Dr. Martens Southern Premier League

Chippenham Town

Hednesford Town

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Les Hines



Nuneaton Borough (H) 2.9.03

Will the real Hednesford Town please stand up? The Pitmen produce a good response to their Bank Holiday Monday defeat at home to local rivals Stafford Rangers to earn themselves a good point against Chippenham at Hardenhuish Park this afternoon but remain horribly inconsistent at the start of this new season

Manager Barry Powell had made a surprise move into the transfer market during the week by bringing in the prolific Nathan Lamey from league rivals Moor Green. The former Wolves trainee had to be content with a place amongst the substitutes as Powell stuck with the same starting XI for the third successive game looking for back-to-back wins on the road for the first time this season

Chippenham - one of many sides expected to do well this season after a fine 2002-2003 campaign - had started the season solidly with four draws and a win so far this term to leave them in unbeaten but still marooned in mid-table. Steve White's team had drawn against Weston-Super-Mare on Monday afternoon to make it seven points from five games so far and made one change to the side that had started at Woodspring Park with Matt Rawlings coming into the side in the place of Mark Harrington

On a slightly overcast afternoon in Wiltshire, the hosts went at their visitors early on by winning a series of early set-pieces in and around the Hednesford third of the pitch. An inswinging free-kick from Mark Badman in the sixth minute found the head of Martin Paul, who was off-target with his flicked effort at Ryan Young's goal

A long boot forwards from keeper Mark Hervin caused problems at the back for the Pitmen four minute later as his lofted kick drifted in behind the Pitmen's retreating backline, with Young having to be brave in punching the ball away from the boot of Charlie Griffin as the highly-rated young striker attempted to turn the ball home first time

Gary Horan's persistence saw him rob the ball off Darren Simkin on twelve minutes, only for the midfielder to drag his shot well wide of goal and into the crowd behind the goal from a promising position

We had seen very little of the Pitmen as an attacking unit in the opening fifteen minutes, with Steve Anthrobus and Mark Danks getting little change from Colin Towler and Tom Gould at the back for the Bluebirds. A well-taken Les Hines corner offered a grief chance for the visitors in the sixteenth minute as four Hednesford players rose to challenge, only for the ball to drift over the heads of everybody and fly wide of the far post

A crunching challenge form Carl Palmer on twenty minutes saw him win the ball back in midfield from Badman before playing an incisive ball out to Anthony Maguire, whose trickery and pace saw him jink his way past Mark Thorne and sent over a fine cross that Anthrobus - stretching to reach the ball - flicked the cross a couple of feet wide of Hervin's goal

Neat interplay between Griffin and Rawlings three minutes later saw the Hednesford defence at sixes and sevens as Paul was played in on goal, only for a late offside flag to come to the Pitmen's rescue as Paul shaped to fire past Young from close range

Both sides saw players booked as the game entered a scruffy stage midway through the half before Simkin whistled a free-kick just wide of the post with a well-struck shot from range on the half-hour mark following a foul on Karl Brown by Horan

Young made a superb save to keep the Pitmen in contention on thirty-six minutes, diving full length to his right-hand side to tip a speculative effort from Griffin around the post and it threatened to sneak in the far corner

With half-time looming, the Pitmen finished with something of a flourish as a deep cross from Williams was headed goalwards by Anthrobus, forcing Hervin to smuggle the ball behind for a corner kick. The resultant Hines corner was headed straight up in the air by Simkin before dropping to Danks, who got his timing all wrong and produced a classic air shot as he missed his kick from close range. Chippenham hacked the ball away from danger through Thorne before anyone in white could have another go at the bouncing ball

The second half continued in much the same way as the first, with Chippenham looking the more likely to score but being frustrated by a resilient  Hednesford side who could only offer a brief attacking threat. Badman and Carl Palmer clashed in midfield once more on fifty minutes, prompting a bizarre decision from the referee to award Chippenham a free-kick when it appeared that Badman had fouled Palmer initially and instigated a bout of handbags. It was to be the first of a series of slightly favourable decisions gained by the hosts during the second half that put the Pitmen under more pressure than was needed

Good play down the Chippenham left on fifty-four minutes saw Thorne, Rawlings and Horan all switch the ball around quickly to leave the Pitmen flat-footed and Griffin momentarily clear on goal, although he appeared to be slightly offside when the ball was played. Stuart Ryder did well to go toe-to-toe with the young striker and pushed him away from goal by using his experience to jockey the striker away from goal before blocking Griffin's eventual shot

Ryder was involved at the other end four minutes later, arriving late on in the six-yard box to meet a Maguire cross but cleared the angle of bar and post with his rising effort

A blatant pull on Simkin's shirt by Paul on seventy minutes was not pulled up by the referee which allowed Griffin to seize upon the ball after the Hednesford defender had stopped playing. Williams did well to block the initial cross from Griffin before the forwards recycled the ball and sent over a deep cross towards Rawlings, whose wild first-time shot lacked accuracy and flew well wide of goal

Another generous decision from the referee handed Chippenham a free-kick just outside the Hednesford penalty area a minute later after Steve Palmer was adjudged to have fouled Horan despite winning the ball. Rawlings played the ball into Paul, whose shot was held by Young at his far post

Lamey was handed his first chance as a Hednesford player on seventy-two minutes as he replaced the out-of-sorts Danks, who had found the going tough against two big, experienced centre-backs

Lamey's pace gave Chippenham immediate issues, drawing a foul out of Towler on seventy-six minutes and earning the Pitmen a free-kick thirty yards from goal. Hines and Simkin had a long conversation about what to do with the kick before Hines floated in a deep out swinging ball that was deflected wide of goal off the back of Brown by Anthrobus's header

A towering header from Towler at the other end was hacked off the line by an alert Williams on eighty minutes, before another poor refereeing decision two minutes later handed Chippenham a throw-in deep into the Hednesford half after a clearance from Simkin had clearly taken a touch off the boot of Paul. Charity took advantage of the Pitmen still arguing with the referee to find Scott Walker, whose low cross evaded everyone as it skipped across the six-yard box. A let-off for the Pitmen

Paul was replaced by the experienced Adie Mings up front for the Bluebirds with ten minutes remaining, giving Simkin and Ryder a different problem to deal with for the final minutes. A cross from Horan on eighty-three minutes bounced around the Hednesford penalty area before Hines finally completed the clearance

The Pitmen were continued to play on the counter-attack as Lamey used his pace well to escape the attention of Thorne on eighty-six minutes before pulling the ball back to Anthrobus, whose weak effort was easily fielded by Hervin. The veteran striker remains goalless this season and is in dire need of a goal to fire his confidence once more

A late salvo from the hosts saw them force three successive corner kicks in added time, but fine goalkeeping from Young and experienced defending from Simkin and Ryder saw the Pitmen earn the point they had worked hard for all afternoon. Powell will be pleased with their defensive resilience against tricky opponents but will once again be unimpressed with the lack of clear-cut chances created by his team, who are simply not scoring enough goals at present. Lamey's addition could well be the final piece of the jigsaw as Powell looks for more from his forward men, with the 22-year-old no doubt in contention for a start on Tuesday night when Hednesford host yet another side likely to be in the mix at the end of the season in the form of local rivals Nuneaton Borough

Chippenham Town: Hervin, Charity, Thorne, Towler ©, Gould, Badman (Collier 69), Walker, Horan, Paul (Mings 80), Griffin, Rawlings      Subs Unused:  Andrews, Edwards, Harrington

Hednesford Town: Young, Williams, Hines, Maguire, Simkin, Ryder, C. Palmer, S. Palmer ©, Anthrobus, Danks (Lamey 72), Brown     Subs Unused: Seabury, Brindley, Dodd, P. Evans