8.10.2011

Evo-Stik Northern Premier League

Hednesford Town

Clements (45)

Frickley Athletic

(1) 1

(0) 0

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Chris Clements

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Corby Town (H) 15.10.11

The Pitmen's hold on to fourth place in the Evo-Stik Premier League this afternoon as Rob Smith's side extend their unbeaten home run to twenty games with victory over Frickley at an overcast Keys Park

With several players passing fitness tests before kick-off, there was only one change to the side that had made it through o the next round of the F.A. Cup last week; Gary Hay came back into the XI in place of Marvin Robinson, who dropped to the bench

Frickley arrived at Keys Park off the back of an excellent seven-game unbeaten run, including wins over Blue Square Bet North side Harrogate Town in the F.A. Cup and a six-goal hammering of Mickleover Sports. they started slowly, as the Pitmen - themselves in great form - forced their way forward in the opening exchanges

In the eighth minute, Nick Wellecomme's pace and power saw him manoeuvre himself into position and shoot at goal. His shot across goal was deflected back towards the near post by fellow strike partner Hay, but the ball looped just wide of the post with Frickley keeper Adam Billard completely beaten

Hay was involved again four minutes later, as his presence inside the six-yard box caused havoc at a Darren Campion corner dropped at the far post. Hay managed to get on the end of the ball and hit the post with his effort, only for the referee to rule out any potential rebound for a push on Billard

Frickley's attacking threat had been well nullified by the presence of Pedro Monteiro and Cheyenne Dunkley in the opening quarter, with Brad Grayson going closest for the away side on nineteen minutes - his volley was well wide from a Mark Whitehouse cross from twelve yards out

The in-form Chris Clements, who had scored in his last four outings for the Pitmen, went closest to breaking the deadlock on twenty minutes. After Wellecomme was brought down unceremoniously on the edge of the penalty area, Clements curled a free-kick over the Frickley wall but saw his effort strike the crossbar

Jay Denny, not exactly renowned for his goalscoring prowess, almost put the hosts ahead on twenty-six minutes, as his powerful low shot from long range was turned away by Billard, using strong hands to stop the ball from finding the corner of the net

Wellecomme and Hay were both working hard for the cause up front, with Wellecomme working the channels well and Hay holding the ball up to allow Clements and Deny into the game. Wellecomme got up highest to get on the end of a Kyle Haynes cross on thirty-two minutes, but headed high over the bar, under pressure from two Frickley defenders

Frickley's gameplay had been, at times, slow and laboured, with many pointing the finger at Billard and his slow redistribution of the ball from goal kicks - were the away side looking to settle for a point, as Stocksbridge and Matlock had done recently?

With a frustrating first half coming to an end, the Pitmen launched a late push for a goal. Three successive corners pushed Frickley right back into their penalty area, and despite excellent distribution from Campion and Clements, the best they came up with was a high, wide header from Cheyenne Dunkley

An opportunistic strike from Frickley's Ryan Mallon almost caught Dan Crane out in the final minute of normal time, striking the ball just wide with a half volley

In added time, Chris Shaw's deep cross was headed partially away by the Frickley defence, dropping into the path of Clements. The playmaker showed a flash of brilliance in shimmying his way past two Frickley defenders before firing past Billard into the bottom left-hand corner of the net

Whitehouse very nearly responded with the final kick of the half, firing in a free-kick that was deflected away from goal by Monteiro

Frickley started the second half on the front foot, as the Pitmen left their first-half form in the dressing room for the first ten minutes of the half. Two successive corners were dealt with competently by Dunkley and Monteiro, as Athletic pushed on in search of an equaliser

The equaliser they craved almost arrived via Hednesford's number three Shaw on fifty minutes, as Whitehouse's cross was deflected towards his own net by Shaw. Crane was alert to the danger early on, getting across to make a crucial save to deny a comical own goal

Campion's powerfully-hit free-kick was brilliantly saved by Billard on fifty-two minutes, tipping the ball behind for a corner to deny Campion a first goal of the season

A free-kick from a similar position four minutes later was taken by Clements on this occasion, with Billard again making a crucial save to deny Clements a second goal by saving low down to his left

Campion wasted an excellent chance to open his account for the season on the hour mark, as Haynes' strong run and cross from the right found its way to the Hednesford skipper at the far post, but a difficult bounce saw Campion skew the ball wide of goal

The frustration at a lack of a killer second goal saw Smith and Larry Chambers make a double substitution on seventy-three minutes, with Robinson replacing the fading Wellecomme and Elliott Durrell returning to the side in place of Hay, who had struggled to make an impact during the second half

At the back, Hednesford were looking composed and the Pitmen's attacking threat, as chances dried up for the hosts. Durrell went closest to adding to the scoreline with a brilliant run down the right-wing, cutting inside two challenges and taking the ball along the touchline before trying to squeeze the ball past Billard from a tight angle - he only succeeded in finding the side netting with his shot

With five minutes remaining, Frickley's final flourish saw them go close to snatching an unlikely point. A punt down the Frickley right saw Jack Watts collect the ball and turn Shaw inside out, before curling a shot in at goal from the corner of the penalty area that dipped just over the crossbar

Smith tried to counter the Frickley fightback by putting on the more defensively-minded Phil Clarke in place of Jamey Osborne. It was enough for the Pitmen to see out time in relative comfort, with attention now turning to a difficult game at home to Blue Square Bet North side Corby Town in the third qualifying round of the F.A. Cup next weekend

Hednesford Town: Crane, Haynes, Shaw, Monteiro, Dunkley, Denny, Osborne (Clarke 86), Clements, Wellecomme (Robinson 63), Hay (Durrell 63), Campion ©      Subs Unused: Gomes, Quinn

Frickley Athletic: Billard, Bleau, Cyrus, Walsh, Adams ©, Ludlam , Darley (Henry 61), Ashmore, Grayson (Watts 33), Mallon, Whitehouse (Leonard 81)      Subs Unused: Jones

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