Dr. Martens Southern Premier League

Hednesford Town

Gray (63)

Eastbourne Borough

Ramsay (21), (83)

(0) 1

(1) 2




Current Form

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Chris Gray



Worthing (H) 3.2.04

The Pitmen continue their descent downwards in the Dr. Martens Premier League as they make it nine league games without a win as Eastbourne Borough edge out the hosts at Keys Park in the first-ever meeting between the two sides

Last weekend had seen Barry Powell's side give a good account of themselves at league leaders Weymouth, only to pay the price for not taking their chances in the first half and allowing the Terras to take the initiative in the second half. Powell stuck with the same side that had started at the Wessex Stadium as Stuart Ryder, Darren Simkin and Anthony Maguire were all ruled out due to a variety of injury concerns

Eastbourne's first-ever season at step three had seen them in inconsistent form as Garry Wilson's side started today's encounter in sixteenth position in the table, just nine points ahead of basement side Bath City. Last weekend had seen the Sports lose 2-1 to fellow strugglers Chippenham Town at Priory Lane, keeping the Wiltshire side in touch with the pack just above them in the process as they look to escape the drop themselves. Wilson made three changes to the side that had started against Chippenham as Matt Smart, Stewart Holmes and Danny Simmonds returned to the side in place of Andy Ducille, Stuart Playford and Steve Yates

It was Eastbourne's first ever visit to Keys Park and they started well after a long journey up from East Sussex to give the hosts early problems;  A run from Ollie Rowland down the right wing saw him drift past Les Hines before crossing towards top scorer Scott Ramsay, who scuffed his shot straight into the hands of keeper Ryan Young

The Pitmen responded with a long ball forwards from Young in the eighth minute as he took free-kick just inside his own half, lumping the ball into the Eastbourne penalty area where opposite number Lee Hook elected to come and punch the ball. The former Wolves stopper failed to get enough purchase on his punch and only managed to find the boot of Steve Palmer, whose first-time effort from just outside the Eastbourne penalty area drifted a couple of feet wide of goal

Lee Barrow's seemingly excellent sliding challenge on Simmonds was adjudged to have been illegal by referee Mr. Miller three minutes later, handing Sports a free-kick just to the left-hand side of the Hednesford penalty area. Rowland delivered a fine ball to the far post, where Young did enough to turn the ball beyond the head of Holmes at the far post for an Eastbourne corner

Good play down the right wing from the hosts on fifteen minutes saw Alex Gibson supply Chris Gray with the ball and offer himself on the overlap, taking Stuart Tuck with him to give Gray time and space to pick a pass from the inside-right position. His pass into Steve Anthrobus was just too far in front of the striker, although Mark Danks arrived behind him to toe-poke the ball into the hands of Hook from twelve yards out

A flick-on by Carl Palmer on eighteen minutes saw the midfielder play Steve Evans in, only for Wycombe Wanderers loanee Steve Dell to snuff out the danger with a timely tackle on the former Tamworth winger just inside the Eastbourne penalty area

A clever reverse pass from Simmonds played strike partner Ramsay into space down the left a minute later, with Ramsay doing well to hold off the attentions of Chris Brindley to fire in a shot that drifted across Young's six yard box and just wide of the far post

Ramsay got the goal his efforts warranted midway through the first-half with another instinctive piece of play from the impressive former Brighton man. Rowland's ball into the striker saw him quickly turn Brindley with a neat shuffle of his feet, leaving the veteran flat-footed on the edge of his own penalty area and set the striker up to fire low past Young from fifteen yards out and into the far corner of the net

The Pitmen were slow to respond to going behind and almost conceded a quick fire second goal on twenty-four minutes as they failed to defend a corner with any real authority to allow Smart to poke the loose ball just wide of goal at the far post

Carl Palmer was lucky to only receive a ticking-off from the referee on twenty-eight minutes after a frustrated Palmer chased Dell into his own half and pulled him back by his shirt as he challenged for the ball

Danks and Steve Evans linked up down the left on thirty-two minutes to play Hines into space created behind the Eastbourne defence - his out-swinging cross was met by Anthrobus, but the ball was a little too high and behind him which saw the big man head well over the crossbar

Gray was having good game for the Pitmen after a quiet outing last weekend at Weymouth, using his pace to good effect as an outlet for his team-mates to use. A good run from the winger on thirty-six minutes saw him drift inside from the byeline and skip past a couple challenges before attempting a curling shot that was easily claimed by Hook

Ian Pulman's punt forward for the visitors on thirty-nine minutes saw Ramsay again alive to the ball, bringing the ball down well before playing Rowland into space down the wing. His cross found the head of Simmonds, only for the striker to take his eye off the ball momentarily and head over the bar as he failed to get enough purchase on the ball

With half-time looming, Hines tried to catch out the Eastbourne defence with a quickly-taken free-kick low into the feet of Danks, only for Holmes to get across and block the striker's shot at the near post

The half-time whistle was greeted by disgruntled boos from the Hednesford supporters, who had once again seen their side huff and puff through an uninspiring first-half performance against an Eastbourne side that had looked dangerous on the counter-attack

A slight switch in position at the start of the second half saw Hines playing further forwards down the left as he and Steve Evans shared the left-back duties. Evans exchanged passes with Steve Palmer on forty-eight minutes before playing a superb cross-field ball to Gray, whose mazy run to the goal line was eventually halted by Tuck's intervention

A powerful run from deep by Carl Palmer saw him outmuscle Dell on fifty-two minutes as he created space just in front of the Eastbourne defence for Anthrobus towrope off into. The veteran striker took the ball from Palmer and sprayed it out to Gray, whose instinctive first-time volleyed cross fizzed across the face of the Eastbourne penalty area and away from danger as Danks was inches away from turning the ball home at the far post

A minute later, Steve Evans' corner kick was flicked at the near post by Brindley and into the path of Gray at the far post, only for a timely block by Dell to divert Gray's shot away from goal for another corner on the opposite side of the pitch

The visitors were content to continue their ploy of playing on the counter-attack safe in the knowledge that they had the pace advantage against Barrow and Brindley. Daren Pearce nicked the ball off the toe of Gibson on fifty-eight minutes and played Ramsay away into acres of space down the left, which the striker used to good effect to drag Barrow out of position and play Simmonds into the space vacated by the centre-back. Simmonds' first touch was too heavy, however and he allowed Young to claim the ball at his feet just inside the Hednesford penalty area


Hednesford got themselves back on level terms five minutes later as Gray grabbed his first goal for the club since his switch from Sutton Coldfield Town back in October; drifting in from the wing, Gray collected Carl Palmer's pass before getting the better of Tuck and sliding the ball beyond Hook from fifteen yards out with a low side footed effort into the far corner of the net

The Pitmen had their best spell of the game for the next ten minutes as they looked to strike again and get their noses in front for the first time in the game. Brindley was off-target with a header at the far post from a Hines corner on sixty-five minutes, followed by a rare foray into the Eastbourne penalty area by Gibson two minutes later as Steve Palmer played him in, only for the right-back to panic at the wrong the moment and completely scuff this shot wide from ten yards out


Gray was denied the chance to grab another goal on seventy minutes as he raced onto a fine through ball from Carl Palmer, only for the offside flag to go up against him for moving too soon. Gray felt he was onside and let the official Mr. Hancock know as much on his way back to the centre circle


 Steve Evans seized upon an error from Darren Baker on seventy-four minutes, robbing the full-back of the ball down the left flank and crossing early for Danks, whose outstretched leg just got enough on the ball to turn it goalwards only for Hook to make a comfortable save

Hook turned a rising shot from Gray over the crossbar three minutes later, before Rowland's free-kick from the right of the Hednesford penalty area was nodded into the side-netting by Holmes, under pressure from Gibson

Danks had been unusually off-target with his efforts this afternoon and spooned another good chance into the Heath Hayes terrace on eighty minutes as he lifted Gray's square ball over the crossbar

The Pitmen were once again undone by their horrible axis of inconsistency two minutes later, as their missed chances were punished by Eastbourne in another defensive horror show by the hosts. A long, hopeful ball forwards from Dell was headed straight up into the air by Barrow and subsequently nodded back into the danger zone by Pearce. The Pitmen were caught ball-watching once more as Ramsay reacted quickest to the ball and fired beyond the reach of Young from ten yards out to hand Eastbourne the key third goal of the afternoon

Some supporters started heading for the exits with the hosts unable to offer much in the way of a response to Eastbourne's second goal. Hines delivered two fine corner kicks in quick succession that were both claimed well by Hook, under no real pressure from anyone in white, before Danks was pulled up for a marginal offside on eighty-six minutes that saw the official on the main stand side incur the wrath of the supporters heading for the gates

In the final minute of the game, the hosts forced three corners in a row as they pressed desperately for an equaliser. The third such ball in from Hines was flicked on at the near post by Carl Palmer and into the path of Anthrobus, who only got the lightest of touches on the ball with his head and glanced well wide of the target

Another chorus of entirely expected boos rang out at the final whistle, leaving some Hednesford players slumped on the ground as they contemplated a ninth league game without a win to leave them at a real crossroads in their season. There is still plenty of time to recover from this terrible run of recent form and finish the season strongly, with the Pitmen having played the many of the top sides twice already this term such as Weymouth, Nuneaton and Worcester. Another break from the stresses of the league is in order again next weekend as the Pitmen face Ryman League Division One South high-flyers Worthing at Keys Park in the fourth round of the F.A. Trophy

Hednesford Town: Young, Gibson, Hines, S. Evans, Brindley, BarrowC. Palmer, S. Palmer ©Anthrobus, Danks, Gray     Subs Unused: Dean, Dodd, Lamey, Charie, P. Evans

Eastbourne Borough: Hook, Baker, Tuck, Smart (Westcott 76), Holmes, Dell, Pulman (Ducille 84), Pearce, Ramsay, Simmonds, Rowland      Subs Unused: Crabb, Whyborne, Playford