26.2.2005

Southern Premier League

Chesham United

Hednesford Town

McMahon (62), Barrow (80)

(0) 0

(0) 2

Attendance

MoTM

Current Form

Next Match

287

Paul McMahon

W D W D W L W L L W

 

Cirencester Town (H) 28.2.05

A heavily injury-affected Hednesford side shook off last week's late defeat at home to Hitchin with a well-deserved three points over another inconsistent team this afternoon, beating Chesham United​ to move back into the top ten in the Southern Premier League table in the process

The Pitmen made their first-ever trip down to The Meadow amid something of an injury crisis, with several first-team players unavailable for this afternoon's game as player/manager Chris Brindley was without Matt Turner, Carl Palmer, Mark Branch, Leon McSweeney and now top scorer Andy Bell, who was ruled out before the game. This left the Pitmen boss with something of a quandary with Paul McMahon the only fit first-team striker available for today's game; recent signing Matthew Barnes-Homer had ended his short stint with the club in midweek, leaving Brindley to make the unusual decision to move himself forwards from defence to partner the former Rocester man in a classic 'big man, little man' forward line. Bell's omission saw Steve Brannan come back into the side as the only change from the one that had started at Top Field last weekend

Chesham - top five stalwarts throughout the first half of the season - were finding the going tough in recent games, having lost five of their last nine games to drop behind the play-off pack after an indifferent 2005 so far. Player/manager Steve Bateman made only one change of this own from the side that had beaten struggling Solihull Borough last weekend as Shaun Byrne came back into the side after recovering from injury and replaced Graham Hall

Cheered on by a healthy contingent that had travelled from Staffordshire, the Pitmen struggled with the bobbly pitch in the first ten minutes as neither side really laid down a marker for the game in the early exchanges. The dangerous John Lawford - a threat at Keys Park back in September - got the better of Beckett in the seventh minute and sent over a cross from the right touchline, but Ryan Young plucked the ball out of the air before Garry Sippetts could escape the attentions of Lee Barrow

Three minutes later, McMahon got on the end of Brindley's knock-down from a long, searching Young free-kick but blasted his effort high and wide of goal without testing goalkeeper Jamie Jackson from fifteen yards out

In the eleventh minute, Sippetts won a free-kick just to the left-hand side of the Hednesford penalty area after Barrow had clipped him. Lawford lined up the free-kick and curled his effort beyond the Hednesford wall but a few feet over Young's crossbar

Four minutes later, excellent wing play from Anthony Maguire saw him bamboozle Simon Sweeney as he left the full-back in his wake after Marlon Walters had supplied him with the ball. Maguire cut in from the touchline and attempted to find McMahon with a low squared pass, but good defending from Nathan Bowden-Haase cleared the danger for the Generals

Chesham's closest sight at goal thus far came in the eighteenth minute as good play down the left saw Sweeney play Andy Reilly into space behind Ross Adams; the midfielder's deep cross was headed back across the face of goal by Byrne to Sippetts, only for the unusually prolific striker to head tamely wide from six yards out

Midway through a competitive first half, the diminutive McMahon drew a foul out of Bowden-Haase as he shared past the centre-back twenty-five yards from goal. Despite the Chesham players feeling that McMahon had made a lot of the challenge, Bowden-Haase was booked for the foul. Skipper Lee Williams took the resultant free-kick for the visitors and clipped the ball to the far post, where Barrow met it with a powerful header that was off-target and ended up a foot or so wide of the post

Chesham enjoyed their best spell of the game in the next ten minutes as they created a clutch of good chances to open the scoring in front of a disappointing crowd of 287. On twenty-five minutes, midfield man Neil Yates made a run down the right as he ran onto a Lawford pass and crossed for Andre Scarlett, who snatched at his first-time shot from twelve yards out and fired over Young's crossbar

Three minutes later, Sippetts beat Richard Teesdale to a bouncing ball and got goal side of the retreating centre-back, striking a firm low shot at goal from just inside the penalty area that Young held down to his left-hand side

On thirty-two minutes, Lawford won a corner out on the right from Beckett and swung in an inswinging flag-kick that was met by the head of Danny West at the far post, but his rising effort sailed over Young's crossbar from six yards out

Despite being under the cosh for much of the past ten minutes, the patched-up Pitmen finished the half strongly and had a couple of good chances of their own to go in at half-time in the lead. On thirty-five minutes, Maguire played McMahon in on goal, only for the striker to get the ball stuck under his feet which saw him strike a tame shot straight at Jackson from just outside the penalty area

McMahon was certainly staking a claim for a starting berth in the absence of regular duo Bell and McSweeney with a busy display that kept Chesham on their toes. Another opportunistic run from McMahon on forty minutes saw the ball run kindly to him as Williams' intended pass took a deflection off the foot of Bowden-Haase and into the path of the striker, whose first-time shot was well saved by Jackson

It had been a fairly even forty-five minutes so far from two sides still harbouring ambitions of gate-crashing the top five at the end of the campaign, although neither side had looked as though they had the firepower capable of firing them up the table in a first period slightly edged by the hosts

Chesham started the second half strongly and Lawford could have grabbed the game's opener just two minutes after the restart as his first-time snapshot from the edge of the penalty area had Young scrambling across his goal to watch the ball wide

The home side went even closer on fifty-two minutes as Yates did well to win a fifty-fifty scuffle with Beckett down the right, prodding the ball through to Lawford who had made a run in behind Teesdale. His right-footed shot from the edge of the penalty area clipped the base of Young's left-hand post as it drifted just wide of the target

Lawford continued to look the Generals' best bet for a goal in the game, taking down a lofted pass from West on fifty-five minutes and turning past Barrow but dragged his cross-cum-shot across the face of Young's goal and just wide of the far post from fifteen yards out

The Pitmen had been solidly second best for the opening ten minutes of the second half but came back into contention as the half wore on; Maguire and Adams exchanged passes down the right flank on fifty-seven minutes, with Maguire's cross glanced goalwards by Brindley. The alert presence of Byrne denied the player/manager an opening goal as he hacked the ball off the line with Jackson wrong-footed at his near post

A minute later, Maguire won another free kick for the Pitmen after being brought down by Sweeney. Barrow and Williams discussed the kick at length before Barrow assumed responsibility, striking a firm rising shot that came back off the crossbar with Jackson once again ball-watching

The away side turned their pressure into that crucial opening goal on sixty-two minutes as another patient passage of play from Hednesford saw Walters and Barrow exchange passes before Barrow picked McMahon out with a fine slide-rule pass. The striker ignored calls for offside from the Chesham defence to run clear and turn the ball past Jackson from ten yards out

It could have been a quickfire double for the Pitmen on sixty-five minutes as McMahon turned provider for his makeshift strike partner Brindley with a clever pass into the feet of the veteran, but his low drive was straight into the arms of Jackson from eighteen yards out

A quick break from Chesham on sixty-eight minutes saw Byrne and Lawford send Sippetts away in behind the Hednesford defence, but a late offside flag against the striker denied him a chance to turn the ball past Young

Another counter from the hosts three minutes later saw Lawford and Sippetts play Andre Scarlett in on goal. This time the flag stayed down, perhaps to the surprise of the Chesham man, who blazed his shot over the crossbar from an excellent position just inside the Hednesford penalty area

With fifteen minutes of the game remaining, Young was called upon to keep his side in front as Sippetts played Lawford in behind Teesdale, making a fine diving stop to turn the forward's goalbound shot away from goal for a Chesham corner kick

Chesham were left to rue these missed opportunities as the Pitmen sealed a fine away performance with a killer second goal on eighty minutes; Mosiah Polidore brought Brindley down on the Hednesford left, earning the full-back a booking for his troubles. Barrow lined the free-kick up again but on this occasion elected to pass to Maguire, whose cross was flicked on at the near post by Brindley and into the path of Barrow, who had followed the ball in from the free-kick and had the simple task of heading into the empty net from a couple of yards out

Chesham continued to plug away in search of a goal to get them back into the game and set up a grandstand finish; on eighty-three minutes, Bowden-Haase pushed forward and found Byrne on the right. His pull-back from the byeline reached Sippetts at the far post but his effort came back off the post once more as the Pitmen struggled to clear their lines

With three minutes remaining, substitute Hall made a run deep into Hednesford territory and played Sippetts into space. He did well to get past Teesdale but was denied a clear shot at goal by the boot of Barrow

The Pitmen had a late chance to put a gloss finish to their win in the first minute of added time as Beckett's quick break down the left saw the full-back skip past two challenges before firing a shot in at goal that sailed harmlessly over Jackson's crossbar

It had been a thoroughly professional performance from the Pitmen, who had made light of their injury issues to record a fine three points over a side that they will be hoping to battle in the race for the play-off places later on in the season. For Chesham, it is a sixth defeat in ten games but for the Pitmen a first win in three games that lifts them back into eighth place in the table, just six points behind the play-off pack. Monday night sees Hednesford return to Keys Park as they play host to mid-table dwellers Cirencester Town in a quick turnaround of games for the Pitmen

Chesham United: Jackson, Polidore , Sweeney, Bowden-Haase, Reilly (Callender 81), West, Yates (Hall 72), Byrne, Sippetts, Lawford (Smith 85), Scarlett       Subs Unused: Hole, Gott

Hednesford Town: Young, Adams, Beckett, Barrow, Teesdale, Williams ©, Maguire, Walters, Brindley, McMahon, Brannan     Subs Unused: Dyer, T. Marshall, Harvey, Evans