Evo-Stik Northern Premier League

Shaw Lane

Oji (3) (OG), Wright (44) (OG), Clayton (59)

Hednesford Town

Dodd (14)

(2) 3

(1) 1



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Matt Dodd


Halesowen Town (H) 22.8.17

Another defensive horror show from the Pitmen saw them crash top their second defeat of the week this afternoon, as Neil Tooth's side failed to learn from their mistakes against Matlock in midweek as Shaw Lane eased to a first ever competitive win over the Pitmen in South Yorkshire


Tooth resisted the urge to make wholesale changes to his side despite Tuesday night's reverse at Causeway Lane, with Lewis Wright given the nod over Jordan Wheatley and Luke Rodgers given a full debut in place of Kris Taylor. New signing, striker Devarn Green, was named amongst the substitutes as the Pitmen looked to add more firepower to their ranks


Despite only gaining promotion to this level for the ist time in their short history last term, Shaw Lane were amongst many observers' favourites for a shot at the title this season following a summer of impressive recruitment from the leagues above. Players with step one and two reputations of the likes of Gavin Rothery (Guiseley), Chib Chilaka (Bradford Park Avenue), Paul Clayton (Harrogate Town) and Damien Reeves (Altrincham) all made Shaw Lane's match day squad as the Ducks went in search of their first win of the new season


The Pitmen's flaky confidence on defence allowed Shaw Lane a dream start on a changeable day in Barnsley, as they conceded an early goal once again to put themselves on the back foot. A superb deep cross towards the vastly experienced David Norris was turned into his own net by Sam Oji, who could not react quickly enough to the dipping cross to avoid turning the ball past James Wren


The away side responded with a well-taken free kick from James Lawrie in the eighth minute, whose swinging cross a headed wide by the onrushing Ben Bailey in the sixth minute


The visitors did get themselves back on level terms on fourteen minutes, as Matt Dodd got himself on the scoresheet for the first time in a Hednesford shirt; a towering header on by Danny Glover played Dodd in behind the Shaw Lane defence, with the winger just doing enough to slide the ball underneath giant keeper Jon Stewart and into the net to equalise


Wren was forced into the first of a succession of good saves during the afternoon on twenty-one minutes, making a fine stop to deny Clayton from close range to keep the Pitmen in touch


Glover could, and probably should, have given the Pitmen a first-half lead on twenty-nine minutes, as neat interplay from the Pitmen down the right saw strike partner Rodgers send over an inch-perfect ball that Glover somehow headed agonisingly wide of goal from six yards out. It was a chance missed that the Pitmen would come to regret soon afterwards


The tall, rangy Lee Smith wasted a good chance to give the Pitmen the lead two minutes later, as he lifted a chance high over the crossbar after Bailey's long throw had dropped kindly


Another good save from Wren on thirty-three minutes denied Rothery a chance for Shaw Lane, with the Hednesford keeper doing well to turn the midfielder's looping header over the crossbar for a Shaw Lane corner


Three minutes later, Wren made another good save, turning a Clayton shot around the post for another corner kick to the hosts which was floated over the crossbar and away from danger by Rothery


The Pitmen were left frustrated by a late assistant's flag on forty-one minutes as a neat lay-off by Glover found Lawrie, whose volley was ruled out due to a late offside flag on the far side of the pitch


It was another decision that was to cost the away side dearly, as their familiar defensive indecision saw them concede with the final action of the half; Wright, under pressure from Ryan Qualter at the far post, could only turn the ball past Wren from a couple of yards out as he stretched to meet a deep cross from the left wing


Hednesford were bright and breezy in the opening stages of the second half, with Dodd at the heart of all of the Pitmen's positive moves. Twice he managed to get the better of former Stalybridge full-back Joel Bembo-Leta and sent over a cross, but his good work was wasted by a lack of support going forwards


Shaw Lane were content to soak up any pressure the Pitmen threw at them and counter-attack at will, with the hosts targeting Wright down the Hednesford right flank with pace and power. Indeed, the third and killer goal for the hosts came as a result of progress down the Hednesford right, with Wright turned inside out on the touchline before Clayton turned the ball home from close range to settle the game as a contest


New boy Green was brought on in place of Lawrie down the left wing on sixty-one minutes, with Jordan Nadat also sent on in place of the tiring Rodgers four minutes later as the veteran's lack of game time started to catch up with him


Wright's torrid afternoon got a little worse on sixty-seven minutes, as the full-back was booked for a late challenge on Rothery after he had been turned smartly by the former Guiseley man


Shaw Lane skipper Qualter almost added further insult to injury for the Pitmen on seventy-five minutes as he headed a free-kick narrowly wide of goal after rising highest to meet the ball from Clayton's cross


For the Pitmen. the game had long got away from them following the third Shaw Lane goal, with the side muted in their approach for the final fifteen minutes. Green struggled to get into the game and Nadat only succeeded in going head to head with Shaw Lane centre-back Kelvin Lungsden after a disagreement between the two. In midfield, Smith and Thorley were well shackled, whilst Dodd found himself with two markers every time he received the ball


A late header from Glover was all the visitors could muster in a disappointing final few minutes, with Shaw Lane taking all three points at step three for the first time in their history at the final whistle and condemning the Pitmen to another defeat. Tooth - now starting to put himself under a little pressure after only three games - has promised changes for the visit of Halesowen Town on Tuesday night. Until the Pitmen can find a balance in defence and halt the shipping of frequent and sloppy goals, they will continue to produce these type of inconsistent displays, home and away


Shaw Lane: Stewart, Bembo-Leta, Sergeant, Lenighan, Lungsden, Qualter ©, Byrne, Harris (Abadaki 65), Clayton (Chilaka 72), Norris, Rothery (Walker 85)     Subs Unused: Reeves, Hough


Hednesford Town: Wren, Wright , Ballinger, Bailey, Oji, Smith, Dodd, Thorley ©, Glover, Rodgers (Nadat 65), Lawrie (Green 61)     Subs Unused: Mutton, Taylor, Melbourne


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