23.5.2004

F.A Trophy Final

Hednesford Town

Maguire (27), Hines (53), Brindley (87)

Canvey Island

Boylan (46), Brindley (47) (OG)

(1) 3

(0) 2

 

Attendance

MotM

Current Form

6,635

Carl Palmer

W L D L W D D L W W

On a glorious Sunday afternoon at Villa Park, Hednesford Town put a gloss finish on what has, at times, been a tortuous season with a spectacular late finale to lift the F.A. Trophy for the first time in the club's history against Ryman Premier League champions Canvey Island

There had been a three week break between Hednesford's final league game of the season at Tiverton Town, giving Barry Powell much to ponder with regards his team selection for this afternoon's end-of-season spectacle in front of the Sky Sports cameras. Powell made a number of bold and surprising decisions with regards his starting line-up with no fewer than five changes to the side that had started the game at Ladysmead three Saturdays previously; Ryan Young and Chris Brindley were both passed fit to return to the side and were joined by Darren Simkin and wildcards Damien Charie and Anthony Maguire in replacing Paul Evans, Ross Adams, Lee Barrow, Danny McGhee and the cup-tied Chris Gray

Canvey - bankrolled and managed by the larger-than-life Jeff King - had swept all aside them in the Ryan Premier League this season and arrived at the home of Aston Villa with plenty of confidence having secured promotion to the new Conference set-up and started the game as white-hot favourites in this all step-two encounter - the second successive Trophy final containing both finalists from outside of the Conference after UniBond Premier League Burscough's win over Southern Premier League Tamworth last May. King made three changes to the side that had beaten Hornchurch three weeks ago in their final league game of the season, dropping Micky Bennett, Junior McDougald and Dave McGhee in favour of the experienced pair of Neil Midgeley and Ty Gooden as well as £50,000 man Neil Gregory up front

It was a beautiful bright, sunny Sunday afternoon in Birmingham - a perfect early summer's day for a cup final with the Villa Park pitch looking resplendent ahead of the big kick-off. The Pitmen set their stall out early on in proceedings, relying on the workrate of Carl Palmer in midfield to spur the team forwards. In the fifth minute of the game, the flame-haired Palmer dispossessed Gooden and made one of his surging runs towards the Canvey Island penalty area, only to drag his low shot wide of Danny Potter's right-hand post

Midgeley fired in Canvey's first attempt at goal following a cagey start from the Essex side, dragging a shot well wide of goal in the tenth minute after suffering a sudden attack of stage fright inside the Hednesford penalty area

The returning Young almost gifted the dangerous Gregory a goal in the fourteenth minute, swatting a low Chris Duffy cross straight into the path of the former Ipswich striker, only for Gregory to pull his effort wide and into the empty North Stand

Canvey's other striker Lee Boylan was equally as dangerous in front of goal having plundered over forty goals this season for the club to lead them to promotion to the new Conference set-up. He tested the reflexes of Young in the seventeenth minute of the game as his free-kick from just over twenty yards out was turned around the post by the highly-rated stopper

The Pitmen's more direct approach to the game handed them the lead in the twenty-seventh minute of the game with Charie and Maguire both justifying their inclusions in the side to give Powell's side the crucial advantage; sloppy defending from Canvey allowed Charie time to pick the ball up and hook a shot towards goal that Potter parried away. Maguire followed the ball in and turned the rebound home to add to his two goals in the semi-final against Aldershot Town that had sent the Pitmen into today's final. The main stand housing the Hednesford supporters went wild as the outsiders took a well-deserved lead

The goal had a galvanising effect on the Pitmen, who had much the better of the game for the remainder of the first period. Steve Anthrobus did well to get the better of Midgeley on the half hour mark but wasted a good opening by attempting to play Mark Danks in on goal rather than shoot from twenty yards out

Palmer was dominating the midfield for the Pitmen, driving forwards on thirty-four minutes by shrugging off a challenge from Gooden and playing Danks clean through on goal, only for a late offside flag against the striker to halt his run into the Canvey penalty area

Anthrobus was booked for the Pitmen after clashing with John Kennedy on thirty-six minutes, with Premier League referee Mike Dean pulling the big man up for his over-aggressive approach to the play with a yellow card

With half-time looming, Palmer went close to doubling the Pitmen's advantage as he drove another long-range effort narrowly over Potter's crossbar on forty-two minutes after another lung busting run from deep in his own half

In the final minute of the half, Potter was on hand to turn a low drive from Les Hines away from goal after the left-back had drilled in a powerful shot from the left hand corner of the Canvey penalty area

Half-time almost came at the wrong time for Hednesford, who had looked a real threat going forwards towards the end of the first period. Powell's half-time talk will have been tough to deliver as in many ways he will have wanted his team to pick up where they left off, but to be wary of a response from King's side at the start of the second half

He would have been correct to exercise caution to his side as Canvey started assertively - however, Powell could only watch on in absolute horror as his side made the most catastrophic start to the second half possible. Non-existent defending gifted Boylan time and space inside the Hednesford penalty area just sixty seconds after the restart to meet a Duffy cross from the right, heading past Young unmarked from close range to level matters before some people had even returned to their seats

Directly from the restart, the Pitmen crumbled once more as they gifted possession straight to Canvey Island once more as Midgeley picked up the loose ball and drove at the Hednesford back line. Charie's attempts to track back failed to stop the midfielder from playing the ball into the path of Boylan, whose chip over the head of Young from an angle was unceremoniously turned into his own net by Brindley at the near post after he had tracked back to try and clear the ball

Canvey had completely turned the tie on it's head inside the first two minutes of the second half and now it was their fans in the Holte End singing whilst the Hednesford supporters sat shell-shocked at what they had witnessed in a horrific opening salvo from their team. Unfortunately, the more seasoned supporters who had followed the club home and away all season won't have been particularly surprised at the team's capitulation, as Powell's side had shown on numerous occasions throughout the season that the defence was susceptible to such issues throughout the campaign

However, on the flip side of this, the Pitmen had shown plenty of character to get themselves out of sticky situations in this season's F.A. Trophy and showed this once more with a battling display to drag themselves back into contention. Palmer's pass through to Maguire set the youngster on his way on fifty-one minutes, with the Cannock-based youngster skipping past a challenge from Steve Ward before lashing his shot into the North Stand from the edge of the penalty area

The Pitmen did get themselves back on level terms two minutes later as Danks did well to win the Pitmen a free-kick to the right of the Canvey Island penalty area after drawing a foul from Ben Chenery. Hines stepped up to take the resultant free-kick and dispatched a wonderful inswinging shot beyond the reach of Potter and into the top corner of the net to draw the Pitmen level once more

The two sides traded chances within thirty seconds of each other as Anthrobus's header from a Charie cross was smothered by Potter and cleared by the Canvey Island defence, leading to quick break down the right that saw Gregory turn Duffy's pass beyond Young's left-hand post

Palmer made another fine tackle on Kennedy on fifty-nine minutes and see Jordan King on his way, only for the Hereford United loanee to clip his pass just too far in front of the onrushing Danks and the ball dribbled out for a goal kick

Charie's game was ended prematurely on fifty-six minutes as Powell felt he needed more experience in his side to combat the Canvey threat and brought on Steve Evans - a losing finalist last season with Tamworth - in the youngster's place

Ryder - one of two Hednesford players who announced before the game that they would be retiring after the game alongside Darren Simkin - saw his game, and career, end on the hour mark as he was forced off with a reoccurrence of his injury issues. He was replaced by Lee Barrow at centre-back as the Pitmen were forced into changing their plans quickly

Boylan continued to make life difficult for the Pitmen with his movement, getting goal side of Brindley on sixty-eight minutes but allowing the veteran to recover and get a foot in to turn the ball behind for a Canvey Island corner kick

Four minutes later, Gooden played Jeff Minton into space with a fine pass, who in turn found Gregory inside the Hednesford penalty area. The striker turned Hines and clipped the ball to the far post, where Simkin's presence was enough to put Duffy off and turned his weak shot away from goal from a tight angle

With the game entering the final quarter, the two sides continued to trade chances as they looked to win the game inside ninety minutes and avoid the spectre of extra time and possibly penalties. Gooden lashed shot high over the crossbar on seventy-two minutes, before King's through ball was turned just wide by the toe of Danks

Both sides made changes, with the hard-working Danks taken off with eleven minutes remaining as Powell went with the instinctive Steve Piearce for the remainder of the game

Palmer still had enough stamina to go on yet another run deep into Canvey Island territory on eighty-two minutes, running fifty yards with the ball at his feet before lifting his shot over Potter's crossbar

Two minutes later, a corner kick from Canvey Island was flicked on by substitute Ollie Berquez, only for the ball to flash across the face of the Hednesford goal and away from danger as neither Gregory of Kennedy could get a touch on the ball

With time running out and extra time looming large, the Pitmen produced one last moment of magic as the romance of the cup conjured up a memorable moment for player/assistant manager Brindley. With three minutes left on the clock, Maguire did well down the right and sent over a fine cross that was partially cleared by the Canvey Island defence and into the path of Brindley, who was lurking on the edge of the penalty area. The defender - a veteran of F.A. Trophies past with Telford and Kidderminster and a two-time Wembley finalist - swept the ball home on the half volley to spark wild celebrations amongst players and supporters alike. For a man in his third spell at the club and involved so closely with the Hednesford community, it was a special moment for the centre-back

A late aerial bombardment from Canvey Island saw them win two corner kicks and a free-kick in added time as they looked to force home a third goal and take the game to extra time, with Young making a fine save in added time to divert the ball away from goal to his left and deny Midgeley with what was Canvey's final chance of the game. Dean's final whistle was greeted with wild celebrations in the stands and on the pitch as the Pitmen made history once more with their first ever Trophy win. Steve Palmer was invited up alongside captain for the day Anthrobus to take duel ownership of the Trophy from special guest Peter Shilton and lift it together after his massive contribution to the club's effort in getting to the final

quite incredible afternoon for the football club and it's supporters, who had endured a rollercoaster season and at least had some silverware to show for their efforts in 2003-2004. However, next season leaves the club facing a different future as relegation to the new, demoted Southern Premier League looms for the Pitmen and trips to new places such as Cirencester Town, Histon and Chesham United. The Pitmen will start the season as one of the favourites to return to step two at the first attempt but many questions remain unanswered, particularly the future of the divisive Powell, who delivered one of the greatest moments in the club's history today against a background of inconsistency, arrogance and poor decision-making. Either way, it's going to be an interesting summer at Keys Park, but for now we shall bask in this phenomenal achievement on an unforgettable afternoon for the club and it's supporters

Hednesford Town: Young, Simkin, Hines, Brindley , Ryder (Barrow 60), Maguire, C. Palmer, King, Anthrobus © , Danks  (Piearce 79), Charie (S. Evans 56)     Subs Unused: McGhee, P. Evans

Canvey Island: Potter, Ward, Cowan, Chenery , Midgeley (Berquez 74), Kennedy ©, Minton, Gooden (Harrison 90), Boylan, Gregory (McDonald 80), Duffy      Subs Unused: Theobald, Dobinson

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