Vanarama National League North

Hednesford Town

Curzon Ashton

Cummins (62), (80), Cockerline (90)

(0) 0

(0) 3



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Kennedy Digie


Gainsborough Trinity (H) 13.2.16

Hednesford failed to follow up their morale-boosting win at AFC Telford United in midweek as three second-half goals from Curzon Ashton condemned the hosts to a heavy defeat on their own turf this afternoon

Having moved out of the bottom three on Tuesday night courtesy of their win at the New Bucks Head, Hednesford manager Frank Sinclair elected to stick with the same XI for the third game in a row as he looked for back-to-back league wins from his side for the first time since August/September when they beat Worcester City and Boston United. Danny Glover was amongst the Hednesford substitutes after returning to the club this week after leaving Telford

Curzon Ashton made their first-ever trip to Keys Park off the back of their own local derby in midweek, having drawn 0-0 at home against Stalybridge Celtic on Monday night. Long-standing Nash manager John Flanagan made two changes to the side that had started against Stalybridge as Mike Norton and Jordan Wright replaced Matty Warburton and Ryan Brooke

A quick start from the hosts saw Ahmed Obeng denied an early opener by Curzon goalkeeper Hakan Burton in just the second minute of the game as the striker raced onto a through ball from Sean Williams, striking a low shot at goal from eighteen yards out that was parried away by the stopper. The rebound ran back to Obeng, who scuffed the ball wide at the second attempt as he was forced wide

At the other end of the pitch, Dan Crane made a fine save to keep the game goalless in the seventh minute as a strong run down the right flank from Joe Guest saw him hold off the attentions of Jack Truelove and crossed for Alex Brown, whose first time shot from the edge of the penalty area was held by the Hednesford stopper on his goal line

In the twelfth minute, the best move of the game so far saw Guest involved once more down the right-wing as he picked Connor Hampson out with a ball down the line and into the path of the midfielder, whose cross was laid off by Wright to former FC United of Manchester man Norton. His low driven shot from sixteen yards out was parried by Crane, who turned the ball away from goal down to his right

A long throw from Ben Bailey three minutes later was headed away by Jonno Hunt and into the path of Adam Thomas, who controlled the ball well on the edge of the Ashton penalty area before attempting a lob over the head of Burton that dropped just over the crossbar at the far post

Wright was brought down by Kennedy Digie's sloppy challenge in the eighteenth minute, allowing Hampson to deliver a ball into the Hednesford six-yard box from the left flank that was glanced wide of goal by Danny Shaw at the near post

Midway through the first half, Thomas wriggled away from the attention of Simon Woodford down the right and found Kyle Perry inside the penalty area with a low pass into the feet of the striker. Perry held off Shaw and got to the byeline before pulling the ball back into the six-yard box, where Obeng and Stephane Ngamvoulou both failed to get the touch as they arrived late into the penalty area

The first half had been a largely forgettable game so far, with both sides flattering to deceive in attack and both goalkeepers fairly under-used in the opening quarter of the game. On twenty-six minutes, Norton got himself in behind the Hednesford defence to latch onto Hampson's through ball but was pulled back by referee Mr Barrow for an offside flag against the frontman on the main stand side

Just after the half-hour, Digie carried the ball into the Nash half and played it out to Thomas with a sweeping pass into the feet of the winger. The former Stoke City man jinked his way past Woodford and stood up a cross to the far post, where Perry stretched but just could not reach the ball as it sailed over his head

The dangerous Guest tricked his way into the Hednesford penalty area on thirty-four minutes, drifting past Bailey's outstretched leg before attempting a curling shot that dipped beyond Crane's far post from sixteen yards out

With six minutes of the first period remaining, Burton's long kick forwards was flicked on by Norton and into the path of Niall Cummins, who rushed his effort and scuffed it into the Heath Hayes terrace as Jack Fitzwater closed him down

In first-half added time, Sean Williams lifted a free-kick into the Curzon Ashton penalty area and found Jack Truelove's head, only for the on-loan Oldham Athletic defender to head wide of the far post from ten yards out

It had been a lacklustre first period in truth, with chances at a premium at both ends and neither side looking particularly fluent going forwards. Norton and Guest had been a threat to the indecisive Hednesford back line and had looked the most likely to break the deadlock in a tight game so far

The home side put pressure on the Curzon defence in the early stages of the second half without really forcing the issue, as successive set-pieces from Williams and Shelton Payne were cleared by the visiting defence easily

On fifty-one minutes, Ngamvoulou made a surging run from deep, taking the ball past Hampson and playing Perry into space on the edge of the penalty area. The striker opted to square the ball to Williams, whose right-footed shot dipped over the crossbar from twenty yards out

Four minutes later, another tight offside flag denied Ashton a shot at goal once more as patient build-up play in midfield saw Brown and Hampson send Guest away to the right-hand side of the Hednesford penalty area, only for an offside flag on the Wimblebury side of the ground to deny the winger a shot at Crane's goal

On fifty-nine minutes, Hampson's corner kick was flicked into the path of Brown by Shaw at the near post, only for the Curzon skipper to turn the ball wide with a scuffed sidefooted effort

Another corner from Hampson was to lead to the game's opening goal on sixty-two minutes his cross was partially cleared by the Pitmen to Hampson, whose return cross to the far post was headed back across goal by Hunt and prodded home from close range by the unmarked Cummins

Glover was given a warm welcome back to the club before play could restart as the striker was introduced in place of Fitzwater to add more guile to the Hednesford attack as the hosts looked for an immediate equaliser

Things went from bad to worse for the reeling Pitmen three minutes later as they were reduced to ten men; Perry controlled Bailey's ball forwards in the centre circle and held off the challenge of Shaw before throwing an elbow in the direction of the defender as he took exception to the attention received from the centre-back. A melee ensued as players from both sides waded in on each other before Perry was shown a straight red card for violent conduct

Despite Perry being red-carded, it was the Pitmen that were handed the resultant free-kick, which Williams chipped into the Curzon penalty area where the Nash struggled to clear their lines until Chris Rowney finally put the ball out of play

Another scramble inside the away side's penalty area on seventy minutes saw Thomas's cross from the right bounce inside the six-yard box and bobble around before Hampson cleared the ball ahead of Glover to stop the substitute from turning the ball home

The visitors were a constant threat on the counter-attack, with the pacy Guest going close to doubling their lead on seventy-three minutes as a break down the left saw Wright's cross only cleared as far as Guest on the opposite flank, turning inside and pulling his shot just wide of Crane's left-hand post

Two minutes later, the hosts made another attacking change to their increasingly desperate side as Thomas was removed from play and replaced by Paul Ennis to play up front alongside Glover

Glover found himself in space just outside the Curzon Ashton penalty area on seventy-eight minutes, picking up a pass from Payne but weakly striking his shot straight into the arms of Burton from twenty yards out

However, any hopes of a late Hednesford comeback were quashed with ten minutes remaining as Cummins doubled the away side's advantage; a well-worked low corner from Hampson saw him find Cummins at the near post, with the striker cleverly hooking the ball over his shoulder with a creative scissor kick to beat Crane at his near post and make it 2-0

Curzon substitute Dan Cockerline - signed this week on loan from Sheffield United - went close to making it 3-0 just two minutes later as Guest made another run down the right flank, taking the ball past Truelove and pulling the ball back from the byeline but just out of reach of the lanky youngster as he arrived in the six-yard box

Crane pushed a Wright cross over his crossbar with four minutes remaining as the visitors continued to press, tipping the ball over to deny Cockerline a free header on the goal line

Cockerline was to grab a third goal in the last minute of the game however as a fine forward pass from Brown played the striker clear of the ball-watching Hednesford defence, leaving Cockerline to draw Crane out of his goal and turn the ball into the net from fifteen yards out with a confident finish

There was still time for Obeng to miss a glorious chance to grab a consolation goal for the Pitmen in added time as he raced onto Digie's through ball and turned it goalwards, only to be denied by the legs of Burton. The ball looped up and back into the path of the striker, who inexplicably headed the rebound wide of goal with the net gaping

It had been a worrying return to the Pitmen's inconsistent form pre-Christmas and a defeat that leaves them level on points with two of the bottom three in the process, with only goal difference keeping Sinclair's men out of the drop zone. Next weekend sees the Pitmen make the trip up to Stockport County looking to pick up points against a Hatters side still harbouring ambitions of a play-off push in the final three months of the campaign

Hednesford Town: Crane, Thomas (Ennis 75), Truelove, Bailey ©, Fitzwater (Glover 63), Digie, Obeng, Williams, Perry (66), Ngamvoulou, Payne       Subs Unused: Ransome, James, Regan

Curzon Ashton: Burton, Rowney, Woodford, Hunt, Shaw, Hampson, Guest, Brown ©, Cummins (Lowe 85), Norton (Cockerline 76), Wright       Subs Unused: Brooke, Warburton, Mason


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