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Dr. Martens Southern Premier League

Hednesford Town

Simkin (58), Danks (84)

Cambridge City

Nightingale (61), Riddle (83)

(0) 2

(0) 2




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Chris Brindley



Stafford Rangers (A) 26.12.03

moment of opportunism from Mark Danks rescued a point for the Pitmen this afternoon as they snatched a point from a topsy-turvy encounter against mid-table Cambridge City at Keys Park

Returning home following a sound beating at Nuneaton Borough last weekend, manager Barry Powell made two changes to the side that had started at Manor Park by bringing Chris Gray and Nathan Lamey back into the squad at the expense of Ashley Dodd and Mark Danks respectively, whilst Danny McGhee was fit enough to return to the squad as a substitute after recovering from a knock. Young defender Ashley Williams made way for McGhee after he had completed his move to Nationwide League Two side Stockport County following a successful trial period at Edgeley Park. Striker Mark Jones - who had spent the season out on loan at Bromsgrove Rovers - had also departed the club on a permanent basis after joining Rovers on a permanent basis

Cambridge were marooned in mid-table ahead of today's game in fourteenth place, having had an inconsistent campaign so far. The last few games had been indicative of Gary Roberts' side this term, beating Stafford Rangers last time out to make it three unbeaten following a run of four games without a win before this in October and November. Roberts made three changes to the side that had played against Stafford last weekend, as Alan Calton, Stuart Niven and Martin returned to the side in place of the now-departed Danny Naisbitt, Craig Pope and Robbie Simpson

Winter was in the air at Keys Park, with a bitter wind blowing across the pitch all afternoon with only two weeks left before Christmas. It was to prove something of an uneventful first half showing from both sides, who looked short of ideas as both defences were on top early on

A neat move from the Pitmen in the tenth minute saw Gray sweep the ball down the line for the overlapping Alex Gibson, only for the right-back's cross to evade anyone and drift across the face of the Cambridge goal and wide 

An inswinging corner from Cambridge's Matt Bloomfield six minutes later was missed by Ryan Young in the Hednesford goal, relying on Chris Brindley to clear the danger with a no-nonsense clearance

Lamey used his pace to get his behind the Cambridge defence two minutes later as he got on the end of a through ball from Steve Evans, only to be denied a clear shot on goal by a late offside flag after the former Moor Green man had moved a touch too early

The talented Louis Riddle went on a mazy run from midfield on twenty-three minutes for the visitors, picking the ball up in the centre circle before making a run deep into Hednesford territory past Carl Palmer and Darren Simkin and getting into a shooting position. However, Riddle slipped on the greasy Keys Park surface at the worst possible time and ended up falling flat on his face on the edge of the Hednesford penalty area, earning him ironic cheers from the home supporters for a comedy fall to the ground

The Pitmen were similarly uninspiring in their approach, with Steve Anthrobus incurring the wrath of a frustrated home crowd as he consistently handed possession back to the visitors for an overly aggressive approach that saw him concede a number free-kicks for pushing Cambridge players over

Les Hines sent over a fine corner kick for Brindley to attack on thirty-one minutes, only for referee Mr. Day to pull up the veteran defender for a push on Robbie Nightingale in the build-up

A loose pass from Niven handed possession to Steve Evans four minutes later down the left flank, only for the winger to waste a good chance with a poorly executed shot from an angle that was easily held by the returning Calton in the Cambridge goal

Two minutes later, a run from Lamey saw him nip in down the left hand side and cross to the far post for Evans, only for his header to drift wide of the target and behind for a goal kick

Brindley can count himself lucky not to have picked up more that an yellow card on thirty-seven minutes as Bloomfield burst past him on a run towards the Hednesford penalty area which Brindley halted illegally by pulling the striker's shirt to earn him a yellow card with covering defenders around him

Lamey earned himself a booking on forty-two minutes as he chased down a loose pass from Niven towards Calton that the keeper just got to in time, although Lamey left his studs showing and left a mark on the City keeper in the process. The Cambridge players took exception to Lamey's actions and the referee promptly showed the striker a yellow card 

Cambridge's best chance of the half came in the final minute as Young was called upon to make his first save of note in the game as he pushed a shot from Simon Martin away from goal after the striker had been picked out inside the penalty area by Bloomfield's pass, with Gibson completing the clearance away from goal

It had been a poor spectacle from both sides, with Cambridge seemingly happy to play for a point and the hosts seemingly out of ideas in how to break down a resolute City defence

Half-time saw Powell get in amongst his troops and sent them out with a more positive mindset. They almost saw an immediate reaction from this as miscommunication from Bloomfield and Pluck presented the ball to Lamey, only for the striker to lift his first time shot over the crossbar from fifteen yards out

A sweeping pass from Nightingale found Riddle acres of space three minutes later for the away side which allowed the playmaker time and space to pick out Bloomfield with a fine cross, only for the striker to put his effort into the side-netting from an angle

Another tight offside call on fifty-six minutes denied Lamey another shot at goal after Gray's quickly taken free kick down the right played Lamey in ahead of a Cambridge defence that had switched off momentarily

Two minutes later, the Pitmen took the lead through more direct means as a corner kick on the left from Steve Evans was swung in to the far post where centre-back Simkin arrived to head past Calton from close range for his second goal of the season

The Pitmen's joy was short-lived however, as Cambridge struck back with their next attack three minutes later; a run from deep from Rob Miller saw him latch on to a pass from Nightingale before being brought down just inside the Hednesford penalty area by Carl Palmer. The referee had little hesitation in awarding Cambridge a penalty kick despite Palmer's protests. Nightingale stepped up and blasted his spot-kick high into the roof of Young's net to level matters once more with a confidently struck penalty kick

Powell made the decision to make a double change following the conceding of the equaliser, bringing on the returning McGhee for the tiring Steve Evans and Danks for Lamey on sixty-four minutes in a bid to find a winner

McGhee was quickly into the action, picking up a pass from Hines and drifting past two challenges as he cut in from the left wing on sixty-eight minutes. A clever reverse pass from the youngster played Danks in, only for his return pass to Anthrobus in the six yard box to be blocked and cleared by Lee Pluck. A minute later, Anthrobus turned Pluck well on the edge of the Cambridge penalty area and fired just over the crossbar

Brindley made a timely block to deny Riddle a shot at goal on seventy-two minutes, followed by an almost carbon copy of the Hednesford goal a minute later as Simkin headed just wide of goal at the far post from a Hines corner kick

Looking for more legs to their attack, the Pitmen made their final change of the afternoon on seventy-six minutes with youngster Anthony Maguire coming on in place of Gray down the right wing

Riddle had a shout for another penalty turned away by the referee on eighty minutes as his shot cannoned off the underside of Brindley's arm following a cross from the left, with the Pitmen breaking quickly from this through Maguire and supplying Danks with the ball down the right hand side of the Cambridge penalty area. Pluck did well to push the substitute wide of goal, but Danks got his shot away from a tight angle that was wide of Calton's near post

The Pitmen's oh-so familiar defensive woes came back to haunt them once more on eighty-three minutes as the visitors stole into the lead for the first time in the game; Nightingale's corner kick was not effectively cleared by the Hednesford defence, allowing Matt Langston to flick the ball on to Riddle who in turn looped a header back over the heads of the retreating defenders and into the far corner of Young's net

The Pitmen were stung into action after conceding such a soft goal and were handed a lifeline through a dreadful error of judgement between Niven and Calton a minute later. Under no real pressure, Niven played a risky pass back to Calton which the keeper completely missed with a swing and a miss. Danks nipped in to take full advantage of this and turned the loose ball home from ten yards out to level matters once more

Chances came and went for both sides in the closing stages of the game as the ball bounced from one end to another - Anthrobus turned a shot wide from Maguire's low cross on eighty-seven minutes, whilst Jamie Godbold fired into the side-netting after taking advantage of a slip by Hines a with the next attack

In the first minute of added time, Steve Palmer muscled his way past Miller and let fly from twenty yards out that flew just over the crossbar. Cambridge felt that Simkin should have been sent off for clattering Simpson on the edge of the penalty area as well as handling the ball. Despite calls for the defender to be shown a red card, Simkin escaped with just a yellow card as Niven lifted the resulting free-kick wide of goal

A draw was seen as a fair result by both sides in what had been a competitive second half display that had banished any memories of a dreadfully poor first half display. The Pitmen look to build on this point next weekend when they entertain Havant & Waterlooville at Keys Park, looking to complete a league double over the Hawks who are just above them in the league table

Hednesford Town: Young, Gibson, Hines, S. Evans (McGhee 64), Brindley , Simkin , C. Palmer, S. Palmer ©, Anthrobus, Lamey ▆ (Danks 64), Gray (Maguire 76)     Subs Unused: Dodd, P. Evans

Cambridge City: Calton, Niven, Baillie (Summerscales 70) , Pluck (Chaffey 79), Langston , Nightingale, Miller, Godbold, Martin (Simpson 86), Bloomfield, Riddle      Subs Unused: None

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