chance could have put a completely different complexion on the game had it found the net, but as it was, sparked Cambridge into life, with the visitors equalising on twenty-six minutes. Defensive woes came back to haunt the Pitmen, as they allowed Tony Burke to coast through on goal, with the winger making a complete mess of his initial shot, but such was the lack of cover in defence for Hednesford, Burke had time to pull himself together and score at the second attempt

City continued to have the better chances as half time approached; the aptly-named Adrian Cambridge beat Grant Goodhead to the ball before firing in a shot that Brock managed to turn away for a corner kick, followed by a free-kick that the Hednesford number one fielded well

Durrell and Sam Aiston seemed the Pitmen's best bet of creating something going forward, with Durrell's scuffed shot deflected away from goal by a Cambridge defender five minutes before the break

Despite going in level at half time, there was a feeling in the ground that Hednesford would need to improve substantially to get anything out of this impressive Cambridge side, who even at this stage in the season look a good bet to seal one of the play-off places on current form

There were loud calls for a penalty kick from home supporters and fans just after the start of the second half when a Cambridge arm appeared to strike the ball - the referee was unimpressed, however, and waved away the protests

Indeed, the Pitmen had their tails up at the start of the second period, with new signing Anslow making his way forward to fire in a long-range shot narrowly over the bar

However, the Keys Park faithful got their reward on the hour mark when the in-form Dyer struck his eighth goal of the season to put the Pitmen back in front. Steve Jagielka's incisive through ball fed Dyer, who had made the perfect run through the Cambridge defence, allowing the Hednesford skipper to slot the ball past the onrushing Barrett

The joy at taking the lead was almost immediately extinguished, as Cambridge equalised with their next attack. Burke picked up the ball out on the left, coming inside and leaving Sean Platt for dead. He slipped the ball to Fuller, who lashed the ball past a bemused Brock from fully twenty-five yards - a superb strike

Suddenly the impetuous was back with Cambridge, and Midgeley very nearly gave them the lead on sixty-seven minutes, flicking a header towards goal but watching it strike the crossbar and come back out

Burke, who was a constant threat to Hednesford's creaky back line, almost grabbed a third goal for City on seventy-four minutes, but Goodhead was alert to clear the winger's effort off the line as the away side continued to threaten

 At the other end, the Pitmen were still threatening in dispatches, with McMullen heading wide from Durrell's inswinging corner. A minute later, and Dyer forced Barrett into a parry with a close-range effort

The final ten minutes saw chances at both ends, with Barnett going close for the Pitmen and Cambridge's Robbie Nightingale hitting a volley straight at Brock in the final minute. The final five minutes also saw the introduction of Ellis, who replaced Barnett

The Pitmen will be boosted by the knowledge that they earned a good point against a side they will play very few better than all season, but in truth, a win was what was needed to keep in sight of the play-offs. Tuesday night sees the Pitmen make the journey to Bedford Town looking to return to winning ways after three games without a three-point haul

Hednesford Town: Ward, Platt, Anslow, Jagielka, McMullen, Goodhead, Durrell, Bailey, Barnett (Ellis 85), Dyer ©, Aiston       Subs Unused: Chapman, Morton, Carvey, Stevenson

Cambridge City: Barrett, Stewart, Krause, Theobald, Chaffey, Nightingale, Burke, Cambridge ©, Gentle, Midgeley (Frendo 71), Fuller      Subs Unused: Mitchell, Haniver, McLachlan