Zamaretto Southern Premier League

Chippenham Town

Hednesford Town

McGurk (90)

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Chris Clements


Merthyr Tydfil (A) 13.4.10

Hednesford's hopes of a late surge into the top five were given a huge shot in the arm this afternoon courtesy of a late, late Adam McGurk strike at fellow play-off chasers Chippenham Town this afternoon

Manager Bernard McNally made two changes to his side following their frustrating shutout at Swindon Supermarine on Wednesday - out went left-back Matty Wood, replaced by the returning Aaron Gibson; Cheyenne Dunkley's unavailability meant that fellow Crewe Alexandra loanee Chris Clements was given a start in midfield

Chippenham had come away from another play-off chasing team in the form of Bashley with a narrow 1-0 win on Thursday night, leaving the Bluebirds sitting just above the Pitmen in fifth place. Manager Adie Mings made two changes for this afternoon's six-pointer as Shaun Lamb and Luke Gullick coming in for Alex Kite and Sam Allison respectively

Playing up the notable Hardenhuish Park slope in the first half, Chippenham made a bright start with Lewis Powell testing Stuart Brock's reflexes with a long-range shot on four minutes that the Hednesford custodian held well

The Pitmen responded with Tyrone Barnett rising highest to head Ben Bailey's long throw a yard wide of the far post two minutes later

On six minutes, the home side had the ball in the net, with Steve Casey bundling the ball home, but an early offside flag saw the goal chalked off

Dorryll Proffitt was next to have a go at goal on eleven minutes, picking up another Bailey long throw on the edge of the area before firing high over the bar and into the impressive away following

The Pitmen were starting to enjoy more of the possession during the first quarter, with Barnett giving the Chippenham defenders the runaround in and around the edge of the box. Twenty minutes in, his ball out wide found skipper Sean Platt, whose cross was met by Ross Dyer who headed over the bar from just inside the area - he would have done well to have scored from such a distance with his head

McGurk was next to register a shot for the visitors on twenty-six minutes, hitting a swerving free-kick from the right-hand side across goal and narrowly wide of the far post with a number of players attacking the ball at the far post

Sixty seconds later, Platt almost gifted Chippenham a goal, as he slipped just inside his own half, allowing Casey to pick the ball up and run in on goal. His hurried shot was poor, however, totally missing the target when he should have forced Brock into a save at the very least

Back down the other end on the half-hour mark, and Barnett went closest to opening the scoring; racing onto a superb through ball by Clements, Barnett steered the ball around Chippenham keeper Ian Gill but succeeded in firing wide of goal with the angle against him

Barnett, looking to add to his tally for the season after his superb hat-trick against Rugby last week, was unlucky ten minutes before half-time, holding off his marker before unleashing a powerful shot from twenty-five yards that dipped past Gill's right-hand post

The impressive Powell had enjoyed a good battle against Bailey in the first half, with the Chippenham striker turning the young defender on thirty-seven minutes and firing straight at Brock

Gill had to come to Chippenham's rescue five minutes before half-time, denying Dyer after the Hednesford striker had got on the end of Proffitt's cross and tried to turn the ball home. However, Gill was equal to the shot and palmed it onto the crossbar and out for a corner

The second half was played in much the same vein as the first, as both sides knew that one goal and three points could well put them in the box seat for the play-offs. The Pitmen almost got their noses in front within ten minutes of the restart, with that man Barnett close to grabbing goal eighteen of the season; Platt's ball forward was flicked on by Dyer, into the path of Barnett, who fired straight at Gill from twelve yards out

McNally decided to make a positional change just before the hour mark with Wood coming on in place of Craddock. This saw Proffitt move into the centre of midfield and Wood slot in at right-back, giving the Pitmen more insurance at the back as they looked to protect their point and push on for three

Within five minutes of this, the Pitmen were staring defeat squarely in the face, as Platt brought down Chippenham's Ross Adams in the penalty area. The referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot, giving Powell the opportunity to cap a fine performance with a goal. However, his well-struck effort was brilliantly saved by Brock, who guessed right and turned the ball away. In the melee that followed, the ball was played back into the box where Ben Highmore turned the ball towards goal, but his effort was hacked off the line by Liam Francis

Back came the Pitmen, spurred on by the let-off given to them by Brock. McGurk's clever free-kick found the head of Ben Bailey with fifteen minutes remaining, but his off-balance header cleared the crossbar

Chippenham substitute Allison could have won it for the hosts in the final ten minutes, but he made a mess of his attempted shot when the ball dropped to him in the area and fired wide of goal

With a draw looking to be the final result, McGurk's last-minute free-kick represented the Pitmen's final chance. Instead of whipping the ball into the path of the jostling players inside the area, the Northern Irishman decided to have a go at goal. His swerving effort beat Gill and went in off the far post to send the travelling supporters into raptures and clinch a vital three points for the away side

McNally's side have now put themselves in a strong position to challenge the top five at this late stage in the season, with them now sitting just outside the play-off places. A win over Merthyr Tydfil on Tuesday could put them in that select group, further raising expectations that this could well be their year

Chippenham Town: Gill, Adams ©, Lamb, Martin (Harvey 85), Casey, Tindle, Lye, Gullick, Powell, Highmore (Allison 62), Davies (Griffin 62)      Subs Unused: Kite, Wring

Hednesford Town: Brock, Platt © , Gibson, Bailey, Francis , Clements, Proffitt, Craddock (Wood 59), Barnett, Dyer, McGurk       Subs Unused: Chapman, Gomes, Martin, Flynn