19.10.2019

 

F.A. Cup 4th Qualifying Round

Hednesford Town

Boston United

Thanoj (37)

(0) 0

(1) 1

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Tom Elliott

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Redditch United (H) 22.10.19

Hednesford Town exit the F.A. Cup at the fourth qualifying round this afternoon, as Vanarama National League North side Boston United ease past their step three opponents to make it into Monday's first-round draw with victory at the PRG Stadium @ Keys Park

 

The hosts returned to cup duty off the back of a poor defeat on the road at mid-table Bromsgrove Sporting in midweek, with Gary Hayward's side handed a lesson in finishing by their hosts in a game to forget for the Pitmen. Hayward made two changes to the side that had started on Tuesday night for this afternoon's tie, with Osebi Abadaki passed fit to replace the out-of-sorts Enoch Andoh out on the wing and Izak Reid handed a surprise start in place of the cup-tied Elliot Hodge

 

Play-off chasing Boston had a made a decent start to the National League North campaign, sitting in eighth place ahead of today's game. Manager Craig Elliott had rebuilt the Pilgrims squad in the summer after an inconsistent 2018-2019 campaign, adding considerable higher league experience to his ranks with signings such as Peter Crook, Simon Ainge and Jordan Thewlis. Top scorer Thewlis - signed from National League Harrogate Town in the summer - was only fit enough to take his place amongst the substitutes, meaning his former Harrogate strike partner Dominic Knowles started up top with the pacy Jay Rollins supporting him

Rollins was an early influence on the game, giving Sam Griffiths plenty to think about with his direct running and looking to cross at every opportunity. Three successive corner kicks from the away side the opening three minutes showed their intention to win the game at the first time of asking, rather than rely on taking the Pitmen back to the soon to be demolished York Street for a replay on Tuesday night

 

The visitors were dealt an early blow, however, as they were forced into making a substitution in the sixth minute with loanee Lewis Gibbens forced off after a clash with Danny Glover in the Boston half. After struggling on for a couple of minutes, Gibbens was replaced by Ben Middleton

Another good run from Rollins saw him play Brad Abbott in for Boston in the ninth minute, only for Daniel Platt to make a strong save at his near post to deny the midfielder

James Hurst - unusually off his game on Tuesday night - was first to strike a shot in anger for the hosts a minute later, firing narrowly wide of the post after Glover's initial shot from a free-kick had been blocked by the Boston wall

A mazy run from Abadaki four minutes later was halted illegally by skipper Ainge, handing Elliott a chance to strike at goal with another free-kick. The midfielder's shot was low and on target, prompting Crook to make a fine save low down to his left and tip the ball away from goal

Successive corner kicks from the visitors once again caused problems for the Hednesford defence, as two excellent deliveries right into the danger zone were just about dealt with by Ben Bailey and his defenders. One such effort was turned around his own post by Glover on nineteen minutes, denying Tom Platt a headed opportunity

A neat piece of play from Rollins on twenty-two minutes saw him get the better of both Bailey and Griffiths with some neat keepy-uppy skills, only to blot his copybook with a fresh-air swipe at a shot from the edge of the penalty area. Boston did well to retain possession, however, with Platt forced into a save low down to deny Andi Thanoj from range

A superb run from Abadaki on twenty-six minutes saw him muscle his way past three challenges before unleashing a superb effort that Crook did well to tip away for a corner. Great effort, fine save

A patient passage of play from the Pitmen seven minutes later saw them build up a spell of pressure down the left-wing, culminating in a cross from Abadaki that was headed just wide by Kieran Morris at the far post

The Pitmen were their own worst enemies in handing Boston a great opportunity to test Platt on thirty-seven minutes, as Matt Curley and Bailey tried to play their way out of defence that left Bailey making a poor challenge on Abbott right on the edge of the Hednesford penalty area as he looked to clear his lines. Thanoj took the resultant free-kick and produced a wonderful effort that dipped over the Hednesford wall at into the corner of the net for his first Boston goal to give the step two side the lead

The Pitmen were forced into a change just before half-time, as Griffiths pulled up holding the back of his right leg after making a run down the flank to deny Rollins a chance to cross. Tom Fry came on in his place which saw a reshuffle of the side as Curley moved across to left-back and Reid dropped to right-back to deputise

The Pitmen felt that they had a clear shout for a penalty kick with the first real chance of the second half, as Fry's through ball to Elliott appeared to clearly strike the hand of Martyn Woolford as he closed Elliott down. Despite this, the referee was unimpressed with the home side's claims and played on

 

Three minutes later, Crook's long kick was flicked on by Knowles and into the path of Rollins, who fired narrowly wide of Platt's near post from the corner of the penalty area

The away side had started the half well, quelling any response from the hists by playing on the front foot and keeping the Pitmen pinned in their own third as the extra quality and experience started to show from Boston. A corner kick on fifty-six minutes was close to being headed home at the far post by Ainge, only for Bailey to snuff out the danger and clear

Fry did well to engineer a chance for himself three minutes later, twisting and turning on the edge of the area to pick up Glover's flick-on but fired high over the crossbar as he got his boot underneath the ball

Boston's excellent organisational skills, particularly in defence, essentially nullified the game for much of the remainder of the second half, with Crook and his defenders easing the Pitmen out of the contest through a combination of strength and know-how. Crook did well to field a number of long, diagonal balls forward from the hosts, as they resorted to aimless balls into the space behind the Boston defence for the likes of Abadaki, Glover and Elliott to run onto without much luck

With the game rapidly slipping away from the Pitmen in the final minutes, Hayward made his second change of the afternoon with five minutes left as Kieran Wells came on in place of Glover in a like-for-like swap up front

A late rally from the Pitmen saw them push for what would have been a barely-deserved equaliser, with Bailey somehow failing to turn Elliott's cross goalwards with two minutes remaining as Boston held firm

 

 Boston it is then who qualify for the first round proper draw on Monday, as they side-stepped this potential banana skin with relative ease against a spirited and hardworking, but ultimately limited, Hednesford side. In many ways, this was a similar game to many of last season's early home games, as the Pitmen huffed and puffed their way through ninety minutes but were undone by a single goal and simply lacked the quality and knowhow to break down the opposition. They have a perfect opportunity to get back on track on Tuesday night with a return to league action against struggling Redditch United at the PRG Stadium @ Keys Park 

 

Hednesford Town: Platt, Curley, Griffiths (Fry 44), Bailey ©, Morris, Hurst, Reid, King, Glover (Wells 85 ), Elliott, Abadaki    Subs Unused: Gatter, Hallahan, Scott, Veiga, Daniels

 

Boston United: Crook, Jackson, Whittle, Platt, Gibbens (Middleton 6), Ainge ©, Thanoj, Abbott , Knowles ▆ (Tuton 90), Woolford (Wafulu 80), Rollins       Subs Unused: Walker, Adebayo-Smith, Thewlis, Willis

 

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