20.7.2019

Pre-Season Friendly

Hednesford Town

Elliott (24)

Darlaston Town

(1) 1

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(0) 0

Attendance

MoTM

Current Form

Next Match

219

Kristian Scott

W L W W W

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Gresley (H) 23.7.19

A mix-and-match Hednesford side made it three wins in a row for the club in the past week as they saw off the challenge of West Midlands Premier League new boys Darlaston Town to record another win without conceding a goal to make it four wins out of five so far in pre-season

Following on from last night's narrow win over Leicester City, assistant manager Mark Ward - still standing in for the hospital-bound Gary Hayward - made a raft of changes to the squad for today's encounter, just twenty hours after they had played on the same pitch against the young Foxes side. Daniel Platt was the only player to start both games between the sticks for the Pitmen as he went looking for a third successive clean sheet since making his debut against Bangor City last weekend. Teenagers Fin Ballentyne, CJ Taylor, Carter Lycett and Ollie Waddison were handed full debuts by Ward, who was still able to name a fairly strong side despite the game last night as he brought Kristian Scott, Kieran Morris, captain for the day Louis Ezewele, Tom Elliott, Osebi Abadaki and Liam Truslove back into the starting XI

Darlaston - promoted back to step five last term after winning the West Midlands League Division One in 2018-2019 - arrived at the PRG Stadium @ Keys Park having had their pre-season programme checked with a 4-2 defeat to Willenhall Town last week. Manager Andy Parkes named former Hednesford left-back Isaac Cooper amongst his substitutes in the one familiar face to the Hednesford supporters attending this afternoon's game

Young right-back Ballentyne was straight into the action for the home side, creating an opening for Abadaki in the fourth minute; brushing aside a challenge from Ryan Jones, the teenager did well to pull the ball back into the path of Abadaki, who took a couple of touches before lifting his shot over the crossbar

The talented Elliott was denied a clear shot on goal for the Pitmen three minutes later, as a quick break down the right wing from the Pitmen saw Waddison do well to bring the ball inside and play a low ball into the Darlaston penalty area. Last-ditch defending from Darlaston number five Lucas Hough took the ball off the toes of Elliott, diverting the ball into the arms of visiting keeper Liam Whitaker and denying the former Nuneaton man a tap-in

A great cross from Waddison forced an error out of Jones in the eleventh minute, sending over a deep cross that the left-back struggled to deal with before putting it behind for a Hednesford corner

The Pitmen finally found a way through the Darlaston defence midway through the first-half, with a touch of fortune attached to the one and only goal of the game; Elliott did well to hustle for the ball and win it just outside the Darlaston penalty area. His goal bound shot lacked power, but seemed to catch Whitaker unawares as the keeper fumbled what appeared to be a simple save into his own net to hand Elliott his first goal for Hednesford

 

Back came the visitors, with Platt making a regulation save on the half-hour to claim a low shot from Darlaston's Zico Agyemang as he tried his luck from the edge of the Hednesford penalty area

Abadaki was a constant threat to the Darlaston defence with his clever, direct running, but lacked the killer instinct up front as a winger playing out of position to put away the chances that were to fall his way throughout the course of the game

Truslove was again willing to take post-shots from long-range, lifting a shot high over the crossbar on thirty-five minutes as the first-half started to tail off in terms of both quality and chances

Ward got in amongst his players at the half-time break, sending them out with a more assertive attitude at the start of the second half. An early corner kick from the impressive Kristian Scott found the head of Morris, whose powerful header bounced off the top of the crossbar and behind

The Pitmen's bright start continued with Abadaki firing into the side netting two minutes later after he had cut in from the left wing and let fly from fifteen yards out, slightly at a narrow angle

On fifty-two minutes, Abadaki forced Whitaker into a fine save after the ball had bounced his way in behind the Darlaston defence, drilling in a low shot that the visiting keeper turned away at his near post. The rebound fell to Truslove, whose goal-bound shot from the edge of the penalty area was hacked off the line by Alex Soloman

Another long-range effort from Truslove saw the midfielder fire another low shot narrowly wide of the right-hand post on the hour mark after he had been played in by Waddison

The Pitmen's first substitution of the game came at this point, with teenager Sam Cartwright the latest youngster to be handed a debut as he replaced Taylor in midfield

Waddison - growing in confidence despite being the youngest player on the pitch - laid the ball back into the path of Abadaki on sixty-four minutes, with the winger-cum-striker striking his first-time shot over the crossbar

A flowing counter-attack from the Pitmen on sixty-nine minutes saw Abadaki and substitute Cartwright link up to put Waddison through on goal, only for the youngster to strike a weak shot straight into the hands of Whitaker with the goal at his mercy

Scott went close to scoring direct from a corner kick on seventy-one minutes, delivering a fine inswinging ball that almost caught Whitaker about at his far post before drifting narrowly wide of goal

A poor kick out by Whitaker almost gifted Abadaki a goal with fifteen minutes remaining, playing a simple ball straight into the path of the experienced step three player. Again, however, Abadaki showed his lack of clinical nature in front of goal, firing agonisingly wide of goal from twelve yards out

The visitors - for all of their effort and workrate - had offered next-to-nothing going forwards, but did have a fine chance to level the game on seventy-nine minutes. A deep corner kick found the head of Leon Taylor, whose goal bound effort was well saved by Platt on his goal line

Abadaki's game ended with eight minutes remaining, as he was replaced by teenager Josh Lewis up front after a frustrating afternoon for the former Stafford and Witton man that had seen him fail to add to his two goals so far in pre-season

With a couple of minutes remaining, three more youth team players were handed late appearances by Ward as Jack Humphries replaced Platt in goal, Jack Snoddy came on for Ballentyne and Jude Jones replied Morris at the back

 

An afternoon to remember for the debutants of Hednesford, who will be motivated to push on having finally been handed a first-team chance by the Pitmen today. The lack of conviction up front highlighted the team's lack of depth in forward areas with the likes of Danny Glover or Kieran Wells unavailable for today's game, something that you will hope is addressed in the coming weeks as trialists become available from other teams to offer more competition to the forward line. A win is a win, however, and winning is a good habit to be in, regardless of opposition for the Pitmen, who have four clean sheets from five games as well as four wins. Tuesday night sees the Pitmen at home for the final time in pre-season as they face Gresley, a game that will see the return of Hednesford hero Dan Crane after he joined the Moatmen this summer from Alvechurch

Hednesford Town: Platt (Humphries 88), Ballentyne (Snoddy 88), Lycett, Scott, Morris (Jones 88), Ezewele ©, Taylor (Cartwright 60), Elliott, Abadaki (Lewis 82), Truslove, Waddison     Subs Unused: Nicholls, Gwilt

 

Darlaston Town: Whitaker, Causton, Jones, Charlton, Hough, Fellows, Blackman, Soloman, Taylor ©, Bozlan, Agyemang      Subs: Hill, Copper, Nadat, Campbell, Davies, Ricketts

 

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