26.4.2003

 

Dr. Martens Southern Premier League

Chelmsford City

Moss (52) (OG), Samuels (80)

Hednesford Town

Berks (17), Piearce (21)

(0) 2

.

(0) 0

 

Attendance

MotM

Current Form

Next Match

618

Anthony Maguire

 

L L L W D L L W W D

 

Folkestone Invicta (H) 3.5.03

The Pitmen finally confirm their status in the Southern Premier League for next season with a point at Chelmsford City this afternoon, although a tame second-half showing from the visitors saw them relinquish all three points after allowing the hosts to level matters after holding a two-goal advantage at the break

 

Last week's back-to-back wins over Hinckley and Worcester have essentially sealed the Pitmen's place at step two for another season, with Brindley's troops arriving in Essex looking for the remaining point needed to make their participation in next years Southern League official. Brindley stuck with the same side that had started the game against Worcester, sticking with the same ten outfield players for a third successive game as the Pitmen had finally found a blend that had worked after a season of chopping and changing

 

Chelmsford's season had been one of mid-table consolidation, despite Paul Parker's team containing a number of experienced faces at a much higher level. A 3-2 win over Folkestone Invicta on Tuesday had made City safe for another season, moving the Clarets onto fifty-two points after a five-game unbeaten run had gained eleven points since their 2-2 draw at Keys Park last month. Parker made once change to the side that had beaten basement club Folkestone, bringing Keith Sharman back into the team at the expense of Lewis Reid at full-back

 

A powerful free-kick from Darren Simkin tested the reflexes of Paul Nicholls in the Chelmsford goal on three minutes, with Nicholls doing well to turn Simkin's rising effort behind for a Hednesford corner

A last-ditch challenge from the experienced Brian Statham denied Anthony Maguire a clear shot on goal six minutes later, making a diving tackle to get a toe on the ball and divert it away from the youngster's foot as he shaped to shoot just inside the Chelmsford penalty area

 

Luke Corbett's enthusiasm saw him win the ball back for the Pitmen on eleven minutes, forcing Sharman into a cheap error and gifting the ball to the on-loan striker. His attempted pass to strike partner Steve Piearce was cut out by a sliding challenge from Ian Wiles, denying the Pitmen's top scorer a tap-in at the far post

 

A Chelmsford corner from Austin Berkley on sixteen minutes caused momentary panic in the Hefnesford ranks, leaving Ashley Williams to mop up at the far post and hack the loose ball clear

 

The Pitmen's assertive start bore fruit a minute later, as the away side took the lead through David Berks. Maguire fed Piearce down the right-wing after the striker had dragged Wiles out of position, with Piearce sending over a fine cross that Berks headed powerfully past Nicholls from close-range for his first Hednesford goal

 

Corbett got his angles all wrong for the Pitmen on twenty minutes, stabbing a Maguire cross wide of the far post after the youngster had tricked his way past Sharman and sent over a fine cross

 

The away side moved further in front a minute later, with Piearce once again on the scoresheet after some great awareness from the former Wolves man. Corbett picked up a pass from David Moss and fired in a low shot that was well saved by Nicholls down to his right. Piearce, ever the poacher, was sniffing around the six-yard box and reacted quickest to the rebound, turning the loose ball home

 

The Pitmen continued to press a nervous-looking Chelmsford side, with Emeka Nwadike making a storming run past Mike Rutherford on twenty-nine minutes before lashing his shot into the Hednesford supporters gathered behind Nicholls' goal

 

A speculative effort from Rutherford on thirty-three minutes saw Jenkins tracking back quickly, as the skipper's lob from thirty yards required a touch over the crossbar by the Pitmen's young keeper

 

A clutch of yellow cards for both teams followed by some over-fussy refereeing, with Corbett handed a final reprimand from the referee after a late challenge on Wiles on thirty-eight minutes

 

Berks had a wonderful opportunity to put Hednesford out of sight just before the break, but a great save from Nicholls kept the former Aston Villa youngster at bay after he had broken clear of Statham down the wing and cut inside

 

In typical Hednesford style, however, they relinquished their commanding lead with another tame second-half performance as they attempted to hold on to their advantage, rather than continue to push forwards

 

Early scares came in the form of chances for Dale Watkins and Tony Samuels, who both put efforts narrowly wide of goal within the first five minutes of the restart. They finally succumbed to the early pressure on fifty-two minutes when Moss, under pressure from Watkins, inexplicably headed a Berkley cross past Jenkins and into his own net

 

The hosts had their tails up and put the Pitmen under severe pressure in the next ten minutes as they went in search for a leveller. Wiles headed onto the crossbar on fifty-six minutes after meeting Berkley's corner, followed three minutes later by another effort that clattered off the bar from Samuels, who lifted a shot over Jenkins and clipping the woodwork on its way up

 

Jenkins made a fine save to deny Samuels on sixty-two minutes, diving full-length to his right to deny the forward an equaliser. Assistant manager Barry Powell looked to arrest the slide in form with a midfield change on sixty-four minutes, bringing on the combative Derek Rae for the out-of-sorts Moss

 

Another Jenkins stop denied Samuels once more on sixty-seven minutes, palming a rising shot away for another Chelmsford corner. Berkley's resultant corner kick was headed off the line by Williams as it drifted towards goal, prompting the youngster to take action

 

Another run from Nwadike, similar to the one he made in the first half, almost made the game safe for the Pitmen on seventy minutes, but the on-loan midfielder was once again off-target with his long-range effort

 

Graham Lancashire came on for the Pitmen with thirteen minutes remaining as their second change of the afternoon, replacing the tiring Corbett up front alongside Piearce

 

Chelmsford had made a double attacking change themselves, with Jack Midson coming on to cause problems for the Pitmen's back line with his movement and pace

 

Midson worked the ball well into the Hednesford box with his first touch on seventy-nine minutes, but Rutherford could not apply the finish to a quick break with a scuffed shot from range

 

The hosts' pressure finally told a minute later, as Samuels was played in on goal by Lee Kersley, only for Jenkins to make another fine save. On this occasion, however, the rebound fell kindly for Samuels, who had followed the ball in and lashed the rebound home to equalise

 

Damien Charie came on for Berks with five minutes remaining, as the Pitmen looked for a response to Chelmsford's second-half display. Brindley headed well over the bar from a Rae cross on eighty-four minutes, followed by a counter-attack from Chelmsford a minute later that saw Midson make a hash of his shot from fifteen yards out

 

So, a point was enough for the Pitmen, who could enjoy their trip back to Staffordshire safe in the knowledge that they are safe for another year. Brindley and Powell can take great credit for the way they have saved the club's season in such a short amount of time and will look to cement their credentials for next season with a home game against relegated Folkestone Invicta next weekend

 

Chelmsford City: Nicholls, Statham, Cousins, Sharman (Reid 79), Wiles, Slatter, Cross (Kersley 70) Rutherford ©, Samuels, Watkins (Midson 77), Berkley       Subs Unused: Lay, Larkin

 

Hednesford Town: Jenkins, Williams, Small, Simkin, Brindley, Nwadike, Moss (Rae 64), Maguire, Corbett (Lancashire 76), Piearce ©, Berks (Charie 85)      Subs Unused: Francis, Dodd

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