20.9.2008

UniBond Northern Premier League

Cammell Laird

Cooke (89)

Hednesford Town

Durrell (88)

(0) 1

(0) 1

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225

Tom Marshall

D W W W D W L L D

Matlock Town (H) 23.9.08

Despite a disjointed outing this afternoon in Birkenhead, the Pitmen moved up one place in the UniBond Premier League table after claiming a hard-fought point at struggling Cammell Laird 

 

Manager Dean Edwards made one change to the XI that lost to Atherstone in the F.A. Cup last week, swapping Mark Briggs and Chad Sheppard in midfield with the latter returning to the bench after two successive starts

Cammell Laird - promoted to step three in May after finishing runners-up in UniBond Division One South - had found the going tough so far at step three with only one win gained from seven games so far this term. A 3-0 defeat at Bacup Borough in the F.A. Cup last weekend was the Blues' fourth defeat in succession, leaving Ken McKenna's side with much to do to show their step three credentials

Looking to improve on two recent defeats the Pitmen made a good start to the game, forcing the home side back in the opening ten minutes. Ross Dyer was his usual busy self, forcing former Tranmere Rovers defender Dave Challinor to concede an early corner after getting into a goalscoring position at the far post

Tyrone Barnett was making his presence felt in the Lairds' ranks early on, and his duel with Challinor allowed the ball to run to Ross Draper, but lairds keeper Richard Whiteside had spotted the danger and denied the Hednesford skipper with a smothering save

It was all Hednesford in the opening exchanges, as the in-form Barnett once again got stuck in, picking up a Ross Dyer ball, but fired narrowly over Whiteside's crossbar

A bright start from the away side soon turned into a backs-to-the-wall exercise on fourteen minutes. Keeper Stuart Brock took a goal kick but winced after booting the ball away with what turned out to be a groin injury. After two spells of treatment, the experienced stopper continued to play on but left the goal kicks to Decio Gomes

From here on, the Pitmen's attacking options were limited, as they looked to protect their injured keeper. Wing back Anthony Maguire did manage to get a shot away on twenty minutes, getting on the end of a Barnett ball but hit his shot wide of the right-hand post

Dyer, looking to add to the four goals he had already plundered this term, was next to test Whiteside, but his header on twenty-five minutes was straight at the home keeper

The home side, although limited as an attacking threat, grew in confidence as the half went on, and a mistake from Tom Marshall allowed Neil Black to fire in a shot from the edge of the area that Brock saw over the bar

Brock, struggling to even stand as the half entered the final ten minutes, made a fantastic save from Black after the striker had been allowed to cut in from a wide position and get his shot away. He was also called upon to deal with a fierce shot from Eddie Jebb as Cammell Laird pressed

The Pitmen responded with a header from Barnett that cleared the crossbar after he was teed up by Mark Briggs' cross

Marshall almost put the away side into the lead right on half time, heading inches over the bar after getting on the end of another good ball from Briggs

With no substitute keeper on the bench for Hednesford, Brock continued to play on in the second half and was again well protected by the three centre backs in front of him. Indeed, Marshall was having a fine game all round, playing with confidence and determination

The Pitmen were still creating chances, with Whiteside making saves from Louis Briscoe and Dyer within moments of each other early in the second half

There was always an ever-present threat of Brock's injury hampering the Pitmen's progress; Danny Harvey's ball out of defence went straight to Black, who had a free run on the exposed Brock, who did his best to put the forward off. Fortunately for the visitors, Black somehow skied his shot over the bar and into the gardens behind the goal

As the Pitmen looked to play the percentages and play for a hard-earned point, the chances started to dry up. Elliott Durrell and Chad Sheppard both came on to shore the side up, but it was Durrell who grabbed a crucial goal late on. Draper played the ball through to the onrushing Durrell, who swept the ball past Whiteside

Any hope that the Pitmen could hang on to an unlikely three points were dashed just sixty seconds later as Black's cross was met by Ian Cooke at the near post, who glanced a header past Brock and into the far corner of the net to net a quickfire equaliser

There was little time for the Pitmen to muster a response, with Edwards' side taking the point on offer to move them up one place in the league table to fourth. Had it not been for Brock's injury, the Pitmen may have been more attack-minded and would probably have fancied taking all three points on another day. A return to Keys Park on Tuesday night sees mid-table Matlock Town make the journey from Derbyshire to face the frustratingly inconsistent Pitmen

Cammell Laird: Whiteside, Gann, Ward, Collins, Atherton, Reed, Challinor ©, Lynch, Black, Holden (Cooke 76), Jebb       Subs Unused: Houghton, Sheehan, Bigland, Foulkes

Hednesford Town: Brock, Platt, Maguire, Gomes, Harvey, Marshall, Briggs (Sheppard 75), Briscoe (Durrell 58), Barnett, Dyer, Draper ©       Subs Unused: Morris, Hall, Stamps

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