23.8.2014

Vanarama Conference North

Gloucester City

Hednesford Town

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482

Tom Thorley

L L W D

Solihull Moors (H) 25.8.14

Manager Rob Smith is an ambitious man, keen to push his Hednesford side towards the promised land of the Vanarama Conference, but even he will surely be content with a battling point his side picked up his afternoon as more injuries to his squad leaves them down to the bare bones ahead of Monday's game against Solihull Moors

Fresh from a week's break and the satisfaction of chalking up their first win of the season against Harrogate last weekend, the Pitmen arrived in Gloucestershire with Smith having the rare opportunity to pick the same side for consecutive games. Young defender Jordan Cranston had departed the club in midweek after a short spell to re-join Nuneaton Town, with Smith using his wheeling and dealing skills to bring in teenage striker Tom Peers on loan from Chester to pad out a sparse-looking bench

Tim Harris' Gloucester side had endured a difficult ten days on the pitch; they had been denied a point at Tamworth due to an injury-time winner for the Lambs, followed last week by a quite bizarre award of an equaliser for North Ferriby United, left City feeling a little hard done by going into the fourth round of matches this afternoon

Gloucester's luck seemed to be on the turn, however, as the Pitmen were denied a storming start after just two minutes; a run by Glenn Walker down the left wing saw the midfielder skip inside and float over a cross that caught out Gloucester keeper Mike Green and come back off the far post

The experienced Charlie Griffin went close for the 'hosts' a minute later, latching onto a cross at the far post but putting his shot just wide of Dan Crane's left-hand post

A powerful run down the right on eight minutes from big Marvin Robinson saw the striker cut inside and test Green with a low drive that the Gloucester stopped well to his right-hand side

Robinson again found himself sprinting away from the Gloucester defence three minutes later, as Jamey Osborne's through ball put the striker clear on goal. However, the 34-year-old lacks any real blinding pace these days and allowed Matt Williams to get back to block his shot that dribbled through to Green

The Pitmen were dealt another early injury blow on sixteen minutes, with Walker going down heavily in the centre circle. After a spell of treatment, the winger gingerly limped away and attempted to run off whatever was troubling him

Gloucester's Adam Mann tested Crane for the first time in the afternoon on seventeen minutes, unleashing a powerful shot from a free-kick that was blocked by the Hednesford wall

A minute later, Darren Campion made a move forwards into the Gloucester half to compensate for Walker's lack of movement down the left. The Hednesford skipper delivered a tremendous cross into the Gloucester penalty area to find the head of Osborne, whose looping header dropped onto the roof of the net

Walker finally had to admit defeat in his battle against a leg injury, coming off on twenty minutes to be replaced by new boy Peers

A spell of pressure from Gloucester saw the4 Hednesford defence severely tested midway through the half, with Adam Connolly firing wide for City, followed by three successive corner kicks at the bowling green end of Whaddon Road for Gloucester

Danny Glover looked to add to his growing repertoire of free-kick goals on twenty-four minutes, lifting a long-range effort just over Green's crossbar with what was a fairly ambitious effort

Just when you couldn't believe that the Pitmen's injury problems could get any worse, Kris Taylor added to serious concerns regarding the club's ability to turn out even eleven players for Monday's game with Solihull as the experienced midfielder limped off with a dead leg on twenty-seven minutes. This left the Pitmen with a major re-organising job on the pitch, with Jamie Ashmore coming on in place of Taylor and taking up the right-back role. Alex Melbourne moved into midfield to compensate for the loss of Taylor

The busy Robinson was putting his all into his performance, heading Campion's corner kick over the crossbar on the half-hour after he beat Paul McCone to the ball

Peers was looking to impress after being handed an unexpected extended period on the pitch - his low drive on thirty-five minutes was easily fielded by Green, who scooped up the teenager's scuffed effort

There were further injury worries for the Pitmen just before half time, as Osborne stayed down after clashing in midfield. After attention from physio Gavin Blackwell, the midfielder carried on, albeit in a slightly groggy state

A late challenge from Campion on Marc Richards right in front of the Gloucester bench saw the left-back go into the book five minutes before half time, with the hysterics of Harris and his backroom staff convincing a weak referee to book the Hednesford skipper

In added time at the end of the half, Griffin escaped the attentions of Francis and McCone to get in behind the Hednesford defence but fluffed his lines when clear on goal by firing straight at a grateful Crane

A bright opening period in the second half saw the Pitmen in the ascendancy, with Campion scampering forwards on fifty-two minutes to pick up Osborne's ball and fire just over the crossbar with a rising shot from an angle

The Gloucester defence did well to keep the visitors out two minutes later, with Glover seeing his shot blocked and Peers firing the rebound straight into a tangle of legs and bodies as City survived another scare

Peers and Tom Thorley had quickly developed an understanding in midfield, with the pair impressing with neat interplay and positive running. Thorley played Peers in on goal on fifty-six minutes, but an earlier foul on a Gloucester player pulled the youngster back before he could shoot at goal. Frustrated at the decision, Peers kicked the ball away and received a yellow card for dissent

Two minutes later, Green was called upon to make a brilliant stop to deny Robinson again as Osborne's free-kick was headed goalwards by the big man, forcing the Gloucester keeper into a fine save to his right. the rebound dropped to Peers, whose shot from an angle hit the side netting

Crane was called into action to make an unorthodox save on sixty-four minutes, diving forwards and scooping the ball away after Mann had turned on the edge of the Hednesford penalty area and fired goalwards

A great cross from Ashmore on sixty-six minutes saw the ball drop in the Gloucester six-yard box, but neither Robinson nor Glover could arrive in time to turn the ball home

Robinson's afternoon was brought to a halt on sixty-nine minutes, as he was given a well-earned rest as Dominic Dell came on in his place to add more pace to the front line

An afternoon of frustration for the Pitmen continued on seventy-three minutes, as Glover's free-kick from the right was headed into the net by Francis, only for a late offside flag to deny the big defender a first goal of the season

Green made a smart stop with ten minutes remaining, turning Campion's swerving free-kick over the crossbar as Glover threatened to turn any rebound home from close range

A quick counter-attack from Gloucester with seven minutes remaining saw Griffin once again make a move in behind the Hednesford defence but was wasteful with his weak effort

In the final minute, Glover could have extended his recent run of scoring as he fired Ashmore's cross over the crossbar with a volley that had him stretching to reach the high ball

All in all, a point was arguably a fair result, with neither side able to take any of the good chances presented to them. The Pitmen will be content to come away with a point in the context of the injury crisis they now find themselves embroiled in. Walker left Cheltenham on crutches, whilst Taylor is unlikely to be fit for Bank Holiday Monday's game with his dead leg. Even man of the match Thorley climbed onto the coach with a strapping on his arm, leaving Hednesford chronically short in midfield and attacking areas for the visit of local rivals Moors in forty-eight hours time

Gloucester City: Mike Green, Avery, B. Jones ©, Preece , Williams, Connolly, Richards (Chamberlain 82), C. Jones (Michael Green 58), Griffin, Mann (Webb 79), Groves      Subs Unused: Hamilton, Wilson

Hednesford Town: Crane, Melbourne, Campion © , McCone, Francis, Taylor (Ashmore 27), Osborne, Thorley, Glover, Robinson (Dell 69), Walker (Peers 20 )       Subs Unused: Price, Bailey, Dell

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