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Vanarama Conference North


Ross (45), Dean (60)

Hednesford Town

(1) 2

(0) 0



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Alex Melbourne


King's Lynn Town (A) 27.9.14

The Pitmen crash to their third defeat on the road already this season as Rob Smith's side are outmuscled by a Chorley side this afternoon, continuing the Magpies' impressive start to life at step two level and leaving the visitors still marooned in lower mid-table

The disruptive nature of the Pitmen's injury problems once again meant Smith had to change his set-up ahead of a tough trip to Lancashire; recent signing Chris Westwood was ruled out after limping off in last weekend's draw against Guiseley, with Ben Bailey coming back into central defence. Last week's goal hero Marvin Robinson was also ruled out due to injury, with Ryan Price called up once more to make up the numbers on the bench

Gary Flitcroft had emerged from a topsy-turvy couple of seasons at Victory Park to finally clinch promotion from the Evo-Stik Premier League for his Chorley side; having made a clutch of impressive signings during the summer to strengthen his side, Flitcroft's team had made a storming start to life at Conference North level, starting the game in second place

Buoyed by a large, vocal home crowd, Chorley made a good start to the game and almost went ahead on six minutes. A corner kick from the right found the boot of Jack Dorney, whose rising effort just cleared the crossbar

Three minutes later, Danny Glover offered a response for the visitors as James Hurst was played in down the right-hand side by Jamey Osborne, whipping in a great cross that was headed inches wide of the far post by Hednesford's top scorer

Glover went closer to scoring on fifteen minutes as he got on the end of Alex Melbourne's deep cross and drive the ball goalwards, requiring a superb reflex save by Chorley keeper Sam Ashton

Tom Peers - who earlier in the week extended his loan period at Keys Park after an impressive first month's showing - failed to add to his two goals for the club midway through the half, firing wide with a low drive after another excellent piece of work by Hurst out wide

Both sides were struggling to carve out anything that could be described as 'clear cut' during a limited first half-hour, with neither Ashton or Hednesford's Dan Crane troubled unduly as the game was played out in the midfield areas. Melbourne and Hurst were the standout performers for the visitors, offering pace and effort to keep the Pitmen ticking over

With seven minutes remaining in the first half, a Kris Taylor free-kick found the head of Francino Francis, with the big centre back glancing a header wide under pressure from a Chorley defender

With the game seemingly petering out into a half time stalemate, Chorley took an unlikely lead in the final minute of the first half. Dorney played the ball out wide to Mark Ross, who made a marauding run forwards before cutting inside Darren Campion and unleashing an unstoppable shot that beat Crane and found the top far hand corner of the net

There was still time for Peers to scamper in behind the Chorley defence, with Adam Roscoe making a timely interception to deny the teenager a clear shot on goal

Chorley started the second half strongly, pushing forwards as they looked for a second goal. Crane was forced into making a smothering save at the feet of Josh Hine on forty-eight minutes, as a through ball from Dorney opened up the Hednesford defence

Three minutes later, a deep cross from Melbourne saw Ashton flap at the drifting cross, allowing Glover to nip in and head just wide

Another Taylor set-piece a minute later saw the midfielder send over a superb corner kick that Bailey met unmarked at the far post. Rather than test Ashton as many expected, Bailey headed well wide of goal and held his head in his hands, fully aware of the excellent chance he had wasted

Crane and Melbourne combined to deny Chorley once more on fifty-seven minutes, with Crane pushing away Dale Whitham's corner kick and Melbourne turning Chris Doyle's rebound away from goal with a goal-line block

Another run and cross from Hurst down the right found the head of Glover at the far post on fifty-nine minutes, with the striker off-target once again with a miscued effort

Chorley's pressure told on the hour mark, as Bailey's attempted clearance was pounced on by Hine, who got in behind the Hednesford defence and fired in a shot at goal. Crane made a superb stop to deny the midfielder, but could do little to prevent striker James Dean from pouncing on the rebound and turning the ball into the empty net - an all-too-familiar goal the Pitmen seem to be conceding in recent times

Taylor was sacrificed for the youth and pace of Jamie Ashmore immediately after the goal, with Melbourne moved into a midfield role from his position wide on the right-hand side

Crane denied Dean a second goal of the afternoon on sixty-four minutes, turning the striker's shot away from goal with a good save low down to palm the ball past the post

The disappointing Osborne - booked earlier and given a final warning by the referee later on in the game - was taken off with twenty-five minutes left, as Paul Sullivan was given more game time as he looked to improve his match fitness

The Pitmen's third and final substitution was made eight minutes later, as James McQuilkin came on in midfield to replace Tom Thorley, who was still playing with a cast on his arm after recovering from a broken arm

Sullivan nearly made an immediate impact after his introduction, as he used his pace to get in behind the Chorley defence on eighty minutes. However, Ashton was equal to the forward's shot and turned the ball over for a corner kick

Following two more corner kicks, Sullivan was again denied by Ashton as his goalbound header was saved on the line by the Chorley stopper

A minute later, Hurst went closer than anyone else in a blue shirt all afternoon, as his thunderous drive from range cannoned off the crossbar and away from danger

Chorley were good value for their three points, although on another day the Pitmen could have salvaged a draw had they taken any of the excellent chances that fell their way in the second half. The defeat leaves the visitors still looking downwards rather than upwards, with Hednesford now taking a week off their league concerns to concentrate on a trip to King's Lynn Town in the F.A. Cup next weekend. A repeat of last season's run to the first round proper would be a real pick-me-up for the club as they struggle for consistency on the pitch

Chorley: Ashton, Ross Mather, Doyle, Smyth, Roscoe, Hine (Jarvis 78), Whitham © (Lynch 90), Dean (Mulholland 90), Dorney, Stephenson

    Subs Unused: Esdaille-Biney, Grundy,


Hednesford Town: Crane, Hurst, Campion © Bailey, Francis, Taylor (Ashmore 51), Osborne (Sullivan 65), Melbourne, Glover, Peers, Thorley (McQuilkin 73)      Subs Unused: McCone, Price

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