26.8.2017

Evo-Stik Northern Premier League

Hednesford Town

Glover (67)

Lancaster City

Steel (61)

(0) 1

(0) 1

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412

Jim Mutton

 D L L W D

Stafford Rangers (A) 28.8.17

The Pitmen remain unbeaten at Keys Park this season after their three games there, although two of those have now been similarly frustrating draws after today's point against newly promoted Lancaster City

 

Despite a morale-boosting win over Halesowen Town on Tuesday night, the Pitmen were subject to a change to their winning side, with right-back Lewis Wright unavailable due to a prior commitment. This saw Joe Ballinger restored to the starting line-up as an auxiliary left-back with Alex Melbourne moving across to right-back in a defensive reshuffle

 

Lancaster had made a great start to life back at step three after a spell away, winning one and drawing two of their first three games to put themselves in the top ten at the start of play. The Dolly Blues had earned themselves a fine point at Farsley Celtic on Tuesday night to move them up into sixth place in the table ahead of today's trip to South Staffordshire 

 

A tentative first fifteen minutes saw chances at a premium, with the defences on top. Jim Mutton was a mighty influence on the home side, thriving in central defence since his restoration to the side against Halesowen and playing with purpose and authority alongside Sam Oji

 

It was Mutton's central defensive partner Oji that was to have the first chance of the game on twelve minutes, heading a Kris Taylor corner kick narrowly wide of goal at the far post rather than test Lancaster keeper Josh Powell

 

A succession of corner kicks and free kicks from the Pitmen failed to effectively test the Lancaster defence, with the visitors holding firm relatively easily despite the industriousness of Kris Taylor and Tom Thorley

 

Lancaster's Scott Harries skied a shot high over the crossbar for the visitors on twenty-three minutes in a rare excursion into the Hednesford half that culminated in a through ball from Ryan Winder

 

Neat play from Ballinger created an opening for Nadat four minutes later, but the striker lifted his effort high over the crossbar as he leaned back to collect Ballinger's ball from twelve yards out

 

Youngster Devarn Green incurred the wrath of the referee on thirty-five minutes, picking up a yellow card for his second indiscretion in quick succession as he tried to win the ball back in midfield

 

Lancaster had a good chance to take the lead just before the break, as a Harries cross looped towards goal and required James Wren to watch the ball onto the roof of his net

 

In the final minute of the half, Powell made a superb save to deny Oji a certain goal, palming the big defender's header away from goal and watching as Rodgers lifted the rebound over the crossbar

 

The second half followed the same theme as the first during the opening stages, as both defences stood firm against limited attacks. Green went closest to adding to his goal on Tuesday night, picking up a Taylor corner and firing straight into a forest of legs in front of him. In the melee that followed, Dodd was unable to find Rodgers or Green and the chance was gone

 

Wren was equal to a Winder free kick on fifty-seven minutes, turning the midfielder's free-kick onto the crossbar and over for a Lancaster corner kick that failed to test the Hednesford number one as it drifted over the crossbar

 

The Dolly Blues made their brief spell of pressure count with the opening goal just after the hour mark as Winder sent over a corner that was headed onto the bar by striker Tom Kilfin. The ball fell kindly for defender Glenn Steel, who diverted the ball into the net through a crowd of with his head to give Lancaster the lead

 

The Pitmen made an instant change up front a minute later, with the disappointing Nadat replaced by the more physical presence of Danny Glover, much to the delight of the home crowd who were starting to run out of patience with Nadat's lack of goal threat

 

The lead only lasted six minutes, as the Pitmen struck back in the sixty-seventh minute through last season's top scorer Glover. A great run from Dodd saw him pull the ball back to Rodgers, whose mis-hit shot was turned home by Glover from six yards out with virtually his first touch of the game to equalise

 

The talented James Lawrie was introduced to the game to add creativity to the ranks on sixty-nine minutes, coming on in place of Green out wide as the Pitmen looked to push on and take the game to the game to the Dolly Blues now they had the momentum

 

Steel was alert at the other end of the pitch to deny Glover a certain goal on seventy-three minutes, clearing the striker's header off the line after Rodgers had found his strike partner. From the resultant corner, Ballinger, slightly off balance, headed a good chance to put the Pitmen ahead but headed wide of the far post

 

A half chance fell to skipper Thorley on seventy-seven minutes, but the midfielder pulled his shot wide of goal. A few moments later, Taylor teed up Ballinger once again with a great cross, but the centre back filling in at full back cleared the crossbar with his header

 

A half chance fell to skipper Thorley on seventy-seven minutes, but he drove his effort well wide of the far post as he failed to get a clean connection on the ball

 

The Pitmen made their final change of the afternoon with three minutes remaining as holding midfielder Lee Smith came on in place of the hardworking Rodgers, who had run himself into the ground

 

In the second minute of added time Lancaster went agonisingly close to winning it as Winder's corner kick was turned onto the post by Ricky Mercer, who stretched to reach the ball and narrowly fail to turn it home at the far post

A point earned, and earned well with the benefit of hindsight as Lancaster had proved to be difficult opponents, setting up like so many Northern League teams, - strong at the back, organised and a sprinkling of talent going forward. All eyes turn to Bank Holiday Monday now and the small matter of a Chase derby against Stafford Rangers at Marston Road, with both clubs looking for local bragging rights early in the season. For the Pitmen, a big improvement will be needed ahead of their shirt trip across the Chase based on today's uneven, patchy display

 

Hednesford Town: Wren, Melbourne, Ballinger, Taylor, Mutton, Oji, Dodd, Thorley ©  Nadat (Glover 61), Rodgers (Smith 87), Green (Lawrie 69)       Subs Unused: Bailey, Veiga

 

Lancaster City: Powell, Hudson, Dugdale, Steel, Clark, Mercer, Winder, Wills, Kilfin (Mayers 85), Tam (Craney 58), Harries (Wood 79)      Subs Unused: Bailey, Westwood

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