21.9.2019

F.A. Cup 2nd Qualifying Round

Hednesford Town

Hurst (44), (53), King (90)

 

Barwell

Omotola (7), Hickey (61)

(1) 3

(1) 2

Attendance

MoTM

Current Form

Next Match

393

James Hurst

W L W W W L W W W W

 

AFC Rushden & Diamonds (H) 28.9.19

The Pitmen are through to Monday's draw for the third qualifying round of the F.A. Cup, but were made to work hard for it by league rivals Barwell in a classic topsy-turvy cup tie that had everything you could wish - goals, red cards, penalty misses and late drama

 

The Pitmen's recent fine form had lifted them to the top of the Southern Premier League Central in midweek courtesy of a fine 2-0 win over Banbury United. Manager Gary Hayward made one enforced change to the side that had started on Tuesday night, bringing Danny Glover back into the XI in place of the injured Kristian Scott after the midfielder had limped out fo the Banbury game at half-time. Hayward also included new signing Enoch Andoh, having secured the signature of the Ghana U20 International ahead of this afternoon's game

 

Barwell had made a steady start to their Southern Premier League Central campaign, sitting in mid-table after three wins, one draw and four defeats from their first eight games. The Canaries had beaten AFC Mansfield in the previous round to set up today's all step three clash, naming former Hednesford men Tristian Dunkley and Joey Evans amongst their substitutes for today's game that would earn the winners £6,750 and a chance to play for over £11,000 in the next round

 

The final flourishes of summer continued to hang around Keys Park this afternoon, with many fans in shirt sleeves for probably the final time in a while as the temperatures look set to turn in the next few weeks. The visitors started assertively and opened the scoring in the seventh minute with their first real shot in anger; a neat spell of play down the left wing saw Sam Hollis link up with Omotolani Omotola to play the ball into the path of Brady Hickey, whose clever pass put Omotola in behind the Hednesford defence. The big striker took a touch before firing confidently past Daniel Platt in the Pitmen's goal to score the first goal against the Pitmen in nearly 360 minutes of play

 

The home side responded with a move down the right-wing on ten minutes that involved Matt Curley and James Hurst, culminating in a fine cross from Hurst that was headed behind by Steve Towers before Kieran Morris could turn the ball home. The Pitmen won three successive corner kicks as they ramped the pressure up on the Barwell defence, with the final one from Tom Elliott eventually finding Kieran Wells free in the six-yard box only for Thomas Bannatyne-Bilson in the Barwell goal to make a smothering save at his near post

 

An optimistic cross from Kieran Wells on twenty minutes almost forced Jayden Cotterill into conceding an own goal, as the right-back's attempts to cut out the cross saw him scuff the ball towards his own goal and was bailed out by a save from Bannatyne-Bilson

 

Another series of corner kicks followed for the Pitmen on twenty-six minutes, with Hurst going agonisingly close to levelling matters with a looping far post header that was cleared off the line by Barwell midfielder Dom Brown-Hill. The ball was eventually played out to Osebi Abadaki, whose tricky run and shot saw him force Bannatyne-Bilson into a save down at his near post

 

Elliott tried his luck with a dipping shot from the edge of the penalty area on the half-hour mark after yet another corner kick had been headed back out to him to give him the chance to cut inside and try his luck from range

 

Great wing play from Abadaki on thirty-two minutes saw the Hednesford number eleven send over a fine cross to the far post and into the path of Kieran Wells, whose flick header drifted wide of goal

 

Brown-Hill was the first player go into the referee's book on thirty-eight minutes for a poor late challenge on Abadaki in midfield that left the referee Mr Nelson no option but to show the Barwell number seven a yellow card that was to cost him dearly later on in the game

 

More set-pieces followed for the hosts, who had enjoyed the majority of possession and the territorial advantage but had struggled to find their way past the Barwell defence which had been well marshalled by former Halesowen man Henry Eze to this point. However, one piece of Abadaki magic with a minute left in the first half saw the winger show great persistence to win the ball back on the left wing before sending over an inch-perfect cross for Hurst, whose header back across goal found the corner of the net for his second goal of the week and the Pitmen's equaliser

 

Centre-back Eze could count himself lucky to remain on the pitch just before half-time as he was shown a yellow card and given a stern dressing-down by the referee after appearing to headbutt Ben Bailey as the pair challenged for a high ball inside the Hednesford penalty area

 

The visitors were forced into a change at the half-time break, as injured right-back Cotterill was replaced by Jamie McAteer for the start of the second half

 

The hosts started the second half on the front foot after another distinctly average first-half showing, with Hurst's fine cross-field ball headed narrowly wide by Kieran Wells a couple of minutes after the restart

 

The visitors were reduced to ten men on fifty-three minutes, as Brown-Hill was shown a second yellow card after bringing down Elliott wide on the Hednesford right-wing as the midfielder escaped the attentions of his opponent. The player can have no arguments about either caution as Barwell looked to regroup ahead of an Elliott free-kick

 

From the resultant kick, Elliott's ball in was flicked on by Morris and into the path of Hurst, who did brilliantly to fire through a forest of legs with a first-time volley from an angle that flew into the net to put the Pitmen into the lead for the first time in the game

 

Barwell responded to the double blow of the red card and goal by sending Evans on against his former club in midfield, with the ex-MK Dons man replacing Hollis

 

Despite the numerical advantage, the Pitmen undid all their good work by conceding a sloppy equaliser to Barwell skipper Hickey on sixty-one minutes; a long, hopeful ball over the top from Eze caught Platt and Morris out, allowing Omotola to nip in and win the ball ahead of the Hednesford keeper. Despite Platt getting a fist on the ball to divert it away from Omotola's head, the ball landed kindly for Hickey, who hooked the ball into the empty net from twelve yards out to level matters once more

 

The frustrated Pitmen made their first change of the afternoon on sixty-nine minutes, as the disappointing Glover was taken off in place of new boy Andoh, meaning a reshuffle up front that saw Kieran Wells moved up front and Andoh playing down the right flank

 

Andoh was straight into the action, providing a cross on seventy-two minutes that eventually fell at the feet of Reece King, whose wild swipe at the ball saw him fire high over the crossbar

 

A deep cross from Sam Griffiths on seventy-six minute found the head of King once more, but his diving header was deflected away from goal by the dependable Eze

 

A neat, patient spell of build-up play from the hosts on eighty-one minutes saw Abadaki send over another fine ball from the wing to find the diminutive figure of Andoh, who did well to defy his 5ft 5" frame and beat Eliot Putman to the cross but headed wide of goal

 

The final minutes were frantic and befitting an F.A. Cup tie, as the game became stretched and both teams took chances as they looked to avoid the dreaded Tuesday night replay at Kirkby Road. Andoh again got his head to a cross on eighty-seven minutes, diverting Elliott's corner wide of the far post

 

With a minute remaining, the hard-working Kieran Wells was brought off and replaced by his brother Brad as the Pitmen made their second substitution of the afternoon as they went in search of a late winner

 

With his first touch, Brad Wells almost found a winner for the Pitmen as Hurst's long ball caught out Eze and allowed Wells to bundle his way into a goalscoring position, only to be denied by a near-post stop from Bannatyne-Bilson

 

The game drifted into it's second minute of added time when the Pitmen got the all-important winner, as Hurst's lofted cross to the far post was not cleared by the Barwell defence to allow King to seize upon the loose ball and fire past Bannatyne-Bilson from ten yards out to spark wild celebrations on and off the pitch

 

With the crucial third goal in the bag, the Pitmen brought on Charlie Gatter for the remaining moments to see out the game in added time as the centre-back replaced Elliott

 

And yet there was still time for more drama, as the Pitmen won a penalty in the fourth minute of added time. Andoh was involved again, as he picked up a bouncing ball and ran clear of the retreating Barwell defence, only for his run to be ended by a foul on him by Bannatyne-Bilson. The referee awarded the Pitmen a penalty kick, which Hurst - on a hat-trick - scuffed badly and allowed the Barwell keeper to make a fairly comfortable stop down to his left-hand side

 

It had been a rollercoaster ride of an afternoon for all in attendance, and no doubt a fine game for any neutral to watch. The Pitmen can now look forward to the draw with confidence and will have no concerns over the level of opposition on current form having now won eight of their ten games this season. It's a return to league duty next Saturday, as Hednesford welcome fellow high-flyers AFC Rushden & Diamonds to the PRG Stadium @ Keys Park in a game that should attract plenty of attention

 

Hednesford Town: Platt, Curley, Griffiths, Bailey ©, Morris, K. Wells (B. Wells 89), Hurst, King, Glover (Andoh 69), Elliott (Gatter 90+4), Abadaki    Subs Unused: Fry, Daniels, Ezewele, Veiga

 

Barwell: Bannatyne-Bilson, Cotterill (McAteer 45), Putman, Percival, Eze  , O'Sullivan (Edwards 65), Brown-Hill  ▆ (53), Hollis (Evans 56), Omotola, Hickey ©, Towers       Subs Unused: Thomas, Dunkley

 

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