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Hednesford Town

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Danny Glover



Basford United (H) 12.9.20

The Pitmen edge their way past near-neighbours Chasetown this afternoon despite an unconvincing overall display from Andy Morrell's men against the Scholars at Church Street

Thursday night's hastily-arranged friendly with league rivals Bromsgrove Sporting had ended in a draw and proved to be a positive reaction to last Saturday's poor defeat at Stafford Rangers. Morrell again tinkered with his side ahead of this afternoon's derby game, handing young triallist keeper Santana a start after he had impressed with small cameo performances against Kettering Town and Sutton Coldfield Town. Former Hednesford loanee Kieron Dawes - a former Birmingham City U21 player - also made the first XI as he arrived at the club looking to earn himself a deal in a position the Pitmen were struggling to fill in the absence of three injured right-backs in the form of Sam Griffiths, Callam Mendez-Jones and Wes Atkinson

Chasetown had returned to action at their home ground in midweek, losing 3-1 to Hednesford's league rivals Alvechurch on Tuesday night. There were a good number of familiar faces in the Scholars' ranks from days gone by for the large number of Hednesford fans attending, with Ryan Wyner, Alex Melbourne, Joey Butlin and Kris Taylor all named in the Chasetown squad ahead of kick-off

On a pleasant early afternoon, Chasetown made a good start to the day's play and were nearly handed an opening by the Pitmen in the third minute as sloppy defending from the men in neon yellow saw Butlin sneak in behind the away defence, only for former team-mate Ben Bailey to sweep up and clear the danger

The Pitmen's best chance of the early exchanges fell to former Chasetown man George Cater as he was played through on goal by a flick-on from Danny Glover in the eighth minutes but dragged his low shot wide and into the side netting from fifteen yards out

Former Rushall man Danny O'Callaghan lifted a long-range effort over the crossbar for Chasetown in the thirteenth minute before triallist keeper Santana made a meal of a low, dribbling effort from Jack Langston that took him two attempts to puck up as Butlin bore down on him

Santana's unconvincing performance continued on nineteen minutes as he made a mess of an attempted clearance by hitting the onrushing Butlin with a scuffed kick and was lucky to be handed a free-kick after the pair challenged for the loose ball just outside his own penalty area


Butlin headed a golden opportunity wide of goal for the hosts on twenty-four minutes as Chasetown continued to look the better side, firmly nodding a cross from Alex Curtis just the wrong side of the near post after beating Dan Preston to the ball

The Pitmen had looked sluggish, one-paced and out of ideas for much of the opening half-hour of the game with little to no imagination to their play going forwards. Glover was working extremely hard for little reward, whilst the suspect defending continued to offer their step four hosts chances to take the lead

Bailey once again came to his side's rescue on thirty-five minutes as he headed a cross-cum-shot from Butlin off the line after some dreadful defending from Preston and Santana had once again gifted Butlin the ball to the right-hand side of the penalty area before shotting from an angle


 In the final minute of the first half, Langston was guilty of wasting another great chance for Chasetown as he lifted a first-time shot over the crossbar from the edge of the penalty area after Curtis's cross from the left somehow managed to evade everyone in yellow before falling to the former Stafford Rangers man

It had been a dreadfully poor half from the Pitmen, who were lucky to be going in on level terms still after a characterless, insipid display, particularly in defence and midfield. Glover, Cater and Will Norcross had been starved of service, something Glover vented to manager Morrell at the break before going into the dressing room

Half-time saw a change between the posts for the Pitmen as regular number one Andy Wycherley - who had a mixed night at Bromsgrove it was fair to say - returned to the side in place of the erratic Santana

More shaky defending from the Pitmen at the start of the second half saw a cross from Curtis played into the path of Carter Lycett, only for the youngster to inexplicably scuff his clearance straight into the path of Butlin, whose turn and shot was easily saved by Wycherley

A deep corner kick from Chasetown on fifty-two minutes caused all sorts of confusion in the Pitmen's ranks as the impressive Butlin turned the ball back into the danger area and found O'Callaghan at the far post, only for the midfield man to turn the ball over from close-range

From another Chasetown corner two minutes later, Liam Kirton headed over the crossbar for the hosts after Wycherley had punched a cross behind for another set-piece to the home side

Butlin tried his luck from a free-kick on fifty-seven minutes, curling an effort over the Hednesford wall from twenty-five yards out but straight into the hands of Wycherley

With just over an hour on the clock, Morrell elected to make a double change to his misfiring side as Lee Smith and Jack Hallahan came on in place of Thompson and Dodds respectively

A quick break from the hosts on sixty-five minutes saw Butlin and Langston link up well, culminating in Langston drilling a long-range effort just wide of Wycherley's left-hand post

An incredibly rare sight of Hednesford on the attack saw Jed Davies fire well wide of goal on sixty-eight minutes, pulling his long-range effort a few yards wide of Curtis Pond's left-hand post

Wycherley was called upon to make a smart stop at his near post two minutes later as Butlin's chip back over his own head found Curtis in on goal, only for the former Solihull Moors stopper to turn his shot away from danger

Butlin was causing the Pitmen constant problems with his persistence and forced Wycherley into another save on seventy-two minutes after Langston's free-kick had played him in on goal

Despite having been a solid second best for the whole game up to this point, the Pitmen somehow managed to take the lead with sixteen minutes remaining; Glover and Cater linked up well before playing the ball on to Smith; his initial touch looked to be too heavy and was swept up by Jordan Evans, only for the Chasetown substitute to lose control of the ball and allow Smith to regain possession. The midfielder took a touch before coolly firing past Pond from close range to give the visitors a lead they most definitely did not deserve on the balance of play

With the lead finally established, the Pitmen could afford to make further changes on seventy-six minutes as Josh Kilford replaced Dawes at right-back, John Dodd came on for Davies and Dan Turner was brought on for Norcross

With ten minutes of the match remaining, the Pitmen's final change of the afternoon came out on the left flank as triallist Sean Dongo replaced the out of luck Cater on his return to his former club

Taking the lead seemed to give the Pitmen some impetus and they finished the game strongly; Bailey headed over from a corner kick from only six yards out with eight minutes to go before Glover's header at the far post from a deep Hallahan corner kick was cleared off the line in the final minute of the game by veteran Chris Slater

It had been a disappointing overall performance despite the result for the Hednesford fans in attendance, who had seen their side huff and puff through the ninety minutes and struggle to create opportunities against their step four neighbours. With news earlier today that the final pre-season game at Wrexham has now been postponed, it remains to be seen if the club can hastily arrange another match next weekend to allow Morrell and his staff to give their players one last run out before the new season starts in earnest on 19th September when Stourbridge visit the PRG Stadium @ Keys Park

Chasetown: Pond, Curtis, Riley-Stewart (Elks 75), Wynter (Slater 65), Melbourne (Smith 75), Langston, Hayward (Whieldon 67), O'Callaghan (Haddaway 67), Berry (Evans 20), Lund, Kirton, Butlin  (Taylor 75)     Subs Unused: None

Hednesford Town: Santana (Wycherley 45), Dawes (Kilford 76), Lycett, Bailey ©, Preston, Thompson (L. Smith 61), Cater (Dongo 80), Davies (Dodd 76), Dodds (Hallahan 61), Norcross (Turner 76)     Subs Unused: None

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