Dr. Martens Southern Premier League 

Chelmsford City

Penfold (15), Nicholls (73) (penalty) 

Hednesford Town

(1) 2

(0) 0




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Steve Evans



Havant & Waterlooville (H) 24.2.04

Will the real Hednesford Town please stand up? Despite two fine performances and wins in the F.A. Trophy last week, Barry Powell's side are brought back down to earth as they are beaten by bottom of the table Chelmsford City this afternoon at Billericay's New Lodge ground, although they can probably count themselves a little unlucky not to have taken at least a point back to Staffordshire with them

Powell had seen some of the pressure in him lifted in the past ten days after the Pitmen had made it through to the quarter-finals of this season's F.A. Trophy courtesy of back-to-back wins over Worthing and Dover Athletic. The Hednesford manager stuck with the same side that had beaten the Lilywhites at Keys Park last weekend but welcomed Chris Gray back into the squad after he missed the Dover game due to being cup-tied

It had been a torrid season for Steve Mosley's Clarets, who sat rooted to the foot of the Dr. Martens League table at the start of play after a run that had seen them lose their last four league games in a row. There was two changes to the side that had lost at Worcester City last weekend as Simon Clarke and Terry Penfold returned to the side in place of Don Trenkell and Gary Ansell

A bumpy pitch at Billericay gave both sides early issues as they tried to get the ball down and play. The Pitmen's top scorer Mark Danks had the first sight at goal of the afternoon as a Steve Evans free-kick drifted into the path of the striker, who flicked the ball goalwards but was denied by Chelmsford keeper Paul Nicholls

Lee Barrow's long, searching ball forwards on eight minutes was flicked on by Steve Anthrobus to Danny McGhee, whose first-time shot from the edge of the area was lifted just over Nicholls' crossbar 

Neat interplay between Carl Palmer, Steve Evans and Les Hines three minutes later saw Hines cross well for Danks, whose side footed effort was easily fielded by Nicholls at his near post as the striker's effort lacked power

With their first real foray into the Hednesford half, Chelmsford took the lead in the fifteenth minute of the game against the run of play; Wes Faulkner's cross from the right wing was headed goalwards by former Kettering Town man Steve Norman, prompting Ryan Young into a fine instinctive save from close range. Unfortunately for the stopper his save was in vain as the ball rebounded to Penfold, who turned the loose ball home into the empty net after following the ball into the six-yard box

Back came the away side, stunned by Chelmsford's opener after making an encouraging start to the game with Steve Evans lifting and angled drive high over the crossbar on twenty minutes after Hines had clipped the ball over the toot him


Hines himself tried his luck a minute later as he whistled a free-kick inches wide of the near post with a shot from nearly thirty yards out that had Nicholls scrambling across goal

Nicholls was proving to be the difference between the two sides as the game progressed, making another fine save two minutes later to turn a Steve Evans shot away from goal by parrying the winger's low shot behind for a Hednesford corner kick. Hines took the resultant corner and swung the ball into the far post, where Chris Brindley headed wide under pressure from Iain O'Connell

 Alex Gibson did well to push his way past challenges from both Norman and Clarke on the half-hour mark and cross from the byeline, only for Anthrobus to head well wide from a good position just six yards out, incurring the earth of the Hednesford supporters behind the goal who flew that the big striker should have done better

A quick break from the Pitmen four minutes later saw Danks scamper away from Russell Edwards as he got on the end of a Steve Palmer pass, only for O'Connell to deny the striker a shot at goal as he got back to cover for the hosts

Five minutes before half-time, another corner kick from Hines was flicked on by Barrow at the near post to Danks, whose rising shot was well-saved by Nicholls, who turned the youngster's effort over the bar for another corner kick

It had been another extremely frustrating forty-five minutes for the Pitmen, who had dominated much of the game and yet found themselves a goal down at the break as Chelmsford had grabbed the all-important goal with essentially their only shot on target so far

Hednesford started the second period well as Hines' cross was headed down by Anthrobus into the path of Danks, only for the his first-time shot to sail wide of Nicholls' right-hand post


On fifty minutes, Carl Palmer got the better of Fabien Forde in midfield by outmuscling the Chelmsford man and playing the impressive Steve Evans, who drifted inside from the left wing before drilling a low shot across the face of goal and just wide of the far post

Referee Mr. Sandell left the Pitmen feeling hard done by on fifty-seven minutes as he denied Steve Evans an equaliser after the former Tamworth man had looped a header from a Hines free-kick beyond the reach of Nicholls, only for the match official to disallow the goal due to a mystifying offside call against Evans, who appeared to be a cood couple of yards behind play when Hines took the free-kick

This was to prove to be key decision in the game for the Pitmen, who were once again on top in all areas and were still chasing the game against a Chelmsford side seemingly content to sit back and soak up the pressure from their visitors

Nicholls was again on top of his game three minutes later to make another great save at the feet of Evans after Carl Palmer's pass had intersected the Chelmsford defence and into the path of Evans once more

A rare attack from the hosts on sixty-four minutes saw a free-kick from O'Connell drop at the feet of Penfold, whose shot lacked power and direction from twelve yards out and dragged his effort well wide of goal

Three minutes later, Edwards headed high over the crossbar from a recycled cross from Faulkner as he was pressured into a header by Barrow at the far post

With eighteen minutes remaining, Powell made a bold double change to his side as he brought on Nathan Lamey for Danks up front and Gray for the tiring Evans on the wing

Mr. Sandell further infuriated the away side a minute later as he awarded Chelmsford a penalty kick in highly dubious circumstances; Forde picked up the ball just outside the Hednesford penalty area and drove a shot at goal that was straight into the body of Barrow, who blocked the shot standing only a couple of yards away from Forde. Incredibly, the referee pointed to the spot as he felt that Barrow had handled the ball from Forde's shot, despite the ball essentially hitting the defender from close range. The Pitmen were incensed at the decision and gestured long and hard with the referee at the injustice of the decision. In a highly unusual move, keeper Nicholls spotted the ball and fired the resultant kick beyond opposite number Young into the corner of the net to double the homes side's lead

A distraught Powell made his third change of the afternoon before the game restarted, bringing on Damien Charie in place of the ineffective McGhee down the right wing

The Pitmen continued to plod their way through the game, although their enthusiasm had been badly damaged by the controversial penalty award. Lamey's pace saw him get the better of Clarke on seventy-seven minutes before pulling the ball back into the path of Anthrobus, only for the striker to fall flat on his face as he missed his shot and fell over

Eight minutes from time, Gibson crossed from the right which was met by Lamey and once again his header was saved by the outstretched legs of Nicholls as he continued to frustrate the Pitmen with a man of the match performance from the former Chelsea man

Good play from Carl Palmer on eighty-eight minutes saw him force his way past Forde and play Lamey through on goal, only for the substitute to try and turn the ball onto his right foot and was dispossessed by a covering tackle from Clarke

The referee was given a a mouthful by Powell and his players at the final whistle as they felt that his poor decision making had cost them at least a point in a game that they had dominated for long spells. It will be a long and depressing trip home to Staffordshire for Hednesford, whose league form has been so poor since November that they have now dropped into the bottom three of the table after eleven games without a win. They face another side struggling for form on Tuesday night as Havant & Waterlooville make the long trip up from Hampshire to face the Pitmen in a re-arranged Dr. Martens League game

Chelmsford City: Nicholls, Faulkner, Clarke, Street, Edwards, Wiles, Hopkins, O'Connell, Forde (Butterworth 90), Penfold (Lay 89), Norman (Trenkell 56)      Subs Unused: Gough, Whitnell

Hednesford Town: Young, Gibson, Hines, McGhee (Charie 73), Brindley, Barrow, C. Palmer, S. Palmer ©Anthrobus, Danks (Lamey 72), S. Evans (Gray 72)       Subs Unused: Dean, P. Evans