Evo-Stik Northern Premier League

Hednesford Town

Hay (34), (64)


(1) 2

(0) 0



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Gary Hay


Rushall Olympic (H) 22.11.11

Veteran hitman Gary Hay inspired the Pitmen to a hard-earned victory against Chorley this afternoon, scoring a goal in both halves to move the Pitmen above their opponents into third place in the Evo-Stik Premier League

With the Pitmen on an eight-game unbeaten run in the league, manager Rob Smith stuck with the same side that had soundly beaten Buxton the previous week. Decio Gomes' departure in the week to Rushall Olympic saw youth team skipper Bradley Grice return to the substitutes bench

Chorley, just above the Pitmen in the table, started brightly, and a last-ditch tackle from Cheyenne Dunkley denied Matt Walwyn a shot on goal after just three minutes

The Pitmen grew into the game after a ropy opening few minutes, with the hosts forcing a number of set pieces. Gary Hay went closest to opening the scoring on eight minutes, heading firmly towards goal from Chris Clements' cross, but Chorley keeper Russell Saunders was equal to it and held the ball well

Left-back Chris Shaw should have done better when presented with a chance on thirteen minutes but fired high over the stand after Chorley had failed to completely clear Darren Campion's corner kick

Walwyn continued to cause the Pitmen problems with his pace, with Dan Crane having to make a smart save low down to deny the striker on nineteen minutes

Hay thought he had given the Pitmen the lead midway through the half, as he headed past Saunders but was adjudged to have pulled Andy Teague in the build-up

Much of the play in the first half had seen the sides cancel each other out, proving that the league table rarely lies. Both defences had been solid, with Pedro Monteiro and Dunkley continuing to impress at the back

It was a defensive error that saw the deadlock broken on thirty-seven minutes; Chorley's Wayne Maden failed to correctly read a hopeful punt forward, heading the ball past Saunders as he advanced on the ball. Hay was swiftly onto the ball, taking advantage of the confusion at the back to pounce on the ball and tap home

Just before the break, Nick Wellecomme was withdrawn after a frustrating half for the big front man. He was replaced by Mark Danks

In the final minute of the half, Walwyn got the better of the Pitmen's back four for the first time in the game, darting onto a through ball and firing towards goal. Crane did well to make a smart diving save low down to keep the Pitmen in front at the break. This was to be Walwyn's final action, as he turned awkwardly as he got his shot away and was replaced at half time by Tom Williams

Chorley boss Gary Flitcroft will have had some harsh words for his side at half time, as they emerged much the brighter side during the opening stages of the half. Three successive corners tested the Pitmen's resilience at the back, with Monteiro and Shaw both managing to repel the Chorley threat with last-ditch headers away from goal

The game was being played predominantly in the Pitmen's half at this point, with Williams linking up well with Jamie Vermiglio on the edge of the area. However, the latter's effort lacked accuracy and Crane watched the ball sail wide of goal

Jamey Osborne's game came to a premature end just before the hour mark, after he limped off following a lengthy spell of attention. Ben Jevons came on in the place of the youngster

The Pitmen essentially settled the game on sixty-four minutes, as Danks danced his way past Ally Brown down the wing and crossed for Hay, who headed powerfully past Saunders to double the Pitmen's advantage

Hay could have been celebrating a superb hat-trick five minutes later, as he seized upon a weak kick from Saunders but failed to hit the target with the goal at his mercy

Chorley's frustrations started to spill over with twenty minutes to go, with three of their players incurring cautions after a contentious free kick awarded to the Pitmen out on the left-wing

Former AFC Telford striker Steve Foster failed to add to his prolific record in front of goal fourteen minutes from time, as his attempted chip also cleared the crossbar

Goal hero Hay was given a warm ovation by an appreciative home crowd one minute later, as he was replaced by Elliott Durrell

Monteiro and Dunkley continued to defy Chorley with their impressive rearguard action in the final ten minutes, with the only slip allowing Foster in on goal with five minutes remaining. On this occasion, Crane was equal to Foster's low shot, turning the ball away

A great result for the Pitmen, who are now four points off top spot with two games in hand on league leaders Northwich Victoria. With local rivals Rushall Olympic coming to town on Tuesday night, Rob Smith's side could move within striking distance of the Vics with victory over the Dales Lane side, who make their first-ever league trip to Keys Park

Hednesford Town: Crane, Haynes, Shaw, Monteiro, Dunkley, Denny , Osborne (Jevons 59), Clements, Wellecomme (Danks 41), Hay (Durrell 77), Campion ©       Subs Unused: Bailey, Grice

Chorley: Saunders, Ross (Walker 73), Brown 
, Teague ©, Maden, Vermiglio , Roscoe, Flitcroft, Walwyn (Williams 45), Foster ▆ (Bowen 73), Ince       Subs Unused: Russell, Whaley