24.2.2003

 

Dr. Martens Southern Premier League

Hednesford Town

Piearce (87)

 

Chippenham Town

Rawlins (38), Mings (67), Paul (68)

(0) 1

.

(1) 3

 

Attendance

MotM

Current Form

Next Match

486

Ashley Williams

W D L L L W L L D L

 

Chelmsford City (H) 3.3.03

After going so long without defeat at Keys Park this season, it's now two losses on the bounce at home for Hednesford as they once again showed their Jekyll and Hyde approach to football; promising in the first half, bloody awful in the second with defeat this evening to Chippenham

 

Saturday's draw at Welling United had been one of frustration for the Pitmen, who had blown a two-goal lead in the second half to concede two cheap goals at Park View Road and return with only a point. Ian Painter was forced into a crucial change to his side before kick-off, as regular number one Michael Bingham was withdrawn from the side after complaining of feeling unwell. Adam Jenkins, himself not fully fit after missing Saturday's game with a knock, was drafted in as Painter stuck with his outfield players from the weekend

 

Chippenham - promoted to the Southern League last season - had taken the league by storm with their pragmatic approach to their new division, having only lost three games so far this term to leave them nine points behind league leaders Tamworth in third place tonight. With the likes of Charlie Griffin, Adie Mings and Martin Paul in their ranks, there were goals in Tommy Saunders' side as they looked to gain three points to move above Worcester City and into second place

 

It had been a chilly day in South Staffordshire, with a bite in the air at kick-off that seemed to have put a few supporters off as only 486 people were in attendance - the second lowest of the season at Keys Park. The Pitmen started well as had been the way in recent games, with Ashley Williams impressing early on with his pace up and down the right flank. His fifth-minute cross almost caught out young Chippenham stopper James Bittner as it drifted towards goal, only for Bittner to see the ball over the crossbar

 

Bittner was called into action for the visitors three minutes later, as he did well to pluck a David Berks cross out of the air to deny Chris Brindley a free header at the far post

 

Kevin Francis felt that he had a legitimate shout for a penalty kick for the hosts on thirteen minutes, as a deft touch from the big man appeared to strike the arm of Tom Gould just inside the Chippenham penalty area. The Pitmen's protests fell on deaf ears, however, as referee Mr Hubbard turned away their shouts and the game continued

 

Chippenham's solid defence had only conceded twenty-three goals so far this season, but almost handed the Pitmen a soft opening goal on twenty-one minutes as Gould and Mark Badman got their wires crossed and handed possession cheaply to Steve Piearce. The striker - in desperate need of a goal - broke into the Chippenham penalty area but pulled his shot wide from eighteen yards out when he really should have tested Bittner

 

The Pitmen continued to waste good chances during the first period, as a shot from Berks was deflected behind by Wayne Thorpe, followed a minute later by a strong run from Bryan Small that ended with the former Aston Villa man lifting his long-range shot over the bar and into the car park behind the goal

 

They were made to pay a heavy price for not taking their chances, as Chippenham took the lead with more than a little help from the Hednesford back line on thirty-eight minutes; Paul did well to cut inside and make a move into the penalty area, where he was brought down by a late Brindley challenge. The referee awarded Chippenham a penalty kick for Brindley's indiscretion, which Paul took himself. Jenkins guessed right and saved Paul's penalty, but only succeeded in pushing the ball straight into the path of Matt Rawlins, who tapped the rebound home

 

 The goal seemed to knock the stuffing out of the Pitmen, as their passing became erratic and chances started to dry up. Wayne Simpson made a rare foray into the opposition's penalty area on forty-four minutes and stabbed a Derek Rae cross well wide of Bittner's goal with a typical defender's shot 

 

The Pitmen's second half started well enough, with Stuart Ryder sending Small away down the left-wing after a quick exchange and setting up Francis in turn, only for the big man to scuff his shot into the Heath Hayes terrace on fifty-three minutes

 

Four minutes later, Painter made his first change of the evening as he brought Stewart Airdrie on in place of Williams to add more attacking threat down the right-hand side

 

That was as good as the evening got for the Pitmen, as Chippenham continued to hold them at arm's length and play on the counter-attack. Paul and Mings showed cunning to play around Darren Simkin on fifty-nine minutes, leading to a shot on the turn from Mings that drifted into the arms of Jenkins

 

Simpson's good work in midfield saw him win the ball off Steve Brown and play the ball up to Francis on sixty-three minutes, with the striker getting his legs in a muddle and only succeeding in dribbling a shot well wide

 

The away side took full advantage of the Pitmen's failings and hit them with a quickfire double whammy on sixty-seven minutes; Paul did well to jink his way down the left flank before sending over a perfect cross that was just begging for Mings to head past Jenkins from close-range

 

Straight from the restart, Chippenham won the ball back from the Pitmen, who had pushed forward in search of an immediate response, and caught the home side out on the counter. Paul broke in behind the retreating Hednesford defence and slid the ball underneath the body of the advancing Jenkins to finish the hosts off once and for all

 The fans made their views clear about the situation, with Painter responding to the cat-calls with an attacking change before the restart by bringing on Anthony Maguire for Rae

 

Piearce was still working hard for his side despite the situation, making life hard for the Chippenham defence as he continued to make space for himself. A quick exchange of passes with Berks on seventy-five minutes saw Piearce get goal-side of the Chippenham defence, with the striker's cut-back from the byeline lashed high over the crossbar by Francis

 

That was to be the end of another disappointing night for Francis, who was hauled off a minute later as Mark Jones came on to add more craft to the forward line

 

Brindley was denied a goal on eighty-three minutes as he was pulled up for a foul on Colin Towler in the build-up to an Airdrie free-kick out by the corner flag

 

Piearce got his reward for a hard-working night's work with three minutes to go, getting a touch on Maguire's cross to steer the ball home at the near post and grab what was to be a consolation goal for a poor Hednesford side, thus ending his recent goal drought in the process

 

The final whistle was greeted with muffled boos from the Hednesford supporters who had manfully stayed back to watch the completion of the game, with many leaving the ground now looking downwards at the league table rather than upwards. The Pitmen are now only seven points off the drop zone as a result of tonight's defeat and in such poor form at present that it is a distinct possibility that they could get dragged into a relegation dogfight for the second successive season. Two further home games follow this one as the Pitmen look for a vital three points, starting with a game against Chelmsford City on Saturday

    

Hednesford Town: Jenkins, Williams (Airdrie 57), Small, Simkin, Brindley ©, Ryder, Rae (Maguire 69), Simpson, Francis (Jones 76), Piearce, Berks     Subs Unused: Lancashire, Bingham

 

Chippenham Town: Bittner, Charity, Thorpe, Towler, Gould, Badman, Brown (Davies 70), Hogan (Harrington 78), Paul, Rawlins, Mings (Griffin 85)      Subs Unused: Mills, Bull

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