Skrill North

Colwyn Bay

Darkwah (55)

Hednesford Town

McCone (7), Hopley (35) (OG), Osborne (47)

(0) 1

(2) 3



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Paul McCone


Workington (H) 22.3.14

A much, much improved showing this afternoon from Hednesford saw the Pitmen climb back into third place in the Skrill North table courtesy of an excellent team performance against fellow play-off hopefuls Colwyn Bay

Back-to-back defeats in the last fortnight had derailed any lingering hopes the Pitmen had of claiming the Skrill North title, leaving Rob Smith's troops with a battle to stay amongst the play-off challengers going into the final nine games of the season. Once again, Smith was forced into making changes to his team, particularly up front without Neil Harvey or Paul Sullivan to call upon. Nathan Blissett returned to the side after missing the defeat to Gainsborough, whilst Charlie Anagho-Ntamark was rewarded for his bright cameo last week with a full home debut alongside Blissett. Francino Francis once again missed out with injury, with Robbie Thompson-Brown taking up a role in midfield in his place

Colwyn Bay - under the stewardship of former Chelsea defender Frank Sinclair - had spent the season slowly climbing the table, with the Welsh outfit still harbouring ambitions of a last-ditch run at the play-offs themselves in their remaining ten games, despite a difficult looking run-in

On a bright and breezy day on the North Wales coast, Hednesford started much the stronger of the sides and took the early initiative with their first real chance on seven minutes; A throw-in by Jamey Osborne was headed back to him by Bay's Rob Hopley on the right-wing, with the midfielder sending over a superb deep cross that Paul McCone headed into the net from six yards out

A minute later, Ntamark went agonisingly close to doubling the Pitmen's lead as Campion's up and under into the penalty area was headed onto the crossbar by the teenager via a touch from Bay keeper Chris Sanna after the teenager had beaten Anthony Stephens in the air

The Pitmen were showing confidence and quality on the ball, something they had failed to show in recent games. Osborne in particular had started well, dictating the tempo of the play and creating openings for Blissett and Ntamark to run on to. At the back, McCone and Ben Bailey were doing well to nullify the threat of the dangerous Marc Williams as Bay struggled to create chances

On twenty-four minutes, Ntamark went on a surging run down the left-hand side before jinking his way into the home side's penalty area and firing in a low shot that was deflected over the bar by Bay defender Jonathan Royle

Bay's first real chance came on twenty-eight minutes, courtesy of former Hednesford loanee James Ellison. His goalbound header was turned away by Dan Crane in an unusual diving manner for a Bay corner kick

Thompson-Brown could have added to the Pitmen's tally on thirty-two minutes as the ball dropped to him on the edge of the penalty area after Blissett had forced Colwyn Bay into a hurried clearance. However, Thompson-Brown's lob was off-target and floated harmlessly over the crossbar

Ntamark was once again involved in the Hednesford attacking threat on thirty-five minutes, collecting the ball out wide on the left before slipping a clever backheel through to Alex Melbourne, who had made a run through the Colwyn Bay defence. His cross-cum-shot from the edge of the six-yard box beat the dive of Sanna, with Hopley only succeeding in lashing the ball into his own net as he attempted to clear the ball

Back came Colwyn Bay, with Marc Williams forcing a great save from Crane just before half time after a period of pressure. McCone's attempted clearance deflected into the path of the former Wrexham man, whose snapshot was held on his line by Crane

Smith's half time team talk had the desired effect for the visitors, as they grabbed a third goal just a couple of minutes into the second half. Melbourne, who was having an excellent game playing in a more advanced position than his normal defensive duties, made a great run down the right after receiving the ball from Ntamark before sending over an inch-perfect cross that Osborne confidently headed home from close range

Colwyn Bay made a tactical change after falling three goals behind, bringing on Cameron Darkwah and reverting to three up front. This paid almost immediate dividends as they got a goal back through the substitute on fifty-five minutes. Tom Smyth's free-kick dropped to Hopley, who knocked the ball into the path of Darkwah and allowed the substitute to bundle the ball past Crane from six yards out

The Pitmen were dealt a further blow on the hour mark as Melbourne was shown a red card after a late challenge on Marc Williams

In a bid to counter the Melbourne red card, Hednesford sent on the more defensively-minded Dave MacPherson in place of Thompson-Brown on sixty-three minutes

Bay offered little going forwards in the next ten minutes, despite the numerical advantage. A series of set-pieces were well dealt with by the towering duo of McCone and Bailey, with MacPherson justifying his inclusion with an excellent shift as the midfield 'spoiler'

Sean Williams fired narrowly wide with a swerving shot on seventy-five minutes, followed soon after by another chance for Ellison that also failed to find the net

Crane was called upon to make a parry with ten minutes left, as Gareth Evans found a pocket of space to fire in a shot from the edge of the penalty area after being played in by Jamie Tolley

The wily old Michael Lennon was introduced with nine minutes remaining, instructed to run the clock down and keep the ball in Colwyn Bay territory. He did just that, frustrating the hosts with a masterclass in control and hold-up play

With a minute left, Wayne Riley came on in place of Ntamark in a bid to kill those vital few seconds and break up Colwyn Bay's impetus

The Pitmen saw out the final minutes with relative ease as Bay struggled to force a grandstand finish to the game, earning the visitors a vital three points in their quest to earn themselves a top-five place. Smith will be pleased with his team's reaction to a succession of off-key performances in recent weeks, with basement club Workington visiting Keys Park next Saturday as they look to pick up back-to-back wins to consolidate their third place

Colwyn Bay: Sanna, Taylor (Darkwah 52), Stephens, Bailey-Jones (Tolley 65), Smyth, Royle, Evans, S. Williams, Hopley ©, M. Williams, Ellison       Subs Unused: Clark, Crowther, Pilliner

Hednesford Town: Crane, Disney, Campion ©, Bailey, McCone, Melbourne (60), Osborne, Thompson-Brown (MacPherson 63), Blissett (Lennon 81), Anagho-Ntamark (Riley 89), Thorley       Subs Unused: Robinson, Woolfe

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