19.2.2011

Zamaretto Southern Premier League

Hednesford Town

Melbourne (15), Davidson (50), Wellecomme (64)

Chesham United

Robinson (81), Talbot (90)

(1) 3

(0) 2

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Nick Wellecomme

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Stourbridge (A) 23.2.11

A bad-tempered but eventful afternoon at Keys Park ends up with the hosts returning to winning ways this afternoon as they edge out fellow play-off hopefuls Chesham United by the odd goal in five

Having seen their recent fine run of form ended by third-placed Cambridge City last weekend, the Pitmen returned home looking for a response to the 3-2 defeat at Milton Road; manager Rob Smith chose to keep faith in the same XI that started last week's game despite the result, still without the services of injured striker Danny Quinn

Chesham - sitting up in fourth place in the table ahead of play - had beaten fellow play-off chasers 1-0 Leamington in midweek to consolidate their position amongst the top five chasers and extend their unbeaten run into a third month. Manager Andy Leese was forced into one change to the side that had beaten the Brakes on Monday night as Danny Gudgeon was ruled out and was replaced by Sam Ledger

The recent spell of heavy rain had left the Keys Park pitch heavy but in reasonable condition considering the number of games in the local area that had been called off during the morning. The Pitmen adapted to the conditions well and started brightly, with Kyle Patterson's third-minute effort from twenty yards out being blocked by Danny Talbot, sending the ball wide for a corner kick

Two minutes later, Cheyenne Dunkley's long ball forwards was flicked on by Nick Wellecomme to Ross Davidson, whose curling effort from the right-hand side of the penalty area drifted well wide of the far post

Darren Campion forced Chesham goalkeeper Shane Gore into a diving save in the tenth minute of the game as his low driven shot from the left-hand corner of the penalty area was pushed away by the stopper

The hosts were rewarded for their bright start to the game with a fortuitous opening goal of the afternoon in the fifteenth minute; Alex Melbourne picked the ball up wide on the right from Jay Denny, taking the ball down the flank before swinging in a cross that was intended for Wellecomme, but instead drifted towards goal and caught Gore out completely as it sailed harmlessly over the goalkeeper's head and landed in the far corner of the net. A complete fluke, but a memorable first-ever goal for the former Wolves man

Back came the visitors, shocked into action after conceding such a soft goal, with Chris Bangura pulling his shot well wide of goal in the seventeenth minute after good approach play from Steve Obeng saw him pull the ball back into the path of the striker

On twenty minutes, Steve Wales - scorer of both Chesham goals in the reverse fixture back in November - made a late run in behind the Hednesford penalty area to latch on to Leon Archer's lofted pass but volleyed well wide of goal from fifteen yards out

Four minutes later, Liam Francis's long punt forwards landed at the feet of Davidson, who beat Ledger for pace down the right with a marauding run before pulling the ball back to Wellecomme; the striker took a touch onto his right foot but drilled his effort straight into the arms of Gore

On twenty-six minutes, a threaded pass from Chesham's James Potton sent Archer away down the left-hand side of the Hednesford penalty area, only for Dan Crane to spot the danger early and hack the ball clear ahead of the Chesham striker

Good play from on-loan Liam Blakeman on the half-hour mark saw him force John Kyriacou into a foul just to the left-hand side of the Chesham penalty area as the full-back tripped the winger in full flight. Campion took the resultant free-kick and struck a powerful shot at goal that Gore punched away from danger

Blakeman was involved once again three minutes later as he took the ball into the Chesham half, drifting inside from the wing and squaring the ball to Patterson on the edge of the penalty area. His shot took a nick off the leg of Mark Lambert and flew wide of goal for a Hednesford corner

Patterson was wasteful with the Pitmen's next opportunity on thirty-eight minutes as Davidson made another run down the right and pulled the ball back from the byeline to Patterson, who lifted his first-time shot over the crossbar from twelve yards out

Francis headed narrowly wide of the hosts with four minutes of the first half remaining as Denny's corner kick was flicked on at the near post by the excellent Wellecomme and into the path of the Hednesford skipper, only for Wales to put the defender off and deny him space as he headed behind

The final chance of the first half on fifty-four minutes saw Kyriacou cross from the right-hand side of the penalty area to Bangura, whose header at the far post back across goal was turned goalwards by Potton, only for Decio Gomes to block the shot on the six-yard line

The Pitmen had shaded the first forty-five minutes but had been guilty of being wasteful in front of goal despite some good build-up play in and around the Chesham penalty area, with the visitors struggling to break down the well-drilled Hednesford defence

Campion went close to doubling the Pitmen's lead just two minutes after the restart as he made a run down the left and cut inside before firing a twenty-five yards effort wide of Gore's left-hand post

Chesham were denied an equaliser on forty-nine minutes as a Wales corner from the right was met by a full-blooded header from Ledger, whose goalbound effort was cleared off the line by Gomes

However, the Pitmen caught the visitors on the counter-attack just sixty seconds later as Denny sent Davidson away down the right, outpacing Ledger and rounding the exposed Gore before tapping into the empty net

Crane was forced into a good save to deny Potton on fifty-three minutes as the Hednesford defence backed off the striker and allowed him time and space to shoot from twenty-five yards out, with the Hednesford goalkeeper pushing the ball away to his right-hand side

Two minutes later, Decio Gomes brought Potton down and handed Chesham a free-kick twenty-five yards from goal, allowing Wales to swing the ball into the penalty area and find the head of Lambert at the far post, only for the defender to lift his header over the crossbar and into the Hednesford end stand

The game swung even further in the Pitmen's favour on fifty-eight minutes as Chesham were reduced to ten men; Rob Bartley's rash challenge on Gomes brought the defender down, prompting the Hednesford players to surround referee Mr Husband and demand retribution for the challenge. The referee seemed to be influenced by the protestations and showed Bartley a straight red card

Despite playing with a man less, Chesham showed resilience and character to limit the Pitmen's threat as they closed ranks and forced the hosts into long-range efforts. Campion switched the play out to Davidson on the hour mark, with the winger being forced inside by the Chesham defence before dragging his shot wide of goal

Three minutes later, Patterson was next to take a pot shot at goal after Denny's initial shot rebounded back to him twenty yards from goal, only for the former West Brom man to fire over Gore's crossbar as Ledger closed him down

The Pitmen stretched their lead once more on sixty-four minutes as more good wing play from Davidson saw the former Stafford Rangers man show Kyriacou a clean pair of heels and crossed from the right to find Wellecomme lurking at the far post, with the big striker heading beyond Gore from six yards out to make it 3-0. Game over surely?

Chesham continued to plug away, however, despite the game seemingly gone and were awarded a penalty kick on sixty-six minutes; a punt into the Hednesford penalty area by Talbot saw Crane come out of his goal to claim the loose ball but was beaten to it by Archer, which led to Crane bringing the striker down as the took the ball around the stopper. Mr Husband pointed to the spot and handed Talbot a chance to reduce the deficit from twelve yards out, only for Crane to make a save with his legs as Talbot's penalty was struck at a comfortable height for the goalkeeper to turn the ball away

The Pitmen made their first substitution of the game on sixty-nine minutes as young defender Ben Bailey came on in place of the tiring Gomes at right-back

Chesham had made a double change of their own at the same time and one of their substitutes Chris Watters created an opening for Potton on seventy-two minutes, sending over a fine cross-field pass from left to right to find Potton, who controlled the ball well before striking a shot back across the face of Crane's goal and wide of the post from ten yards out

A minute later, the hosts made their second substitution of the afternoon as Smith elected to make a positional change as Chris Clements came on in the centre of midfield as he replaced Davidson

Bailey's long ball down the right found Clements thirteen minutes from time, taking the ball back from the substitute before crossing to the far post, where Wellecomme got underneath the ball and headed over the crossbar from six yards out

This was to be Wellecomme's final contribution to the afternoon's proceedings as he was replaced by the experienced Marvin Robinson on seventy-nine minutes 

Chesham pulled a goal back with nine minutes of the game remaining as Watters got the better of Campion and crossed from the right-hand touchline to find Paul Robinson, who stole a yard on Dunkley to head past Crane from close-range

Robinson's game ended almost as soon as it started on eighty-three minutes as the striker was the second player to be shown a straight red card in the game as he was sent off by Mr Husband for a two-footed tackle on Wales in midfield

This seemed to give Chesham a lift and the visitors pushed forwards in search of another goal to set up a grandstand finish to the game. Gore's long kick forwards on eighty-five minutes was headed on by Potton to Wales, who made a late run in behind the Hednesford defence but was pulled up by an offside flag against him on the Wimblebury side of the ground

Aaron Gayle came on as a third striker for the away side with a minute to go and created an opening for Kyriacou with his first touch, laying the ball off to the full-back on the edge of the penalty area who fired high and wide

Deep into added time, Gayle was involved once more as Chesham scored a second goal late on in the game; his cross from the right was headed goalwards by Archer, forcing Crane into a parry on his line. The ball dropped at the feet of Talbot, who forced the loose ball over the goal line from a yard out

Chesham were to have a late, late chance to grab an unlikely equaliser in the sixth minute of added time as Gayle made another mazy run in from the right flank before pulling the ball back to Potton, whose first-time shot was inches away from finding the net as it flashed wide of goal

The final whistle was greeted with a fair amount of relief from the Keys Park faithful, who knew that their side had been pushed right to the limit by a plucky Chesham side who had continued to push their hosts despite being three goals down with twenty-five minutes remaining. It is another quick turnaround of games for Smith's side as they make the short journey down to Stourbridge to face the Glassboys on Wednesday night, looking to build on this hard-fought win that keeps them three points outside the play-off places

Hednesford Town: Crane , Gomes (Bailey 69), Campion , Dunkley, Francis ©, Denny, Melbourne, Patterson , Wellecomme (M. Robinson 79 (83)), Blakeman, Davidson (Clements 73)       Subs Unused: Keenan, Gibson

Chesham United: Gore, Kyriacou, Ledger (Gayle 89), Lambert, Bartley  (58), Talbot, Potton, Wales, Archer , Bangura  (P. Robinson 69), Obeng (Watters 69)       Subs Unused: Fanibuyan, Wadkins