22.12.2007

UniBond Northern Premier League

Hednesford Town

Fleetwood Town

Walmsley (10), Milligan (42), Taylor (89)

(0) 0

(2) 3

Attendance

MoTM

Current Form

Next Match

322

Ross Dyer

L L W W L L W D D L

Prescot Cables (A) 26.12.07

After a three week spell away from action due to the recent cold snap, the Pitmen returned to action with a lethargic performance against high-flying Fleetwood Town at Keys Park this afternoon which leaves them further adrift in their quest for the play-offs

 

Injuries and unavailability of key players saw Phil Starbuck's squad stretched to its limit, forcing him into two changes from the side that had drawn a blank at Ilkeston Town two weeks ago; Tom Marshall was again ruled out after picking up a knock and was replaced by Gordon Simms, whilst Mario Pedro came back into the XI in place of Wayne Dyer. Such were the Pitmen's injury woes, recently-appointed assistant manager Mark Patterson was forced into making up the numbers on the bench at the ripe old age of 42-years-old 

Fleetwood were keeping tabs on Witton Albion's flying start to the season and sat second in the UniBond Premier League table at the start of this pre-Christmas clash, albeit ten points behind the Cheshire side. Manager Tony Greenwood made two changes to the side that had beaten Eastwood Town last week in their last game as Steve Foster and Shaun Beeley came in for Jez Fitzgerald and Nathan Pond

In front of a desperately disappointing crowd, with many fans electing to go Christmas shopping rather than attend the game, the visitors got off to a flying start as former AFC Telford United striker Foster just missed the target with a fifth-minute effort at goal that took a slight nick off Simms before ending up wide of goal

Two minutes later, ex-Hednedford favourite Andy Bell was played through on goal by Jamie Milligan's fine through ball, only for a tight offside flag from the assistant on the main stand side to deny the striker a goal on his return to Keys Park

However, Fleetwood were rewarded for their strong start to the game with the opening goal of the game in the tenth minute; right-back Kieran Walmsley picked the ball up inside his own half and was allowed time and space to move towards the Hednesford penalty area. After playing a one-two with Bell, he fired a great shot across Rene Gilmartin and into the far corner of the net

Ross Dyer was at the heart of everything the Pitmen was to produce going forwards in a muted first-half display as he kept the Fleetwood defence on its toes with his pace and movement. A good run down the right saw him pick up a pass from Steve Palmer and turn inside of Beeley before being pulled back by the full-back. To the amazement of Dyer and his team-mates, the referee failed to award the Pitmen a free-kick on the edge of the penalty area and the game continued

More clever play from Dyer on eighteen minutes saw him get the better of Beeley once more, provoking a foul by the Fleetwood man on this occasion. Chris Adam took the resultant free-kick but hit his free-kick straight into the Fleetwood wall

 

A nice turn by Pedro on twenty-five minutes saw him get to the byeline and chip the ball back into the danger zone, but no one in white could react quickest to turn the ball home from close-range 

 

A minute later, Dyer turned provider for Maguire, slipping the left-wing back into space behind the Fleetwood defence. only for the former Torquay man to fire wide of goal from fifteen yards out

 

Walmsley could easily have been shown a red card by referee Mr Hayward just before the half-hour mark as his crude challenge on Adam right in front of the benches brought a furious response from the home side's players and officials. Mr Hayward showed the full-back a yellow card and gave him a severe ticking off, much to the derision of the home side

For all their possession in the opening third of the game, the Pitmen had struggled to create any real clear-cut openings against a Fleetwood side that looked comfortable in possession and always a threat on the break. Chris Hanna finally gave Fleetwood goalkeeper Michael Hale something to do on thirty-four minutes, forcing him into a save low down to his right after Flteewood had failed to clear a corner kick. The rebound fell back to Hanna, who lost his footing at the crucial moment to allow the visitors to clear the ball

Bell lifted an ambitious effort over the crossbar two minutes later as he played a quick one-two with Foster before getting his laces underneath the ball from twenty-five yards out

On thirty-eight minutes, Paul Robinson's slip allowed Milligan to seize upon the loose ball and play Bell through on goal. The striker took a touch and pulled the ball back into the path of Milligan once more, only for Ross Adams to make a brave block at his near post

Fleetwood extended their lead just before the break to ruin any of Starbuck's half-time notes; a low effort from Foster was well saved by Gilmartin, but he could do nothing to stop former Everton player Jamie Milligan tapping in the rebound as the ball dropped kindly for the experienced midfielder

After what was no doubt an aggressive chat from Starbuck at the break, the Pitmen emerged brightly in the early stages of the second half as they looked to get that crucial goal to let them back in. Dyer made another fine run in behind the Fleetwood defence on forty-eight minutes as Pedro picked him out with a fine pass. However, the striker lost control of the ball as he shaped to shoot and ended up allowing the ball to dribble behind for a goal kick

Gilmartin denied Bell with a fine stop on fifty-three minutes, racing out of his goal to narrow the angle on the former Blackburn striker and parry his angled drive away from danger

Four minutes later, Foster's flick-on from a Hale free-kick found Phil Robinson in behind the Hednesford defence, only for the midfielder's hurried shot to sail high over the crossbar and away from danger

On the hour mark, the Pitmen made their first change of the afternoon as they looked for a reaction to Fleetwood's waves of attacks as David Brown replaced the out-of-sorts Adam 

Excellent wing play from Walmsley saw him jink past two challenges down the right flank on sixty-one minutes and pick out Bell at the near post only for Paul Robinson to do enough to put the striker off as he headed well wide

Four minutes later, the Pitmen made another change as they went more attacking in their approach with Alan Nagington coming on up front in place of Maguire

The ever-threatening Bell got on the end of a fine pass from substitute Phil Denney on sixty-eight minutes, turning inside to get the ball onto his right foot but was denied by a fine block from Simms

A lazy pass from Sheppard allowed Fleetwood to break quickly two minutes later, with Denney played in on goal by Bell. Adams was quickest to react to the danger and managed to get a toe to the ball and block Denney's shot

After David Brown had won a free-kick out on the left-wing on seventy-three minutes, Sheppard took the resultant kick and picked Dyer out, only for the striker to head over the crossbar from close-range when he should have made Hale work

Another Sheppard free-kick on seventy-eight minutes was met by the head of substitute Nagington, only for Hale to make a save low down and also deny Hanna on the follow-up

With time running out for the Pitmen to get themselves back into the game, Nagington was denied by Hale on eighty minutes as his weakly-struck shot from the edge of the penalty area was easily fielded by the Fleetwood stopper

As the Pitmen pressed, gaps appeared at the back with Fleetwood played on the counter-attack; Gilmartin made a fine save to deny Milligan on eighty-three minutes as he pushed the midfielder's cross from underneath his crossbar and away for a corner kick

A late run into the Fleetwood penalty area from Adams also conjured up a goal for the Pitmen on eighty-six minutes as he arrived late into the box to meet a cross from Pedro, only for Hale to make the save at his far post

In the final minute of the game and with the hosts still chasing a goal, Fleetwood pumped a long ball forwards in search of substitute Alex Taylor. Simms made a real hash of the pass, mistiming the bounce of the ball and allowing Taylor a clear run through on goal to take the ball around Gilmartin and tap into the empty net

Fleetwood had certainly proved their title credentials with a fine, disciplined performance that allowed the Pitmen to have plenty of the ball but exploited the home side's weakness at the back. For the Pitmen, they are marooned in the mediocrity of mid-table, no closer to the play-offs as they are the bottom three as their horribly inconsistent season continues. They travel to mid-table Prescot Cables on Boxing Day looking to end a horrible run of form that has seen them win only one of their last six games

 

Hednesford Town: Gilmartin, Palmer, Adams, Sheppard, Simms, Paul Robinson ©, Pedro, Maguire (Nagington 65), Dyer, Hanna, Adam (D. Brown 60)      Sub Unused: Patterson

Fleetwood Town: Hale, Walmsley , Beeley, Moran , Mercer © (Gray 73), Phil Robinson, M. Brown, Milligan, Foster (Denney 60), Bell (Taylor 77), Watt      Subs Unused: None