12.10.2019

BetVictor Southern Premier League Central

Hednesford Town

Elliott (8), Glover (17), (78) (penalty), Brown (87)

Royston Town

Adams (29)

(2) 4

(1) 1

Attendance

MoTM

Current Form

Next Match

491

 

Tom Elliott

 

W W L W W W W D W W

 

Bromsgrove Sporting (A) 15.10.19

The Pitmen returned to the top of the Southern Premier League Central table this afternoon after victory over Royston Town at the PRG Stadium @ Keys Park, although the scoreline flattered Gary Hayward's side somewhat after spending long periods of the game as second best to a spirited Royston side who were reduced to ten men in the second half

 

Last weekend's fine win over Vanarama National League North outfit Blyth Spartans had handed the Pitmen another home game in the F.A. Cup against Boston United, with the Pilgrims due to visit Staffordshire next weekend in the fourth qualifying round of the competition. However, it was back to league duty for Hayward's men, with a tough-looking double-header this week against tenth-placed Royston today and newly-promoted Bromsgrove Sporting in midweek. There was once change to the side that had started against Blyth, with the unwell Enoch Andoh being replaced by new signing Elliot Hodge, who had recently signed from Kettering Town. Fellow new signing Andre Brown - signed on a long-term loan from AFC Telford - made the substitutes bench to replace the now-departed Brad Wells

 

Royston had been one of the form teams of the early stages of the season, with Steve Castle's men having only lost two of their first ten games of the season. Castle - one of the longest-serving managers at this level with nearly six years at Garden Walk behind him - had made history last weekend after a 2-1 win over Beaconsfield Town had put Royston through to the last qualifying round fo the F.A. Cup for the first time in their history and a winnable home tie against BetVictor Isthmian League Division One North side Maldon & Tiptree. He made one change to the side that had triumphed last week against Beaconsfield, bringing in Gus Scott-Morriss in place of Josh Castiglione as Royston looked to move within two points of their hosts with a win

 

With Non-League day adding a few faces to the crowd of nearly 500, the hosts got off to a fine start to proceedings as top scorer Danny Glover tested Joe Welch in the third minute of the game with a scuffed low shot from the edge of the area that the Royston keeper fielded well

 

A minute later, Tom Elliott's inswinging free-kick from the Hednesford left wing was headed back across goal by Kieran Morris, but narrowly wide of the post

 

Hednesford's early pressure brought them reward for their endeavours in the eighth minute, as Griffiths made a fine run down the wing after exchanging passes with Hodge with a mazy run past two players. After getting himself into the penalty area, the left-back squared the ball to Elliott, who sidefooted the ball past Welch and into the roof of the net for his third goal of the season

 

Royston responded with a quick break down the left from skipper Jason Braithwaite in the eleventh minute, with the left-back's cross touched across the face of the Hednesford goal by Adam Murray but in no general direction of anyone in a red shirt before the Pitmen put the ball behind for a corner kick

 

From the resultant corner, the ball made its way out to Braithwaite, who was lurking to the left-hand side of the Hednesford penalty area. His rising shot from range was seen over by Daniel Platt, although his effort did clip the top of the crossbar as it flew into the Heath Hayes end of the ground

 

A fine piece of attacking play from the hosts opened up Royston once more in the seventeenth minute, as Matt Curley and James Hurts linked up to play Osebi Abadaki in down the right-wing. The in-form winger sent over a fine cross to the far post, where Glover was waiting to nod the ball into the empty net from a couple of yards out

 

Hodge almost marked his league debut with a spectacular strike on twenty minutes, as Hurst's deep cross was only headed out as far as the edge of the Ryston penalty area where Hodge was standing. He unleashed a first-time volley that flew narrowly wide of the left-hand post which, had it been on target, would have been a contender for goal of the season

 

It had been a fine opening quarter from the Pitmen, who had dominated the game up to this point. However, Hayward's side fell into the trap of being too comfortable in their surroundings and allowed complacency to creep into their game to let Royston back into the game. A long, aimless ball from Curley was to prove costly for the Pitmen on twenty-nine minutes, as his miscued ball was cut out by Ed Asafu-Adjaye and allowed Royston to break on a retreating Hednesford defence. Ben Bailey's cheap foul on Murray handed the Crows a free-kick, which was taken quickly by Danny Green to play Brandon Adams in on goal. The striker showed great assurance to turn past Griffiths and fire across Platt and into the far corner of the net to reduce the deficit

 

Another direct piece of play from the Pitmen three minutes later saw Bailey's long throw find the head of Morris once more, only for his central defensive partner to glance his header just wide of the far post

 

The influential Scott Bridges had Platt scrambling across his goal on thirty-three minutes as he fired a rising shot just over the crossbar from fully twenty-five yards out

 

Platt was indebted to Griffiths three minutes later to complete a clearance for the hosts after a shot from Claudio Ofosu had cannoned off the Hednesford keeper's torso and back into the danger zone, prompting Griffiths to make a last-ditch tackle to clear the ball away from the feet of Adams

 

Murray was shown the first yellow card of the game on thirty-eight minutes after a scrappy period of football culminated in the midfielder saying something out of term to the assiatant on the main stand side, prompting the referee Mr. Hall to caution him, something that would catch up with the player later on in the game

 

With half-time looming, Royston finished the half strongly as Adams broke clear of the Hednesford defence on forty-three minutes, only to scythe his effort well wide of goal after Griffiths had pushed him wide

 

A minute later, Adams did well to turn Morris inside the Hednesford penalty area and pull the ball back across the face of goal, only to find Bateman and Ofosu behind play and unable to take advantage of a fine cross into the six-yard box

 

In added time, Glover was presented with a fine chane to restore the Pitmen's two-goal lead as Hodge played him in on the left hand side of the penalty area, only for the seven-goal man to fire into the side netting from a slight angle

 

Hayward's half-time team talk seemingly fell on deaf ears at the start of the second period, as Royston continued to have the better of the play and chance to get back on level terms. The ever-present Murray was inches away from connecting with a Scott-Morriss free-kick with the first attack of the half, just failing to connect at the far post under pressure from Bailey

 

A rare counter from the Pitmen on forty-eight minutes saw Glover release Abadaki in behind the Royston defence, only for a combination of the winger getting the ball caught under his feet and persistent defending from Royston denied the Hednesford number eleven a clear shot at goal

 

Platt was on hand to deny Bridges two minutes later after Royston had broken down the right wing, smothering the midfielder's shot after initially scuffing his punch clear, before Morris blocked Murray's rebounded effort from twelve yards out

 

The away side were growing in confidence and continued to press a hesitant-looking Hednesford back line in search of an equaliser; another suspect punch from Platt - under pressure from Murray - fell as far as Adams on fifty-three minutes, whose shot from the peanlty spot was cleared off the line by Morris

 

To counter this flow of chances and to protect one of his players, Hayward made the decision on fifty-three minutes to take off winger Abadaki and bring on striker Brown as the hosts moved Hodge back into midfield and went with two strikers up top

 

An overhead kick from Glover forced a save out of Welch on fifty-seven minutes, connecting with the ball after Hurst's cross was not cleared by the Royston defence and making Welch pluck the goalbound shot out of the air

 

The positional shift appeared to work for the Pitmen, as they were able to get playmaker Elliott more involved in the game with their more narrow formation. A superb slalom-like run from Elliott on the hour mark saw him beat three players just inside the Royston penalty area before playing the ball back to Glover, whose rising effort clipped the outside of the post before going behind

 

Back came Royston, with a deep cross from Ofosu headed wide by the dangerous Adams on sixty-five minutes, before the Pitmen made their second change fo the afternoon as Kristian Scott returned to the side in place of the tiring Hodge in midfield

 

The game was to turn on it's head with fifteen minutes remaining, as Murray was shown a second yellow card after flattening Morris in the centre circle as the the pair challenged for a Braithwaite pass. The referee was left in no doubt that Murray had raised his arm to clatter Morris and promptly showed the midfielder another yellow and a subsequent red card

 

The Pitmen took full advantage of this by winning a penalty kick three minutes later; the excellent Elliott was at the heart of proceedings once again, playing a fine slide-rule pass into the feet of Scott, who had made a fine run from midfield to get in behind the Royston defence. As he attempted to take the ball past Welch, he was tripped by the Royston stopper, prompting the referee to award the Pitmen a penalty kick. Glover stepped up and doubled his afternoon's tally by firing past Welch to his right to make it eight for the season

 

Glover turned provider for Elliott on eighty-two minutes as he teed up the midfielder on the edge of the Royston penalty area, only for Welch to make a fine stop to deny Elliott a second goal of the afternoon

 

That was to proved Glover's final action of the day as he was taken off a moment later and replaced by Kieran Wells up front for the final few minutes of the game

 

The Pitmen were not done, however, and Brown was to cap another winning afternoon for the Pitmen with his first goal for the club on eighty-four minutes; Reece King slipped the ball into the feet of the loanee striker, who took a touch before firing across Welch and finding the far corner of the net to make it a flattering 4-1 to the Pitmen

 

So, with results going the way of the Pitmen today, Hednesford now sit two points clear at the top of the league table going into this round of midweek games. There is the possibility that the Pitmen could be sitting five points clear of their nearest rivals at the end of play on Tuesday night, setting themselves up nicely for the biggest game of the season to date next week when Boston come to town in the aforementioned F.A. Cup tie

  

Hednesford Town: Platt, Curley, Griffiths, Bailey ©, Morris, Hurst, Hodge (Scott 71), King, Glover (Wells 82), Elliott, Abadaki (Brown 53)    Subs Unused: Gatter, Fry

 

Royston Town: Welch, Scott-Morriss, Braithwaite © (Taylor 80), Bridges , Murray ▆ ▆ (75), Crowther (Martin 57), Asafu-Adjaye, Green (Joseph 61), Adams, Bateman, Ofusu.      Subs Unused: Costin, Joseph, Knight

 

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