Dr. Martens Southern Premier League

Eastbourne Borough

Ramsay (37), Tuck (45)

Hednesford Town

Simkin (35), Anthrobus (63)

(2) 2

(1) 2




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Chris Gray



 Merthyr Tydfil (H) 13.3.04

The Pitmen have to be content with a point in their first ever visit to Priory Lane with a draw against Eastbourne Borough that does little to improve the club's fortunes as they remain in the bottom four of the Dr. Martens League

It had been a historic week for the Pitmen, as their 3-1 win over Hornchurch in the FA.Trophy quarter final had set up an exciting two-legged semi-final against old foes Aldershot Town at the end of the month to look forward to. However, it was back to the bread and butter of league action today as the Pitmen looked to follow up their win over Havant & Waterlooville eleven days ago with another haul of points to move them away from the dreaded drop zone. Darren Simkin was available again after recovering from injury, with the former Wolves man coming straight back into the side at right-back in place of Alex Gibson - the only change to the side that had started against Hornchurch in midweek

Eastbourne - 2-1 winners at Keys Park a month ago - had been in inconsistent form since their trip to Hednesford, beating title favourites Weymouth in their last home game but then travelling to Weston-Super-Mare and losing 2-1 last weekend. Manager Garry Wilson made two changes to the side that had started at Weston, bringing in Stuart Playford for Stewart Holmes and the fit-again Steve Dell for Ollie Rowland as he looked for back-to-back home wins to potentially lift Boro into the top six with results going their way elsewhere


It was a chilly but bright afternoon on the south coast, with the hosts getting the better of the bumpy pitch and swirling wind to have the better of the opening quarter of the game. Steve Anthrobus was shown an early yellow card for raising his hands towards Playford as the pair challenged for a high ball, incurring the wrath of referee Mr. Hayto after just four minutes

Eastbourne forced a series of corner kicks out of the Pitmen in the tenth minute, with a third ball in from Danny Simmonds was turned goalwards by Matt Smart, only for Steve Evans to cover his post well with a timely clearance off the line


Simmonds and Smart linked up again a minute later as a quick Eastbourne break down the left saw Simmonds supply Smart with a fine through ball, only for Ryan Young to spot the danger early and make a smothering save at the feet of Smart as he shaped to shoot


 The Pitmen were content to play Eastbourne on the counter-attack, utilising the pace of Mark Danks to good effect as the youngster ran the flanks well to drag Playford out of position and play the likes of Carl Palmer and Danny McGhee into other areas of the pitch

A clever cut-back from Danks in the fourteenth minute found Anthrobus in space as the big man held the ball up and squared the ball to Steve Evans; the winger's first-time shot from the edge of the Eastbourne penalty area lacked guidance and ended up in amongst the Hednesford supporters gathered behind Lee Hook's goal

Carl Palmer's run into the Eastbourne penalty area on twenty minutes saw him pick up a pass from Simkin, only for a late offside flag to deny the midfielder a shot on goal at the crucial moment

Eastbourne's top scorer Scott Ramsay had been well shackled by Lee Barrow so far, with the Pitmen learning their lesson from the home game not to give the free-scoring striker too much time and space to create openings for himself and his team-mates. A half-chance was created for him on twenty-five minutes as Matt Crabb's cross bounced in front of him via a deflection off the boot of Les Hines, only for Ramsay to sky his effort high over the bar as the ball sat up in front of him

Two minutes later, Daren Pearce got on the end of some patient approach play from the hosts that culminated in a cross from Ian Pulman into the feet of Peace, who fired just over the crossbar from eighteen yards out

Anthrobus received a stern dressing-down from the referee on twenty-nine minutes as he flattened Simmonds in midfield with what could have been seen as a second bookable offence. On this occasion, however, the big man received a final warning for his discipline from the match official and walked the tightrope for the remainder the game

Simkin almost gave the Pitmen the lead on thirty-one minutes on freak circumstances as he sent over a hopeful deep cross from the right wing that caught the gusty wind at the right time and drifted towards the far corner of the net, prompting Hook to scamper back and turn the ball over the crossbar for a corner kick

Four minutes later however, it was Simkin who gave the Pitmen the lead in an entertaining end to end game. Picking up the ball just inside the Eastbourne half, the veteran defender was allowed time and space to take the ball forwards as Boro dropped off and presented him with the opportunity to wind up one of his powerful long range efforts; the burly Simkin's shot from fully twenty-five yards out was too hot for Hook to handle as it flew past him and was still travelling at pace as it hit the net. A fine, fine strike and a goal of the season contender at this late stage of the campaign

Unfortunately, as has been the case on many occasions this term, the Pitmen have this uncanny knack of pressing the self destruct button at just the wrong time and allowed Eastbourne back into the game just two minutes later. A flowing move down the left wing involving Stuart Tuck and Smart saw Smart drift into space and tee up Ramsay on the penalty spot, who once again showed his poacher's instinct to fire a first-time shot past Young

The equaliser lifted Boro as they pushed the visitors back for the remainder of the half as they looked for a quick fire double to turn the game on it's head; A through ball from Simmonds on forty minutes played Pulman in behind the hesitant Hednesford defence, only for the midfielder to make a momentary pause that allowed Young enough time to claim the ball at his feet

Ramsay tested Young once more two minutes later with a weak, bobbling shot from fifteen yards out that Young did well to claim, only for the Hednesford keeper to be left completely flummoxed by fantastic strike from Tuck right on half-time. Picking up the ball deep, Tuck unleashed a fine low drive from fully thirty yards out that Young could get nowhere near as it nestled in the bottom corner of the net

Once again, half-time had left Hednesford asking questions about themselves, as they had once again given a good account of themselves but somehow found themselves chasing the game that they had controlled for periods of the first half

The hosts were hit with a blow just a few minutes after the restart as the influential Smart was forced off with a reoccurrence of a previous ankle injury and was replaced by Holmes

This seemed to spoil Eastbourne's momentum as the Pitmen enjoyed more of the possession and territorial advantage. Chris Gray was introduced in place of McGhee and proved to be a inspiration to the away side as he terrorised Eastbourne with his pace. Just a minute after coming on, Gray tricked his way down the wing before pulling the ball back into the path of Simkin, whose rifled shot narrowly missed the upright from an angle

Anthrobus tested the reflexes of Hook three minutes, heading a Danks cut-back goalwards from eight yards out to force the former Wolves youngster to tip the ball over the crossbar for a Hednesford corner kick

You felt that an equaliser was on the cards as the Pitmen pressed, with Gray supplying the goods for Anthrobus on sixty-three minutes as he crossed well from the left wing that the former Millwall striker showed great skill to control and fire past Hook from ten yards out to level matters once more

There were calls for Powell to bring on the pacy Nathan Lamey to force the issue for the Pitmen, but Powell seemed more content to protect the point that they now had in their possession and failed to make another substitution for the remainder of the game

Indeed, Eastbourne came back into the match with a great chance for Crabb horribly missing a great chance on sixty-nine minutes as he headed a Simmonds cross wide of goal when it seemed easier to score

Back came the away side as Brindley headed wide for the men in sky blue from a Steve Evans cross on seventy-two minutes after he had beaten defensive partner Barrow to the out-swinging cross

Steve Evans went close to grabbing the win for Hednesford on seventy-seven minutes as headed agonisingly wide from another fine Gray cross out on the left wing

Three successive corners from the unusually quiet Hines were dealt with by the Eastbourne defence as Brindley, Barrow and Anthrobus threatened with their aerial presence. One corner kick from Hines on eighty-two minutes found the boot of Carl Palmer, who drove his instinctive effort wide of the right hand post

A corner for Eastbourne on eighty-five minutes saw Simmonds find the head of Pearce at the far post, only for the midfield man to head well wide as he was put under pressure by Steve Evans

With a minute of the game remaining, a hopeful ball forward from Steve Palmer found Danks in behind the Eastbourne defence, only for a late offside flag to leave the youngster frustrated as he looked to pull the trigger with only Hook to beat

A draw was a fair result on the balance of play as both sides had not shown enough conviction in front of goal all afternoon to earn themselves all three points. The Pitmen move up one place in the league table to nineteenth, four points behind Weston-Super-Mare in that all-important thirteenth place ahead of next season's reshuffle. Next weekend sees fellow strugglers Merthyr Tydfil visit Keys Park, with the Welsh side looking to complete a league double over their opponents having beaten the Pitmen 2-0 at Pennydarren Park back in September

Eastbourne Borough: Hook, Baker, Tuck, Smart (Holmes 52), Playford, Dell, Pulman (Yates 67), Pearce, Ramsay, Simmonds, Crabb (Rowland 80)      Subs Unused: Westcott, Myall

Hednesford Town: Young, Simkin, Hines, McGhee (Gray 54), BrindleyBarrowC. Palmer, S. Palmer ©Anthrobus , Danks, S. Evans        Subs Unused: Dodd, Lamey, Dean, P. Evans