23.9.2006

UniBond Northern Premier League

Frickley Athletic

Hednesford Town

Hadland (54), Marshall (61)

(0) 0

(0) 2

Attendance

MoTM

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244

Ross Dyer

W W L D W D W D L W

Leek Town (H) 25.9.06

The Pitmen quickly got their nightmare F.A. Cup exit to lowly Gedling Town in midweek out of their system to move up to second place in the UniBond Premier League table courtesy of two second-half goals to beat Frickley Athletic

Manager Phil Starbuck will still have been smarting at the manner of which his side had lost on Tuesday night and made three changes to the side for today's trip up to South Elmsall; new boys Terry Henshaw - signed on loan from Burton Albion and Chad Sheppard, signing from Rushall Olympic, came straight into the side in place of Danny Jellicoe and Marlon Walters respectively. The third change saw Darren Alexander also return to the side in place of the ineffective Mario Pedro

Frickley started the afternoon sitting down in fifteenth position, having lost 3-2 against Whitby Town in their last league game before beating the same opposition in the F.A. Cup first qualifying round last weekend. Manager Billy Heath was without the services of key striker Rob Pell due to injury and brought Richard Tracey back into the side in the one change to his starting line-up from the Whitby cup game

 It was the all-red clad Pitmen who were fastest out of the blocks at Westfield Lane as they looked for a swift response to their cup hangover. It was lively winger Phil Hadland who had the first shot of the afternoon for the visitors in the fourth minute, driving the ball into the side netting from a tight angle after good work from Ross Dyer to set him up

Two minutes later, Dyer was set up himself by Alexander, who nodded a Hadland chipped cross into the path of his strike partner, only for Frickley's experienced Lee Stratford to make a timely block from ten yards out

 For Frickley, the highly-rated Alex Callery had their best chance of the opening exchanges as he seized upon a slip from Tom Marshall to get in behind the Hednesford defence. However, Ryan Young spotted the danger early and got something in the way of Callery's shot before Iain Screaton cleared the ball

Dyer was causing Frickley all kinds of problems with his long, rangy running, making a move down the right-wing to beat Stratford in the twelfth minute  and cut the ball back to debutante Sheppard, only for the midfielder's shot from the edge of the penalty area to clear the crossbar

Good play from Whittaker four minutes later saw the striker hold the ball up down the right-wing and slip the ball into the path of the overlapping Hadland, whose deep cross to the far post was headed wide by the incoming Alexander

The Westfield Lane pitch was bobbly and uneven, with play on the deck limited by both sides. A long ball forwards from new skipper Chris White on twenty-three minutes was flocked on by Alexander and into the path of Whittaker, who took a touch too many as he tried to get the ball out of his feet and allowed Danny Walsh to make a covering tackle

A rare move forwards from the hosts on twenty-seven minutes saw former Lincoln City man Mark Ward get the better of Henshaw as he got on the end of a pass from Remo Nesa, only for a late offside flag to pull the forward back from his shooting position

 

Sheppard had assumed corner kick duties from the missing Pedro, and almost produced a goalscoring chance for the Pitmen just before the  half-hour mark, whipping a ball in that the excellent Dyer only just failed to connect with at the far post with a late run

Nesa turned provider for Callery on thirty-four minutes as his reverse pass through the legs of White found the winger in space through the left-hand side of the Hednesford penalty area, only for Callery's curling effort to drift wide of Young's post

Frickley goalkeeper Jon Hood was on hand to smother the ball at the feet of Whittaker four minutes later as a quick and incisive pass from Dyer was whipped away from the boot of the former Witton man by Hood

Sheppard's quickly-taken free-kick on forty minutes played Hadland into space down the left, jinking inside of a challenge from Chris Hilton and firing in a low cross to the near post, where Hood managed to block the ball ahead of Whittaker and clear the danger

Alexander was producing his usual tireless effort, holding off two challenges to turn and fire just wide of goal on forty-three minutes with an off-target effort from eighteen yards out

 

There was a let-off right for the away side a minute into first-half added time as  Ward inexplicably found himself all alone in front of the Hednesford goal as the defence was caught ball-watching a Callery cross, only for his tame effort to bounce safely into Young's arms

The Pitmen continued to have the better of the game into the early stages of the second half; White and Sheppard linked up well just inside the Frickley half on forty-eight minutes and played the ball into the feet if Dyer, who neatly side-stepped a challenge from Walsh before striking a rising shot over Hood's crossbar

 

 The Pitmen were rewarded for their bright start to the second period with the opening goal of the game on fifty-four minutes; the excellent Dyer again was the source of it all, taking on three Frickley players with a mazy run down the right before playing the ball across to Hadland, who curled a delightful shot home past Hood from just inside the Frickley penalty area - it was his first goal for the club since his summer move to the club since his summer switch from Leek Town

 

The Pitmen sensed a quickfire double and went close to adding to their advantage just three minutes later as clever play from Alexander played in Whittaker, only for his shot to be blocked by skipper Steve Kennedy's last-ditch challenge

Superb wing play from Hadland on fifty-eight minutes saw him lose the attentions of Hilton down the flank and cut inside on the byeline but elected to try and shoot from a tight angle rather than pull the ball back to the unmarked Sheppard and allowed Hood to make the stop

The Pitmen did extend their lead however just after the hour mark as another spell of pressure on the Frickley goal finally told. Sheppard's curling free-kick from twenty-five yards out came back off Hood's left-hand post, dropping nicely into the path of the incoming Marshall who had the simple task of turning the ball home from close-range

Henshaw made a fine late challenge on Callery five minutes later to deny the winger a shot at goal after he had initially been turned by the winger down the Frickley right

 

Dyer should really have found himself on the scoresheet on seventy minutes, shooting over the bar after being left unmarked at the far post to meet Sheppard's corner kick

 

Yet another strong run from the teenager almost produced a goal four minutes later, picking the ball up from deep before making a marauding run into Frickley territory and firing just wide after running fully forty yards with the ball

The Pitmen made their first substitution of the game with fifteen minutes to go as the hard-working Hadland was afforded a well-earned rest as he was replaced by Walters

Sheppard had enjoyed a fine debut for his new side and almost capped it with a goal on seventy-eight minutes as he made a late run into the penalty area to get not the end of an Alexander pass, only to scuff his shot into the ground and send the ball straight into the arms of Hood

The away side's second change of the afternoon came with eleven minutes remaining as Sheppard was given a warm ovation by the travelling supporters before he was taken off in favour of youngster Keenen Meakin-Richards

Young had been a virtual spectator for most of the match but was called upon to make a great save and deny Richard Tracey with five minutes to go, tipping the striker's shot around his right-hand post to deny Frickley a goal that could have set up a grandstand finish

 

With a minute to go, the Pitmen made their final change of the game as Jellicoe came on to see out the remaining moments in defence as he replaced the tireless Alexander

It had been a fine away performance from Starbuck's side, who move to within two points of league leaders Fleetwood Town in the process with this, their fifth away league game without defeat and their fourth victory. It is a return to Keys Park on Monday night when Staffordshire rivals Leek make the trip down the M6 for another UniBond Premier League encounter

Frickley Athletic: Hood, Hilton, Kennedy ©, Walsh, Stratford (Robinson 57), Selby (Heath 79), Callery, Ashley, Nesa, Ward, Tracey, Selby       Sub Unused: Pollock

Hednesford Town: Young, Adams, Henshaw, White ©, Screaton, Marshall, Dyer, Sheppard (Meakin-Richards 79), Alexander (Jellicoe 89), Whittaker, Hadland (Walters 75)        Subs Unused: None