9.9.2008

UniBond Northern Premier League

Eastwood Town

Shaw (37), Holmes (53)

Hednesford Town

Marshall (35)

(1) 2

(1) 1

Attendance

MoTM

Current Form

Next Match

387

Tyrone Barnett

D W W W D W L

Atherstone Town (H) 13.9.08

Well, it had to happen sometime, and so it did here tonight at Coronation Park, where the Pitmen finally succumbed to defeat for the first time this season after seven games to big-spending Eastwood Town

Saturday had seen the Pitmen's league game at home to Ashton United postponed due to a waterlogged pitch. Manager Dean Edwards, not one to chop and change without good reason, made his first personnel changes in five games for tonight's trip over the Nottinghamshire as Chad Sheppard came into the first XI in place of Mark Briggs in midfield

Eastwood - many pundits' tip for a tilt at the title after a summer of big spending under the stewardship of owner Rob Yong - returned home following a 1-1 draw against local rivals Matlock Town last Tuesday night. Manager Paul Cox made four changes to the side that had travelled to Causeway Lane as Alistair Asher, ex-Pitman Paul Robinson, Marc Smith and Ross Gardner replaced Kris Matthews, Wayne Duik, Matt Rhead and Mark Hume

A laboured first quarter saw very little in the way of chances for either side, with the pronounced slope at Eastwood's home ground a real energy sapper over ninety minutes if you start off too quickly

Sheppard was straight into the action, with two firm challenges early on bringing him to the attention of the referee, who set his own stall out with the combative former Birmingham City and Tamworth man

The first real chance of note fell to the sky blue-clad Pitmen on ten minutes; Anthony Maguire was taken out as he played the ball into the path of Louis Briscoe, but the referee gave the away side the advantage to allow Briscoe to shoot wide of goal

Eastwood responded five minutes later with a shot from Ian Holmes that was straight at Stuart Brock, looking to continue his heroics from the previous two games

The Pitmen were almost the masters of their own downfall on twenty minutes when Decio Gomes played a short ball back to Brock. The ball failed to reach the keeper, and Brock had to sprint out to clear the ball as a number of Eastwood players descended on the back pass

Brock was again called upon to get the away side out of trouble five minutes later, making a fine save to deny Mark Smith, who had hit a shot from twenty yards out. He was also on his toes to deny Richard Dunning with a smothering save after the Eastwood man had broken free in the area

Despite all the pressure on Brock's goal, it was the visitors that took the lead ten minutes from the break  - and what a goal it was! Tom Marshall picked the ball up just inside the Eastwood half, and under no pressure, took the ball forward. With few options in front of him, Marshall hit a quite brilliant shot from thirty yards out that Alex Goddard in the Eastwood goal got nowhere near. A superb strike from nowhere from the burly centre-back

However, the celebrations lasted for only a couple of minutes, as the big-spending hosts hit back. Chris Shaw picked up a throw-in, before driving his way into the area and hitting a cross-shot that deceived Brock, who could only fumble the ball over the line

The Pitmen had been good value for a point up to that point, and Dean Edwards must have thought there was a chance of at least one, or maybe three points come the second period. As it was, it was Eastwood who started the better, with Holmes sending an early warning to the away side with a wayward effort

If that had acted as a warning shot, then the Pitmen did not heed it, as the same player gave the hosts the lead three minutes later. A corner from the right was headed towards goal, with Brock making a fine save from close range. The ball, however, dropped to Holmes, who stabbed home from two yards out

After having the 'disadvantage' of kicking up the slope in the first half, there would have been an expectancy that the Pitmen would use the downward slope to get a foothold back in the game as the second half progressed. However, they toiled going forward, and found chances at a premium, with Eastwood's defence being well marshalled by centre-back Robinson

Tyrone Barnett had a good chance to grab an equaliser with twenty minutes remaining but hit a first time shot wide of goal

The only other real chance of note for the visitors came with five minutes remaining. Briscoe, yet to be substituted for once, got in behind the Eastwood back line but his tired shot was turned away by Goddard, who also easily dealt with a header from Harvey from the resultant corner

The result, and other results tonight, send the Pitmen down to fifth place, but still very much in the hunt early on. It was probably good to get this first defeat of the campaign out of the way, and with lower-level opposition to face in the F.A. Cup on Saturday in the form of Atherstone Town, an ideal way of getting over the disappointment of defeat tonight by making progress in the world's greatest cup competition 

Eastwood Town: Goddard, Asher, Shaw, Cooke, Sturdy, Robinson, Foster, Dunning, Holmes, Smith (Rhead 76), Gardner (Miekle 60)       Subs Unused: Swinscoe, Matthews, Whitman

Hednesford Town: Brock, Platt, Maguire (Durrell 71), Gomes, Harvey, Marshall, Sheppard, Briscoe (Morris 87), Barnett, Dyer, Draper © (Briggs 83)      Sub Unused: Stamps