Pre-Season Friendly


Langston (90) (penalty)

Hednesford Town

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Charlie Gatter


Scarborough Athletic (H) 18.8.18

The Pitmen's final pre-season game of 2018 saw them fall to defeat courtesy of a late, late Chasetown penalty at Church Street this afternoon - leaving Rob Smith with much to ponder ahead of next weekend's curtain-raiser against Scarborough Athletic


Tuesday night's draw against Sutton Coldfield Town had seen a number of players impressing sufficiently to have been offered deals by Smith, with Stoke City goalkeeper Josef Bursik, midfielder Charley Edge and youngster Owen Turner all agreeing deals for the 2018-2019 season. However, Smith took one last opportunity to take a look at four new triallists that had become available to him in the last few days, handing a triallist striker a start alongside Dan Cockerline. Sam Griffiths and Reece King were once again available after holidays, but there was no Tom Hill or Jed Davies in the matchday squad


Chasetown came into this afternoon's local derby off the back of an impressive win over another local side, Stafford Rangers, last weekend, with the Scholars recording a 1-0 win over Steve Burr's side on the same ground. Former Hednesford striker Nick Wellecomme started up front for the Scholars, with Ryan Wynter starting on the right-wing for the home side. Another former Hednesford striker - George Cater - was amongst the Chasetown substitutes


Wellecomme was straight into the action in the opening minute, as he and Charlie Gatter chased the ball down by the right-hand corner flag. Wellecomme dished out retribution on Gatter for shielding the ball out and pushed the centre-back into the advertising hoardings, leaving Gatter requiring lengthy treatment


Edge - who impressed with his set-pieces on Tuesday night - sent over an early cross into the Chasetown penalty area and found the head of the Matt Dodd, whose diverted header found King. His goalbound header was saved by Chasetown keeper Curtis Pond, diving low to his left to turn the ball away from goal


Chasetown responded through right-back Jack Partridge on nine minutes, making a run deep into the Hednesford penalty area but dragged his shot well wide of Bursik's goal


Neat build-up play from Griffiths, Dan Cockerline and Joe Fitzpatrick opened up the Chasetown defence on twelve minutes and played triallist no. 10 in. However, he dithered when presented with a scoring opportunity and allowed the Chasetown defence to regroup and clear the ball


Chasetown offered little in the way of an attacking threat in the opening quarter of the half, as Stefan Galinski and Gatter showed more evidence of their excellent growing understanding that had seen the Pitmen go unbeaten in the early stages of the pre-season programme


Edge was handed a glorious chance to open the scoring on twenty-six minutes, as a misdirected header from Richard Smith was pounced upon by the midfielder, whose low shot across the face of goal drifted just inches wide of the upright


More chances followed for the away side, who were enjoying the better of the possession in the game. A lofted ball in from Fitzpatrick on the half-hour mark was headed wide by Edge, who was under pressure from Partridge


The Pitmen had the ball in the net on thirty-two minutes, as another delightful cross from Edge was turned into the net by Matt Dodd, arriving late at the far post to slide the ball past Pond. However, Dodd's celebrations were ended prematurely by a late offside flag, which on second viewing looked harsh on Dodd as he appeared to be in an onside position


Chasetown showed more attacking intent as the half started to come to an end, with Bursik making two regulation stops from Jake Lovatt and Will Whieldon respectively. Skipper Galinski gave the Hednesford supporters cause for concern on thirty-seven minutes after limping out of a challenge and struggling through to half-time


In the final minute of the half, a deep free-kick from Fitzpatrick found the head of King, whose flick-on to Cockerline saw the big striker head straight at Pond from six yards out. A good chance wasted by the on-loan youngster and he knew it


It had been a fairly optimistic first-half performance from the Pitmen, who had looked good on the ball and had done everything but score. This optimism drained away quickly at half-time with a raft of changes to the side that took any momentum out of the side in the second period. Smith elected to make no fewer than five changes - needlessly it seemed, as Callam Mendez-Jones, triallist no. 15, Josh Craddock, Mikey Nelson and triallist no. 18 all took to the field, with Matt Curley, Galinski, Fitzpatrick, Dodd and Edge all making way


The result was a disjointed performance from the Pitmen, who looked patchy and less polished without a number of first-team regulars on display as Smith chose to take a final look at more triallists in their final pre-season outing


There was a further substitution forced upon the visitors early into the half, as Cockerline was taken off after picking up an injury. The experienced Jermain Hollis came on in his place


Lovatt took advantage of Bursik's lack of decision-making on fifty-five minutes nipping in to control the bouncing ball in the Hednesford penalty area. After showing triallist no. 15 a clean pair of heels, the midfielder saw his shot tipped around the post by the teenage keeper for a Chasetown corner


On sixty-five minutes, a free-kick from Griffiths was drilled into the Chasetown penalty area towards King, whose downwards header was saved by Pond at his far post


A long ball forwards from Bursik set Nelson on his way a minute later, but his weak attempted lob over Pond was easily fielded by the Chasetown keeper, who should have been worked harder by the half-time substitute


Jack Langston had Bursik scrambling across his goal on seventy minutes, as his curling effort from the edge of the Hednesford penalty area was inches wide of Bursik's right-hand post


The Pitmen had struggled to match their first-half performance as the second period had worn on, with Chasetown enjoying much more of the ball and having the better of the chances


Craddock - now skipper after Galinski's half-time removal - drove in a rising shot from twenty yards out with four minutes remaining, picking up triallist no. 10's pass and firing just over the crossbar


With the game seemingly petering out in added time, Bursik handed Chasetown a glorious chance to complete a local double over their higher league rivals by conceding an injury-time penalty. Again, the England U18 keeper dithered in his decision-making initially coming for a through ball aimed at half-time substitute Cater. However, he crucially checked his run before committing to the challenge, allowing Cater the time to nip in and take the ball away from him. Bursik pulled Cater down as he stepped past him, leaving the referee little choice but to award Chasetown a penalty. langston stepped up to confidently fire past Bursik and clinch the win for Chasetown with pretty much the final kick of the game, leaving the Pitmen with no time to muster a reply


A disappointing second-half display then, with many Hednesford supporters questioning Smith's wholesale changes at half-time and the justification of playing so many new triallists in their final pre-season game after allowing five triallists to leave Keys Park in midweek. The injuries to Galinski and Cockerline will be a concern ahead of Saturday's curtain-raiser against Scarborough Athletic, but many supporters will still be worried that there is still no clear idea of the Pitmen's first XI going into the opening game of the league season, despite an exhaustive pre-season programme

Hednesford Town: Bursik, Curley (Mendez-Jones 45), Griffiths, Gatter, Galinski © (Triallist no.15 - 45), Fitzpatrick (Craddock 45), Dodd (Nelson 45), King, Cockerline (Hollis 52), Triallist no. 10, Edge (Triallist no. 18 - 45). Subs Unused: Veiga

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