Evo-Stik Northern Premier League

Hednesford Town


Stride (61)

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Cheyenne Dunkley


Stafford Rangers (A) 2.1.12

The Pitmen blew it when it most mattered this afternoon, as they lost further ground on the top two after local rivals Chasetown completed a famous smash and grab win over their local rivals

Kyle Haynes had recovered sufficiently from a virus to take his place at right-back, relegating Ben Bailey to the substitute's bench after two impressive performances from the youngster. Marvin Robinson also returned to the side after he had served a suspension, replacing the injured Gary Hay

The bumper crowd of over 1,500 saw Chasetown's Danny Smith go straight into the referee's notebook within sixty seconds of the kick-off for a clumsy challenge in midfield on Chris Clements, putting the Scholars number nine under pressure for the remainder of the game

The Pitmen were quicker into their stride in the first ten minutes, stroking the ball around as they looked to find holes in the sturdy Chasetown rearguard, marshalled by former Hednesford defenders Jimmy Turner and Richard Teesdale. Chris Clements gave the away side a scare early on, firing a free-kick across the penalty area but failing to find any white shirts willing to attack the ball

Another ex-Hednesford man, Dave Bridgwater, caused concern in the Hednesford ranks with a tenth-minute free-kick from twenty-five yards out that flashed across the face of the goal, but missed all the onrushing players and drifted wide of goal

Jamey Osborne was next to threaten for the hosts a minute later, flicking Darren Campion's deep cross narrowly wide of the far post with a glancing header

Neither keeper had been forced into a save of any note during the opening exchanges, with Dan Crane looking comfortable behind the dominant Cheyenne Dunkley and Pedro Monteiro. It was Chasetown's number one Ryan Price that was called into action first on sixteen minutes, parrying Clements' long-range drive away from goal. As Robinson and Danks bore down on goal, Price managed to get enough on the ball to punch it away from immediate danger and concede a corner. Clements' deep resultant kick found Campion lurking, but his firm header only succeeded in finding the side netting at the far post

The Pitmen continued to have the better of the chances, as Chasetown seemed content to clear their lines in a no-nonsense fashion and rely on the pace of Dean Perrow on the counter-attack

Elliott Durrell, returning to something like the form from a couple of seasons ago, managed to wriggle his way through a couple of half-hearted Chasetown challenges midway through the half, but wasted his chance by firing wide with a miscued cross-shot

Perrow replied for the Scholars a minute later with a header from Jack Farmer's cross that Crane watched harmlessly wide of goal

The Pitmen forced two good saves out of Price in quick succession, as Clements firstly tested him from range, closely followed by Durrell, whose low shot was well fielded by Chasetown's custodian

Price was on hand in the final minute of the half to smartly claim a Dunkley header after the defender had moved forward to head Campion's free-kick towards goal

It was Haynes who was quickest to emerge from the break, making a great break down the right just a couple of minutes after the restart before firing well over the crossbar with a wild shot

On fifty minutes, Clements tried his luck with a firm curling shot from the left that Price did well to claim high to his left-hand side

Chasetown's attacking threat had been very limited throughout, with a set-piece their best avenue to a goal with the aerial threat of Teesdale, Turner and veteran Darren Stride. And so it proved on the hour, as with arguably their only real period of pressure during the whole game, the Scholars grabbed the golden goal. Bridgwater's corner kick was whipped into the near post, causing confusion in the ranks. Crane tried to claim the ball ahead of a number of bodies but failed to get his hands on the ball ahead of Stride, who managed to bundle the ball home from a couple of yards out

The wounded Pitmen responded in type with a period of pressure that saw them force a couple of corners and push Chasetown back into their own penalty box. Robinson headed the best chance well wide of goal, leaping to meet Durrell's ball in from the right on sixty-four minutes

Danks's game came to a premature end a minute later as Rob Smith looked to inject some aggression up front to counter the power of the Chasetown defenders, introducing Nick Wellecomme alongside the equally powerful Robinson

Despite a good chance in the first half, Osbourne's trickery had been well marshalled by the Chasetown midfield, and a bustling challenge on Hednesford's number seven saw him limp out of the game with twenty minutes remaining; Ben Jevons was brought on against the club he left a few weeks ago in his place

Stride was close to adding to his tally -  and finishing the Pitmen off - on seventy-two minutes, firing just wide of goal when well placed

Smith made his final change on seventy-three minutes, putting another forward on in the form of Andre Landell for the more defensive-minded Jay Denny

Perrow took advantage of the space appearing behind the Hednesford defence with six minutes remaining, making a run through in the inside right position before shooting across goal and inches wide of the far post

Price's man of the match credentials were further enhanced two minutes later, as Durrell broke clear of a tired-looking Chasetown defence but found Price in the way with a brave block low down

Crane made his way forward in the final minute as Clements forced successive corner kicks, but a lack of direction, on top of some 'industrial' defending from Chasetown, saw the danger subside and the away side claim a famous victory. In the process, the Scholars ended the Pitmen's long unbeaten league run and left Smith, Larry Chambers and their players looking for a response when they travel to deadly rivals Stafford Rangers on January 2nd. The only upside to an otherwise wretched day? a 1-1 draw between top two Northwich Victoria and Chester, keeping the Pitmen just four points off top spot going into 2012

Hednesford Town: Crane, Haynes, Campion © , Monteiro, Dunkley, Denny (Landell 75), Osborne (Jevons 70), Clements, Robinson, Danks (Wellecomme 65), Durrell        Subs Unused: Bailey, Shaw

Chasetown: Price, Farmer, Branch, Slater, Turner, Teesdale ©, Hands , Stride, Smith ▆ (Edwards 90), Perrow, Bridgwater ▆        Subs Unused: Westwood, Wright, Downes, Birt

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