29.10.2019

F.A. Trophy 1st Qualifying Round

Stratford Town

Shamsi (16)

Hednesford Town

King (23), Elliott (56)

(1) 1

(1) 2

Attendance

MoTM

Current Form

Next Match

210

Tom Elliott

W W W D W W L L W W

 

Barwell (A) 2.11.19

The Pitmen make it through to the second qualifying round of this season's F.A.Trophy after easing out league rivals Stratford Town tonight in this re-arranged first qualifying round tie at Knights Lane

Saturday's postponement had seen the two sides handed this midweek encounter as a swift revised date, with the winners of the tie pulled out of the hat against Sutton Coldfield Town - victors over Stafford Rangers in their first qualifying round tie at the weekend. Manager Gary Hayward made one change to the side that had convincingly beaten Redditch United in their last game, bringing Jack Hallahan into the side in place of Osebi Abadaki who was amongst the substitutes. Daniel Platt was still missing from the squad after being dropped recently, whilst Ben O'Hanlon was still unavailable as he continued to recover from his injury issues

Stratford had recently parted company with manager Tommy Wright after a run of poor form, appointing Paul Davis as interim manager as they searched for a successor to Wright. Davis had overseen a controversial 3-1 defeat at home to Tamworth last week, with two Stratford players red-carded in the game at Knights Lane. Davis had been busy bringing in new faces since the Tuesday night game, handing three debuts to loanee duo Jack Bennett and Kai Woollard-Innocent as well as former Kings Langley striker Matthew Campbell

It was a cold night in Warwickshire, with a modest crowd turning out for a game that would have no about attracted many more supporters had it taken place on Saturday as originally intended. There was plenty of intent to the Pitmen's early play, as they forced a series of set-pieces inside the first five minutes in an attempt to exert their physical presence over the hosts. James Hurst saw a low drive deflected up and over the crossbar in the fourth minute with the Pitmen's best chance of the opening exchanges

 

Campbell was the first Stratford player to test loanee keeper Andy Wycherley with a shot in the eighth minute, forcing Wycherley into a fine stop down to his right after the striker had turned Kieran Morris before getting his shot away on the edge of the Hednesford penalty area

Danny Glover tested the reflexes of Bennett two minutes later, heading firmly towards goal from an Izak Reid cross, only for the Bradford (Park Avenue) loanee to make a simple save

The first in a long line of infuriating offside decisions against the Pitmen came in the thirteenth minute, as Glover was played through on goal by Tom Elliott, only to be denied by a late flag that appeared to be against Andre Brown, who was not involved with the play

Three minutes later, Stratford took the lead in spectacular style through Ravi Shamsi, who picked the ball up wide on the left-wing and executed a fine lob over the head of Wycherley and into the far corner of the net with a superb opportunistic strike from fully forty yards out

Back came the Pitmen, with Glover afforded time and space to bring down a Matt Curley cross on twenty-two minutes, only for a timely block from left-back Wollard-Innocent to deny the Pitmen's top scorer a sight at goal

From the resultant Elliott corner kick, Reece King did well to rise highest and beat lanky defender Matt Bower to the ball and nod home the Pitmen's equaliser from close-range

A neat passage of play from Stratford on twenty-seven minutes almost created a tap-in for Nabil Shariff as Kairo Edwards-John and Wollard-Innocent combined well down the left before sending over a cross that dropped int the Hednesford six-yard box and drifted out of play before the former Tamworth man could take advantage

More tight offside decisions came and went against the Pitmen, with one against Brown somehow going against the striker when he clearly moved from behind Bower after Elliott played the ball through to him, much to the disdain of the loyal Hednesford fans that had made the short journey down to Knights Lane

Tricky wing play from Edwards-John on thirty-five minutes saw him turn inside Reid and strike a low shot at goal which Wycherley had covered down at his near post with a smothering save

Another highly contentious offside decision went against the Pitmen in the final minute of the first half, as Glover appeared to time his run perfectly to latch onto Hurst's pass, only for a late, late flag on the far side to stop the striker's progress as he bore down on goal

Half-time saw Stratford make a change, as debutant Campbell was replaced by another recent signing, former Birmingham City youngster Foday Nabay in midfield

The Pitmen went about their business quickly and started the half with more assertiveness. Bennet twice made last-ditch saves, firstly to deny Brown with a bouncing Reid cross into his penalty area on forty-eight minutes, followed by a smothering stop to deny Hurst two minutes later

Hurst was the first man in the book for either side on fifty-three minutes, incurring the wrath of the referee after clattering opposition skipper Ross Oulton in the centre circle

The Pitmen stole into the lead three minutes later, with Elliott once again showing his quality with another fine piece of play; Hurst's forward header was flicked on by Glover but seemingly into the path of the oncoming Bennett. However, a miscommunication between Bennett and centre-back Dan Vann allowed Elliott to nip in and fire home from close range for his fourth goal of the season so far

The visitors had a taste for goals now after moving into the lead, with Hallahan's excellent low cross turned towards his own net by Vann on sixty-one minutes, prompting Bennett to make a fine save at his near post to turn the ball away from a certain own goal

The Pitmen made their one and only change of the evening with twenty minutes remaining, as the hard-working Brown - caught offside on no less than six occasions - was taken off in favour of Kieran Wells up front

A good passage of play down the left wing from Stratford on seventy-five minutes saw Nabay and Wollard-Innocent combine to cross for Edwards-John, whose cushioned header was horribly dragged wide by a wild Shariff effort from a good position just inside the Hednesford penalty area

Ben Bailey had to be alert to the danger three minutes later, as Stratford quickly switched the play across field to allow Edwards-John to fire a shot in at the far post that was saved by Wycherley before Bailey did well to intercept and attempt to clear. Shariff took a comical dive in the area and claimed that Bailey had kicked him, prompting the referee to show the striker a yellow card for simulation

Good hold-up play from Glover with ten minutes left saw the Pitmen regroup from a corner kick, culminating in Hallahan playing the ball through to Wells in the Stratford penalty area. The striker's first-time shot was turned away by Bennett, who had narrowed down the angle at his near post to make the stop

Elliott- having another superb game in midfield - played another incisive pass into the path of Glover with seven minutes remaining, with Glover's fine cross to the far post scuffed towards goal by Wells, who appeared to lack conviction in his finish as he allowed Stratford to clear their lines rather than find the net

Wells turned provider two minutes later, sending over a cross from the left that was aimed at Glover, only for the ball to eventually fall at the feet of Elliott; his initial shot was blocked before he picked up the rebound and drove his second effort high over the crossbar

Morriss and Hallahan both followed Hurst into the book for niggly fouls in the closing periods as Stratford went long and aggressive in their approach to force a replay next week, leaving big gaps in behind their defence. A long, raking ball forwards from that man Elliott set Wells on his way with two minutes remaining, only for Wells to drag his effort agonisingly wide of the far post with an angled effort

In the final minute of the game, some brilliant vision from Glover saw him try his luck from just inside the Stratford half after he had picked up the loose ball, only for his long-range effort to dip just past Bennett's right-hand post

The Pitmen had done enough with an authoritative second-half display to earn themselves a place in the next round of the Trophy, and a mouth-watering reunion with former manager Neil Tooth at Sutton's Coles Lane ground in two and a half weeks time. Sutton have already knocked out higher league opposition in both cups so far this season, however, with Stafford Rangers and Kettering Town both falling to Tooth's men so far this term to act as a warning to the Pitmen that it will not be an easy ride. Add in the history between Tooth and the Pitmen, and a clutch of former Hednesford players keen to do well against their former side, and it promises to be a cracker on the 3G pitch come 9th November. In the meantime, the Pitmen return to league action this weekend with another away trip, this time to mid-table Barwell, who will be boosted by a magnificent 7-2 win at Bromsgrove Sporting in their re-arranged F.A. Trophy tie to set up Saturday's game nicely

Stratford Town: Bennett, Wilson, Woollard-Innocent, Richards, Vann, Bower, Campbell (Nabay 45), Oulton © (Wreh 81), Shariff  , Shamsi, Edwards-John      Subs Unused: Taylor, Rowe, Fishwick, Traore

Hednesford Town: Wycherley, Reid, Curley, Bailey ©, Morris , Hurst , Hallahan , King, Glover, Elliott, Brown (Wells 70)      Subs Unused: Hodge, Fry, Daniels, Scott, Abadaki, Veiga

Images and content on this website, unless accredited, are copyright © Pitmenweb.com
1998-2019