2.11.2002

 

F.A. Trophy 1st Round

Clevedon Town

Price (28), Dew (75)

Hednesford Town

Francis (45), Piearce (52), (53), Airdrie (82)

(1) 2

.

(1) 4

Attendance

MoTM

Current Form

Next Match

172

Ashley Williams

W D L D L D L W D W

 

Bath City (H) 9.11.02

Despite playing in utterly atrocious conditions, the Pitmen managed to safely navigate their way past Dr. Martens Western Division side Clevedon Town this afternoon at a soggy and miserable Hand Stadium to progress to the second round of this season's F.A. Trophy

 

With the Pitmen taking a break from their patchy league form for a week, manager Ian Painter once again rang the changes to his side for this first round game. He was without the commanding presence of Chris Brindley, who sat out a rare game with a slight knock. This saw a rotation of the defensive line, with Wayne Simpson returning to the side at left-back and the returning Les Robinson replacing Brindley at centre-back.  Painter elected for a bold attacking line-up for this tie too, naming Kevin Francis, Graham Lancashire and Steve Piearce in the same side for the first time since becoming manager,  creating what appeared to be a narrow 5-2-3 formation without either Shaun Wray or Stewart Airdrie in the side

 

Clevedon entered the tie with somewhat of an injury crisis on their hands, with manager Steve Fey without a number of key players due to a variety of injuries. The Clevedon team was stretched so thinly that assistant manager Dave Mogg - the former Bath City goalkeeper - was named amongst the Clevedon substitutes to make up the numbers for the hosts

 

The weather up and down the country had been horrendous all day long, with heavy downpours putting the game in doubt for a spell before the referee passed the pitch fit to play just before kick-off. However, the turf was extremely heavy,  and pockets of standing water started to form from kick-off and remained there throughout a testing game for both sides

 

Clevedon appeared to thrive in the slippery conditions and played them well in the opening ten minutes as they played quick, direct football in the faces of the Hednesford defence. Gary Powell headed weakly into the arms of Adam Jenkins in the fifth minute after a cross from full-back Olly Price caught the Pitmen's new-look defence ball-watching in the gusty wind

 

A further effort fell at the feet of Powell three minutes later, but a strong challenge from skipper Robinson put paid to the chance as the veteran used the conditions to his advantage to slide in and take the ball off the toes of the Clevedon forward inside the penalty area

 

Carl Adams sent over one of his trademark inswinging corner kicks for the all-yellow-clad visitors on thirteen minutes to find Francis at the far post, but the 6' 7" frontman headed well wide of goal with a poorly-timed header

 

A tame pass from Derek Rae presented Clevedon with an opening on seventeen minutes, gifting the ball to James Zebek in midfield and allowing the ball to find Mike Wyatt on the edge of the Hednesford penalty area. Wyatt did well to shift the ball onto his other foot but dragged his effort wide of goal on the sodden turf

 

Clevedon skipper Lee Jefferies did well to halt Lancashire's progress on twenty minutes, making a last-ditch tackle on the experienced frontman to deny the former Rochdale player a clear shot on goal after he had muscled his way goal side of the defender

 

However, as the clouds burst once more, Clevedon took a shock lead on twenty-eight minutes, partly down to a Jenkins error; Deion Vernon's cross from the left was inexplicably dropped by Jenkins, failing to get a firm hold of the greasy ball and dropping it at the feet of a grateful Price, who turned the loose ball home from close-range

 

This was to be a wake-up call for the higher league visitors, as they took control of possession and created a number of good chances. Paul Ware tried to use the wet pitch to his advantage on thirty-one minutes with a low piledriver from long range that skidded just wide of Clevedon keeper Steve Weaver's goal

 

Simpson's return to the side lasted only thirty-three minutes, as he was forced off with a recurrence of his injury. Wray came on in his place, playing as a wing-back down the left side for the Pitmen

 

Three minutes later, Piearce had two good chances to force home an equaliser as he saw his initial snap-shot palmed away by Weaver, before planting his rebound into the side netting from a tight angle after Clevedon had failed to clear their lines

 

Adams and Ware almost caught Clevedon out on thirty-nine minutes, taking a free-kick quickly between them which culminating in Adams striking a rising effort just over the crossbar

 

With half-time fast approaching, the Pitmen ended the half strongly and got themselves back on level terms with the final attack of the first period. Adams was the architect once again, sending over a fine cross from the right after being fed by the impressive Ashley Williams that was headed powerfully into the net by Francis at the far post

 

The standing water on the pitch remained a concern for the Clevedon groundstaff at the break, with news coming in at half-time that games involving local sides Bristol Rovers and Weston-Super-Mare had been abandoned due to the conditions. However, referee Mr Robins took a look at the pitch before the second half started and was happy to let the game continue. The Pitmen elected to make their first change of the afternoon at the break also, with the ineffective Lancashire replaced by winger Airdrie as the Pitmen reverted to a more standard 4-4-2 formation

 

The visitors were quickly out of the blocks at the start of the second period, and essentially ended the game as a contest with two goals in a minute from Mr Quickfire himself Piearce; having grabbed an eight-minute hat-trick against Ilkeston Town a couple of weeks ago, the former Wolves man was at it again with a blink-and-you-miss-it brace. On fifty-two minutes, Piearce was alert to Ware's vision, racing clear of the Clevedon defence to latch onto a superbly-weighted ball from the midfielder before rounding Weaver and slotting into the empty net

 

Straight from the restart, Williams did well to win the ball back and feed Adams down the right flank. With bodies streaming forward, Adams' low cross took a number of deflections off different players before finally cannoning off Piearce and past Weaver to make it 3-1 to the Pitmen

 

Airdrie had started the half well, using the conditions to his advantage by running past Grantley Dicks at will and letting the slick pitch take the ball past the left-back. His deep cross to the far post on fifty-nine minutes was played back into the six-yard box by Adams, only for Jefferies to step in and hack the ball away from danger

 

Wray's trickery down the flank saw him beat Price and cut inside the Clevedon penalty area, only for the winger to try an intricate step-over and flick that ended with the ball in the hands of Weaver and Wray floored in a large puddle behind the goal

Complacency crept into the Pitmen's game as the rain continued to fall, as they conceded a soft goal on seventy-five minutes. Simkin was the guilty party, as he dwelled on the ball far too long and allowed Simon Dew to nip in and slide the ball past Jenkins from close range to give the hosts a glimmer of hope

 

Again, Clevedon's goal seemed to cause a reaction in the Hednesford ranks as they went back on the offensive in a bid to finally see the game out. Francis's game ended on eighty minutes, as he was replaced by Damien Charie up front

 

Two minutes later, the Pitmen did finally grab a killer fourth, with the two substitute wingers linking up to seal the away side's passage into round two. A great run from Wray saw him shimmy his way past Price, before picking out Airdrie with a fine cross that the former Guiseley man guided into the net from close-range to make it four for the Pitmen

 

The final whistle was greeted with a certain amount of relief by all in the ground, many of whom had been drenched and blown around by the dreadful weather all afternoon. The Pitmen had successfully navigated a tricky-looking tie with relative ease, although individual errors once again gave the opposition some hope when they really should have seen the game through at 3-1. Round two's draw sees the Conference big-hitters enter the competition, so Monday could see the Pitmen pitting their wits against step one opposition once more

 

Clevedon Town: Weaver, Vickerman, Dicks, Dew, Price, Bryant, Jefferies ©, Lester (Watts 75), Zabek (Lester 60), Wyatt, Powell, Vernon      Subs Unused: Murray, Bater, Mogg

 

Hednesford Town: Jenkins, Williams, Simpson (Wray 33), Robinson ©, Simkin, Rae, Lancashire (Airdrie 45), Ware, Francis (Charie 80), Piearce, Adams     Subs Unused: Jones, Ryder

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