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Evo-Stik Northern Premier League


Foster (2), Walwyn (36), Kilheeney (40), Denham (45), Cunliffe (90)

Hednesford Town

Clements (53)

(4) 5

(0) 1



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Chris Clements


Nantwich Town (H) 31.3.12

The pressure is now on the Pitmen's players and management to finish the season strongly as they were hammered by fellow play-off chasers Chorley in a hapless first-half display from Rob Smith's side

Following the defeat to another top-five contender in the form of FC United of Manchester last weekend, Smith brought back striker Gary Hay into the starting line up after his impressive second-half performance against FC United. There was also a first start for on-loan Mansfield Town man Sam Craven, who started out wide on the left-hand side

Despite making slow, sluggish starts to a number of games this year, the Pitmen simply failed to learn the lessons of previous matches as they yet again left themselves with a poor start. A hopeful ball over the top of the Hednesford defence caught them cold, allowing the league's top scorer Steve Foster to race onto the ball and fire past Dan Crane. Two minutes on the clock again, Hednesford losing 1-0

Matt Walwyn almost added to the score on six minutes, as a similar ball over the top once again caught Hednesford's defenders out and allowed Walwyn to fire well over the crossbar

The Pitmen responded with a marauding run from Kyle Haynes down the right that saw him cross for Hay, whose flick-on found Craven at the far post. His right-footed effort was off target, however, and the youngster could only hit the advertising hoardings behind the goal with his shot

Indeed, the Pitmen looked far more assured in the next fifteen minutes after the initial shock of conceding the early goal, and more than matched Chorley in the bright Lancashire sunshine as the half developed. However, a well-drilled Chorley defence kept a lid on the attacking exploits of Hay and Nick Wellecomme

Hay managed to connect with a Craven cross on twenty-eight minutes, volleying high over the crossbar, before Chris Clements went closest to levelling the game two minutes later with a free-kick; the midfielder's swerving effort was deflected away from goal by the Chorley wall, earning the Pitmen a corner kick that was ultimately wasted

For all of the Pitmen's good work, there was still a concern that Chorley could score at any time, with the quality of their attacking players on show. Two of their high-profile front men combined on thirty-six minutes to put Chorley two goals to the good, as new signing Ciaran Kilheeney played Walwyn through to slot past Crane from close range

The Pitmen's confidence was in tatters with the conceding of this goal, and they fell further behind four minutes later as Tom Ince clipped a corner onto the head of Kilheeney, who nodded home. So simple, so frustrating for the Pitmen's travelling support, who had become accustomed to their team conceding goals from set-pieces with alarming frequency in recent times

Adam Roscoe went close to making it 4-0 just two minutes later, as Chorley threatened to overrun the Hednesford defence. His header from Ince's corner was headed off the line by Cheyenne Dunkley, with Roscoe's rebound shot saved by a desperate lunge from Crane

With seconds left in the first half, Chorley completed a perfect forty-five minutes by grabbing a deserved fourth goal. Roscoe's header fell to Andy Teague, whose own shot was blocked. The ball rolled kindly to Chris Denham, whose low shot found the bottom corner of the net

The Pitmen trudged off having been embarrassed by their play-off rivals in the first half, and a half time caning from Smith and Larry Chambers made a real difference, as it had done the previous week against FC United

Wellecomme was first to show a renewed spirit, as he made a darting run at Chorley's defence five minutes into the second half. His attempted low shot was blocked by big defender Andy Russell. The powerful striker tried his luck again sixty seconds later, flicking the ball wide of goal after good work from Craven, who had shown some neat touches on his full debut for the club

The Pitmen got their reward for a bright start to the second period with a goal on fifty-three minutes; good build-up play on the edge of the area saw Clements stroke the ball past Russ Saunders in the Chorley goal to reduce the yawning gap between the sides

Chorley immediately changed their set-up, as their attacking 4-2-4 formation was now being exploited by the Hednesford midfield. A substitution involving Walwyn saw the Magpies move to 4-4-2, which made life more difficult for the Pitmen to play through

The Pitmen made a change of their own just after the hour mark, as Liam Blakeman came on in place of Ben Jevons, who had looked lively after the start of the second half

Left-back Chris Shaw made a menacing move forward for the Pitmen on sixty-five minutes, slicing a low drive wide of the goal after failing to connect cleanly with the ball on his favoured left foot

The hard-working Hay was replaced on sixty-six minutes, with the veteran striker replaced by Mark Beesley alongside Wellecomme, who was still putting in a shift up against the giant defensive partnership of Russell and Teague

After such a busy first half, you could have forgiven Crane for thinking this was a typical game of two halves, as he had had very little to do after the break. He was, however, called upon on seventy-one minutes to deny Foster with a fine parry down to his right

Andre Landell was the Pitmen's final substitute on seventy-two minutes, replacing Wellecomme who had run himself into the ground

Hednesford continued to have the better of the chances, as Kyle Haynes fired over after putting himself into a great position with a bit of trickery. On eighty minutes, Dunkley should have forced Saunders into a save after heading a curling Clements free-kick over the crossbar

Substitutes Landell and Beesley combined on the edge of the penalty area with six minutes remaining, with Landell attempting a lob over Saunders that narrowly cleared the crossbar

A combination of Saunders and a stray Chorley leg denied both strikers a minute later, as a ball into the Chorley penalty area saw both players have snapshots at goal

Chorley took advantage of the Pitmen's commitment to push forward and scored a fifth goal in the final minute after breaking clear of the high Hednesford defensive line. Substitute John Cunliffe broke through and slid the ball past Crane from ten yards out to end a miserable afternoon for the Pitmen

This heavy defeat condemns the Pitmen to their third defeat in four games and sees them drop out of the play-off places in the process; a once nailed-on place in the top five is now looking an unlikely prospect on current form and results. Nantwich Town - a side that have dropped out of the play-off picture in recent weeks - come to Keys Park next weekend as Smith's side look to address their recent slide in form

Chorley: Saunders, Ross, Walwyn (Williams 57), Teague © (Brown 45), Russell, Vermiglio, Roscoe, Kilheeney, Denham (Cunliffe 76), Foster, Ince       Subs Unused: Maden, Jordan, Bowen

Hednesford Town: Crane, Haynes, Shaw, Dunkley, Johnson, Denny ©, Jevons (Blakeman 61), Clements, Wellecomme (Landell 72), Hay (Beesley 66), Craven       Subs Unused: Osborne, Durrell

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