UniBond Northern Premier League


Southern (6), Hanson (43)

Hednesford Town

Moore (35) (50) (penalty), Dyer (89)

(2) 2

(1) 3



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Phil Hadland


Lincoln United (H) 16.12.06

  Hednesford come away from their longest trip of the season with yet another three points, earned courtesy of a fine battling second-half display and a late winner from Ross Dyer to defeat hosts Gateshead and move them level with league leaders AFC Telford United at the top of the table


There were two changes to the side that had completed a quickfire league double over Fleetwood Town last weekend as Tom Franklin and Mario Pedro made way for skipper Chris White and new boy Christian Moore respectively as manager Phil Starbuck shuffled his pack once more

Gateshead sat down in fifteenth place in the table after a largely disappointing campaign so far for the Tynesiders this term. They had, however, been on something of a run of form recently, having remained unbeaten in their last five games. Manager Tony Lee stuck with the XI for today's game as the one that had started Monday night's 0-0 draw at home to Whitby Town

Both sides started with purpose and had early chances to open the scoring; Darren Alexander fired wide for the visitors in the third minute, followed sixty seconds later by good play down the left from Gateshead's  Paul Talbot, who beat Phil Hadland and cross for Dave Southern, only for the midfielder to head tamely wide under pressure from Terry Henshaw

After a frantic opening five minutes, it was the home side who took the lead on six minutes as Neil Tarrant won a free-kick from just outside the Hednesford penalty area and drilled in the resultant ball, which took a deflection off Southern and sailed past the unsighted Ryan Young

The Pitmen rallied through the in-form Phil Hadland, who skipped past Talbot in the tenth minute and crossed for Alexander, who was beaten to the cross by Steve Baker to deny the forward a tap-in at the far post

Good play from skipper Chris White won the Pitmen a free-kick to the left-hand side of the Gateshead penalty area four minutes later, which Ross Adams came across to swing in with his right foot. The ball was headed back across goal by Tom Marshall and into the Gateshead penalty area, only to be cleared by Craig Baxter before Dave Whittaker could get his head to the ball from three yards out

Hadland was having a fine game at right wing-back, drifting in from the flank on seventeen minutes and taking two Gateshead players out of the game before attempting an optimistic shot from long-range that was easily fielded by home stopper Simon Bishop

At the other end, the physical Southern was causing issues with his aggressive style of play, holding the ball up well with Gary Sucharewycz at his back on twenty-one minutes and laying the ball off to Tarrant, who drove his low shot well wide of goal from eighteen yards out and saw his effort bobble onto the athletics track that surrounded the pitch at the International Stadium

The midfields were on top of the game for a good portion of the first period, with both sides conceding free-kicks in the centre-circle for halting play from deep

Sucharewycz made a move forwards to head over the crossbar on twenty-nine minutes before Christian Hanson did the same at the other end three minutes later with a wayward effort from Craig Nelthorpe's deep cross

Moore was looking to mark his full debut with a goal and went close to levelling matters once more on thirty-two minutes as he fired in a rising shot from just inside the Gateshead penalty area that was watched over the crossbar by Bishop

Ten minutes before half-time, however, Moore did get the Pitmen back into the game as Alexander did brilliantly to get past Baxter down the left and cut inside from the left flank to slide the ball into the path of Morre, who had the simple task of side-footing the ball past Bishop from six yards out

With their tails up, the Pitmen continued to press forwards; on thirty-eight minutes, Iain Screaton's long throw dropped at the feet of Whittaker, whose scuffed and rushed first-time shot bobbled wide of the near post as he was crowded out by Gateshead's defence

Despite getting themselves back into contention, the Pitmen then shot themselves in the foot once again just two minutes before half-time as the hosts took the lead once more. A corner kick was only cleared as far as Steve Salvin, who supplied the ball to goalscorer Southern. His incisive first-time pass caught the Pitmen out and allowed Hanson to pick up the pass and fire past Ryan Young from close range. There were muted calls for offside from the men in red, but the goal stood and Gateshead went into half-time 2-1 to the good

Starbuck's team-talk seemed to have a galvanising effect on the players, as they went straight about their task from the restart. A quick break from Screaton on fifty-seven minutes saw him get away from Southern and play Whittaker in on the corner of the Gateshead penalty area. The striker stepped past Baxter's challenge but got his angles all wrong as he lifted his shot over the crossbar


Three minutes later, the ever-willing Alexander collected a pass from Screaton before running at the heart of the Gateshead defence, culminating in him being brought down by Hanson a yard or so inside the area. After brief appeals from the Gateshead players to referee Mr Foster that the foul had taken place outside the box, he awarded the away side a spot-kick which Moore converted with aplomb to level matters once more

 There was a feeling around the vast International Stadium that the Pitmen were starting to take control of proceedings as they saw more and more of the ball as the second half developed and pushed the hosts back into their own third of the pitch for long spells. The excellent Hadland whipped in a free-kick on fifty-four minutes that was toe-poked just wide of goal by Moore from eight yards out

Four minutes later, Terry Henshaw's quickly-taken throw in found Alexander down by the corner flag; he did well to escape the attentions of Baxter and crossed for White, who took a touch before firing wide from twenty-five yards out via a deflection off Hanson

On sixty-one minutes, Pedro was brought back into the side in place of Whittaker to give the away side more width on the left-hand side where Alexander had joy against Baxter


Sucharewycz went close to giving the Pitmen the lead on sixty-five minutes as a corner kick was cleared as far as the centre-back on the edge of the Gateshead penalty area, firing a shot that James Curtis diverted over his own crossbar for a Hednesford corner kick

The pressure kept coming from the away side, with Hadland exchanging passes with Alexander on seventy minutes and firing straight into the hands of Bishop from twenty yards out

A rare attack from the home side on seventy-four minutes saw Southern hold off White's attentions and play substitute Paul Thomspon through on goal, only for the striker to take a touch too many and allow Marshall to make a smothering tackle

Adams and Hadland were causing havoc down the right, overlapping at will up against Talbot to supply the strikers with crosses galore. Hadland's superb cross on seventy-nine minutes somehow skipped across the Gateshead six-yard box and away from danger with no one in red able to turn the ball home from close range

Ross Dyer was introduced to the game with ten minutes remaining as Moore had started to tire up front in search of his hat-trick goal and the Pitmen looked to introduce some youthful pace and urgency to the attack

Two minutes later, Dyer's lovely reverse ball 'round the corner' found Pedro in space behind Baxter, only for the Portuguese star to drag his shot wide of the far post with a cross-cum-shot

Pedro was denied again three minutes later by a late, late offside flag on the main stand side as he darted past Baxter to receive a pass from Alexander but was adjudged to have moved too early as he entered the Gateshead penalty area

Gateshead were simply hanging on at this point, looking to protect the draw and try to deny the Pitmen space to get into scoring positions. More great play from Hadland almost created an opening for Alexander on eighty-seven minutes as he pulled the ball back from the byeline and into the path of the striker at the near post, only for Hanson to clear the ball away for a corner kick promptly

 In the final minute of the game, the Pitmen's relentless pressure finally told as more Pedro magic saw him picked the ball up from deep and run at Baxter before threading a superb ball through to Dyer, who had made a run into the inside-left position The youngster held his nerve despite being closed down by Hanson to slot the ball past Bishop from a tight angle and spark wild celebrations from the small band of Hednesford fans who had made the long trip to Tyneside

 The game was to end with a touch of farce as a mass brawl broke out in the centre circle in added time, prompting players from both sides to engage in a bout of handbags. Alexander booked for his part in it, although no Gateshead player was punished despite one of their personnel instigating the initial pushing and shoving 


The Pitmen held out to record a richly-deserved win that moves them level on points with AFC Telford at the top of the UniBond Premier League, potentially setting things up nicely for Boxing Day when the Pitmen visit the New Bucks Head in a first versus second clashThere is the small matter of a clash with Lincoln United to come next week before this, with the Pitmen looking to extend their unbeaten league run to a scarcely-believable nineteen games if they can avoid defeat over the mid-table Lilywhites at Keys Park

Gateshead: Bishop, Baxter, Talbot, Hanson, Baker, Johnston (Istead 62), Southern, Salvin, Tarrant (Thompson 70), Hughes, Nelthorpe       Sub Unused: Deverdics

Hednesford Town: Young, Hadland, Henshaw, White ©, Marshall, Sucharewycz, Screaton, Whittaker (Pedro 61), Alexander , Moore (Dyer 80), Adams      Sub Unused: Butler

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