Evo-Stik Northern Premier League

Frickley Athletic

Bailey (29) (OG), Allott (81)

Hednesford Town

Durrell (38)

(1) 2

(1) 1



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Ben Bailey


Stafford Rangers (A) 26.12.12

 The Pitmen's unbeaten away league record finally falls this afternoon, with Frickley ending a four-month run away from Keys Park that has seen Hednesford record seven wins and three draws since August

December is already shaping up to be a busy month for the Pitmen, so manager Rob Smith took the opportunity to rotate his side once more. In came Dave MacPherson in place of Alex Melbourne, whilst Sean O'Connor was given the nod up front in place of Neil Harvey

On a bobbly, heavy sloping pitch at Westfield Lane - a ground the Pitmen have come a cropper in recent years - it was the visitors who were quickest into the game, as an incisive through ball to Elliott Durrell saw Frickley keeper Tom Woodhead on his toes to clear

Woodhead was in action again on nine minutes, making a hash of a catch as he attempted to claim a Nathan Woolfe free-kick. He had to rely on a defender to hoof the ball clear of goal before O'Connor could seize upon the rebound

 A minute later, John Disney strode forward and tried his luck from long range, but a deflection took the sting off the shot and landed safely into the hands of Woodhead

Frickley's first real chance of the game dropped to Chris Howarth in the eleventh minute, as he got on the end of a Luke Hinsley ball and attempted to lob Dan Crane from just outside the penalty area. However, his chip lacked direction and dropped wide of the post

Durrell tested Woodhead's reflexes with a wicked free-kick on fifteen minutes, followed by a shot from Frickley striker Gavin Allott that flew into the rough ground behind Dan Crane's goal

A quick counter-attack from the Pitmen midway through the half saw them break from a Frickley free-kick, with Woolfe unleashing a shot from the left that Woodhead fielded well

Despite shading the game on chances, the away side fell behind courtesy of a bizarre own goal from Ben Bailey. Hinsley made a dart down the left-wing and cut inside Disney before firing in a shot that was on its way well wide of goal. Bailey attempted to intercept the wayward shot, but only succeeded in diverting the ball past Crane

Hednesford forced the issue in the next ten minutes, as they searched for an equaliser. Aaron Rey wasted a good opportunity on thirty-four minutes, lashing his shot over the crossbar from a good position after shots from Durrell and O'Connor had been blocked

The Pitmen finally got onto level terms once again on thirty-eight minutes, as Durrell added to his season's goal tally with the second freak goal of the afternoon. A free-kick out on the left wing was taken by the midfielder, whose dipping, swerving ball in deceived Woodhead and slipped through the keeper's grasp to find the net

The game could have turned on its head in the final minute of the half, as Hednesford had two great opportunities to take the lead. Another Durrell free-kick caused Woodhead problems, with the keeper palming Durrell's shot away from goal with an unconventional save; Francino Francis cleared the crossbar with a rising shot from the rebound, as Frickley struggled to clear the ball with it bobbling around the six-yard box

There were further good chances at both ends within five minutes of the restart, as Osborne blazed over the crossbar from Woolfe's cross, followed a minute later by a Patrice Liburd header for Frickley that was also too high

The Pitmen were calling for a penalty on fifty-three minutes, as O'Connor was allegedly pushed over in the penalty area - the referee continued with the game, with the ball eventually clipped over the bar by Rey

Rey went within the width of the woodwork of giving the visitors the lead on sixty-two minutes, as he turned his man brilliantly out on the left-wing, before cutting inside and curling a shot beyond the reach of Woodhead. Unfortunately, the ball came back off the inside of the far post and back into play. The ball landed at the feet of O'Connor, who slipped the ball into the path of MacPherson. The Hednesford skipper fired home, but his effort was ruled out for an earlier offside flag against O'Connor

Try as he might, the ball simply would not drop for Rey on a frustrating afternoon for the striker. Another effort from him on sixty-seven minutes was straight down the throat of Woodhead when a yard either side of the Frickley stopper would surely have ended in a goal

There had been little in the way of pressure from Frickley throughout the half, although a great chance fell to Jake Picton on seventy minutes, as his half volley was watched nervously over the bar by Crane

Smith made the bold move of making an attacking double change a minute later, with the more sprightly Melbourne coming on for MacPherson and Harvey introduced in place of Woolfe. This meant the Pitmen went to a 4-3-3 formation, as they searched for that elusive winning goal

Harvey's first involvement in the game saw him swipe wildly at a ball on seventy-five minutes, lashing his first shot of the game well over the crossbar

A free-kick from Luke Jeffs on seventy-nine minutes caused problems for the Pitmen at the back, with Allott taking advantage of confusion in the ranks to head goalwards. Again, like so many chances on the day, it was a wayward effort that cleared the crossbar

A minute later, Allott redeemed himself with what was to be the winning goal, taking advantage of a slip from Disney. The full-back allowed Allott to get the better of him out wide, with the striker cutting in and finishing with aplomb past Crane

It got worse for the Pitmen as the game became stretched in the final few minutes; as they tried to chase the game down, gaps appeared at the back and Frickley exploited the extra space behind the defence. Hinsley made a burst through the Hednesford back line with four minutes remaining, chasing a long ball through. Crane came out to meet him, but failed to get to the ball in time and fouled Hinsley a good five yards outside his box. The referee had no option but to send the big stopper off for the second time in his Hednesford career

Thankfully, this was a rare occasion where the Pitmen had named a substitute keeper amongst the substitutes, with youth team keeper Sam Hornby seeing the game out between the sticks after replacing the hapless Disney

The sending-off put paid to any late comeback from the Pitmen, who at least can comfort themselves this evening with the fact that they have not lost any ground to league leaders North Ferriby after Buxton had beaten the Villagers 2-0 at Silverlands. Next weekend sees Blyth Spartans make the belong journey down from the North-East for a first-ever visit to Keys Park as Smith's team look to bounce back from this surprise defeat

Frickley Athletic: Woodhead, Barwick , Jeffs, Picton, Liburd, Stimpson, Howarth, Bloor ©, Hinsley, Allott, Yates      Subs Unused: Wood, Bleau, Alali, Davies, Levers

Hednesford Town: Crane ▆ (86), Disney (Hornby 86), Craven, Bailey, Francis, MacPherson © (Melbourne 71), Osborne, Durrell, O’Connor, Rey, Woolfe (Harvey 71),      Sub Unused: Barnes