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Evo-Stik Northern Premier League


Charlton (19)

Hednesford Town

Wellecomme (45), Landell (81)

(1) 1

(1) 2



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Nick Wellecomme


Northwich Victoria (A) 13.4.12

Hednesford gave their play-off ambitions a timely shot in the arm this afternoon, as the Pitmen claimed all three points in their derby match against Chasetown at the Scholars Ground. The win puts Rob Smith's men back on level points with FC United of Manchester, who currently sit in the final play-off position

Having allowed Kendal Town to snatch all three points in Saturday's league encounter at Keys Park, Hednesford knew that only a win against their struggling neighbours would be enough to stay in the play-off hunt. FC United looked to have an easy looking game at Ashton United in today's fixtures, looking for a response to their surprise defeat at home to Buxton at the weekend. With this in mind, Smith made three changes to his side forty-eight hours on, with Kyle Haynes, Liam Blakeman and Sam Craven all coming in at the expense of Jermaine Johnson, Elliott Durrell and Michael Ordish

The game kicked off amidst a torrential downpour, with the rain rarely abating throughout the contest. Indeed, the adverse weather was a major reason behind a relatively poor attendance - 543 - for such a local game with so much at stake for both parties.  It was the hosts who made the better start, looking for a critical three points to escape the very real possibility of ending a rotten season in the bottom four. Former Telford striker Dean Perrow forced Dan Crane into an early save, with the Pitmen stopper making a stop on the edge of his six-yard box to smother the striker's snapshot

A minute later, Perrow went even closer to opening the scoring as he headed former Pitman Scott Lycett's cross against the crossbar, under pressure from Craven six yards out

Hednesford finally got a grip of the conditions on ten minutes, working the ball across the pitch and towards Chris Clements. He played former Chasetown man Ben Jevons in, who turned and scuffed his shot past the right-hand post

Jevons felt as though he had a valid shout for a penalty kick on sixteen minutes, as another smart Hednesford move played the midfielder in through the old inside right position. Another former Hednesford man, left-back Mark Branch, appeared to clip Jevons as he attempted to shoot, but the referee allowed play to continue. Jevons then tripped Branch as he cleared the ball, incurring the wrath of the Chasetown faithful

Chasetown were rewarded for their bright start with a goal on nineteen minutes, with the Pitmen yet again conceding a soft goal from a set-piece. Branch's corner was headed into the path of another former Hednesford player, full back Asa Charlton, who fired back across Crane from an angle and into the far corner of the net

It could have got a whole lot worse for the away side five minutes later, as Cheyenne Dunkley allowed a ball to bounce over his head and let Perrow in behind him. Crane raced out of his goal to deny Perrow and clipped the striker as he looked to clear the ball. The Chasetown supporters and players were convinced it was a penalty, but the referee was unmoved and carried on with the game. On closer inspection, Crane got to the ball before making contact with Perrow just inside the penalty area

Branch found Crane in commanding form just after the half-hour mark, as a free-kick from the player looked to be flying into the bottom corner from fully twenty-five yards out. Crane made a superb save, making a full length stop to his left to tip the ball away from goal and keep the Pitmen in the contest

The Pitmen were in desperate need of a lift after a fairly tame first-half showing, and got a crucial lifeline just before half time. Jamey Osborne and Jay Denny linked up down the right-wing, culminating in Osbourne sending over a superb cross for Nick Wellecomme to attack. The big striker got his head to the ball and powerfully headed past Lee Evans in the Chasetown goal to level the game

Half time brought a change for the Pitmen, with Jevons making way for Durrell. The substitute lined up on the right-hand side of midfield, and from the off looked keen to make up for his red card against Kendal at the weekend

Both sides had early chances at the start of the second half, as Perrow scampered clear of the Hednesford defence just three minutes after the restart. As he lined up a shot, he was denied by a cover block from Craven, looking at home in his more natural centre half position than the left midfield role he had played since arriving at the club on loan from Mansfield Town. Chris Shaw then eased Perrow out of the way as he looked to break in behind the Pitmen's defence as the ball was pumped back into the danger area for the hosts

A neat passing move by the Pitmen, involving Osbourne, Clements and Haynes, saw Wellecomme played in on fifty-eight minutes, but his angled shot lacked direction and only managed to find the side netting

Haynes then reverted to defensive duties a minute later, denying Perrow a shot on goal as he cleared Gary Birch's flick-on away from the feet of Perrow

The Pitmen made what was to be a match-winning substitution on sixty-seven minutes, as the disappointing Liam Blakeman was taken off and replaced by young forward Andre Carvalho-Landell. The former Wolves trainee was straight into the action two minutes later, lashing a shot a yard or so wide from long range

Two minutes later, Clements tried his luck from a similar range but fired high into the foliage behind the goal as the ball skidded off the greasy turf

Landell's pace was a cause for concern for Chasetown, with the youngster getting into a goalscoring position on seventy-five minutes and flicking Durrell's chipped cross just wide of the post

The Pitmen cranked up the pressure by winning three successive corners, one of which was dropped by Evans and hacked to safety by Chris Slater before Dunkley could turn the ball home from close range

With ten minutes remaining, this pressure finally made the difference as Durrell's free-kick wide on the right was headed powerfully towards goal by Craven. Evans made a brilliant instinctive save on his line, clawing the ball away from danger. The loose ball fell to the feet of Landell, who managed to scoop the ball into the net from six yards out

Clements could have made the game safe with five minutes remaining, as he fired agonisingly wide of the post with a swerving shot after Osborne had set him up on the edge of the Chasetown penalty area. A minute later, Landell's trickery saw him cut inside and fire straight at Evans with a low shot

The final whistle was greeted with as much relief as joy by the Hednesford faithful, who later learned of a surprise defeat for FC United at Ashton. This meant is was all to play for again as the league entered its final two weeks. For Chris Brindley's Scholars, it is looking rather bleak, as they sit in the relegation zone with only two games to play; their home game against North Ferriby United takes on real importance this weekend, as defeat could send them down. For the Pitmen, a win over Northwich Victoria at Leek Town on Friday night will put the out-of-form FC United under severe pressure to get a result away at Matlock. It's game on once more in the chase for the final play-off place between the Pitmen, FCUM and Marine

Hednesford Town: Crane, Haynes, Shaw, Dunkley, Craven, Denny ©, Clements, Wellecomme (45), Blakeman (Landell 67 (81)), Jevons (Durrell 45)      Subs Unused: Campion, Ordish, Grice

Chasetown: Evans, Turner, Branch, Slater, Charlton, Hands (Bridgwater 89), Smith (Archer 83), Lycett, Birch ©, Perrow (Wright 75), Pitt

Subs Unused: Farmer, Teesdale

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