31.3.2007

UniBond Northern Premier League

Hednesford Town

Douglas (19)

Gateshead

Southern (45)

(1) 1

(1) 1

Attendance

MoTM

Current Form

Next Match

605

Gary Sucharewycz

W L D L L W D L D D

Witton Albion (H) 7.4.07

Despite taking a lead in the first half, the Pitmen were pegged back by the UniBond Premier League's form team Gateshead with a goal seconds before the interval which puts another dent in their fading play-off hopes

Hednesford manager Phil Starbuck made two changes to the side that had drawn at Marine last weekend as he handed a full debut to defender Lee Soar, who had been injured since joining the club a month ago - he replaced the now-departed Warren Beattie, who had returned to Coca Cola Championship side Preston North End after his loan spell ended last week. Danny Bacon also earned himself a recall in place of Dave Whittaker up front in the second change of personnel

 The free-scoring visitors had been buoyed by a 4-3 win over league leaders AFC Telford United in midweek, which had moved them up into the top ten in the process as Ian Bogie's side extended their unbeaten run to five games. Unsurprisingly, Bogie named an unchanged side for this afternoon's game sense a late potential run at the final play-off place 

 

The visitors began well and pushed their hosts back into their own third in the opening ten minutes; good play from Jamie Harwood saw him get past Tom Marshall and cross for the league's top scorer Dave Southern, only for his header to drift well wide of goal from ten yards out

A risky backwards header from Gary Sucharewycz in the seventh minute almost put Chris Hughes in on goal as he darted in behind the Hednesford defence with a late run, only for the ever-alert Ryan Young to make a punch away from goal

 

The Heed continued to press and had the ball in the net on twelve minutes; Ian Clark's initial shot was well saved by Ryan Young, but watched as Jamie Harwood tapped home the rebound from close range; however, the assistant referee's offside flag halted their celebrations and the goal was ruled out by referee Mr Norris

The Pitmen were nudged into action following the disallowed goal and Chris White won a free-kick to the right-hand side of the penalty area in the fifteenth minute after his run was halted by Clark. Tom Marshall bludgeoned a free-kick straight into the Gateshead wall, with Alexander flicking the rebound wide of the right-hand post as he followed the ball in

Alexander was proving to be a thorn in the side of the Gateshead defence with his willing to chase the ball down and hold up play with his back to goal. He laid the ball off to Jon Douglas two minutes later with a chest down to his strike partner from Bacon's pass but the former Grantham man fired over the crossbar from eighteen yards out

 You felt that a goal was coming, and the afternoon's opener arrived in the nineteenth minute for the hosts. Phil Hadland made one of his mazy runs down the left and crossed for Ross Dyer at the far post. the youngster headed the ball back across the face of the Gateshead goal and found Douglas, who turned the ball past Heed goalkeeper Peter Keen from six yards out to register his first goal for the club

The Pitmen could have doubled their lead four minutes later as Hadland's corner kick was headed away from danger but only as far as White, whose half-volley back at goal from the edge of the penalty area dropped just over the crossbar and onto the roof of the net

The visitors were still a threat, particularly on the break, and almost levelled matters on twenty-five minutes as Harwood's through ball somehow found its way through a forest of legs and into the path of Southern, who snatched at his shot under pressure from Sucharewycz and drove his first-time effort wide of the post

Gateshead were left frustrated once more just before the half-hour mark as Chris Hughes turned the ball past Young from close-range from Craig Nelhtorpe's pass, only to be denied a goal by a late flag against him on the Wimblebury side for handling the ball as he netted

Still the Heed probed and still the Pitmen defended stoically, with Marshall denying Southern a chance on thirty-two minutes as he stuck out one of his long legs to deflect the striker's shot wide of goal for a corner kick

Two minutes later, Sucharewycz had to make a perfectly-timed tackle on Hughes to deny the striker in full flow as he got on the end of a pass from Matthew Moffat and shaped to shoot from twelve yards out

Southern headed into the arms of Young on thirty-eight minutes with a glancing header from Nelthorpe's up and under cross out on the left wing that caught the Pitmen ball watching

A quick counter-attack from the hosts on forty-one saw Hadland and Alexander link up well, playing the former Rochdale winger into space behind Craig Baxter. Hadland worked the ball onto this left foot and spotted Bacon in space in the penalty area and pulled the ball back to him, only for the striker to completely miss his kick and scuff the ball off his standing foot and into the grateful arms of Keen

With half-time looming, the visitors got themselves back on level terms once more with the last action of the half; Harwood picked the ball up in midfield and drove into the Hednesford half before releasing the ball to Southern, who took a touch in front of him before confidently firing past Young to add to his burgeoning tally for the season

It was a bitter pill to swallow for the Pitmen, who had given as good as they got in the first half but had paid the price for switching off at the wrong moment. Starbuck's half-time talk will have been altered somewhat after such a late goal conceded and he sent his side out with a positive mindset at the start of the second period

Gateshead were forced back into their own half for the first ten minutes of the second half as the home side dominated possession and chances early on in the half; Bacon saw his shot on the turn deflected behind by Harwood on forty-eight minutes, with Marshall heading over the crossbar from Hadlands's resultant flag-kick

Three minutes later, Dyer's pace got him away from Paul Talbot and into the Gateshead penalty area. The youngster elected to try a curling shot towards the far post rather than pass to Bacon and only succeeded in putting his shot wide of Keen's goal

Goalscorer Douglas was next to take a pot-shot at the Gateshead goal on fifty-five minutes as he made a late run into the box to receive a pass from Iaian Screaton but turned his shot into the side-netting from a tight angle after Baxter had forced him wide of goal

 There had been several lively challenges from both sides that earned some players a lecture from Mr Norris before White was involved in a horrendous clash of heads with Talbot in the centre circle on fifty-eight minutes. After a few minutes of treatment on the pitch, a blood-stained White went off to receive a number of stitches in a nasty looking cut. He eventually admitted defeat in his attempts to play on and was replaced by Whittaker in midfield on sixty-five minutes

The game started to swing the way of the Heed as the game entered its final quarter, with Southern drilling a shot straight into the arms of Young on sixty-seven minutes with a firmly struck effort from twenty-five yards out

Superb play from Harwood down the flank two minutes later saw him get past two players before crossing for Hughes, who was once again denied a clear effort on goal by another timely and aggressive block by the Pitmen's man of the match Sucharewycz

The big defender headed a Nelthorpe free-kick straight up into the air on sixty-nine minutes and had to rely on the aerial capabilities of Young to pluck the ball out of the sky ahead of the incoming James Curtis

Screaton's long throw-in from the right-hand side a minute later was flicked on by Marshall at the near post but a timely intervention by Curtis stabbed the bouncing ball away from danger as Whittaker and Alexander closed in on the ball

Whittaker's pass to Bacon on seventy-three minutes saw the former Mansfield Town striker twist and turn as he looked to make space for himself, resulting in a snatched shot that was well wide of goal

 

Hadland was also off-target fifteen minutes from time as he lifted his shot on the run over crossbar after he had cut in from the left-wing and turned Baxter inside out

 A minute later, Marshall almost snatched a winner for the Pitmen as he picked up a loose ball following a Hadland corner kick and drove it back at goal, only for Keen to make a fine save as her tipped the defender's rising shot over the bar for another corner kick

The experienced Paul Thompson had come on for the visitors and showed good skill to jink past Soar on seventy-nine minutes and cross for Southern, whose knock-down to Hughes was once again dealt with by the impressive Sucharewycz

Southern's thirty-yard effort three minutes later fizzed just over the crossbar as Young watched it dip narrowly over his woodwork, followed a minute later by another shot from the striker, this time from twelve yards out that was scuffed wide of the post after good work from Nelthorpe

The Pitmen's best chance of the final minutes came from a Hadland free-kick, played to the far post where Alexander's looping header spun off the top of his head and dropped onto the roof of Keen's net as he scrambled back to his line

Both sides had played their part in an entertaining encounter that had lacked any real prolificacy in front of goal from either side, which you would have expected more of with the striking options both sides had at their disposal. Either way, a point apiece is a fair result, although the Pitmen are now looking nervously over their shoulder as their play-off hopes are now in the hands of the other sides below them who all have games in hand on them as we enter April. Next weekend sees the Pitmen remain at Keys Park with a home game against yet another in-form side in the mix at the top of the table when third placed Witton Albion make the trip down the M6

Hednesford Town: Young, Dyer, Hadland, White © (Whittaker 65), Marshall, Sucharewycz, Bacon, Screaton, Douglas, Alexander, Soar    Subs Unused: Pedro, Jenkins

Gateshead: Keen, Baxter, Talbot, Harwood, Curtis, Baker, Southern, Clark (Salvin 88), Moffat (Thompson 67), Hughes, Nelthorpe       Sub Unused: Byrne

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