Southern Premier League

Hednesford Town

Beckett (52)

Chesham United

Clifford (36), Sippetts (79)

(0) 1

(1) 2



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Leon McSweeney



Hemel Hempstead Town (A) 9.10.04

The Pitmen's run of recent good form is brought to an end at an overcast Keys Park this afternoon as Chesham claim all three points from their first-ever trip to South Staffordshire courtesy of a goal in each half

Manager Chris Brindley was forced into changes after the narrow win over Rugby in the F.A. Cup on Tuesday, with Richard Teesdale returning to the side in an unfamiliar right-back role in place of Alex Gibson. Craig Dean returned at the expense of Mark Branch, Grant Beckett came in for the suspended Matt Turner and Carl Palmer was named amongst the substitutes following his recovery from injury.

Sixth-placed Chesham - moved into the newly-formed Southern Premier League from the Isthmian league set-up in the summer -  had lost 4-1 to league rivals Bedford Town in the second qualifying round replay on Tuesday night, with player/manager Steve Bateman made two changes to his side for today's first-ever trip to Keys Park as Andy Adebowale and Greg Deacon came back into the side at the expense of Graham Hall and John Richardson

The Pitmen started well and saw plenty of the ball in the opening fifteen minutes but were limited to half-chances from set-pieces and off-target long-range efforts. Beckett's strong run down the left in the seventh minute saw the left-back cross well for Leon McSweeney, whose clever flick towards goal drifted well wide of goalkeeper Jamie Jackson's left-hand post

A minute later, McSweeney left Steve Sinclair for dead down the left and supplied the ball to Beckett, whose cross-cum-shot from a tight angle went inches wide of the far post

McSweeney was involved again in the twelfth minute as his neat play-off gave veteran midfielder Lee Williams a chance to shoot from twenty-five yards out but saw his curling effort take a nick off Peter Clifford before sailing wide of goal

Chesham had struggled to get into the game early on and had to wait until the fourteenth minute for their first effort a goal as John Lawford flicked on a long kick from Jackson into the path of Neil Yates, whose first-time effort was wildly struck high and wide of goal from fifteen yards out

Chris Gray's good run down the right two minutes later saw the blonde-haired winger get past Stuart Hole, leaving the left-back behind and crossing for Andy Bell, whose shot bounced off his standing leg and bobbled into the arms of Jackson

The excellent McSweeney streaked away from Hole on twenty minutes to latch onto a long ball over the top from Williams, taking a couple of touches before selling the full-back a dummy and coming inside from the flank. He laid the ball off to Gray, whose curling shot from the edge of the penalty area was claimed by Jackson with ease

Player/manager Brindley showed his years of experience to see off the threat of Lawford three minutes later, easing the striker over the touchline as he jockeyed the Chesham man out of play as the pair looked to reach a cross from Yates

Williams won a free-kick ten yards inside the Chesham half on twenty-six minutes and took it quickly, playing Anthony Maguire into space down the left. The youngster waited for Craig Dean to make an overlapping run that took Simon Sweeney out of play and crossed for McSweeney, whose tame header from ten yards out was easily claimed by Jackson

McSweeney took responsibility for the Pitmen's next free-kick sixty seconds later after Bell had been fouled in the edge of the Chesham penalty area. He lifted the resultant free-kick just over Jackson's crossbar however with a drifting effort

Chesham's best chance of the game so far came just after the half-hour mark as Gary Sippetts was played through on goal by Lawford's reverse pass, only for the presence of Lee Barrow and Sippetts' muddled judgement to culminate in a weak shot at goal from ten yards out that Ryan Young made a relatively easy save from

Dean was struggling to contain the sprightly Sinclair down the right and conceded possession cheaply to the player on thirty-four minutes and was left behind by the Chesham man, whose deep cross from the edge of the penalty area was a touch too far in front of Lawford as he arrived late at the far post

Two minutes later, the visitors got their noses in front as patient build-up play from the visitors saw them win a free-kick on the right; Lawford swung the ball in and found the head of defender Peter Clifford, who steered the ball beyond the reach of Young from six yards out to give Chesham the lead

Back came the Pitmen, who were again lacking in front of goal as the game headed towards half-time. McSweeney went on a run through the Chesham defence three minutes later, pulling the ball back into the path of strike partner Bell, whose sidefooted effort lacked power and was claimed by Jackson on his goal line

Three minutes before the break, Bell once again drew a foul from Sinclair and allowed Beckett to spot the ball just outside the box. The left-sided player tried his luck with a ball over the top of the Chesham wall that was pushed away by Jackson

In added time, a quick break from the away side saw Lawford and Yates link up to play Sippetts through on goal, only for a questionable and marginal offside flag to halt the striker's progress just inside the Hednesford penalty area

It had been a largely frustrating first half from the hosts, who had enjoyed plenty of possession in and around the Chesham penalty area but had done very little with it, allowing their visitors to take initiative with one of the very few chances presented to them. Dean's poor display was brought to an end before the start of the second period as youngster Mark Branch replaced the out-of-sorts former Manchester United man

The Pitmen started well and almost grabbed an equaliser just ninety seconds after the restart as Williams delivered another inch-perfect free-kick from the left that was headed just wide of goal by McSweeney at the far post, slightly off-balance under pressure from Clifford

They did grab a leveller though on fifty-two minutes as Williams was the architect of another opening for the home side. His quickly-taken free-kick out on the right flank found Richard Teesdale, whose cross drifted over the head of everyone inside the Chesham six-yard box, landing on the head of the late-arriving Beckett who looped his header back across goal and beyond the reach of Jackson to grab his first goal of the season

A minute later, the popular figure of Palmer made his first appearance of the season as he was sent on to add to the Pitmen's momentum to replace the tiring Gray


The Pitmen had their tails up, and Bell should have given them the lead on fifty-seven minutes as Maguire's angled pass from the right was turned on by McSweeney to Bell, whose low shot was drilled just wide of goal from twelve yards out

Williams dispossessed Greg Deacon in the centre circle on sixty-one minutes and set Maguire on his way once more down the left. He played Branch into space beyond him before taking the ball back from the teenager, trying his luck with a long-range effort that bounced twice before Jackson claimed the ball at his near post

A minute later, Adebowale managed to get a shot away from twenty yards out despite Branch's presence but cleared the crossbar as Young watched it drift over the upright


Bell was again wasteful for the hosts four minutes later as he headed another good chance over the crossbar from a good cross from the ever-willing McSweeney

On seventy minutes, Sippetts gave Barrow the slip as he turned the experienced defender just outside the Hednesford penalty area. Despite having Lawford to pick out in the centre of the box, Sippetts tried his luck from a tight angle and fired straight into Young's side netting

Two minutes later, Young made a flying save to his left to make absolutely sure that Sinclair's shot across the face of goal was definitely on its way out of play

With fifteen minutes of the game remaining, Brindley was off-target for the hosts as he made a late run into the six-yard box to meet another Williams corner but headed over the crossbar

Despite showing little in the way of attacking intent during the second half, Chesham surprisingly took the lead once more on seventy-nine minutes as substitute Kevin Mealor's left-wing cross was seemingly bread and butter for Young as he came out of his goal to claim the ball, only for the usually-dependable stopper to make a terrible hash of the flight of the ball and allowed Sippetts to steal in and head the loose ball home at the far post

Teenager Damien Charie was sent on two minutes later in a bid to replicate his goalscoring heroics from the bench against Rugby in midweek as he replaced Williams

A good run from Beckett on eighty-three minutes saw him exchange passes with Maguire before playing McSweeney into acres of space to the left of the Chesham penalty area. The Irishman took a couple of touches to steady himself, teasing Clifford with his trickery before playing the ball into the path of the luckless Bell, whose follow-up shot was straight at a relieved Jackson

The hosts were handed a glorious chance to level matters once more with three minutes remaining as a Charie cross out on the right struck the hand of Sweeney as the defender looked to hook the bouncing ball away from goal. The Chesham players were incensed as they felt that the ball had bounced up at the player, but Referee Mr Sinclair pointed to the penalty spot without hesitation. After much commotion, McSweeney spotted the ball but struck his kick straight at Jackson, who made a fairly comfortable save to palm the penalty away from goal 

Still the Pitmen pressed desperately for an equaliser in the remaining minutes as Bell fired a matter of inches over the crossbar on eighty-nine minutes after Charie had exchanged passes with Maguire to set the young striker up

Brindley headed over once more in the first minute of added time before Charie almost conjured up a late, late leveller as he got in behind a tired-looking Chesham defence after being fed by Beckett, only to strike the base of the far post as he pulled his shot across the face of goal and past the despairing dive of Jackson before the ball was cleared


It had been one of those days for the hosts, who on reflection probably had done enough to earn themselves a point but had been lacklustre in front of goal for much of the ninety minutes. Brindley's troops return to F.A. Cup duty on Saturday when they travel to local rivals Sutton Coldfield Town in their second qualifying round tie

Hednesford Town: Young, Teesdale, Dean (Branch 45), Barrow ©, Brindley, Williams (Charie 81), Maguire, Gray (Palmer 53), Bell, McSweeney, Beckett   Subs Unused: Anthrobus, Evans

Chesham United: Jackson, Sweeney, Hole, Clifford, Bowden-Haase (Mealor 54), Deacon, Sinclair, Adebowale, Sippetts, Lawford (Richardson 81), Yates         Subs Unused: Scarlett, Dickinson, Smith

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