Evo-Stik Northern Premier League

Hednesford Town

Osborne (88)


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Nick Wellecomme


Kendal Town (A) 24.8.11

The Pitmen make it three wins out of three this afternoon, as another late goal is enough to defeat the much-fancied Chester at Keys Park this afternoon

After back-to-back wins over Bradford Park Avenue and Buxton last week, manager Rob Smith made one change to his starting line-up - Nick Wellecomme was restored to the side in place of Danny Quinn, who was relegated to the substitute's bench. Marvin Robinson was also missing after being allowed compassionate leave, with youth team captain Bradley Grice promoted to the bench to make up the numbers

Backed by a sizeable crowd, an unchanged Chester side made an excellent start to the game by pressing the Pitmen in their own half. Jerome Wright beat Darren Campion on three minutes before sending over a dangerous cross that was inches away from connecting with the head of Matty McNeill

Try as they might, the hosts just couldn't get out of their own half in the opening quarter, as Chester's neat interplay and quick feet threatened to open up the Hednesford defence on a number of occasions. However, young Cheyenne Dunkley and Pedro Monteiro stood firm in dealing with any balls into the penalty area, as they had done in the first two games of the season

The Pitmen's reliance on long balls out of defence were a contributing factor towards a nasty looking injury to Chester midfielder Ashley Williams on fifteen minutes. A long punt out to the left-hand side found Mark Danks, who was tackled by Williams on the touchline in what looked an innocuous challenge. However, Williams stayed down on the turf, prompting a sizeable amount of injury time as he was lifted onto a stretcher and sent to hospital with what turned out to be a broken collarbone

The injury affected Chester's flow and allowed the Pitmen to get a foothold in the game. After the referee gave a soft booking to Phil Clarke for a foul, the Pitmen pushed Chester back with their own way of forcing the opposition onto the back foot. A corner kick from Campion caused all sorts of panic in the Chester ranks on the half-hour mark, with Chester keeper John Danby just doing enough on the ball to force it away from the onrushing Dunkley and Wellecomme 

Chris Clements looked to continue his brilliant early-season service from set-pieces on thirty-four minutes, playing in a teasing free-kick from the left that only just failed to find Dunkley at the far post

Dunkley's goalscoring form at the start of the campaign has been probably the highlight of this embryonic 11-12 season, and the teenager came so close to making it three from three eight minutes before half time. Clements' excellent corner kick found Dunkley rising highest in the six-yard box, but his powerful header came back off the crossbar. The rebound fell nicely for Mark Danks, who wasted his chance by firing high over the crossbar from eight yards out

Wellecomme could have sent the Pitmen into the break with the lead, as he out-muscled Liam Brownhill on the edge of the box as he chased down a through ball, only for Brownhill to redeem himself with an excellent last-ditch challenge to deny the big striker a shot on goal

The Pitmen had been buoyed by the way they had finished the first half and started the second on the front foot by winning two successive corner kicks. Once again, Campion's kicks were right on the money, playing both in just under the crossbar; the second was headed goalwards by Wellecomme, with Danby tipping the ball over for another corner kick

Chester's quality players, many of whom have played in the Football League and/or the Conference for the club, responded with a spell of pressure that could have brought a goal. A Wes Bynes corner kick was rifled wide by McNeill on fifty-three minutes, as he was closed down by the ever-impressive Dunkley

Three minutes later, a Chester player nearly got their name on the scoresheet - at the wrong end. Crane's long ball forward seemed to be heading for the arms of opposite number Danby, only for Christian Smith intervening with a flick header back that beat Danby and missed the post by a yard or so as Danby scampered back

Hednesford supporters had called for a more physical presence up front since the start of the second half, and on sixty-five minutes got their wish as the luckless Danks was replaced by midweek scorer Quinn. He immediately made an impact, getting stuck in against the two Chester centre backs with his extra height and power

Indeed, Quinn's physical presence won the Pitmen a free kick in a favourable position three minutes after coming on. After sizing up the wall, Clements wasted the chance by slicing his free-kick over the crossbar and into the Chester fans in the Hednesford end

A minute later, Clements went close to opening the scoring with a clever run in from the left-hand side, beating two challenges before hitting a swerving shot across goal that missed the far corner by a couple of yards

Quinn's goalscoring instincts saw him go close on seventy-three minutes, as he shimmied his way into the area before dragging his shot wide of goal

Jamey Osborne was introduced to proceedings with ten minutes remaining, as the tiring Clarke was replaced by the quick, direct youngster who had done well after coming on in midweek against Buxton

It was to prove a masterstroke by Rob Smith, as Osborne threw himself into the game and gave Chester a real scare with his quick feet and clever through balls. Just two minutes after coming on, Osborne picked up a Jay Denny ball and ran at the Chester defence. He went past three challenges before being crowded out on the edge of the area, allowing the visitors to make a desperate clearance

The momentum was very much with the Pitmen in the final stages, and after winning two successive corners, they made their pressure pay. Chester failed to clear the ball from their box, with Wellecomme hitting a goalbound shot from eighteen yards out. Danby made a good parry low down to his right, but only succeeded in laying the ball into the path of Osborne, who gleefully hammered the ball home from six yards out for his first goal of the season

Again, Smith made his substitutions tell, as he took off the attack-minded Kyle Haynes and put on centre back Decio Gomes for the final moments of expected Chester pressure

This pressure failed to really materialise, as the Pitmen did a professional job of keeping the ball inside the Chester half for the majority of the five minutes added time

The win keeps the Pitmen on a par with the sides above them, with both Chorley and Marine both joining Hednesford on nine points. The Pitmen have now scored in every one of their last thirty-three league games, and with competition for places strong and fitness levels increasing, they are looking in good shape for the rigours of a long, hard Northern Premier League season. Smith's side are on the road again on Tuesday night as they make the short journey across to Derbyshire to face Mickleover Sports

Hednesford Town: Crane, Monteiro, Campion ©, Shaw, Dunkley, Denny, Haynes (Gomes 88), Clements, Wellecomme, Danks (Quinn 64), Clarke  (Osborne 80)     Subs Unused: Bailey, Grice

Chester: Danby, Brownhill, Stones, Horan ©, Smith, Williams (Powell 18), Wright, Brown, McNeill, Rainford (Simm 58), Baynes (Booth 73)       Subs Unused: Evans, Reed

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