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Evo-Stik Northern Premier League

Matlock Town

Harrad (6), (78), Sharpe (23) (penalty)

Hednesford Town

Doyle-Charles (10) (OG), Lawrie (42) (penalty)

(2) 3

(2) 2



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James Wren


Shaw Lane (A) 19.8.17

The Pitmen are still searching for that elusive first win of the new campaign this evening as Matlock Town continue to have the better of their recent meetings between the two sides with a win at Causeway Lane

After seeing his side take a point from the opening day clash with Ashton United, new Hednesford manager Neil Tooth was reluctant to make major changes to the side that blew hot and cold at Keys Park at the weekend, with goal scorer Danny Glover swapping places with Jordan Nadat as the only amendment to the starting XI. Veteran striker Luke Rodgers had only just returned from honeymoon in the previous twenty-four hours so was still unavailable for selection for tonight's clash

Matlock had covered for the major loss of last season's top scorer Marcus Dinanga with the signing of the prolific and experienced Shaun Harrad during the summer months, with the 33-year-old starting up front for the Gladiators alongside Ted Cribley. This meant no place in the side for Saturday's goal scorer Marc Newsham, who had to be content with a place on the bench

The hosts made a flying start to the night's proceedings with their first attack, as Cribley raced on to a dreadful backward header from Sam Oji and forced James Wren into his first save of the evening with a superb point blank stop to turn the ball away for a corner kick

Three minutes later - after a break from his own half from Dwayne Wiley - the ball was fed to Jake Green, whose deep cross was headed back across goal by Harrad and into the net beyond a horribly exposed Wren

The Pitmen quickly shook off the disappointment of conceding early on, and as they had done at the weekend equalised soon after in fortuitous circumstances. Kris Taylor whipped in a free kick from thirty yards out, forcing Joe Doyle-Charles to head the ball past Phil Barnes in the Matlock goal and into the net to level matters on ten minutes

Playing on the counter attack with only one man up front, the Pitmen started to find space down the wings and found some joy through the willing running of Matt Dodd and Nadat. A long ball forwards rom Ben Bailey on fifteen minutes saw Nadat break down the left, crossing well for Dodd at the far post but watching as the winger turned his shot narrowly wide of goal

The Pitmen's oh-so-familiar defensive errors came back to the fore once again on twenty three minutes, as an individual error from youngster Jordan Wheatley gifted the hosts a chance to take the lead once again. After making an error in allowing a high ball to bounce past him, Wheatley desperately tired to atone for his error by chasing back and tangling with Rhys Sharpe, bundling the Matlock man over in the process and conceding a penalty. After Wheatley had been shown the yellow card, Sharpe dusted himself down to squeeze his penalty beyond the reach of Wren and restore Matlock's lead

Back came the Pitmen, with Nadat going close to a second equaliser on thirty-two minutes as Lawrie's free kick was headed onto the roof of the net by the diminutive striker

The tricky Dodd was getting plenty of joy down the Hednesford right wing against Green in the first half and almost forced an equaliser for the visitors on thirty-four minutes as he drove a shot in on goal that was well saved by Barnes

The Pitmen did get themselves back on terms toward the end of an entertaining first half, as Smith was brought down in the penalty area after another great run and shot from Dodd. In the absence of the benched Glover, Lawrie stepped up to take the penalty responsibilities and sent Barnes the wrong way for his first Hednesford goal

Half time saw the introduction of Lewis Wright into the game as the former Solihull man coming on in place of the hapless Wheatley, who had endured a tough first half. The away side had much the better of the opening exchanges, forcing Matlock into their own half for much of the first ten minutes. Dodd fired narrowly wide after some good work down he right, before Nadat forced Barnes into a smart save on fifty-two minutes after Wright's cross had found him unmarked

Neat build-up play from the Pitmen on fifty-six minutes saw the ball fed to skipper Tom Thorley, whose shot from range skewed horribly wide of goal as he hit it with the outside of his boot

As the Pitmen committed men forwards in search of a third goal, they left space at the back for Matlock to attack into. On the hour mark, a quick break out of their own half saw Darnell Bailey-King fire just over Wren's goal from the edge of the penalty area

Glover was given a chance to stretch his legs on sixty-eight minutes, with the striker coming on up front in place of the ineffective Nadat to lead the line for the final twenty minutes of a competitive encounter

A brilliant save by Wren denied the hosts a third goal on seventy two minutes as a swift break caught the Pitmen out down the left and resulted in Cribley squaring for Harrad, whose goal-bound shot was somehow cleared off the line by the leg of the Hednesford goalkeeper

Dodd was denied by two offside flags in quick succession, with the second one looking dubiously borderline as the winger looked to have timed his run perfectly as he raced on to Taylor's through ball

Matlock struck the killer blow with twelve minutes remaining, as Harrad had the final say in the game with his second goal of the game. Yet again, it was a defensive error that contributed to the Pitmen's downfall as Oji failed to clear his lines, allowing Harrad to control the loose ball and fire past Wren from close range

The final ten minutes saw both sides trade chances, with Glover firing wide from close range and Cribley testing Wren. Taylor incurred the wrath of the referee for talking out of turn and was followed into the book by Smith for a terrible challenge on Green

Tooth's final throw of the dice came with five minutes remaining as Jim Mutton came on in place of Lawrie. This saw Oji moving up front and Dodd switching wings, with Oji having a great chance to level matters on eighty-eight minutes but put his chance wide of goal after a scramble in the six yard box

So, much to ponder for Tooth and his team, even at this early point in the season. A lack of co-ordination in defence will be a concern, with an experienced left-back looking more and more of a priority as the games pass by. The likely introduction of Rodgers on Saturday will boost the ranks somewhat, but there is still a feeling that the squad lack variety and options up front. With Shaw Lane having lost their first two games, Saturday's game has plenty riding on it for both sides at this early juncture

Matlock Town: Barnes, DeGirolamo, Green, Doyle-Charles, Yates ©, Wiley, Bailey-King (Lloyd 75), Wilson (Blake 82), Harrad (Newsham 88), Cribley, Sharpe      Subs Unused: Rose, Hakeem

Hednesford Town: Wren, Wheatley (Wright 45 ), Ballinger, Oji, Taylor , Dodd, Thorley ©, Nadat (Glover 68), Smith  , Lawrie (Mutton 85)      Subs Unused: Melbourne, Veiga

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