Zamaretto Southern Premier League

Hednesford Town

Jagielka (18) (penalty), Barnett (61)

Evesham United

Palmer (68)

(1) 2

(0) 1



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Elliott Durrell


Halesowen Town (H) 6.2.10

Hednesford chalked up their first win of 2010, beating shot-shy Evesham at a cold and windy Keys Park this afternoon to earn caretaker manager Delwyn Humphreys his first win since taking over at Keys Park on a temporary basis

Despite a rusty-looking performance in the team's defeat to Oxford City on Tuesday night, Humphreys decided to stick with the same side for the club's first home game of the New Year, with the only change on the bench - the returning Darren Alexander was named amongst the replacements after re-signing from Stafford Rangers

Evesham had endured an even longer spell away from the pitch than the Pitmen, having not played since December 15th when they had beaten fellow play-off hopefuls Banbury United. Manager Paul West was looking for his side to shake off their rustiness and continue their climb towards the play-off places with a number of games in hand over teams around them in the league

With both sides struggling for form and fitness, the opening exchanges were riddled with misplaced passes and long, aimless ball, much to the annoyance of the 331 people that had braved the cold weather to attend the game

Indeed, the first real sight of goal led to the opening goal on eighteen minutes, as the Pitmen put together their first decent passing moves to set skipper Ross Dyer on his way. His run evaded the Evesham back-line, racing into the area with only visiting keeper Nathan Vaughan to beat. As he attempted to take the ball around the former Willenhall stopper, he was crudely brought down, leaving the referee Mr Smallwood little option but to award a penalty. With the crowd baying for a red card for Vaughan, the referee only administered a caution

Yet another name was added to the Pitmen's list of penalty takers this term, as Steve Jagielka lined up the spot-kick. He coolly fired the ball to  Vaughan's right to open the scoring for the home side

The Pitmen were spurred on by their goal and pushed Evesham back for a good spell in the first half. Loanee Sam Adkins was thwarted on not one, but three occasions by Vaughan, who made a trio of excellent saves to deny the teenager, who fired in three similar efforts from long range, all within three minutes

Dyer was hungry to get back on the goal trail for the hosts and was presented with an ideal opportunity to extend his goal tally for the season on thirty-one minutes. Elliott Durrell's ball was played in behind the Evesham back-line, with Dyer going one-one-one with Vaughan again. This time, however, Vaughan came out on top, smothering Dyer's angled shot as he was forced wide of goal

Jagielka also got in on the act a minute later, letting fly from twenty-five yards, but Vaughan was equal to the midfielder's effort

Evesham's shot-shy attack had been well marshalled by the impressive Cheyenne Dunkley and Grant Goodhead in the first period, with the away side failing to get a single shot in on Stuart Brock's goal

They remedied this four minutes into the second half when Marcus Palmer managed to get the better of Dunkley for the first time, turning the youngster before forcing Brock into a smart save at his near post

The away side went even closer on fifty-four minutes - Michael Hayden was given too much time on the edge of the penalty area, allowing him time to pick his spot and fire in an effort that came back off the crossbar

Zak Martin was lucky to stay on the pitch two minutes later, as he was booked for a poor challenge in front of the dugouts; he had been fouled five minutes earlier, and his act of retribution almost earned him a red card

Four minutes later, and perhaps slightly against the run of play, the Pitmen struck again, with that man Tyrone Barnett coming up with the goods yet again. The excellent Durrell played the ball into Barnett's feet on the edge of the area, with Barnett turning Jamie Hyde and firing a firm shot past Vaughan into the right-hand corner of the net

Barnett could have added another just a minute later, but his header from Martin's cross flew high over the crossbar

Seven minutes later, Evesham snatched an unlikely lifeline through Palmer, who got the better of Dunkley just inside the area, turning well and firing past Brock from twelve yards out

A third goal would have settled the nerves of the home supporters, who had seen one too many comebacks from visiting teams in recent years to know that the game was safe. Dyer almost grabbed the goal his efforts deserved on seventy minutes, firing a bobbled shot across the face of goal and wide of the far post with Vaughan stretching

Martin's continued aggression saw him withdrawn a minute later, with Aaron Gibson introduced to keep the Pitmen with eleven men leading into the final stages

Hednesford looked the more likely to grab another goal in the final ten minutes, with Durrell nearly putting the topping on a fine individual performance with a clever bending shot that Vaughan nervously watched over the bar with six minutes remaining

At the other end, Dunkley and Goodhead kept an eye on the dangerous Palmer, as they looked to hang on to their slim advantage

In the final minute, Durrell limped off after a crunching challenge on halfway, an incident that infuriated Evesham's Simon Fitter - his constant arguing with the referee saw him red-carded for dissent just before the end of the game

Humphreys will be happy with his team's response to a flat display at Oxford, giving the new manager - whoever that will be - a solid base to climb the league table in the next few weeks. Next weekend sees the Pitmen make their first-ever trip to Swindon Supermarine looking to pick up back-to-back wins for the first time this season

Hednesford Town: Brock, Platt, Martin ▆ (Gibson 71), Bailey, Dunkley, Goodhead, Durrell (Brannan 89), Jagielka, Barnett, Dyer © (Alexander 87), Adkins    Subs Unused: Chapman, Flynn

Evesham United: Vaughan , Watson, Hyde, Hodnett, Luckett, Lutz ©, Fitter  (89), Curtis (Woodley 82), Palmer, Hayden, Lennon      Subs Unused: Cooper, Thomas, Findlay