25.8.2007

UniBond Northern Premier League

Fleetwood Town

Denney (63), Bell (69)

Hednesford Town

Knox (35)

(0) 2

(1) 1

Attendance

MoTM

Current Form

Next Match

642

Peter Knox

W W L

Leek Town (H) 27.8.07

Well, it had to come at some point, as the Pitmen suffered their first defeat of the season in front of the largest crowd in the UniBond League so far this season at fellow promotion chasers Fleetwood Town

 

There was one enforced change to Phil Starbuck's starting line-up from the side that had started the 2-0 win at Buxton in midweek as Alan Nagington's injury saw him left out in favour of Dominic Heath, who had impressed after coming on at Silverlands

Fleetwood were many people's tip for the title after making several impressive signings over the summer months. The Cod Army got off to a winning start to the new campaign with a 1-0 win over Ossett Town last weekend and manager Tony Greenwood remained faithful to the XI that had started at Ingfield for today's first home game of the season. This saw former Pitman Andy Bell come up against his old club once more after scoring in the same fixture last season 

The away side started well in front of a partisan Fleetwood crowd and played some neat, incisive football in and around the Fleetwood penalty area in the opening stages of the game. A corner kick in the sixth minute from youngster Keenan Meakin-Richards just failed to find the head of Tom Marshall at the back post as the defender came steaming in to meet the inswinging kick from the right-back

 

Marshall had to race back to sort out his defensive duties two minutes later, making a timely challenge to snuff out the danger from former team-mate Bell after Tom Ward had gifted the ball to the former Blackburn Rovers striker in a dangerous area

The Pitmen continued to try and play their new brand of football with a superb move involving four players on fifteen minutes ended in Meakin-Richards firing over Danny Hurst's crossbar with an angled drive after Simon Forsdick's through ball

Marshall headed over from a Forsdick free-kick midway through the first period, before Fleetwood's best chance of the game thus far fell at the feet of Phil Denney on twenty-seven minutes only for his shot to clip the outside of the right-hand post as he nipped in front of Marshall to reach a cross from Richard Allen

The Pitmen did take a deserved lead on thirty-five minutes however as Peter Knox found the net for the second game in a row; a poor clearance from Shaun Gray fell to winger Heath, who recycled the ball well on the left and found Knox, who took a touch before firing past Hurst from ten yards out

Back came the visitors, who were limited to set pieces as they searched for a route back into the game. Guy Heffernan's deep free-kick on forty minutes was headed back across goal by Bell, only for the ball to skip past Denney before he could turn the ball home

On the stroke of half-time, Ciaran Donnelly tested the reflexes of Gilmartin as his low drive was scooped up by the big stopper down to his right-hand side after the all-blue Pitmen had failed to shut the midfielder down

Fleetwood emerged a much stronger outfit in the second half, with Bell sending out an early warning sign to the Pitmen's defence with a run and shot that was well saved by Gilmartin on forty-nine minutes

 

Bell and Gilmartin met again a couple of minutes later, with the Hednesford keeper requiring attention after a clash with the striker just inside the Hednesford penalty area saw the goalkeeper come off worst of the two players. He received a couple of minutes of treatment from physio Don Drakeley before being given the all-clear to carry on

It was all Fleetwood for the next ten minutes as they looked to take advantage of a groggy-looking Gilmartin in the Hednesford goal. Jez Fitzgerald lifted a rising shot just over the crossbar on fifty-four minutes after being afforded too much room to pick his spot by the retreating Hednesford defence

Three minutes later, successive corner kicks from Fleetwood ramped up the pressure on the Pitmen, who were looking nervous at the back and trying to protect Gilmartin. Phil Robinson nodded straight into the rams of Gilmartin from an Allen cross after his initial corner kick had been cleared back to him on the left

 

You could sense a goal was coming from the hosts and it duly arrived just after the hour mark. An Allen cross found Denney, who reacted quickest to the cross to get in front of Paul Robinson and turn the ball past Gilmartin from close range to level the game once more

The hosts had their tails up and went close to turning the game on its head on sixty-five minutes as Bell played a neat one-two with Denney before firing just wide of goal from eighteen yards out

 

The Cod Army did indeed take the lead on sixty-nine minutes as a great run from Bell deceived the Hednesford defence as he got on the end of a fine pass from Michael Brown and allowing the former Keys Park favourite to fire confidently past an exposed Gilmartin to put Fleetwood into the lead for the first time in the game

There were calls for a penalty down the other end of the pitch four minutes later as Dyer appeared to be bundled over by Donnelly as the pair clashed but the referee saw nothing untoward and turned down the appeals

 

Knox did his best to grab his, and Hednesford's second goal on seventy-five minutes but fired wide after a neat ball from Heath had picked the lock of the stubborn Fleetwood defence and played the striker in on goal

The Pitmen were certainly doing their best to rescue a point from the game, with Knox again involved ten minutes from time as he managed to beat Hurst to a Dyer pass, but saw his bobbling goalbound effort cleared away from danger by the covering Fitzgerald

A late rally from the Pitmen saw Dyer drill a shot just wide of goal on eighty-three minutes following a slide-rule pass from skipper Dave MacPherson, followed a minute later by MacPherson himself, who lifted his shot over Hurst's crossbar from twenty yards out

The Pitmen's first change of the afternoon came on eighty-four minutes as Chris Adam was given a late run-out in place of Forsdick, who had not had the same impact on the game that he did against Frickley on the opening day

Knox went closest to salvaging a point for the visitors in the final minute of the game but dragged his shot wide of goal as he shot across the face of Hurst's goal after being played into space by Heath. With time running out, Danny Blair was given a late run-out in a like-for-like swap with Heath down the flank

 

A first defeat of the season for the Pitmen, but one that they can take plenty of positives from against a side likely to be in the hunt for the title come May. Starbuck's team now turn their attention to a game to Bank Holiday Monday, when they host Staffordshire rivals Leek Town at Keys Park looking to get themselves back to winning ways

Fleetwood Town: Hurst, Heffernan, Fitzgerald, Moran, Gray, Donnelly, Brown (Smith 66), Phil Robinson, Denney, Bell, Allen (Walmsley 75)      Sub Unused: Taylor

Hednesford Town: Gilmartin, Meakin-Richards, Adams, Ward, Marshall, Paul Robinson, Dyer, MacPherson ©, Knox, Heath (Blair 89), Forsdick (Adam 84)     Sub Unused: Simms