BetVictor Southern Premier League Central

Hednesford Town

Hallahan (32), Glover (77) (penalty)

Lowestoft Town

Deeks (38) (penalty)

(1) 2

(1) 1



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Matt Curley



Coalville Town (A) 13.8.19

The Pitmen's return to the Southern Premier League is a successful one, as they edge out Lowestoft Town at the PRG Stadium @ Keys Park to make it a winning start to the new campaign

Another season of change at Hednesford had seen manager Gary Hayward rebuild is squad ahead of the club's lateral move back to the Southern Premier League, with Hayward naming five debutants in his starting line-up ahead of today's curtain raiser: Daniel Platt, Kieran Morris, Kristian Scott, Tom Elliott and Billy Daniels all made their first official starts for the club, with fellow new signing Joey Evans amongst an attack-minded substitute's bench. Danny Glover, Osebi Abadaki and Ben O'Hanlon had all returned to the club during the summer, with O'Hanlon starting at left-back and the attacking pair starting from the bench

Lowestoft - who had struggled at times in last season's inaugural Southern Premier League Central - made the long journey to Staffordshire following a summer of few changes for Jamie Goldbold's side, with the Trawler Boys manager making only four new signings during the summer months in the form of Louis McIntosh (Norwich City), Luis Tibbles (Bury Town), Miguel Lopez (Kirkley & Parkfield) and Kyle Richardson (Grimsby Town)

Backed by a crowd of just under 500, the Pitmen nearly made a flying start to their return to the Southern League with a glorious chance spurned by Brad Wells in the second minute of the game; Matt Curley's long, searching ball forwards caught out Lowestoft centre-back Adam Tann, who missed his clearance and allowed Wells clean through on goal. Debutant Tibbles spotted the danger early on and did well to smother the striker's shot from close range, although Wells should have been expected to find the net from the position he found himself in

A neat passing move, orchestrated by Kristian Scott's pass to Brad Wells, set the Pitmen on their way again in the eight minute as Wells' pass found Curley, whose deep cross was flicked on by Kieran Wells into the path of Tom Elliott. However, the talented midfielder's first-time volley flew high over the crossbar as he was pressured into a shot by Josh Curry

A minute later, a lofted, angled cross from Ben O'Hanlon was flicked into the path of Kieran Wells by brother Brad, only for Tann to do well in diverting the striker's snap-shot out for a corner kick

A succession of corner kicks followed, with a Scott corner eventually making it's way out to the feet of O'Hanlon, who was lurking on the edge of the Lowestoft penalty area. The former England U18 man made a pocket of space for himself before unleashing a powerful curling shot that dipped inches wide of Tibbles' far post when it looked like it was destined for the far corner of the net

Lowestoft's first chance came in the twelfth minute, as Jake Reed's persistence down the right saw him win the ball and lay it off to strike partner Shaun Bammant, whose low drive drifted wide of Daniel Platt's far post

A minute later, Platt was called upon to make his first save of the new season as a free-kick from the right was worked across the pitch and into the path of Dylan Williams, who played a quick one-two with Curry before firing in a shot at goal that Platt did well to smother at his near post

Kieran Wells was inadveredly handed a great chance to open the scoring midway through the half, as a quick free-kick from Elliott was played to skipper Ben Bailey on the edge of the penalty area. The centre-back's low drive deflected off a Lowestoft player and looped up into the air and into the path of Wells, who seemed to be caught unawares a little, hence his wild lob over the crossbar as he attempted to react to the looping ball

Four minutes later, Brad Wells was again guilty of wasting another clear sight at goal as he weakly headed a superb cross from Scott straight into the arms of Tibbles from a couple of yards out

The Pitmen finally made their persistence pay dividends on thirty two minutes, with an unlikely scorer opening the home side's account for the new season. A long throw from Bailey was flicked into the path of Jack Hallahan by a Lowestoft defender, with the midfielder taking a touch before firing home from twelve yards out

However, the visitors were handed a route back into the game through the Pitmen's complacency six minutes later, as Platt's lax kick out was seized upon by Jacek Zielonka, who exchanged passes with Reed before taking the ball into the Hednesford penalty area. Elliott tracked the midfielder all the way back into his own third and slid in to win the ball, seemingly taking the ball cleanly just outside the penalty area. However, Zielonka appeared to trip over the boot of Elliott as he made his way into the penalty area and was awarded a penalty for the second phase of the challenge - a little harsh on Elliott and the Pitmen, it seemed. Midfielder Connor Deeks stepped up and fired home the spot-kick, despite the best efforts of Platt to keep the ball out to his left hand side

In the final minute of the half, the referee Mr. Eley made another major incorrect decision as he booked Tann for a foul on Brad Wells after the striker was clean through on goal. On one hand, the argument was that Tann was the last man and should have been sent off to the letter of the law but on closer inspection the free-kick should have gone the other way for a foul on Tann by Wells as the pair tussled. Either way, it was an incorrect call by the official

Half-time saw Lowestoft regroup and emerge with more purpose, enjoying more of the possession in the early stages of the second half as they pressed the Pitmen with a higher line in midfield. However, it was Morris who was to have the first chance of the half, tamely firing into the arms of Tibbles after a Scott free-kick had been partially cleared to him by the Lowestoft defence

Platt made a fine save for the Pitmen on fifty-one minutes, palming away shot from Bammant from close range after the Pitmen had allowed the striker too much space in the penalty area to get his shot away

The lively Reed was guilty of wasted a glorious chance to take the lead a minute later as Bailey's slip let the striker in. Fortunately for the Hednesford skipper, Reed's shot was off target when he only had Platt to beat, scuffing well wide of goal

Morris and Bailey both looked to force a Scott corner home at the far post on fifty-eight minutes but got in each other's way, culminating in Morris nodding into the side-netting

With Kieran Wells still feeling the effects of a hamstring issue from pre-season, the Pitmen made their first change of the afternoon on fifty-nine minutes with the introduction fo Glover up front in place of the burly striker

Platt was again the Pitmen's saviour on the hour mark, making a fine stop to deny Reed after a neat piece of play down the Lowestoft right opened up the Pitmen once more and played the number one through on goal

A minute later, Evans was handed his full debut for the Pitmen as he replaced the disappointing Daniels, who had failed to impress on his debut after recently joining from Nuneaton Borough

The visitors continued to press, with Morris making a fine challenge to deny Bammant on seventy minutes to turn the ball behind for a corner kick after the striker had nipped in behind the Hednesford defence

Three minutes later, Bailey made an outstanding last-ditch challenge to deny Reed a certain goal after another defensive lapse had allowed the Lowestoft number nine a clear run in at goal

Glover - dropping back to help out his under-pressure defence - made a timely clearance off his own goal line on seventy-five minutes, denying Tann a goal after he had headed goalwards from a right-wing corner

The referee's overly-liberal approach to the game essentially won it for the Pitmen with thirteen minutes remaining, as he handed the hosts a soft penalty kick following a coming together between Brad Wells and Rossi Jarvis. Mr. Eley had no hesitation in pointing to the spot for a second time in the game, allowing Glover spot the ball and fire past Tibbles from the resultant kick, although Tibbles was unlucky not to keep the ball out after getting a hand to Glover's kick as it nestled into the corner of the net

With ten minutes remaining, the Pitmen looked to protect their slender lead with the introduction of a third centre-back as Charlie Gatter came on in place of Scott

Lowestoft continued to plug away as they looked for a way back into the game, winning a number of corner kicks on the right hand side to crank up the pressure on a nervy-looking Hednesford defence. One such cross on eighty-two minutes saw a shot from Zielonka saved well by Platt at his near post after the ball had been recycled out wide

Three minutes later, the Pitmen were handed an even bigger let-off as another corner kick from the right led to Tann's header being deflected onto the underside of the Hednesford crossbar before the ball was smuggled away by Gatter

This sparked the Pitmen back into life, as they played the final minutes on the counter attack looking to end the game as a contest with a third goal. Elliott lifted a shot high over the crossbar after being played in by Evans on eighty-six minutes, followed three minutes later by a shot from Hallahan that flew wide after he had done well to win the ball back in a dangerous area just outside the Lowestoft penalty area

Platt made another crucial save in the first minute of added time, as a deep free-kick from Deeks was headed goalwards by substitute Travis Cole, who could only head straight into the arms of the grateful Platt from close-range

It felt like bit of a let-off for the Pitmen at full-time, with the hosts barely deserving of the three points against a Lowestoft side that had done enough to earn themselves a point at least. There will be much to ponder for Hayward and assistant Mark Ward at both ends of the pitch as they move on to a tough round of away matches this week with trips to the much-fancied pair of Coalville Town and Stourbridge to test the Pitmen's resolve

Hednesford Town: Platt, Curley, O'Hanlon, Bailey ©, Morris, Scott (Gatter 80), Hallahan, Elliott, K. Wells (Glover 59), Daniels (Evans 61), B. Wells     Subs Unused: Abadaki, Reid


Lowestoft Town: Tibbles, Curry, J. Wilkinson (McIntosh 89), Jarvis ©, Tann , Deeks, Zielonka, Fisk, Reed, Bammant, Williams (Cole 67)      Subs: Blowers, Richardson, M. Wilkinson 


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