14.8.2010

Zamaretto Southern Premier League

Hednesford Town

Chippenham Town

Powell (48), Benison (90)

(0) 0

(1) 2

Attendance

MoTM

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379

Sean Platt

L

Banbury United (A) 17.8.10

The Pitmen's 2010-2011 campaign got off to an unconvincing start this afternoon as last season's play-off victors Chippenham made a winning start to the new season at Keys Park

After a summer of major changes at Hednesford, manager Bernard McNally fielded what he believed to be his best eleven, with Mark Bellingham making his first competitive start for the club as a lone striker. There were also league debuts for Dan Crane, Jimmy Turner, Jay Denny and Dave Bridgwater, whilst fellow new signing Alfie Carter was amongst the substitutes

Chippenham were out of the traps quickly, as they looked to exert their authority on the game early on. A fourth-minute corner from Scott Lye was headed back across goal by the giant Alan Griffin, allowing skipper Nathan Rudge to head towards the target. However, Turner was on hand to hack the ball away for another corner

Hednesford thought they had grounds for at least a free-kick soon after when Chippenham keeper Ian Gill, under pressure from Bellingham, appeared to handle the ball just outside the penalty area. However, the referee - who was in a great position - waved away the strong protests

Chippenham responded with the prolific Lewis Powell testing Crane's reflexes from an eighth-minute free-kick that the Hednesford keeper fielded well low down

With Elliott Durrell out injured, Bridgwater had taken on the free-kick duties for the club since arriving in the summer. His first attempt from a set-piece came on twenty minutes, whipping in a dangerous ball that Gill held at the second attempt, with Bellingham only inches away from getting there before him

Turner's game came to a premature end just after the half-hour mark, as the big defender was forced off with what appeared to be a leg injury. Young centre back Cheyenne Dunkley replaced him, making his second debut for the Pitmen after returning to the club in the summer following his release from Crewe Alexandra

Two minutes later, the hosts had probably their best chance of the game so far, with Bellingham so unlucky not to open his account for the club as he seized upon a loose back pass to fire past Gill and towards goal. However, defender Alex Kite was alert to the danger and managed to get back to block the ball off the line and clear

As half time approached, the Pitmen were having arguably their best spell of the game, as they severely tested Chippenham's resistance with a number of free-kicks and corners. One such ball from Bridgwater, a free-kick out on the right, was nearly turned in by Dunkley at the far post, with the teenager inches away from connecting with a header

The Pitmen could probably have done without the half time break, after getting up a head of steam towards the end of the first period. This became prevalent just three minutes after the restart, as Chippenham swept into the lead. Lye played in a great free-kick from the left-hand side, finding Luke Gullick unmarked. He in turn picked out Powell, who opened his account for the season with a tap-in from close range

The weather seemed to match the mood of the Hednesford supporters, as the bright sunshine almost immediately gave way to a torrential downpour as the clouds rolled in across South Staffordshire

The Pitmen failed to muster any real response to Chippenham's opener, with balls aimlessly lumped up to Bellingham, who had to cope with the two giant Chippenham centre backs who dealt with everything that came their way in the air

McNally decided to add more firepower up front on the hour, with former Walsall striker Carter given his debut for the Pitmen in place of the disappointing Chris Clements. This saw Carter playing in a more advanced role than Clements, closer to Bellingham up front

Despite the change, the new formation failed to inspire the Pitmen, with Chippenham looking the more likely to grab a second on the break. Powell forced Crane into a smart save on sixty-three minutes, before Griffin headed high over the bar from a Lye free kick on the right-hand side two minutes later

Fifteen minutes from time, skipper Sean Platt went closest to grabbing an equaliser as he got in around the back of the Chippenham defence to head firmly towards goal but was denied by Gill, who turned the ball away

With eleven minutes remaining, teenager Jamey Osborne was given the opportunity to continue his fine pre-season form with a run-out at the expense of the unlucky Dorryl Proffitt. He very nearly made an immediate impact with his first touch, hitting a brilliant shot from the edge of the area that dipped inches over Gill's crossbar

Powell was still causing the Pitmen problems with his pace and movement late on; with two minutes remaining, he turned Ben Bailey and Dunkley brilliantly before hitting a shot from the edge of the area that was just wide of Crane's left-hand post

In added time, the Pitmen committed men forward as they won a late corner kick, but were made to pay as Chippenham cleared well and broke away at pace, with Perrott running clear of the recovering Hednesford defenders. After pulling Crane away from goal, he laid the ball across to Shaun Benison, who had the simple task of slotting into the empty net to seal the three points

A poor start to the new campaign for McNally's men, but with games coming thick and fast in the first few weeks, there will be a chance to put things right at Banbury United's Spencer Stadium on Tuesday night

Hednesford Town: Crane, Platt ©, Francis, Bailey, Turner (Dunkley 33), Denny, Proffitt (Osborne 79), Bridgwater, Bellingham, Clements (Carter 62), Gibson      Subs Unused: Keenan, Brock

Chippenham Town: Gill, Kite, Lamb, Williams (Martin 84), Casey, Rudge ©, Lye, Gullick, Powell (Benison 89), Griffin (Perrott 87), Allison      Subs Unused: Harvey, Tindle

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