27.2.2010

Zamaretto Southern Premier League

Hednesford Town

Francis (60)

Didcot Town

Williams (83), (90)

(0) 1

(0) 2

Attendance

MoTM

Current Form

Next Match

348

Elliott Durrell

L D L L W D W W L

Farnborough (H) 4.3.10

Hednesford's impressive recent run was brought to a shuddering halt this afternoon as two late headers from Didcot's Andy Williams exacted revenge for the away side for the Pitmen's smash and grab win in the reverse fixture back in August

New manager Bernard McNally - buoyed by morale-boosting back-to-back wins over Clevedon Town and Tiverton Town in the past fortnight - stuck with the same XI for a third successive game, with Elliott Durrell shaking off a nasty-looking injury sustained late on in the Tiverton game to take his place in the starting XI once more

With confidence high after a successful month on the pitch, Hednesford started strongly, with Didcot content to sit back and soak up the home side's pressure. Tyrone Barnett, the man in form at present, turned away from a static Didcot defence as early as the third minute, latching onto a Josh Craddock ball, but was adjudged to be narrowly offside

Durrell was showing no signs of the ankle injury from the previous week aggravating him, as he gave Didcot the runaround with his probing balls and clever runs down the right. One such ball on ten minutes was driven low into the box, but one of a number of incoming players failed to get a touch on the ball as it flew across the face of goal

It was Durrell again who engineered a great chance for the home side five minutes later, this time making time and space for himself on the edge of the area before trying a cheeky chip that had Didcot keeper Matt Trott backtracking desperately; unfortunately for Durrell, his clever effort dropped just over the crossbar and onto the roof of the net

The pressure was building in much the same way as the last two games had done, with Hednesford looking comfortable at the back and dangerous going forward. On seventeen minutes, Ross Dyer went even closer to opening the scoring with a shot that came back off the crossbar

Ben Bailey was next to try his luck for the hosts two minutes later, taking a gamble in making a forward run from defence before firing narrowly over the bar from just outside the penalty area

It almost felt as though it was simply a matter of time before the Pitmen took the lead, but their frustrations grew as Trott's goal enjoyed a charmed life. Firstly, he made a superb one-handed save to deny Barnett after he met Aaron Gibson's deep cross with his head; this was closely followed by a smart save to deny new signing Liam Francis after the giant defender had stolen in at the far post to meet Durrell's corner

Not for the first time this season, the matchday officials' decision making was called into question on a number of occasions, with both sides having marginal offside decisions going against them towards the end of the half

Half time signalled a change in the weather, with the previously overcast conditions giving way to heavy driving rain that fell widthways across the pitch. The second half saw patches of standing water emerge in areas, which will be of concern to the ground staff considering the number of games left to play this season

The weather failed to put a dampener on the Pitmen's game, however, as they continued to peg back Didcot in their own half. Bailey again troubled the visitors in their own penalty area, this time with his head as he got on the end of Durrell's corner kick but failed to make Trott work

The goal that had threatened to arrive finally came on the hour mark, as Francis underlined his reputation as a danger man from set-pieces with his first goal for the Pitmen. Durrell swung over a swerving corner to the back post, allowing the former Redditch man to head home from a yard out

The Pitmen continued to press, but they were wasteful in front of goal as they searched for the killer second goal. Durrell attempted to square the ball to Dyer when he probably should have tested Trott at his near post

With twenty minutes remaining, Craddock and Cheyenne Dunkley combined to set Gibson on his way down the left; his cross looked perfect for the onrushing Barnett, but he missed the ball by a matter of inches as he looked to head past Trott

Didcot had failed to test Stuart Brock in a similar manner to Clevedon and Tiverton before them, with Bailey and Decio Gomes once again shackling the opposition front men in an impressive manner

With thirteen minutes remaining, Zak Martin came on for the busy Gibson in a straight swap at left-back, just as he had done in the win over Tiverton

However, whilst it had remained 1-0, there was always a chance that the visitors could get something from the game. This became the case on eighty-three minutes, as Jamie Heapy's corner kick was swung in towards the six-yard box, evading Brock, who made a mess of his attempted clearance. The ball dropped onto the head of Andy Williams, who headed firmly into the corner of the net to equalise

The game suddenly became stretched as both sides made an attempt to win the game in the final five minutes. Barnett finally got the better of Didcot's offside trap on eighty-five minutes, racing onto Durrell's through ball before attempting to slot the ball beyond Trott. However, the keeper's trailing leg just did enough to divert the ball away from goal and wide of the target for a corner

With the Pitmen piling the pressure on inside the Didcot half, they conveniently forgot they had to defend at the other end and conceded a cruel second goal with the final action of the match. A cheap free-kick conceded to the left of the penalty area gave Didcot the opportunity to put the ball into the box for one last time; Phillip John's ball in found Williams again, who headed gleefully past Brock to give Didcot a priceless three points in their quest to stay up

For the Pitmen, a real sickener of a result, as the pattern of the game had been similar to the previous two games - both confident victories. The play-offs now look a pretty unlikely prospect, with the Pitmen left to compete in the Red Insurance League Cup on Tuesday night at Cambridge City - their only realistic aim for the remainder of the season. Their next league game sees runaway league leaders Farnborough make the journey up to Keys Park on Thursday night, just forty-eight hours after the Cambridge game and only seventy-two hours before they make the trip to fourth-placed Brackley Town

Hednesford Town: Brock, Platt ©, Gibson ▆ (Martin 77), Bailey, Francis, Gomes, Durrell , Craddock, Barnett, Dyer, Dunkley         Subs Unused: Stevenson, Proffitt, Chapman, Flynn

Didcot Town: Trott, Sampson, Dutton-Black (M. Williams 77), A. Williams, Brown (Hopkins 55), Stanley, Heapy ©, Mortimer-Jones (Alexis 66), Bartley, Draycott, John      Subs Unused: Pierson

Images © copyright Pitmenweb