7.4.2010

Zamaretto Southern Premier League

Swindon Supermarine

Hednesford Town

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131

Liam Francis

L W W W W L W W W W

Chippenham Town (A) 10.4.10

Hednesford's push towards the play-offs is dealt a blow this evening, as they failed to take one of a number of excellent opportunities that dropped to them against a Swindon Supermarine side still not safe from relegation

Bernard McNally was forced into one change to the side that had mauled Rugby Town on Saturday, with Decio Gomes not fit enough to take part. McNally had successfully negotiated a fresh loan deal with Crewe Alexandra for Cheyenne Dunkley after the youngster's exceptional spell on loan earlier in the year, with the teenager replacing Gomes for tonight's clash. Ross Dyer also returning to the side with Dorryll Proffitt moved into midfield to allow Dyer to return up front alongside Tyrone Barnett

Swindon returned to Hardenhuish Park having picked up a crucial three points in their battle against the drop on Bank Holiday Monday at local rivals Didcot Town. Under-pressure manager Mark Collier stuck with the same side for tonight's re-arranged game, hoping that a settled XI could earn them one of the two or three wins required to confirm their participation at step three for 2010-2011

On a cold, dry night in Wiltshire, the Pitmen were presented with a bumpy, hard pitch upon their arrival. This was to play its part in the game, with the ball bouncing high off the pitch and over players' heads at inopportune moments

The Pitmen made a great start to the game, pushing forward early on as they looked for an early goal. Sean Platt's cross was met by Dyer, who managed to get there ahead of Swindon keeper Matt Bulman and head the ball into the path of Barnett. However, the ball had too much spin on it and Hednesford's top scorer just failed to get a touch on the ball

New boy Matty Wood went close on seven minutes, taking the ball into space before firing a yard wide of goal with a long-range shot despite the attentions of a covering Swindon defender

Adam McGurk, who has taken on the mantle of free-kick expert off Elliott Durrell in the latter's absence, gave Bulman a fright on fifteen minutes, whipping in a dangerous free-kick that had the Swindon number one scrambling across goal, but his shot lacked accuracy and dropped just wide of goal

Barnett and Dyer were keeping the home defence busy with their pace and movement, with Dyer heading inches wide of goal after getting to Dunkley's dipping free-kick on twenty-six minutes

Liam Francis should have opened the scoring two minutes later, somehow failing to force the ball home from close range after Barnett's deflected header had fallen into the big defender's path

The pair were involved again just before half-time, with Francis this time supplying Barnett with a towering header that dropped at his feet, but Barnett failed to test Bulman with a poor effort from close range

Swindon had offered very little in terms of an attacking threat throughout the first half, with the Pitmen's back three looking solid as a rock. Francis in particular was looking more and more an inspired signing by McNally

McGurk was quickly into the action just after half-time, testing Bulman with a weak shot from twelve yards that was easily saved

Bulman was becoming a busy man as the half developed, saving Swindon again on fifty-five minutes by stretching full length to turn Dyer's venomous shot away for a corner kick

Bulman was finally beaten to the ball five minutes later, flailing at a Ben Bailey cross and allowing Barnett to nip in with a header, but watched on as the ball dipped just over the bar

Finally, Swindon offered a sporadic threat, with Chris Taylor breaking away from the Pitmen's back line for the first time. However, as he approached the area, a last-ditch tackle from skipper Platt denied him as he shaped to shoot

Dyer had the ball in the net on seventy-two minutes, side-footing home after he had beaten Bulman to the ball. However, the referee, who made a number of poor decisions all evening, disallowed the goal for an alleged foul by Dyer on the keeper in the build-up

Swindon's Sam Morris could have given the home side an unexpected lead sixty seconds later, breaking clear of the defence, but panicking under pressure at the crucial moment and firing over Stuart Brock's crossbar as Dunkley pressurised him

The Pitmen continued to tot up the chances in the final quarter; Barnett was again frustrated by Bulman, with the keeper smothering the striker's shot on seventy-four minutes, closely followed by Josh Craddock's marauding run and shot that Bulman turned over the crossbar

Proffitt was next to test Bulman, who was working overtime for the hosts. Barnett's turn and clever angled ball played in the former Manchester City player, but Bulman again excelled himself with a save low down

McGurk's eightieth-minute free-kick found Barnett lurking once more, but his misdirected header was way off target on this occasion

The final five minutes saw the Pitmen desperately trying to force the ball home, with the Swindon goal leading a charmed life. Platt's free-kick on eighty-five minutes found McGurk unmarked close in, but his header came back off the crossbar before being hacked away for a corner. From the resultant kick, Francis missed the target with a firm header, heading inches over

In the final minute, another cross swung into the Swindon penalty area was misjudged by Bulman, as he and Craddock went up for the ball. Bulman's weak punch sent the ball spinning towards goal, with the ball bouncing off the top of the crossbar and out of play

There was just enough time for Barnett to climb highest to meet Wood's cross and direct the ball towards goal, but stout defending saw the ball hacked off the line via a fingertip save from Bulman

A hugely frustrating evening for all in white, and whilst a point is by no means a disaster for the Pitmen, they will want to avoid many more blanks such as this between now and the end of the season. Incredibly, neither side elected to make a substitution during the ninety minutes of the game, despite the games coming thick and fast and many sides electing to rotate where possible. It is a return to this part of the world for the Pitmen on Saturday as they make another journey to Wiltshire to face Swindon's local rivals Chippenham Town at Hardenhuish Park

Swindon Supermarine: Bulman, Lapham, D. Allen, C. Allen, Hobbs, Hogan, Cook, Morris, Hopper, Taylor ©, Stanley       Subs Unused: Robinson, Bampton, Collier

Hednesford Town: Brock, Platt ©, Wood, Bailey, Francis, Dunkley, Proffitt, Craddock , Barnett, Dyer , McGurk      Subs Unused: Chapman, Clements, Martin, Gibson