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Evo-Stik Northern Premier League

Hednesford Town

Glover (3) (penalty), Bailey (79)

Farsley Celtic

Cartman (55)

(1) 2

(0) 1



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Danny Glover


Shaw Lane (H) 23.12.17

The Pitmen show that once again team spirit and sheer grit can earn you positive results, as they earn all three points over Farsley Celtic at an overcast Keys Park thanks to Ben Bailey's late headed goal


Having had a fortnight off league action since their 2-1 win over Stalybridge Celtic, manager Rob Smith had had to contend with a number of comings and goings. Reece King had been recalled by parent club Gloucester City in midweek, whilst AJ George's loan spell from Mansfield Town had come to an end. Smith had moved to replace the pair with the signing of former West Brom defender Callam Mendez-Jones and midfielder Laurence Taylor on loan from Altrincham


A quick look at Farsley's squad list and it became clear as to the reasons behind the newly-promoted club's success, with Adam Lakeland's squad full of Step one and two experience. The highly experienced Danny Ellis - formerly with Guiseley and Harrogate - skippered the side, flanked by former Bradford (Park Avenue) pair Adam Clayton and Paul Walker, whilst the prolific Nathan Cartman had recently joined the club on a permanent deal from Darlington after James Walshaw's departure to Scarborough Athletic


A grey, miserable day in South Staffordshire saw the floodlights at Keys Park on before kick-off had arrived, with the home side making the perfect start to proceedings through their recent find James Fitzgibbon. A flying run from the winger saw him ghost into the penalty area, forcing Farsley full-back Lewis Turner into bringing the youngster down as he tried to take the ball back. Danny Glover spotted the ball after the Pitmen were awarded a penalty, firing firmly home past Graeme McKibbin in the Farsley goal to give the hosts a perfect start to the game


James Wren was called upon for the first time in the afternoon in the fifth minute to keep his side ahead, making a good save to turn Luke Parkin's shot behind for a Farsley corner kick


After the Pitmen had cleared the subsequent corner kick, Joey Butlin nearly added to his recent goal tally with a shot from close range that was initially spilled by McKibbin before he claimed the ball at the second attempt


Farsley enjoyed plenty of possession in the early stages of the game, playing neat, incisive football up to the edge of the penalty area before the Pitmen cleared their lines and launched attacks on the counter-attack. One such counter punch from the hosts saw them break quickly on eighteen minutes, with skipper Tom Thorley swinging in a cross that was headed narrowly over the crossbar by Jordan Graham


Farsley's best chance of the first half hour fell to Isaac Baldwin, whose run down the left saw him get into a good position but curled his shot just over Wren's crossbar 


Three minutes later, Cartman wasted a glorious chance to level matters for the visitors, as Adam Porritt's cross found Cartman in a great position, central to the goal on the penalty spot. However, rather than test Wren's reflexes, Cartman volleyed his shot wide of goal. A let-off for the Pitmen indeed


Butlin's indecision was to cost the Pitmen a clear sight on goal on thirty-eight minutes, as Matt Curley's mis-hit shot found the burly striker, who elected to take a touch rather than shoot first time and allowed McKibbin to save at his near post


The Pitmen finished the half strongly, with Butlin doing well to shrug off the attention of Ellis before he drove a cross in towards Graham, requiring a last-ditch clearance from Turner


The excellent Fitzgibbon - again underlining his potential as a real threat down the wing - went close to doubling the Pitmen's lead on forty-two minutes, picking up a Graham lay-off before skipping inside and driving a low shot just wide of the far post


With a minute left in the half, neat play from Butlin saw him lay the ball off into the path of Graham, who skewed his shot well wide of goal with the final action of the half


And yet, once again, the Pitmen failed to take advantage of their goal lead at the break, as they allowed the visitors to get themselves back into the game, as they had done in the two previous home games against Cleethorpes and Stalybridge. Bailey was on hand to make a crucial block to deny Ben Atkinson a certain goal on fifty-two minutes, sliding in to divert his shot away from goal for a Farsley corner


The visitors were level again however on fifty-five minutes, as Walker's goalbound shot took a wicked deflection off the back of Porritt and fell kindly into the path of Cartman, who drove the ball home from close range to equalise


Butlin assumed responsibility for a free kick on fifty-nine minutes, taking ownership of a ball fully thirty yards out. His firmly struck low shot had McKibbin beaten, but skimmed inches wide of the right-hand post in the process


Both sides made changes midway through the half, with Joe Fitzpatrick coming on for the Pitmen in place of the tiring Taylor on sixty-seven minutes to add more physicality to the midfield


Fitzgibbon was again unlucky with a cross-shot from the left on sixty-nine minutes, cutting inside from the wing and drifting past three challenges, but driving a low shot just wide of the left hand post


Farsley hit the woodwork on seventy-six minutes as the game started to get stretched as Cartman played in former Frickley man Adam Priestley, whose shot came back off the post at close range with an angled effort


They were to pay dearly for missing this good chance, as the Pitmen scored what proved to be the winner three minutes later; Darren Campion's inswinging corner was headed goalwards by Bailey, who got enough on the loose ball to force it over the line, courtesy of a touch off the post. It was Bailey's first goal since returning to Keys Park in the summer from Telford


In an attempt to see the game out, Thorley was taken off in place of defender Charlie Gatter, who slotted in just in front of the centre-backs to add a layer f protection to the home side's defence


This was followed by the Pitmen's third change of the afternoon with five minutes remaining, as Sam Oji came on in place of the indifferent Graham as a further defensive reinforcement


As the game entered added time, Farsley had two good chances to take a point back to Yorkshire; A deep cross from Watson, following successive corner kicks from the right, was headed over the crossbar by Clayton, followed a minute later by a shot from substitute Ben Atkinson that flew just wide of the far upright


Despite a lack of overall quality and the constant change of personnel, Smith and Larry Chambers are performing a small miracle in keeping the Pitmen competitive in the league. They now sit just six points below the play-off places and with three more home games to come in the next three weeks, the Pitmen seem in good spirits ahead of the festive period. Next up - Buxton next Saturday afternoon


Hednesford Town: Wren, Curley, Campion,  Bailey, Mendez-Jones, Taylor (Fitzpatrick 67), Graham (Oji 85), Thorley © (Gatter 83), Glover, Butlin, Fitzgibbon   Subs unused: Lawrie, Mbunga


Farsley Celtic: McKibben, Turner, Baldwin, L. Atkinson, Ellis ©, Clayton, Porritt (Priestley 71), Watson, Cartman, Parkin (B. Atkinson 71), Walker (Harris 81)   Subs unused: Trenerry, Bett


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