24.8.2002

Dr. Martens Southern Premier League

Hednesford Town

Brindley (71), Francis (74), (88)

Cambridge City

Gutzmore (23), Wooding (58)

(0) 3

.

(1) 2

Attendance

MoTM

Current Form

Next Match

516

Kevin Francis

D W W

Moor Green (A) 26.8.02

Hednesford kept up their flying start to the season with a thrilling last-gasp victory over bottom-of-the-table Cambridge in another highly entertaining encounter at Keys Park that should see fans flocking to the club if the goals continue to flow

 

 It was 'as you were' for the Pitmen once again, with manager Ian Painter sticking with the same starting XI for the third straight game as the hosts went looking for their second home win of the week, The only change to the squad on the bench, with experienced defender Wayne Simpson replacing young forward Damien Charie amongst the substitutes

 

Cambridge had made a poor start to the new campaign, losing games to Newport County on Saturday and Grantham Town in midweek to leave them pointless going into today's game. Lilywhites manager Dave Batch called upon a number of experienced heads in an attempt to earn their first points of the season, with former Rushden & Diamonds duo Tim Wooding and Darren Collins joined by ex-Kettering Town captain Colin Vowden in Cambridge's starting line-up

 

The Pitmen were in the mood for more goals after five in their opening two games and went close to opening the scoring in the third minute through Mark Jones, who tested Cambridge keeper Martin Davies with a shot that was turned away for a Hednesford corner. From the resultant Carl Adams kick, Davies flapped at the cross and dropped the ball at the feet of Darren Simkin. The defender's shot was saved by Davies, who could only succeed in pushing the ball out to Derek Rae, who rifled the rebound over the crossbar

 

A good run from Cambridge midfielder Adam Wilde on eight minutes saw him get to the byeline and send over a cross but failed to pick out either Collins or strike partner Leon Gutzmore, both of whom had made a run into the penalty area

 

An open game saw both sides have good chance to open the scoring in the first quarter, with Mark Gayle making his first save of the game on fifteen minutes to deny Steve Holden as he headed towards goal

 

Back came the Pitmen, and Wooding had to be alert to keep his side in contention on twenty minutes, hooking the ball off the line after Chris Brindley had met Shaun Wray's cross and headed towards goal

Three minutes later, Cambridge got their noses in front with their first real chance of the game so far. A neat piece of play down the left saw Che Wilson play in Matt Clements, whose cross was sidefooted home by Gutzmore from close-range, giving the flat-footed Gayle no chance

 

The referee struggled to maintain control of the game as it headed towards the break, with a number of players from both sides booked after a spell of niggly fouls, pushing and dissent

 

Jones was trying his best to get the Pitmen back on level terms and tested Davies's reflexes on thirty-one minutes after he had cut inside from the left wing and driven in a shot at goal

 

Davies was called into action again five minutes later, making a flying save to his left to turn away Simkin's goalbound free-kick from thirty yards out as it headed for goal

 

Half-time saw Painter make a positional change to his side, bringing on winger Stewart Airdrie in place of left-back Stuart Ryder to add more attacking width to the home side

 

Collins was denied a clear-cut chance to put Cambridge in clear air two minutes after the restart, as Les Robinson made a brave last-ditch block to deny the striker a header at goal after Wilde had sent a cross over

 

Gutzmore set Clements on his way on fifty minutes, with the winger put clear of the Hednesford defence by the striker's through-ball. Clements found Gayle in fine form, however, with the keeper making a superb stop to his right

 

Gayle was to make an equally impressive stop three minutes later, denying Gutzmore his second of the afternoon following a through ball from Wilde that had found the striker in space

 

The Pitmen were struggling to get the ball out of their own third in the opening stages of the second half and were once again living precariously on fifty-five minutes as Wilson lifted his shot over the crossbar following Gutzmore's shot being deflected into his path

 

There was a brief period of pressure at the other end a minute later, as Wray got away from his man and lifted a shot from an angle onto the roof of Davies's net

 

Cambridge looked to have sealed their first win of the season on fifty-eight minutes, as Gutzmore won the visitors a free-kick on the edge of the penalty area. Wooding stepped up and curled the ball past Gayle and into the net via a slight deflection off the Hednesford wall

 

Game over? Not by a long shot. The Pitmen refused to give up on the game and pushed Cambridge back as they searched for an unlikely way back into the game. After a period of pressure that saw them win a series of corner kicks, the hosts got themselves back in contention on seventy-one minutes through Chris Brindley. A chipped cross from Wray found Brindley lurking at the far post, with the experienced defender looping a header over the reach of Davies to reduce arrears

 

Enter veteran striker Kevin Francis, who had had a quiet afternoon up to this point against the experienced Vowden. With the Pitmen pushing up and committing more numbers, the long ball was used more and more to aim for the 6ft 7" striker. A long, rangy ball from Gayle on seventy-four minutes was seized upon by Francis, all alone midway inside the Cambridge half. The former Blues man controlled the bouncing ball before swivelling and unleashing a dipping volley that sailed over the head of the bemused Davies and into the net for the equaliser. One of the greatest goals we are likely to ever see at Keys Park

 

It was all Hednesford as the game entered the latter stages, with Steve Piearce brought on for Jones with four minutes remaining to try and force home another late, late win. Simkin tried his luck with a powerful effort on eighty-seven minutes, lashing a low shot just wide of goal before Francis completed a fantastic turnaround with two minutes remaining; Simkin's cross was palmed back to him by Davies, who could do nothing about a second cross to the far post, where Francis was on hand to head home the winner for the hosts and send the home supporters wild

 

Another great afternoon's entertainment for the Hednesford supporters, who will be happy with the character of the side but concerned about the easy conceding of goals by an experienced Hednesford defence that lacks pace. However, if it's entertainment you want, Hednesford are the club to watch at the moment, with a short trip to Moor Green to come in midweek as Painter's side look to continue their fine early season form

Hednesford Town: Gayle, Simkin, Lucas ©, Robinson, Brindley, Ryder (Airdrie 45), Wray, Rae, Francis, Jones (Piearce 86), Adams   Subs Unused: Williams, Simpson, Jenkins

 

Cambridge City: Davies, Wooding, Skelly, Holden, Vowden ©, Wilson, Clements, Hayes, Collins, Gutzmore (Nightingale 77), Wilde  Subs Unused: Wardley, Calton, Taylor, Wilkin 

 

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