25.11.2006

UniBond Northern Premier League

Fleetwood Town

Milligan (24)

Hednesford Town

Screaton (32), Pedro (75) (penalty)

(1) 1

(1) 2

Attendance

MoTM

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563

Mario Pedro

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Fleetwood Town (H) 2.12.06

The Pitmen maintain their wonderful unbeaten away record this afternoon at a wet and windy Fleetwood Town as they come from a goal down to win on their first-ever trip to the Highbury Stadium

 

There was one enforced change to the side that had drawn a frustrating blank against Mossley last weekend with skipper Chris White missing out due to injury and was replaced by the returning Mario Pedro. This saw players moving into different positions to compensate for White's exclusion and Pedro's inclusion, with Dave Whittaker playing in a more unfamiliar deep role and Phil Hadland playing at right wing-back. Goalkeeper Ryan Young was handed the captaincy for the game as the most senior player in the Pitmen's ranks for today's game

Fleetwood had been on an indifferent run of form recently, particularly away from home where they had recently lost five games in a row in all competitions before they drew at Gateshead last weekend. Manager Tony Greenwood made two changes to his side for today's game as Paul Haddow replaced Micky Saunders and Phil Denney came in for Lennie Reid

 

The game had been in some doubt earlier in the morning after a deluge of rain overnight had left the Highbury pitch sodden. However, thanks to the volunteers and ground staff, the pitch was passed by the referee after an inspection at 1pm

 The away side found the going difficult during the opening exchanges, having to deal with a swirling wind and a Fleetwood side that were yet to be beaten at home who were intent on starting the match well. Former Hednesford striker Andy Bell threatened to break through the stubborn whites rearguard in the eighth minute but was flagged for offside as he ran onto Denney's weighted pass

 Bell went closest to opening the scoring for the Cod Army in the fifteenth minute as Denney's fine cross from the left was begging to be turned in from close-range, only for the ball to skip away from goal with Bell just unable to apply the finish

 The ever-willing Darren Alexander responded for the visitors just a minute later as he collected the ball from Ross Dyer and skipped past Shaun Gray's challenge before firing in a shot that was palmed away by Fleetwood goalkeeper Andy Banks

Within sixty seconds, Mario Pedro saw his close-range effort blocked on the line by the covering Scott McNiven after the hosts had struggled to clear a corner kick from Ross Adams effectively

Fleetwood composed themselves after this flurry of activity in and around their penalty area and Jamie Milligan lashed a shot wide of Young's right-hand post midway through the half after good hold-up play from Denney

 The home side took the lead midway through the half as another spell of pressure on the Hednesford defence finally found a way through; McNiven's cross was headed goalwards by on-loan Morecambe midfielder Jonathan Smith but was well saved by Young. The ball dropped kindly in the direction of the incoming Milligan, who could not miss from at the far post for his sixth goal of the season with a tap-in

Credit to the visitors, though, as once again Starbuck's side showed all their character to fight back in search of protecting their long unbeaten away record. Iain Screaton's long throw on twenty-seven minutes was flicked on by Tom Marshall and into the path of Whittaker, only for the Fleetwood defence to crowd the striker out before he could get his shot away

 

The visitors got themselves back level on thirty-two minutes as Screaton made a rare excursion into the opposition half, picked the ball up twenty-five yards out before curling a delightful shot beyond Banks and into the far corner of the net - a wonderful way to mark your first goal for the Pitmen

 The Pitmen grew in confidence after getting themselves back into the game and could have taken the lead through some Pedro magic on thirty-seven minutes as he danced all the way through the Fleetwood defence before having his pocket picked by Banks as he overran the ball slightly

 

Whittaker was working hard for the team out of position, playing an incisive ball into Pedro's path on forty-one minutes and taking it back from him before spotting the run of Adams down the right. The full-back's deep cross skipped off the top of the head of the incoming Alexander, with the ball a touch too high for him to get a strong connection

 

In the final minute of the first half, Whittaker turned the ball in the net but was denied by an earlier whistle from the referee, who bizarrely disallowed the goal for a foul on Banks when it appeared that no one in white was even within a yard of the Fleetwood stopper

It had been a competitive first half by two talented sides, with neither side wanting to give too much away at the back against two in-form strikers in the form of Bell and Alexander

With the strong wind at their back in the second half, the Pitmen made a good start with Pedro dragging an early effort just wide of Banks's right-hand post after more trickery from the Portuguese winger

Two minutes later, Hadland made an overlapping run beyond Adams to make space for himself down the right, cutting inside but firing into the Hednesford fans behind Banks's goal

On fifty-three minutes, Whittaker made a late run into the Fleetwood penalty area but his side-footed effort from Pedro's cross was well blocked by the boot of Nathan Pond

Denney squandered Fleetwood's best chance of the early second-half exchanges on fifty-six minutes as he turned a cross from Milligan straight into the arms of Young from close-range

Just after the hour mark, Whittaker had a great chance to score as he picked the ball up from Alexander and strode into space before attempting a curling shot that Banks initially fumbled, recovering quickly enough to smother the ball at the second attempt before the incoming Alexander could get to the ball

Sucharewycz was doing a fine marking job on the dangerous Bell, stepping in on sixty-five minutes to block the striker's shot after good play from Milligan to get past Terry Henshaw down the right

On-loan Henshaw was involved at the other end on seventy-one minutes as he quickly took a free-kick awarded to him following a foul by Pond and found Alexander, who held off Moran before playing the ball off to Tom Franklin, only for his effort to sail harmlessly over the crossbar

Pedro was denied by some goal-line heroics by Martin Moran on seventy-five minutes, clearing the ball off the line and behind for a corner kick to deny the winger a certain goal after Hadland had picked him out at the far post

From the resultant flag-kick, the Pitmen were awarded a penalty kick as Gray was adjudged to have pushed Whittaker over with the pair challenging for a Hadland cross. The decision was initially given as a free kick on the very edge of the penalty area by the referee, but the eagle-eyed assistant on the main stand side overruled the referee and stated that the foul had taken place inside the penalty area. With Ross Dyer not on the pitch to take the penalty kick, Pedro assumed the responsibility and confidently fired home to Banks's left to give Hednesford the lead

Fleetwood came roaring back as the game entered the final ten minutes and created several good chances to level the game once more. Young denied Bell from close-range with a fine parry on eighty-two minutes and then turned over a looping header from Pond sixty seconds later for a Fleetwood corner

With five minutes remaining, Starbuck looked to steady his side with a defensive change as Steve Farmer came on in place of Marshall to lend his experience to the cause

 

A minute later, Dyer also came in place of the hard-working Whittaker to use his pace in the large gaps that were opening up behind the Fleetwood defence as they committed more men forwards

A quick counter-attack from the Pitmen sixty seconds later saw Dyer play Alexander clear of the retreating Fleetwood defence, with Moran only able to bring the striker down as he bore down on goal. The referee had little hesitation in showing the defender a straight red card for a professional foul on Alexander and deny him a clear goalscoring opportunity

The red card seems to knock the momentum out of Fleetwood's attack at was the Pitmen who could have grabbed a third goal in added time with the superb Alexander once again denied the goal his efforts deserved by a fine last-ditch tackle from McNiven after he had broken clear once more from Franklin's pass

Another fine win for the Pitmen that keeps them in touch with AFC Telford at the top of the league table. The two sides will meet again at Keys Park next weekend after the original October date was re-arranged due to F.A. Trophy commitments, with Fleetwood looking to avoid an early-season double against their hosts

Fleetwood Town: Banks, McNiven, Pryers, Moran (87), Gray, Pond, Smith, Haddow (Charnock 66 (Saunders 89)), Denney, Bell, Milligan (Fitzgerald 70)     Subs Unused: None

Hednesford Town: Young ©, Hadland, Henshaw, Screaton, Marshall (Farmer 85), Sucharewycz, Pedro, Franklin, Alexander, Whittaker (Dyer 86), Adams      Sub Unused: Sheppard