UniBond Northern Premier League

Hednesford Town

Pedro (11), Sheppard (23)

Frickley Athletic

Pell (62)

(2) 2

(0) 1



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Darren Alexander


Matlock Town (A) 4.11.06

Following their midweek exit from the F.A. Trophy, Hednesford got back on track by recording their twelfth game in a row without defeat in the UniBond Premier League thanks to a sparkling first-half showing this afternoon to defeat struggling Frickley Athletic and complete a league double over the Yorkshire side


Despite crashing out to the Yeltz on Tuesday night, Hednesford manager Phil Starbuck kept faith in the same eleven that had battled with Halesowen over those two games, changing his personnel on the bench by including the fit-again Dave Whittaker after the former Witton Albion marksman was passed fit

Frcikley made their first-ever trip to Keys Park off the back of some highly inconsistent form, having beaten Yorkshire rivals Guiseley 2-0  in midweek after a run of form that had seen them win only one of their previous nine games in all competitions. Manager Billy Heath also named an unchanged side from midweek as he was still unable to select the injured Steve Kennedy

The hosts made a flying start to proceedings and almost took the lead with their first attack on six minutes, as the excellent Darren Alexander's header from an inswinging Chad Sheppard corner came back off the far post with Frickley goalkeeper Jon Hood rooted to the spot

Recent Frickley signing Paul Palmer had an immediate impact following his move from Goole as he went close to opening the scoring two minutes later; strike partner Rob Pell nodded a long ball from Danny Walsh down into Palmer's path, whose first-time effort was only a matter of inches too high as it skipped just over Ryan Young's crossbar 

The Pitmen cranked up the pressure on Frickley with a series of Sheppard corner kicks before they eventually broke the deadlock in the eleventh minute. The ball was fed to Mario Pedro down the right, who was allowed to cut inside by dancing around two challenges before placing a wonderful curling shot beyond Hood's grasp. A sublime opener from the in-form Portuguese star and his third goal in three games

There were loud appeals for a penalty from the Pitmen on fourteen minutes when Iain Screaton appeared to be manhandled in the penalty area by Chris Hilton as he went to meet Chad Sheppard's corner kick. Referee Mr Barrow ignored the pleas and signalled for the game to continue


Two minutes later, Pell sent Palmer bursting clear of the Hednesford defence but he was dragged back by Tom Marshall, who was perhaps a little fortunate to only receive a yellow card from Mr Barrow as it appeared to be denying a clear goalscoring opportunity for Palmer

The same players linked up again for Frickley on twenty minutes as Pell's incisive through ball found Palmer once more, only for his rising twenty-five yard shot to clear Young's crossbar

  A minute later, the hardworking Alexander won a free-kick just outside the Frickley penalty area, prompting Sheppard to unleash a low drive through the Frickley wall and find the corner of the net and put the home side two goals to the good with his third goal of the season

On twenty-six minutes, Hood was the second goalkeeper in a week to walk away from a major incident and still lucky to be on the pitch as he chased down a short back pass and appeared to handle the ball outside the box under pressure from Dyer. The assistant on the main stand side failed to flag but Mr Barrow had a good enough view to justify booking the player when many in the ground were expecting a red card. Sheppard's resultant free-kick came to nothing as he fired high over the crossbar and into the Heath Hayes end

Good play from Alexander on thirty-two minutes saw him exchange passes with Phil Hadland before holding off a challenge from Steve Heath and drilling in a shot across the face of goal from fifteen yards out that skipped past the far post

Young was alert to the danger on thirty-five minutes as he made an incisive dart off his line to smother the ball at the feet of Alex Callery after the winger had been played through on goal by Danny Moore's reverse pass

A poor clearance from Young a minute later was picked up by Callery out on the left-wing, who attempted a  first-time lob back over the head of the Hednesford goalkeeper, only to see his effort drop inches wide of the far post

With five minutes of the first half remaining, Sheppard and Chris White combined well to play Pedro into space down the right. His unpredictable running style beat Lee Stratford but also beat himself as he overran the ball over the byeline as he shaped to cross for Dyer

In first-half added time, Dyer headed tamely into the arms of Hood after Hadland had picked the young striker out in the six-yard box with a quickly-taken free-kick

It had been a fairly straightforward first period for the Pitmen, who had looked a threat going forwards and had limited their opponents to long-range efforts or feeding of scraps left for them by some lax defending from the hosts


Frickley started the second period positively, however, with Walsh firing inches wide of the right-hand post on fifty-two minutes after being given time and space just outside the Hednesford penalty area

Two minutes later, Hadland did well to escape the attentions of Hilton just outside the Frickley penalty area with a neat turn of skill and pace, only to lift his shot just over the crossbar

Screaton's long throw caused issues for the Frickley defence on fifty-eight minutes as they allowed the ball to bounce on the penalty spot and was picked up by Marshall, only for the defender to be crowded out by the men in blue and his low shot was deflected away from danger

The visitors made a bold attacking double change just before the hour mark, with one of the new men Chris Ward having a great chance two minutes later, picking the ball up from the Palmer but firing just wide from twelve yards out

Comical Pitmen defending gave the away side a lifeline on sixty-two minutes as miscommunication between Young and Marshall saw Young's short pass out to Marshall on the edge of the six-yard box end up at the feet of the alert Pell, who picked Marshall's pocket and rolled the ball into the empty net from fifteen yards out. Great reactions from Pell, dreadful again from the Pitmen

 Dogged defending from Ross Adams kept the Pitmen in front on sixty-seven minutes as his late block just inside the Hednesford penalty area denied Ward a clear shooting opportunity

With twenty-one minutes remaining, Starbuck made his one and only substitution of the afternoon as the returning Whittaker was given a run-out in place of Sheppard to make it a 4-3-3 formation for the hosts

Good play from Henshaw down the left flank with fifteen minutes remaining saw the on-loan Burton Albion man exchange passes with Pedro before crossing to the far post, where Alexander was off-target with a header on the stretch

Three minutes later, Frickley felt that Screaton should have been shown a red card as he appeared to bring Ward down in full flight just outside the Hednesford penalty area. However, the midfielder escaped with just a yellow card and a severe ticking-off from the referee for his challenge

Heath was moved up front by the Blues in a bid to add more physical presence to their attack in the final ten minutes and try to force a late equaliser. Pell saw an effort blocked by White on eighty-two minutes after a corner kick had dropped in the Hednesford six-yard box before being cleared

Brilliant forward play from Alexander saw him hold off the attentions of two players before playing Pedro into space down the left, making a run into the box to get on the end of Pedro's low return ball but was denied a chance by both Hood and a late offside flag


Young was called upon in the dying minutes to produce a clutch of outstanding saves, the first the pick of the bunch in on eighty-eight minutes as he turned Moore's goalbound shot over the crossbar by diverting the ball away with his arm

In added time, Young pushed a Pell shot around the post for a corner kick and from the resultant ball in from Moore, ward met the ball with a diving header that young somehow managed to grasp on his line, despite being surrounded by a forest of legs all trying to get to the ball

It had been a frenetic final few moments, but the Pitmen held on to extend their unbeaten league run and move back into second place in the table, just a couple of points behind locals rivals AFC Telford United. Next Saturday sees them make the trip over the rural Derbyshire to face play-off chasing Matlock Town at Causeway Lane

Hednesford Town: Young, Adams, Henshaw, White ©, Marshall , Screaton , Pedro, Sheppard (Whittaker 69), Dyer, Alexander, Hadland      Subs Unused: Franklin, Meakin-Richards

Frickley Athletic: Hood , Hilton, Stratford, Walsh, Heath, Jones, Callery (Rickers 59), Ashley, Pell, Palmer (Ward 59), Moore       Sub Unused: Selby

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