7.4.2003

 

Dr. Martens Southern Premier League

Hednesford Town

Crawley Town

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490

Emeka Nwadike

 

L D L D W L L L W D

 

Weymouth (H) 12.4.03

Hednesford picked up another useful point in their fight against relegation against another high-flying club in the shape of Crawley, adding a draw to their win over second-placed Chippenham on Saturday to move them a little further away from the dreaded drop zone

 Player/manager Chris Brindley again elected to watch his charges from the bench and remain out of action as he went with same XI that surprisingly beaten Chippenham at the weekend, not wanting too change a winning team against another much-fancied team in the form of Crawley as the Pitmen looked for back-to-back wins in the league for the first time since November

Crawley made the long trip to South Staffordshire off the back of a surprise 3-1 defeat at Hinckley United last week, having had no game at the weekend due to fixture changes in the Southern Premier League. This left the much-fancied Red Devils down in seventh place in no-man's land when they had been expected to finish much higher up in the table this term. Manager Francis Vines made two changes to his side for this evening's game, bringing in Glen Matten for Marc Pullen and Nic O'Donnell for the injured Stewart Holmes

It was a pleasant evening in Hednesford, as spring was starting to bloom all around. The hosts went about their business early on as they went looking for another crucial three points, with new skipper Steve Piearce scuffing an early chance straight into the hands of Crawley keeper Andy Little after Stuart Lake had played him in on goal

Lake was involved again for the Pitmen on seven minutes, making a lurching run through the centre of the Crawley midfield before lifting a long-range effort over Little's crossbar

McDonnell and David Moss both earned themselves yellow cards on twelve minutes after coming to blows in midfield and tussling after the event, prompting a number of players from both sides to get involved

Good play from Neil Le Bihan created a good chance for Crawley three minutes later, as he escaped the attentions of Bryan Small before sending over a fine cross into the Hednesford six-yard box which was just begging to be turned home by any of the three Crawley players arriving in the box. Michael Bingham was alert to the danger however, and punched the ball clear despite the cross being slightly behind him

 

Piearce felt that he had a reasonable shot for a penalty kick for the Pitmen on twenty minutes, as he appeared to be hauled back by Matten on the penalty spot. The referee ignored Hednesford pleas for a penalty and waved play on, much to Piearce's derision

The hosts continued to have the better of the chances in a fairly uninspiring first period, with on-loan Luke Corbett seeing his shot on twenty-nine minutes deflected wide of goal by Ellis Hooper as the Pitmen pressed. From the resultant Stewart Airdrie corner, Darren Simkin did well to divert his header goalwards, only for Matten to hack the ball off the line

Crawley were limited to long-range efforts in the first period as they failed to find a way through the solid-looking Hednesford defence. Hockton tried his luck with a shot from twenty-five yards out on the half-hour mark, but proved way off target with his effort

Bingham made his first real save of note two minutes later, saving well down by his post to turn Nigel Brake's shot away from goal for a corner kick the visitors

Corbett showed great awareness to get on the end of a looping cross from Airdrie on thirty-four minutes, turning the low cross just wide of goal with a side-footed effort after he had beaten Matten to the ball

Both defences had been on top in the first period, with the Pitmen still unable to find a way through despite their best efforts; Stuart Ryder was the latest player in white to try and force the ball home just before half-time, bundling the ball goalwards from a Lake cross but being denied by a combination of Little and Hooper

 Just a minute into the restart, the hosts wasted a fantastic opportunity to take the lead through Piearce, who once again showed a rare lack of composure in front of goal as he pulled his shot just wide after good work from Lake and Moss to play Piearce in on goal

Emeka Nwadike was having another good game in midfield for the Pitmen and went close to grabbing his first goal for the club on fifty-three minutes as he clipped the base of the post with a slightly off-balance shot from long-range

Moss showed his experience in midfield for the Pitmen during the second half, pulling the strings and allowing the likes of Nwadike and Lake to play their natural game. One fantastic through-ball from the veteran player saw Corbett scamper in behind the Crawley goal fifty-eight minutes, but the youngster dithered on the ball and allowed Matten to track back and tackle, rather than lay the ball into the path of the onrushing Piearce

Moss was involved again five minutes later, as another incisive through found Piearce in on goal this time. Piearce's shot was on target, but Little was equal to the striker's effort and made a fine save down to his left

Lake was showing signs of fatigue, having only just returned to the side from a long-term injury, and was replaced in sixty-eight minutes by winger David Berks as the hosts threw on a more creative player in midfield

It was destined not to be Piearce's night, as on seventy minutes he again fired wide, this time after being teed up by a combination of Berks and Corbett down the left wing and into the Crawley penalty area

Crawley had offered very little going forwards during a muted second half showing, with only a snap-shot from Hooper that went wide of goal to show for their disappointing efforts on seventy-five minutes

Graham Lancashire - who had shown a real disinterest in proceedings during the tail end of Ian Painter's reign - was given a final chance to show his ability by Brindley with ten minutes remaining, as he replaced the jaded Corbett up front

And yet, it was Crawley who went closest to sealing a smash-and-grab away win on eighty-three minutes, as Brake suddenly found himself in behind a Hednesford defence that was looking for an offside flag against the midfielder. Brake seemed a little surprised at being played onside by the official on the main stand side and fired wide with the goal at his mercy, much to Hednesford's relief and much to the obvious disappointment of his team-mates

Three successive corners from the Pitmen cranked up the pressure on the Crawley defence in the final few minutes, with a cross from Berks on eighty-eight minutes fired high over the crossbar by Piearce on the volley

 A useful point for Hednesford then - one that keeps them away from the increasingly-tight drop zone by four points, but a feeling that if Piearce had shown more conviction in front of goal it could well have been three. The Pitmen are back at Keys Park on Saturday when they play host to Weymouth, who are also looking for crucial points to move away from the drop zone themselves

Hednesford Town: Bingham, Williams, Small, Simkin, Ryder, Nwadike, Moss, Lake (Berks 68), Corbett (Lancashire 80), Piearce ©, Airdrie     Subs Unused: Francis, Simpson, Jenkins

Crawley Town: Little, Judge, Payne, Hooper, Matten (Pullen 63), Cooksey, Brake, Hockton, McDonnell (Glover 70), Bagnall (Taylor 83), Le Bihan       Subs Unused: Wackett, Causon

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