Skrill North

Hednesford Town

Osborne (40), (44), Durrell (81) (penalty), Harvey (90)

Gloucester City

Weir (54) (penalty)

(2) 4

(0) 1



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Francino Francis


West Auckland Town (H) 12.10.13

The Pitmen's remarkable Skrill North campaign continues to surprise, delight and defy belief in equal measure, as Rob Smith's side return to league action with a win over Gloucester City at Keys Park

Following last weekend's thrilling F.A. Cup win over local rivals AFC Telford United, Hednesford returned home looking for a fifth straight victory in all competitions to reaffirm their status as top dogs in Skrill North. Smith was forced into one change to the side that had famously beaten Telford the previous week, with forward Aaron Rey ruled out due to injury. This meant a first start of the season for the popular Michael Lennon, who rejoined Neil Harvey up front to reunite the strike force that were so prolific towards the end of the last campaign. Wayne Riley was deemed fit enough top once again take his place amongst the substitutes

David Mehew's Gloucester arrived at Keys Park having failed to really get their season going as yet, with only two wins from ten games to show for so far. They did, however, progress to the next round of the F.A. Cup in midweek, courtesy of an excellent replay win over Skrill South side Havant & Waterlooville

Midfielder Elliott Durrell was presented with his award for Skrill North player of the month before kick-off, after a prolific September in front of goal brought six goals in five games for the in-form player

In front of a highly respectable and vocal crowd of 750, both sides were cautious in their early approach to the game. Durrell was wasteful with two early corner kicks for the hosts, clipping both balls lazily into the near post to be easily headed away by Gloucester

Indeed, the crowd had to wait until the fifteenth minute of the game for the first real opening of the match, perhaps unsurprisingly coming from the boot of Durrell; a powerful long-range effort from the midfielder, slightly from an angle, clipped a Gloucester player before zipping narrowly wide of the right-hand post

The Pitmen went closer to opening the scoring midway through the half, as a run to the bye-line saw Harvey pull the ball back into the path of Durrell. Durrell scuffed his shot across the face of goal after failing to connect properly, with Lennon unable to turn the ball home from close range as it flew past him six yards out

Dan Crane was called upon for the first time in the match on twenty-six minutes, making a simple save at the far post to save from Matt Liddiard's header after a Gloucester corner kick

A whistle-happy referee and an assistant on the Wimblebury side with a penchant for raising his flag at every opportunity tended to ruin any real tempo that the game attempted to build up in the first half-hour, with both sides left frustrated with the constant stop-start antics of the match officials

Gloucester's best chance of the half came with ten minutes left in the first period; a rare error from Ben Bailey saw the centre back gift possession to City striker Will Morford on his own bye-line, with Crane called upon to make a great save at his near post to deny the Gloucester striker a goal

Gloucester were made to pay for not taking this chance, as the hosts took the lead five minutes before half time. Osborne, who had been pretty ineffectual up this point, suddenly came alive as the ball was fed to him just outside the penalty area. neat footwork from the midfielder saw him drift inside and create enough space for him to strike a firm low shot at goal, which had enough to beat Mike Green in the Gloucester goal and find the net via a deflection off the right-hand post

Osborne quickly followed up what had been his first goal of the season with a second one just before half time, grabbing a trademark swashbuckling goal to double Hednesford's advantage. Picking up the ball from deep, Osborne made a forceful run into the Gloucester penalty area, drawing in three City players in the process. Holding off the challenges, Osborne struck a brilliant low shot across the face of Green's goal, finding the bottom right-hand corner of the net to make it 2-0

It probably should have been 3-0 at half time, but for the hand of Green to come to Gloucester's rescue. A Kris Taylor corner was headed powerfully goalwards by Harvey, but Green managed to get enough on the ball to turn it onto the crossbar and over for another corner

The Pitmen were dealt a blow early in the second half when Bailey signalled to the bench that he would have to come off. The big defender limped off holding his leg and was replaced by Tamworth loanee Matt Regan

This seemed to disrupt the Pitmen's organisational play in defence, and Gloucester took immediate advantage. On fifty-four minutes, a clumsy challenge by Disney saw him send Scott Wilson tumbling in the area as the pair challenged for the ball. The referee had no doubt that Disney had committed a foul and awarded Gloucester a penalty, booking Disney in the process for the tackle. Former Worcester City left-back Tyler Weir took the kick and rolled the ball to Crane's left with ease to reduce arrears

This spurred Gloucester on to look for an equaliser, as they enjoyed their best spell of the game in the next fifteen minutes. There were calls for another City penalty on sixty-four minutes when substitute Joe Parker went down under a challenge from the always-excellent Francino Francis, but the referee was unimpressed and played on

Lennon was one of a number of Hednesford players booked in the second half due to niggly fouls and was brought off in favour of Riley on sixty-five minutes as he threatened to get himself sent off

Desperate defending from Disney on sixty-nine minutes denied Wilson an equalising goal, clearing off his own line after Tom Webb's scuffed shot was nearly turned home by Wilson from close range

The Pitmen made their final change of the afternoon on seventy-four minutes, as Dave MacPherson came on in place of Alex Melbourne to give the over-run midfield more bite and authority

Neat play from Morford on seventy-seven minutes saw him produce a cross from the right that found Wilson, but the striker headed well over the crossbar from a handy position

Any anxiousness that the Hednesford fans were suffering in the final quarter of the game was dispelled on eighty-one minutes, as they were awarded a penalty of their own. A Taylor corner kick was floated into the far post, with Francis denied a chance to reach the ball due to being wrestled to the ground. The referee had seen enough to punish Gloucester for the argy-bargy and gave the Pitmen a spot-kick for the offence. Skrill North top scorer Durrell strode up and fired confidently past Green from the spot to register his fifteenth goal of the season

Campion followed Melbourne, Disney and Lennon into the book with six minutes remaining, sarcastically applauding the referee after yet another poor decision

Hednesford continued to look for goals in the last five minutes, playing in behind the stretched Gloucester defence with pace and numbers. Durrell was guilty of blazing over from a good position after seizing upon an Osborne through ball

And yet Gloucester were still not beaten, with Parker forcing Crane into a fine save on eighty-seven minutes. A minute later, Crane was again in action to make a smart save low down to deny Wilson to his right

The afternoon's entertainment finally came to an end on added time, as a jinking run from Osborne saw him trick his way past four Gloucester players as he made his way to the bye-line. He clipped the ball across the face of goal to Harvey, who had the easy task of tapping into the empty net at the far post

A 4-1 scoreline suggests a one-sided encounter, but Gloucester will take many positives from a battling performance that they may have taken something from with more quality in the final third. For the Pitmen, a fifth straight win sees them stay a point ahead of Brackley Town at the top of Skrill North, with another break from league action coming up next weekend when Ebac Northern League side West Auckland Town make their first-ever visit to Keys Park in the F.A. Cup 3rd qualifying round

Hednesford Town: Crane, Disney , Campion © , Bailey (Regan 51), Francis, Melbourne ▆ (MacPherson 75), Osborne, Durrell, Harvey, Lennon ▆ (Riley 65), Taylor      Subs Unused: Woolfe, Thompson-Brown

Gloucester City: Green, Rawlings, Weir, Coupe ©, Harris (Green 71), Webb, Liddiard , Mullins, Morford, Wilson, Turl (Parker 64)       Subs Unused: Groves, Edwards, Mustoe

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