20.12.2014

Vanarama Conference North

Hednesford Town

McCone (21), Glover (75) 

Gainsborough Trinity

Karkach (69)

(1) 2

(0) 1

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MoTM

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417

James Hurst

W D W W D L L L D W

Worcester City (H) 1.1.15

After five games without a win in league and cup, the Pitmen finally tasted that winning feeling again as they edged out Gainsborough Trinity at Keys Park this afternoon

Having had a fortnight off due to their defeat to AFC Fylde in the F.A. Trophy last month, Rob Smith's side returned to action with the whole squad available for selection after Chris Westwood and Paul Sullivan had shaken off various niggles. There was also a substitute appearance for new signing Jack Thomas, who had joined the club the previous day on loan from Mansfield Town

Gainsborough's season had stuttered somewhat since their bright start to the new campaign, with Steve Housham's side sitting just four points above the relegation spot at the start of play. They arrived at Keys Park looking to complete their first league double of the season, having won just once in the last five games in all competitions

A tepid opening to proceedings saw both sides take an aggressive stance to the game, as tackles started to fly in from the offset. Steve Diggin set up his strike partner Danny Glover on seven minutes for the first real chance of the game, with Diggin's driven cross volleyed high over the crossbar by Glover, stretching backwards to reach the ball

Gainsborough's first foray into the Hednesford penalty area came on fourteen minutes, as Dan Crane confidently rose highest to punch a cross clear, catching Darryn Stamp in the process and inadvertently knocking the striker out. After lengthy treatment, the former Scunthorpe man got back to his feet and played on, but was eventually replaced after feeling the after-effects of the clash

A neat piece of build-up play on nineteen minutes down the right saw James Hurst, Jamey Osborne and Diggin all combine to set up Richard Batchelor on the edge of the penalty area. The midfielder's shot lacked direction, however, and shot narrowly wide of Gainsborough keeper Jan Budtz' left-hand post

The Pitmen struck the opening goal of the afternoon on twenty-one minutes, as Tom Thorley's pinpoint corner kick found the head of Paul McCone, who headed beyond Budtz and under the body of Josh Lacey

Glover became the first of a number of players on both sides to incur the wrath of a poor referee on twenty-seven minutes, going into the book for an off the ball incident. This set a precedent for the whole game, with petty challenges pulled up and a number of aggressive tackles allowed to slip by

The excellent Hurst came to Hednesford's rescue on thirty-two minutes, as he blocked Lynton Karkach's shot on the goal line after Crane has spilt the ball into the substitute's path

A minute later, Hurst made a superb run down the right-wing and sent over a delightful cross onto the head of Batchelor, who somehow failed to double the Pitmen's lead as he headed wide of goal from close range

As has been the pattern of recent games involving the Pitmen, however, a bright first half gave way to a struggle in the second half as Gainsborough imposed themselves on the hosts during the early stages of the second half

Crane made a good early save to deny the diminutive Karkach in the forty-eighth minute, turning the forward's shot behind for a Trinity corner kick, which McCone cleared with aplomb

Karkach was involved again two minutes later, firing across goal after confusion in the ranks and very nearly finding the net until a vital intervention from a Hednesford defender

Jamey Osborne's run towards the Gainsborough penalty area was brought to an illegal halt a minute later by Dom Roma, allowing Danny Glover the chance to step up and deliver one of his special free kicks. He went close to adding to his tally for the season with a curling effort but clipped the crossbar with his shot

Hurst - still looking for his first Hednesford goal since his summer move to Keys Park - tried his luck with a powerful shot from just inside the penalty area on fifty-eight minutes, only for Jake Picton to block his low effort

Thomas was given a chance to show his potential on sixty-three minutes, coming on in place of the misfiring Batchelor in midfield. The game started to get stretched as the game entered the final third, with both sides throwing caution to the wind and pushing forwards at every opportunity

Thomas earned a swift booking for halting one of Gainsborough's quick attacks through the centre on sixty-eight minutes, with Trinity earning themselves an equaliser from the resultant free-kick. Ciaran Toner's deep free-kick caused chaos in the Hednesford penalty area, with Thorley unable to cut the ball out and allowing the ball to run to Karkach, who drove the ball past Crane from ten yards out

Osborne's constant pouting and attention-seeking finally saw him get his name taken by the referee on seventy minutes, as the midfielder was booked for one protest too many following another Gainsborough free-kick

Marvin Robinson was introduced to the play on seventy-five minutes to add his experience and know-how to the forward line, with the big man having an instant impact on the game with the next attack. Hurst pulled the ball back into the path of Glenn Walker, whose cross was aimed towards Robinson at the front post. He and Budtz went for the ball, but both contrived to miss the cross as it drifted over their heads. Glover followed the ball in as it dropped but somehow turned his shot against the post. Reacting quickest however, Glover undid his mistake by swivelling and turning the rebound home for his eleventh goal of the campaign

In an attempt to see the game out in the final ten minutes, Westwood was brought on in place of the tiring Diggin to shore up the leaky Hednesford defence

Walker was booked for a high challenge on Toner with five minutes remaining before Gainsborough had a glorious opportunity through Charlie Binns in added time; the midfielder tried his luck with a dipping shot, only to be denied by a fine flying save from Crane, tipping the ball over the crossbar

The Pitmen hung on to claim a welcome three points, lifting them into the top ten in the process. With the season at its halfway point, thirty points from twenty-one games represents a pretty reasonable return for what has been, on the whole, a frustrating campaign to date. A challenging Christmas schedule sees them visit F.A. Cup heroes Worcester City on Boxing Day, followed by a Keys Park double-header against Gloucester City and Worcester again. A good points haul could well propel them into the play-off reckoning before they travel to Harrogate Town on 4th January

Hednesford Town: Crane, Hurst, Campion © , McCone, Thorley (Robinson 74), Osborne , Walker , Glover , Diggin ▆ (Westwood 78), Batchelor (Thomas 62 )      Subs Unused: Melbourne, Sullivan

Gainsborough Trinity: Budtz, Roma ©, Lacey, Binns, Quinn (Salt 61 ), Picton, Roberts, Toner, Bateson, Stamp (Karkach 27), Davies      Subs Unused: Martin, Plumtree, Wisdom-Lockwood

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