17.8.2019

BetVictor Southern Premier League Central

Stourbridge

Hednesford Town

K. Wells (11), Glover (30), Abadaki (38)

(0) 0

(3) 3

Attendance

MoTM

Current Form

Next Match

588

Osebi Abadaki

W L W

 

Alvechurch (H) 24.8.19

The Pitmen shrug off Tuesday night's reverse at Coalville with a clinical first-half attacking display to shock early league leaders Stourbridge at a bright and sunny Amblecote this afternoon and claim their first away win of the new season

 

A tame showing for the majority of the game in midweek had left manager Gary Hayward with much to ponder on top of a number of injury concerns coming into today's tough-looking clash. Billy Daniels and Ben O'Hanlon were both ruled out after picking up significant injuries at Coalville, meaning a return to the starting XI for Osebi Abadaki and Matt Curley. Centre-back Louis Ezewele was promoted to the substitute's bench after missing out on the first two squads

 

Ian Long's new-look Stourbridge had justified the pre-season bookies' expectations in the first week of the new season with two wins from two going into today's game, beating Hitchin Town and Stratford Town to top the standings in the early season Southern League Central table. Long named two former Hednesford players in his starting line-up, with goalkeeper James Wren and striker Andre Landell both coming up against their former employers in a strong-looking Glassboys XI

 

A beautiful bright and sunny day greeted the players and near-600 fans who had turned up for today's game at kick-off, with the yellow-clad Pitmen making another strong start to the game. Wren was called upon to make a fantastic early save in the seventh minute to deny Kieran Wells as Abadaki's run past Kristian Green down the left wing saw him send over a cross that was headed goalwards by the striker, only for Wren to make a fine fingertip save to claw the ball away from goal at his far post

 

From the resultant Kristian Scott corner, the ball was rolled into the path of Jack Hallahan on the edge of the penalty area in an obvious training ground manoeuvre. Hallahan's low, sidefooted effort was inches away from finding the corner of the net, curling just wide of Wren's near post

 

With their next meaningful attack four minutes later, the Pitmen stole into the lead with a classic route one effort that caught the Stourbridge defence napping; Daniel Platt's goal-kick was headed into the path of Kieran Wells by Abadaki, who had nipped in behind the Glassboys defence. The burly striker struck a first-time shot across Wren and into the far corner of the net from just inside the Stourbridge area, nestling the ball into the corner of the net to open the scoring

 

A long throw from skipper Ben Bailey five minutes later caused confusion in the Stourbridge ranks once more as the ball bounced in the home side's six-yard box, with Danny Glover inches away from heading home at the back post before Stour cleared their lines

 

A flurry of yellow cards followed in the following few minutes, with Ash Carter booked for the hosts and Hallahan and Kieran Wells both picking up yellow cards for the Pitmen as the game entered a scrappy period in midfield

 

Stourbridge responded with a glorious chance to level matters on twenty-six minutes, as a corner kick dropped at the feet of Greg Mills in the six-yard box. The former Derby County man had two swipes at the ball, with Green also trying to force the ball home, but somehow the Pitmen remained resolute and cleared their lines with Scott hacking the loose ball off the line

 

Having already found a way through the Stour defence with one long ball forwards, Platt once again turned the unlikely provider for the away side on the half-hour mark, as his long goal kick once again caught the Stourbridge centre-backs ball-watching. The in-form Glover - with two goals already to his name this season - took full advantage of the indecision to nip in and lift the ball over former team-mate Wren and find the net once more to double the Pitmen's lead

 

Neat build-up play from the hosts on thirty-four minutes saw them break down the right through Will Grocott, whose clever pass found Landell in the Hednesford penalty area. However, the former Rushall man's effort was neither a shot in anger nor a cross, as he only succeeded in dragging the ball well wide of Platt's far post and out for a throw-in

 

The Pitmen continued to look a threat on the break, with Abadaki handing left-back Jordaan Brown a lesson in wing play through constant probing and powerful running. The mercurial winger was on hand to grab the Pitmen's third goal of an outstanding half on thirty-eight minutes, as he raced onto a slide-rule pass from Kieran Wells to once again get the better of the hapless Carter and slot past Wren from sixteen yards out

 

The Hednesford fans that had made the short journey were delighted at their team's clinical nature as the half-time break rolled round, if a little surprised at Stourbridge's lack of competitiveness in a game that was earmarked as one of their toughest of the early clashes. Long made two changes to his side at the break, with the out-of-sorts Carter perhaps unsurprisingly replaced by Zac Foster and Grocott being withdrawn for new signing Mitch Botfield

 

The hosts were stronger at the start of the second period as expected, although former Halesowen keeper Platt frustrated his former local rivals with a fine display of goalkeeping to keep the Pitmen in front during the early stages of the half. A low cross from Botfield on forty-nine minutes found Mills unmarked at the near post, but Platt was equal to the striker's shot by turning the ball away from goal with his legs

 

A minute later, Scott's out-swinging corner for the visitors found the head of Kieran Wells, whose looping effort was tipped over the bar by Wren as the ball threatened to drop over his head and into the net 

 

Platt made another fine save for the Pitmen on fifty-two minutes, smothering a cross-cum-shot from Mills at his near post before Landell could seize upon the loose ball from close range

 

A speculative long-range effort from centre-back Tom Turton forced Platt into another save four minutes later, tipping the defender's curling shot over the crossbar for a corner kick

 

After suffering a knock in midfield following a robust challenge, Glover was taken off to generous applause from the Hednesford supporters on sixty-seven minutes as a precaution and was replaced by Brad Wells up front. Landell had earlier been replaced by the home side, who had brought on the physical presence of former Stratford striker Michael Taylor in his place

 

A corner kick from the hosts on sixty-eight minutes very nearly conjured up a response from them, as Taylor glanced a header goalwards but was denied by the underside of the crossbar before Green headed the rebound wide of goal after Stourbridge had rescued the ball once more

 

More bookings followed for the frustrated hosts, with Dave Bellis and Taylor both shown yellow cards for silly fouls that could have been avoided as Hednesford started to play for time

 

With time ticking away and the job nearly done, the Pitmen made their second change of the afternoon with seven minutes remaining as Charlie Gatter came on for the intuitive Scott to add another body to the defence for the final minutes

 

With two minutes remaining, Abadaki was given a standing ovation by the Hednesford supporters as he was substituted for Izak Reid, with the fans showing their appreciation for the winger's fine display with high-fives all round for the former Stafford and Witton man

 

Stourbridge could not find a way through to grab even a consolation goal, with their luck summed up in the final minute of the game as Brown's long-range effort clipped the outside of the post before flying out of play for a goal kick

 

It had been a fine team display from the Pitmen, who had shown plenty of character to recover from Tuesday night's defeat to hand Stour their first defeat of the new season with a fine attacking performance. There is a full week's break for Hednesford to get their walking wounded back to full fitness ahead of another tough game at home to last season's play-off finalists Alvechurch next weekend as they look to maintain their 100% home record so far this term

 

Stourbridge: Wren, Green, Brown, Turton, Williams, Carter (Foster 45), Bellis , Grocott (Botfield 45), Landell (Taylor 60 ), Finn, Mills      Subs Unused: Price, Winwood

 

Hednesford Town: Platt, Curley, Griffiths, Bailey ©, Morris, Scott (Gatter 83), Hallahan ▆ , Abadaki (Reid 88), Glover (B. Wells 67), Elliott, K. Wells ▆      Subs Unused: Ezewele, Truslove

 

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