F.A. Trophy 5th Round

Hednesford Town

Anthrobus (71)

Dover Athletic

(0) 1

(0) 0




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Lee Barrow



Chelmsford City (A) 21.2.04

One of the Pitmen's best performances of the season sees them move into the quarter-finals of this season's F.A. Trophy after soundly beating league rivals Dover Athletic at Keys Park

Bouyed massively by their fine win in the rain at Worthing in midweek to set up today's tie, Barry Powell was forced into once change to the side that had started at Woodside Road as centre-back Stuart Ryder was once again ruled out due to his ongoing injury problems and was replaced by Lee Barrow. Craig Dean also returned to the squad after missing the trip to East Sussex after suffering a knock in the Pitmen's last league game at Welling United last weekend

Dover - controversial 2-1 winners over the Pitmen at the Crabble back in October and due to return to Keys Park next month in the league meeting - had impressively beaten Nationwide Conference side Forest Green Rovers 2-1 in their Tuesday night replay at home to earn themselves a place in the fifth round today. It had been the latest in a line of dramatic moments in the F.A. Trophy this term for the Lilywhites, who have already been reprieved in this season's competition after third round victors Barnet were kicked out due to fielding an ineligible player before beating higher league Forest Green over two games. Manager Clive Walker kept faith with his starting XI from midweek for today's game with Dover in confident mood of moving into the quarter finals after already beaten their opponents this term and also sitting six places higher than them in the league table

In front of a disappointing crowd - possibly due to the Pitmen's dreadful recent league form that had seen them slump to sixteenth place - it was the home side that made the better start as a poor back pass by Danny Chapman towards veteran keeper Paul Hyde in the third minute saw Steve Anthrobus seize upon the loose ball but lofted his shot over the crossbar. In fairness to the big man, the angle was tight and he only had a split second to make his mind up about the shot as Hyde looked to close him down 


Carl Palmer made one of his now-traditional runs deep from midfield in the eighth minute, carrying the ball past both Jamie Day and Lee Spiller before reaching the Dover penalty area where Dale Skelton managed to get a foot in to dispossess the midfield man

Steve Evans did well to force his way past Darren Davies four minutes later with a purposeful run down the wing after Hines had played the ball down the line for him. The winger's cross lacked direction and drifted over the heads of both Steve Anthrobus and Mark Danks, who had made a run into the Dover six-yard box

Dover had been limited to long-range efforts in the opening quarter of the game, with Matt Carruthers trying his luck from eighteen yards out on fifteen minutes that failed to trouble Ryan Young in the Hednesford goal

Five minutes later, a wonderfully delivered free-kick from Hines was met by the head of Anthrobus, who was inches away from finding the corner of the net as he flicked his header wide of the far post

Hyde made a good save at his near post on twenty-two minutes to deny Danks a goal after the striker had been played through on goal by McGhee's fine through ball

The first half was to be littered with niggly fouls from both sides, with referee Mr. Pickavance constantly having to stop play and talk to players. Steve Palmer was the first player shown a yellow card in the twenty-seventh minute for a lunge on Spiller in midfield which sparked a heated debate between a number of players from both sides. Hyde ran from his own goalmouth to get involved, leading to exchange between himself and Anthrobus which saw both players separated after the unpleasantness between the pair in the league game at the Crabble in October

Barrow and Chris Brindley had enjoyed the better of the spoils against a dangerous Dover attack, with the league's top scorer Craig Wilkins well shackled by the experienced pair in a quiet opening half from the Dover striker

Carl Palmer's fine pass to Hines on thirty-four minutes played the full-back into space down the left up against Tony Browne. The former Halesowen man cut inside and turned the ball onto his right foot to square the ball to Steve Palmer, whose rising shot was saved by Hyde just inside his six-yard box

Brindley was left flat-footed by a quick break from the Lilywhites four minutes later as Dale Skelton's long ball forwards was quickly worked into the penalty area by Carruthers to Wilkins, only for Young to make a fine smothering save at his near post to divert the striker's effort wide of a corner kick

Two minutes before half-time, Danks broke clear of the Dover defence as a fine through ball from McGhee again found him goal side of Andy Arnott. The youngster's shot lacked power, however, and Hyde made a fairly comfortable save from eight yards out

The Pitmen had once again dominated proceedings in the first period, as they have tended to do in many games recently, only to struggle to convert the chances presented to them. World-weary Hednesford supporters could justifiably be concerned that the Pitmen had been in this position in recent games, only to completely fluff their lines in the second half

Fortunately for the fans on this occasion, the hosts produced a disciplined, controlled second half performance that saw their patience eventually rewarded against a Dover side that seemed more content to sit behind the ball and play for a replay on Tuesday night. Danks flashed an early shot just wide of Hyde's far post as he continued to give the Dover defence a torrid time with his pace

Anthrobus felt that he should have been awarded a penalty on fifty minutes as he appeared to be pushed over by Browne as the pair challenged for an Alex Gibson cross just inside the Dover penalty area. The referee seemed unimpressed with the striker's appeals however and the game continued. The ball eventually fell to Danks, whose low shot was cleared off the line by the covering Danny Chapman

A searching cross from Steve Evans on fifty-four minutes found Danks once more, lurking at the far post to connect with the winger's deep ball in, only for Hyde to once again leave the former Bradford man frustrated with a good save low down to his left hand side

Three minutes later, Hines was the provider for Danks once more with an incisive chipped ball into the path of the striker, who controlled the ball before firing past Hyde from fifteen yards out. The striker's joy was short-lived, however, as the referee disallowed the goal for a handball against the striker in the build-up, much to Danks's visible frustration

More frustration followed for the home side on sixty-three minutes as neither Anthrobus nor Brindley could force home a loose ball from close range as a Hines corner dropped into the Dover six-yard box as the visitors somehow managed to get bodies in front of the ball to block successive shots from the Pitmen before smuggling the ball clear of danger

The Pitmen finally managed to get their noses in front on seventy-one minutes as the hard-working Anthrobus got the crucial goal that his efforts had deserved; Steve Evans's cross from the left was knocked down by Brindley at the far post to the feet of Anthrobus, who managed to squeeze the loose ball home from close range, letting Hyde know what he thought of him in the aftermath with another bout of afters from October's clash and earning himself a ticking-off from the referee before the restart

Dover committed more men forwards after conceding to the hosts, with their game plan of holding out for a replay now gone. Young Gillingham striker Jones Awuah - who had joined the club on a month's loan during the week - was brought on with thirteen minutes remaining as he replaced the ineffective Nick Humphrey to make a three man attack

Skelton headed well over the crossbar on eighty-one minutes from a Spiller free-kick, before a neat passage of patient play around the edge of the Hednesford penalty are saw Day play through the Hednesford lines with a fine pass into Carruthers, only for a superb covering tackle from Barrow to deny the striker a certain goal from eight yards out

Three successive corners tested the Pitmen's fragile resolve on eighty-seven minutes as Brindley, Barrow and Young stood firm against a Dover attack that had seen Arnott moved further forwards to add to the attacking options

The away side's best chance to force a replay came in added time, as another series of corner kicks from Dover saw one such cross from Spiller land at the feet of youngster Awuah, whose shot through a crowd of players in front of him was brilliantly turned away from goal by an unsighted Young, who made a breathtaking instinctive save down to his left hand side to keep the Pitmen in front

Despite Dover's late threat, they can have no complaints about the eventual result as the Pitmen moved into the quarter-finals courtesy of a fine team performance that was at odds with their recent league form. It is a historic first ever appearance in the final eight of the Trophy for the Pitmen, who will find out on Monday afternoon who they will play in the next round. A number of Nationwide Conference big-hitters remain in the competition such as Aldershot Town, Exeter City and Shrewsbury Town as well as local rivals Telford United so the Pitmen are likely to face stiff opposition if they are to make it through to the semi-final stages. A return to league action next weekend sees the Pitmen travel to Billericay to face basement club Chelmsford City looking to take their recent Trophy form into their terrible league form

Hednesford Town: Young, Gibson, Hines, McGhee, Brindley, Barrow, C. Palmer, S. Palmer © Anthrobus, Danks, S. Evans       Subs Unused: Lamey, Dean, Charie, Maguire, P. Evans

Dover Athletic: Hyde, Browne, Davies (Cloke 66), Skelton, Arnott, Chapman, Day, Spiller, Wilkins, Carruthers, Humphrey (Awuah 79)      Subs Unused: Ball, Patterson, Wietecha