5.10.2002

Dr. Martens Southern Premier League

Hednesford Town

Ware (14), Ryder (90)

Dover Athletic

Chapman (58), Carruthers (73)

(1) 2

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(0) 2

Attendance

MoTM

Current Form

Next Match

502

 

Chris Brindley

 

L W D D W D L D L D

 

Tamworth (A) 5.10.02

Hednesford 's recent spell of indifferent form continued at Keys Park this afternoon, as the Pitmen extended their winless run to five games despite a late, late goal from centre-back Stuart Ryder to earn a point against fellow high-flyers Dover Athletic

 

 Having seen his side taken all the way to penalty kicks by UniBond Premier League side Hucknall Town on Tuesday night, Painter made two changes to his side to keep things fresh ahead of today's return to league action, with Steve Piearce and Derek Rae returning in place of Stewart Airdrie and Wayne Simpson to the side. Mark Gayle remained in the side despite his reckless red card at Hucknall, with rumours around Keys Park circulating that Painter may be looking to move the keeper on following his actions on Tuesday night

 

Dover - former Conference rivals of the Pitmen in recent years - have also had a good start to the season and lay fifth in the Southern Premier League table ahead of today's round of games. Nicky Dent had been amongst the goals for the Crabble side already this season, grabbing five goals for Clive Walker's team in their opening ten league games. A solid defence was also a key factor behind Dover's good form, with veteran goalkeeper Paul Hyde marshalling a strong, experienced back line that had only conceded ten goals so far

 

 Dover's Matt Carruthers could have given the visitors a dream start in the very first minute, as the striker latched onto a poor Darren Simkin clearance and fired towards goal, only for Stuart Ryder to clear his goalbound shot off the line. An early let-off for the hosts

 

Back came Hednesford, with Carl Adams and Paul Ware linking well in midfield to send Lancashire away on eight minutes, only for Lancashire's optimistic left-footed effort to drift well wide of Hyde's goal

 

A corner from Adams was headed back to him by Dover's Nicky Humphreys on eleven minutes, with Adams clipping a clever ball back into the danger zone but failing to find anyone in white on his wavelength as the ball drifted into the grateful arms of Hyde

 

 Carruthers again threatened on for Dover on thirteen minutes, picking the ball up out wide before curling a shot just wide of the far post as he cut inside from the left wing and drifted past Simkin in the process

 

It was the Pitmen, however, who were to take the lead a minute later through Paul Ware, who picked up a simple pass from Steve Piearce just outside the penalty area before unleashing one of his trademark bullet shots that beat Hyde all ends up and found the bottom corner of the net. A superb finish from the former Stoke man to hand the hosts the lead

 

Chris Brindley's header back across goal from an Adams corner on twenty minutes caused momentary panic in the Dover ranks, with a combination of Hyde and Danny Chapman helping the ball clear of the six-yard box 

 

 Carruthers continued to be a constant threat to the Pitmen defence with his nuisance value and got goal side of Les Robinson on twenty-eight minutes with a clever turn that was immediately snuffed out by the no-nonsense Brindley

 

A minute later the in-form Dent should have equalised for the south coast side, somehow firing his rebound over the bar after seeing his initial shot saved by Gayle from close range

 

For the home side, Piearce should have done better with a chance presented to him by Derek Rae on thirty-five minutes as scuffed his shot wide from ten yards out after the Scottish midfielder had slipped the ball into his path

 

Dover had the last real sighting of goal in a first half that had been edged by the hosts, with Chapman trying his luck with a speculative effort from twenty-five yards that drifted over the crossbar after the Hednesford defence had stood off him too long

 

Painter will have been pleased with his team's response to Tuesday night's cup exit but will have been concerned about how Dover reacted at the start of the second half as they pushed the Pitmen back into their own third. Dent was first to fire a warning shot for the away side, lifting his effort just over Gayle's crossbar after he had worked a yard of space for himself on the edge of the Hednesford penalty area on forty-seven minutes

 

Three minutes later, a swift counter from Dover saw them push the Pitmen backwards as Dent, Chapman and Lee Spiller all broke at will from a quick ball forwards. Fortunately for the Pitmen, the trio got their wires crossed somewhat and allowed Robinson to recover well and steal the ball away from the feet of Dent

 

However, Dover's inevitable equaliser came just before the hour mark, as Chapman got the goal his efforts deserved after reacting quickest to a goal-line clearance from Richard Lucas to initially deny Humphreys, only to lay it off into the path of Chapman who made no mistake from close-range

 

The Pitmen were struggling to create the openings of the first half, with Dover coping well with the Pitmen's aerial threat from set-pieces and launching counter-attacks at will whenever the opportunity arose. Another swift break from Chapman saw him cut inside from the right flank and look to play Dent in on sixty-five minutes, but the ball in was just too far in front of the striker as he got in behind Robinson

 

A great cross from Dover's Steve Norman forced Gayle into unorthodox action on seventy minutes, with the keeper having to head the ball away from goal to deny Spiller a chance as the ball bounced around the Hednesford penalty area

 

Dover's pressure on the Hednesford goal finally bore fruit on seventy-three minutes, as Carruthers deservedly got on the scoresheet by turning Lucas well before curling the ball past Gayle and into the far corner of the net from the corner of the penalty area

 

Painter was forced into drastic action after falling behind, making a double change two minutes later by bringing on Shaun Wray for the tiring Lancashire and the younger legs of Ashley Williams in place of Simkin

 

Wray made an immediate impact with his first touch, dancing down the wing and beating Norman before sending over a fine cross towards goalscorer Ware, whose shot dipped narrowly over the bar with Hyde beaten

 

A long ball forward from Lucas on eighty minutes saw the anonymous Piearce bring the ball down well and lay off to Wray, whose subsequent cross was turned over the crossbar by Hyde as the ball threatened to dip underneath the crossbar. From the Adams corner, Ryder headed wide via a deflection off the back of Robinson's head

 

Airdrie was brought on in place of the disappointing Piearce with ten minutes left on the clock as the Pitmen went very attacking with two natural wingers on the pitch in Wray and Airdrie

 

With the game heading into added time, one more push from the hosts saw the conjure up a late, late equaliser through an unlikely source - and in some style too. An Adams corner dropped into the Dover six-yard box and pinballed around the area until it was partially cleared by the Dover defence. Ryder was in the perfect position, just outside the penalty area, to pick up the loose ball, unleashing a fine volley that flew through a crowd of players and past a bemused Hyde in the Dover goal to earn the hosts a point at the death

 

It had very much been a game of two halves, with the Pitmen enjoying the better of the first half before allowing Dover to take control of the game in the second period. Ryder's late goal was as much as the hosts deserved, leaving them without a win in five games ahead of the short trip down the A5 on Tuesday night to face title favourites Tamworth at the Lamb

 

Hednesford Town: Gayle, Simkin (Williams 75), Lucas, Robinson ©, Brindley, Ryder, Rae, Ware, Piearce (Airdrie 80), Lancashire (Wray 75), Adams     Subs Unused: Simpson, Jenkins

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