UniBond Northern Premier League

Hednesford Town

Adams (67), Hadland (68)

Fleetwood Town

Bell (64)

(0) 2

(0) 1



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Darren Alexander


Gateshead (A) 9.12.06

The Pitmen make it seventeen games unbeaten in the UniBond Premier this afternoon by completing a quickfire double over Fleetwood Town with another odd-goal-in-three win over the Lancashire side to beat the Cod Army for the second time in seven days


Manager Phil Starbuck kept faith in the same side that won 2-1 at Highbury last week but brought in new signing Christian Moore to line up on the bench alongside Ross Dyer and the returning Chris White in a strong-looking set of potential changes 

Fleetwood manager Tony Greenwood - looking to arrest the slide in Fleetwood's away results and performances - made three changes to his side from last weekend's defeat to the Pitmen as Jerome Fitzgerald came back in for Lee Pryers, Phil Robinson replaced Nathan Pond and Stuart Beech was included at Phil Denney's expense. Greenwood also elected for a tactical tweak to his side having witnessed his team struggle in midfield last week, choosing to play a 4-5-1 formation with former Hednesford striker Andy Bell the lone striker up against his former club

On a sunny but cold afternoon and in front of the Pitmen's biggest crowd of the season so far, both sides made a tepid start to proceedings with only an off-target Gary Sucharewycz header drifting over the crossbar from a Ross Adams cross top show from either side in the first ten minutes of the game

In the thirteenth minutes, striker Dave Whittaker nipped in to meet a well-placed header from a Mario Pedro cross but saw his effort at goal easily fielded by Fleetwood goalkeeper Andy Banks

 On-loan Terry Henshaw has been a regular in the side since they started their long unbeaten league run and has yet to lose a game as a Hednesford player in the UniBond Premier League; he was next to try his luck for the home side in the seventeenth minute, but his first-time effort on the volley sailed harmlessly over the bar and into the Heath Hayes terrace after Tom Franklin had picked him out of the corner of the penalty area

A neat slide-rule pass from Beech in the centre of midfield found Bell darting in behind the Hednesford defence, only for the assistant on the Wimbelbury side to pull the ex-Blackburn man back for offside before he could shoot at goal

More incisive passing from Beech midway through the first half saw him played Jamie Milligan into space just outside the Hednesford penalty area, only for the experienced midfielder to lash his shot high and wide of Ryan Young's goal

The best chances of the half fell to the Pitmen on twenty-five minutes as a corner kick from Adams caused all sorts of confusion in the Fleetwood area, with the ball eventually falling to last week's goal hero Iain Screaton; his stabbed effort towards goal from six yards out was brilliantly saved by Banks down low at his near post, turning the ball behind for another corner kick


 From the resulting corner, Admas swung the ball in from the opposite side of the pitch which was headed narrowly wide of goal by striker Darren Alexander

Bell fired wide of the Cod Army on the half-hour mark as he got his angles all wrong following yet another fine pass from Fleetwood's man of the match Beech

Scott McNiven's long ball forwards five minutes later was headed away by Tom Marshall but into the path of the incoming Milligan, whose first-time effort whistled narrowly wide of Young's right-hand post

With half-time looming, Marshall did a superb job to get across and deny Beech after he had got the better of Screaton to drift into the Hednesford penalty area before Marshall's timely interception

The first half was to prove to be the warm-up act as the second half certainly lived up to its billing as the main course with action right from the restart. After what was no doubt an aggressive half-time talk from Starbuck, the home side came storming out of the blocks and felt that they should have been awarded a penalty kick just two minutes after the restart after Franklin's through ball towards Whittaker appeared to be handled by Fitzgerald as he pushed the ball away from the striker. Despite vociferous protests from the hosts, the game continued and Fleetwood cleared their lines

The Pitmen's pressure continued with a series of corner kicks from both sides of the pitch; Banks was on hand to punch the ball away from danger twice and also claim a Pedro cross on fifty-three minutes just ahead of the incoming Whittaker at his near post

Beech was on hand at the Fleetwood end of the pitch to clear the ball off his own goal line two minutes later as Henshaw's low shot was cleared off the line by the covering striker, with Pedro seeing his rebound deflected narrowly wide by McNiven

Pedro - having a mixed afternoon of both inspirational and frustrating moments, swung in the resultant corner but saw Whoittaker head agonisingly wide of the far post from six yards out

Alexander paid the price for his combative nature on fifty-seven minutes as he was caught square in the face by a flailing arm from Martin Moran, which required attention after he started spewing blood from his nose


Whittaker again tested Banks with a firm shot sixty seconds later, drilling in a low shot from just inside the Fleetwood penalty area after a great run from deep by the mercurial Pedro


Veteran former Burton Albion striker Moore made his Hednesford debut just before the hour mark as he came on to add his experience to the forward line in place of Franklin

 Despite starting the second half very much second best, Fleetwood found themselves in front on sixty-four minutes as Bell came back to haunt his former club as he was allowed to run thirty yards with the ball unchallenged after picking up a pass Milligan before striking a ball across Young and into the far corner of the net. A good strike but poor cover play from the hosts to allow Bell too much time and space to pick his spot

 Phil Hadland almost struck an immediate response for the shell-shocked hosts two minutes later as unleashing a thirty-yard piledriver from a slight angle that only just cleared the Fleetwood crossbar


A minute later, Pedro sent over a fine inswinging corner kick from the right that was followed in by Adams, who met the ball full-on with a firm header that nestled into the corner of the net for a rare goal from the former West Brom defender

The game was turned on its head just two minutes later as a delightful ball from Moore found auxiliary wing-back Hadland darting in behind the Fleetwood defence, with the former Rochdale man applying a fine lobbed finish over the head of the advancing Banks and finding the far corner of the net

The Pitmen could have taken the game away from Fleetwood on seventy-three minutes as Henshaw's cross was flocked on by Alexander and into the feet of Whittaker, only the ball to get stuck in the boggy penalty area and allowing Banks to make a smothering save at the striker's feet

With eleven minutes remaining, the Pitmen elected to take off striker Whittaker and bring on defensive midfielder White in a bid to hold on to their slim advantage

Pedro curled a free-kick just wide of goal just a minute later as attempted to beat Banks at his left-hand post with a wicked ball across the face of the Fleetwood goal


With seven minutes remaining, Alexander made a clever turn inside of Moran to get on the end of a pass from Moore but dragged his shot the wrong side of the near post

On eighty-five minutes, Dyer was given a late run-out by Starbuck as he came on in place of the tiring Alexander, who had once again run himself into the ground

The introduction of Phil Denney to the Fleetwood attack had very little affect on the Cod Army in the latter stages as both Sucharewycz and Marshall stood firm in the face of a late barrage of corner kicks and crosses from the visitors, who had sent Moran forwards in search of a target man to get his head to the ball

A fine victory for the hosts and two quick wins over a club that seven days ago they had never faced before. League game number seventeen without defeat is further compelling evidence that Starbuck and John Ramshaw are steering this club in the right direction, something that will be severely tested next weekend when they face Gateshead for the first time since the two sides met in the F.A. Trophy back in the 2001-2002 season


Hednesford Town: Young ©, Hadland, Henshaw, Screaton, Marshall, Sucharewycz, Pedro, Franklin (Moore 59), Whittaker (White 79), Alexander (Dyer 85), Adams      Subs Unused: None

Fleetwood Town: Banks, McNiven (Denney 80), Fitzgerald, Gray, Robinson, Moran, Milligan, Haddow, Beech, Bell, Smith      Subs Unused: Saunders, Charnock

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