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Vanarama National League North

Hednesford Town

Thomas (58)


Connerton (31), (71), Witham (64)

(0) 1

(1) 3



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Tom Peers


Lowestoft Town (A) 23.2.16

The Pitmen's run of home games ends in yet another depressing defeat this afternoon at a wet Keys Park as mid-table Chorley ease to three points over a poorly-organised home side that lacked confidence and quality throughout proceedings

Still smarting from Tuesday night's late, late equaliser from North Ferriby United to deny them their first win in three games, Frank Sinclair's side hosted their fourth home game in succession having only picked up a point from their previous three games at Keys Park. Sinclair made one enforced change to the side that had started in midweek as Shelton Payne was unavailable and was replaced by Paul Ennis in attack

Tenth-placed Chorley made the trip down the M6 off the back of a 1-0 defeat against fellow mid-table dwellers Gloucester City in midweek; manager Matt Jansen made two changes to his side from the XI that had started against the Tigers as Jack Lynch replaced Jack Dorney and Kieran Charnock came in for Andy Bond

On a wet and muddy Keys Park pitch and with a gusty wind blowing across the pitch, the game started at a frantic pace with action at both ends in the first ten minutes. In the very first minute, Dale Whitham's corner kick was headed goalwards by captain Andy Teague, only for Kennedy Digie to block the ball inside the six-yard box and clear the danger

Dan Crane made an acrobatic save to turn a drifted cross from Andy Roscoe over his crossbar in the second minute of the game, backtracking to tip the ball over the bar as it threatened to dip underneath the upright

From the resultant Whitham corner kick, Ben Bailey headed the ball as far as Roscoe who controlled the ball just outside the Hednesford penalty area and tried his luck with a long-range shot that was saved by Crane on his goal line

Good play from the Pitmen in the sixth minute saw Tom Thorley play the ball out to Ennis on the left flank, with the former Stalybridge man cutting inside of a challenge from Mark Ross before shooting at goal from the corner of the box, taking a nick off the boot of Teague before running safely into the arms of Sam Ashton in the Chorley goal

The visitors were forced into an early change on ten minutes as left-back Will Beesley suffered a knock that he could not run off and was replaced by Paul Jarvis

A teasing cross from on-loan Jack Truelove in the twelfth minute saw the left-back swing in a ball from the left touchline and into the six-yard box, where Glover was a matter of inches away from turning the ball home from close range as he just failed to make a connection with the ball

Teague forced Crane into another fine save three minutes later as another fine delivery from Roscoe saw the winger cross from the left and find the head of the centre-back, whose downward header was tipped away by the experienced stopper down to his right-hand side

A mazy run from Truelove in the nineteenth minute saw the full-back exchange passes with Ennis before dribbling past a couple of half-hearted Chorley challenges and sending over a cross to the far post, where Adam Thomas arrived at the far post to head the ball narrowly over the crossbar from eight yards out

The dangerous Darren Stephenson - a thorn in previous Hednesford sides - made a powerful run into the Hednesford penalty area midway through the first half as he received a pass from Whitham thirty yards from goal, running past Digie before dragging his shot well wide of goal with a low driven effort

On twenty-seven minutes, the Pitmen created their best chance of the game so far as Crane's free-kick was flicked on by Glover and into the path of Thomas, who stole in behind the Chorley defence but saw his right-footed effort deflected away from goal by Jarvis, denying the winger a certain goal

The visitors took the lead shortly after the half-hour mark as the Pitmen were once again found wanting in defence; a long ball forwards from Teague caught the young Hednesford defence ball-watching, allowing striker Jordan Connerton to latch onto the ball and fire past Crane from twelve yards out. There were muted calls for offside against Connerton from the home side, but referee Mr Simms waved away their protests and the goal stood

More defensive indecision from the hosts almost saw them go two goals behind just three minutes later as Stephenson pounced on a lazy clearance from Jack Fitzwater before shooting at goal - his shot towards the top far corner of the net was headed away by West Brom loanee George Cleet

Whitham found Teague once more with the resultant corner kick, with the no-nonsense centre-back heading the ball inches wide of Crane's far post from six yards out as he beat Digie to the ball once more

The visitors were enjoying plenty of the ball and continued to create the better of the chances against the hosts, who were being dragged around the park by the experienced trio of Roscoe, Whitham and Stephenson. Roscoe's deep cross on thirty-seven minutes was headed back across goal by Stephenson and into the path of Connerton, who was denied by a sliding challenge from Fitzwater to clear the danger

A brief foray into the Chorley penalty area from the Pitmen saw Bailey headed high over the crossbar on forty minutes from a Tom Thorley free-kick after Ennis had been fouled by Jarvis on the left

With two minutes of the first period remaining, Lynch went within a few inches of doubling Chorley's lead as he was given too much time and space to stride into the Hednesford penalty area and drill and low shot just wide of the upright

It had been a fairly dominant performance from the Magpies in the first period, creating plenty of good chances and thoroughly deserving the lead at the break. In a bid to get his side back into contention, Sinclair made a half-time change as striker Tom Peers came on in place of Thorley, changing the formation to 4-3-3 as Peers joined Ennis and Glover up front

This move seemed to perk up the hosts, who pushed forwards in search of a leveller in the early moments of the second half; Thomas made a run down the right flank on fifty minutes, beating Jarvis before cutting the ball back into the path of Sean Williams. The midfielder's low shot from twenty yards out was off-target unfortunately as Ashton watched the curling ball wide of his right-hand post

Three minutes later, Connerton headed wide of the target with a looping effort from Whitham's free-kick, getting goal-side of Cleet but heading wide of Crane's post from eight yards out as the ball skipped off the top of his head

Peers' first real involvement saw the young striker go close to levelling matters on fifty-seven minutes as he made a late run into the box to meet a Truelove cross from the left but headed straight into the arms of Ashton from six yards out when a header either side of the stopper would have found the back of the net

The Pitmen did get their equaliser a minute later, however, as Bailey's long throw from the left was headed as far as Thomas on the edge of the penalty area by Charnock. The winger controlled the ball well before striking a low left-footed shot beyond the reach of Ashton and into the far corner of the net

Back came Chorley and Stephenson once again went close to giving the Magpies the lead once more on sixty-two minutes as Lynch's pass found the striker lurking just outside the penalty area, turning well past Cleet before firing a left-footed shot narrowly wide of Crane's left-hand post

Chorley did get their noses back in front two minutes later, although there was a touch of controversy about the goal. A Hednesford corner from Williams was cleared by the visitors, with Thomas picking up the loose ball and appeared to be shoved away from it by Jarvis. Despite the home side's protests, Mr Simms allowed the game to continue as Chorley broke quickly down the left through the Connerton, who laid the ball back to Jarvis; his cross was met by the incoming Whitham, who chested the ball beyond Crane and into the net with the Hednesford defenders struggling to get themselves back into position

The Pitmen's response was to throw another forward on two minutes later as Ahmed Obeng came on in place of the disappointing Ennis, who had struggled to get himself into the game

Glover was again within a whisker of levelling once again for the Pitmen on seventy minutes as Bailey's long throw caused chaos in the Chorley defence and allowed the ball to run to Glover at the far post, only for the former Port Vale man to steer his header narrowly wide of the target from eight yards out

This was to prove a crucial miss in the outcome of the game as Chorley extended their lead a minute later through Connerton. Ashton's long goal kick was caught in the wind and carried straight through to Connerton, who controlled the ball well and slotted the ball beyond the dive of Crane from twelve yards out. A classic route one goal but another black mark against the Hednesford defence for allowing Connerton time and apace to bring the ball down before shooting past an exposed Crane

Peers had looked lively since coming on at the break, offering the hosts an outlet and looking to create chances for himself against a stubborn Chorley defence. On seventy-four minutes, a Williams free-kick was cleared back to him by Charnock, with the midfielder finding Peers with a through ball along the ground and into the path of the striker. He took the ball around the dive of Ashton which forced him wide, diverting the ball towards goal with an angled shot that was cleared off the line by the backtracking Teague

With thirteen minutes remaining, Sinclair made his final substitution of the afternoon as the experienced Phil Trainer came on in midfield as he replaced goalscorer Thomas

Crane was called upon to make another fine save on eighty minutes as Stephenson cut in from the right and drifted past Truelove's challenge before shooting at goal, forcing the home stopper into a smart save at his near post

The visitors were finishing the game much the stronger of the two sides, with a free-kick from Whitham finding the head of Stephenson on eighty-three minutes, only for the striker's header to dip narrowly over the crossbar from close-range

The experienced James Dean came on up front in place of Connerton with three minutes to go and had a late chance to extend Chorley's lead with his first touch, controlling a pass from Roscoe with his back to goal before turning past the hapless Fitzwater and striking a firm shot wide of goal

In the first of four minutes of added time, Stephenson was once again allowed the freedom of Keys Park to pick up a pass from Dorney and run unchallenged to the edge of the Hednesford penalty area, where his powerful rising shot was saved by Crane on his line

It had been another sobering afternoon for the Pitmnen and their frustrated supporters, once again proving that the lack of experience and overall quality in their ranks was not enough to go toe-to-toe with a more knowledgeable and powerful outfit in the form of the Magpies. A third defeat in four games leaves the Pitmen second bottom of the Vanarama National League North table, just a point ahead of local rivals AFC Telford and facing a mammoth trip to Lowestoft Town on Tuesday night looking for a crucial three points against a Trawlerboys side also struggling towards the foot of the table

Hednesford Town: Crane, Fitzwater, Truelove, B. Bailey ©, Digie, Cleet, Thomas (Trainer 77), Thorley (Peers 45), Glover, Williams, Ennis (Obeng 66)       Subs Unused: Ransome, Regan

Chorley: Ashton, Ross, Beesley (Jarvis 10), Teague ©, Charnock, Roscoe, Lynch (Dorney 68), Whitham, Connerton (Dean 87), Stephenson, Cottrell       Subs Unused: V. Bailey, Field

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