Zamaretto Southern Premier League

Hednesford Town

Clevedon Town

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Elliott Durrell


Oxford City (H) 21.11.09

Hednesford's unbeaten run in the Zamaretto League was extended once again this afternoon, but the Pitmen will view this very much as two points lost rather than one point won, as a spirited and hard-working Clevedon side grabbed a vital point in their quest to stay up

Manager Simon Line - coming to the end of his twelve game touchline ban - decided against making any changes to his side with the same XI and substitutes lining up as they had in the entertaining 2-2 draw at Halesowen Town the previous week

Clevedon were struggling once again thus far this season, having only just avoided relegation to step four last term on the last day of the 2008-2009 season. Midweek had seen the Seasiders held by basement side Merthyr Tydfil in a 1-1 draw at the Hand Stadium to leave Clevedon down in eighteenth place in the table ahead of today's game. Manager Nick Tucker stuck with the same side for today's game that had started on Tuesday night 

Despite the downpours of the previous twenty-four hours, bright sunshine enveloped Keys Park at kick-off, with the home side straight on the attack. Just a minute in, the in-form Tyrone Barnett almost got the Pitmen off to a flyer, but his shot was brilliantly turned away by Clevedon keeper Danny Greaves for a corner

indeed, this was to be the pattern of the game for long periods of the contest, as the Seasiders were content to allow Hednesford to have the lion's share of possession, sitting deep and looking to catch the Pitmen on the counter where possible

Barnett and Ross Dyer both appeared up for the fight, with the strike duo causing the experienced Lee Molyneaux and Matt Walsh to be alert. Dyer was only inches away from connecting with Durrell's eighth-minute cross, but the ball was just too far in from of him as he looked to turn the ball home at the far post

On fifteen minutes, Barnett took his turn to get an effort in on goal, going tantalisingly close with a shot from just inside the area that took a wicked deflection off a Clevedon defender, before looping over the head of Greaves and inches over the crossbar

He repeated the act four minutes later, cleverly making space for himself before firing towards goal, only for a Clevedon leg to get in the way of his shot and send the ball spinning narrowly wide of the post with Greaves beaten by the deflection. From the resultant corner, Ben Bailey headed over after rising highest in a large group of players

Referee Mr Husband was already laying down the law in his own, shall we say, 'unique' way, turning down the Pitmen's appeals for a penalty midway through the half when it looked as though Steve Jagielka's shot was turned away by a Clevedon arm. He further enraged the home crowd by dismissing a loud call for a penalty five minutes later; Dyer chased down Molyneaux, with the Clevedon man seemingly palmed the ball back to Greaves just out of the referee's eye line

It was simply one-way traffic throughout the half, as Clevedon rarely made a venture into the Pitmen's half. Barnett was left cursing his bad luck seven minutes from half time, as confusion inside the Clevedon six-yard box saw an almighty scramble. Durrell's shot was blocked, with the ball spinning out towards the goal-line. Barnett reacted quickest, turning the ball towards goal with a deft touch. As the ball slowly rolled towards the net, Greaves made another excellent save to turn the ball away from goal, with the ball ending up at the feet of Luke Horrocks, who was wasteful with his follow-up and blasted the ball high into the Heath Hayes End

It was more of the same at the start of the second half, as the Pitmen continued to keep their stranglehold on the game. Horrocks had an early chance to score for the Pitmen, as he was put through by Dyer, but was pulled back offside by a late flag. To further add insult to injury, Horrocks was booked for kicking the ball into the net

Captain Dyer had had very few clear openings in the game up to this point, but he was presented with a peach of a chance five minutes after the restart. Jagielka's ball found Dyer, who romped away from the Clevedon defence and homed in on Greaves. It was the kind of chance that many Hednesford supporters would put good money on the prolific Dyer scoring, but this time his shot bounced inches past the far post after he had slipped it past the onrushing Greaves

Cue the rain, as the bad weather that had caused so many games down south to be postponed finally hit Staffordshire. The wind picked up, and the rain started to lash across Keys Park, sending many supporters running for cover

Mr Husband's involvement in the game continued to infuriate both benches and both sets of fans, as he failed to book Durrell for an identical offence carried out by Horrocks ten minutes previously, followed by a crucial decision to punish Greaves after the Clevedon number one carried the ball outside the area as Durrell threatened to beat him to the ball. The result? A yellow card, much to the displeasure of the home fans, who were baying for a red card. Durrell lined up the resultant kick, firing in a low shot that was deflected by a Clevedon player onto the post and out for a corner kick

The visitors finally gave their handful of travelling supporters something to cheer with a late flurry in the final quarter. Jamal Easter managed to get enough time on the ball to line up a shot from the edge of the area on sixty-five minutes, but only succeeded in firing over the bar

Two minutes later, the same player looked to have stolen a march on the Hednesford defence after Clevedon had broken quickly down the right, but Bailey's superb tackle denied Easter a shot at Gavin Ward

Last week's man of the match Sam Aiston had been a rather quieter influence this afternoon, linking well with the improving Jagielka in midfield and playing a number of intelligent balls. One of his rare forays into enemy territory on seventy minutes saw the former Sunderland man shimmy his way past two players, before crossing for Durrell, who hit the ball straight at Walsh

The Clevedon goal had led a charmed life for the majority of the game, and it used up another life with fifteen minutes left when Greaves again managed to get enough behind Barnett's shot to turn the ball away for another corner

The Pitmen's management team decided to freshen up the forward line with twelve minutes remaining, with Justin Nisbett replacing Horrocks. Nisbett's only real contribution was to incur the wrath of Mr Husband late on when he appeared to be tripped on the edge of the area as he shaped to shoot, but somehow ended up in the book after ending up in a tangle of legs on the ground

The final five minutes saw the Pitmen camped inside the Clevedon half; Dyer and Barnett were both denied by Greaves in quick succession, followed by Jagielka's high wide and not-very-handsome shot from long range

As it was, Clevedon will have been delighted with their point, but Line's men will be wondering how they failed to take one of the numerous opportunities that fell their way today. On the plus side, that is eight unbeaten in the league now for the Pitmen which dates back to the August Bank Holiday. With the defence now looking its sturdiest in a while with three clean sheets in those eight games, there is a platform to build on. But Hednesford can ill-afford more off days in front of goal such as this if they are to challenge for a play-off place come May. Another home game is to follow next weekend as mid-table Oxford City make a first-ever trip to Keys Park

Hednesford Town: Ward, Platt, Martin, Jagielka, Bailey , Goodhead, Durrell, Aiston, Barnett, Dyer ©, Horrocks (Nisbett 78 )       Subs Unused: Carvey, Chapman, Walker, Flynn

Clevedon Town: Greaves , Brigham (Fisher 45), Walsh, Molyneaux, B. Evans, Wilmot (Blakemore 45), J. Evans (Townley 90), Loxton, Easter, Wring ©, Sheppard      Subs Unused: Adams, Main

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