Dr. Martens Southern Premier League

Grantham Town

Collins (31)

Hednesford Town

Anthrobus (46)

(1) 1

(0) 1




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Carl Palmer



Merthyr Tydfil (A) 13.9.03

The Pitmen earn themselves a good point at Grantham's South Kesteven Stadium this evening as Steve Anthrobus opened his Hednesford account with a first-ever goal for the club early in the second half

Saturday's first home win of the season against Chelmsford City had given the inconsistent Pitmen a boost ahead of tonight's trip to Lincolnshire. Manager Barry Powell made two changes to the side that had started at the weekend, bringing in Ashley Dodd for his full debut in place of Damien Charie on the left side of defence and naming Darren Simkin in the side after the veteran defender had returned from suspension. Simkin had cause for celebration having become a father again earlier in the day after his wife had given birth to a daughter. Powell also welcomed the long-serving Stuart Lake back into the squad after a long lay-off due to injury and illness had kept the utility man out of contention since the end of last season

Grantham had made a strong start to the season, winning 3-2 against Weston-Super-Mare at the weekend to move into fourth place in the table after seven games. Manager Roger Ashby had used his contacts well during the week to bring in the prolific Darren Collins - a scourge of Hednesford sides gone-by - from last season's Southern Premier League champions Tamworth to add to his experienced squad

The South Kesteven Stadium is never the most exciting venue to watch football, with the athletics track around the pitch limiting your viewing pleasure during day games and making night games even more difficult to spectate. The sky-blue clad Pitmen made a good start to the game, with Ashley Williams exchanging passes with Carl Palmer down the right before sending over a deep cross that Mario Ziccardi claimed just ahead of Steve Anthrobus at the far post

The Pitmen's best chance of the early minutes came in the tenth minute as Karl Brown and Anthrobus played a quick one-two with each other to playing in Nathan Lamey. His effort was blocked and rebounded to Carl Palmer, whose follow-up shot was cleared off the line by a retreating Martin Fox

Two minutes later, a corner from Les Hines found Anthrobus unmarked on the penalty spot, only for his goalbound effort to be deflected wide of goal by former Rushden & Diamonds man Tim Wooding. From the resultant corner on the other side, Hines' cross missed everyone as it dropped into the six-yard box before bouncing out of play and onto the running track

Grantham played themselves back into the game after a slow start to the game and created a good opening of their own on nineteen minutes through Fox's inswinging cross, whose ball in dropped over the heads of the Hednesford defenders before finding Stuart Wilson, who headed over the crossbar from a good position

A neat piece of play from the hosts on twenty-three minutes saw them work the ball into the Hednesford penalty area through Simon Dakin and into the path of Kevin Slinn, who did well to turn Simkin but fire over Ryan Young's crossbar

A flick-on from Anthrobus found Lamey in behind the Grantham defence on twenty-nine minutes, only for an early offside flag to deny Lamey a goal as he stepped past Ziccardi and put the ball into the net

The Pitmen were made to pay the price for not taking their chances as Collins struck a debut goal for the Gingerbreads on thirty-one minutes, with the scourge of the individual error costing the away side dearly. The usually reliable Ryder - under no pressure - made a terrible error of judgment as he played a back pass towards Young that was nowhere near his keeper, allowing Collins to steal upon the loose ball, round the horribly exposed Young and slot the ball into the empty net

Grantham remained on top for the remainder of the first half and continued to create the better of the chances ahead of half-time; Collins did well to play Dakin in through the centre of the Hednesford defence on thirty-five minutes, only for Ryder to partially redeem himself with a timely challenge to nick the ball off the midfielder's toe and he looked to work the ball onto his right foot

Four minutes later, a free-kick from Slinn to the far post found the head of former Nuneaton Borough man Dakin, whose header drifted just wide of Young's right-hand post

The frustrated Pitmen ended the half with a double booking for two of their midfielders, as skipper Steve Palmer and Brown were both shown a yellow card for petty fouls

The Pitmen emerged with a more positive mentality after a half-time dressing down by Powell and grabbed an immediate equaliser with their first attack of the second period. Ashley Williams fed Steve Palmer down the right-wing, with the skipper sending over a fine cross into the six-yard box that Anthrobus bundled over the line for his first Hednesford goal, despite Zaccardi's best attempts to keep the ball out

Suddenly it was the Pitmen with their tails up, forcing Grantham back into their final third as the two Palmers started to take control of the central area of the pitch to create openings for the visitors. On fifty-four minutes, a wicked inswinging free-kick from Hines was spilt by Ziccardi at his near post and fell to Carl Palmer, who could only divert his effort wide of goal

Hines and Carl Palmer linked up again two minutes later as a deep cross from the left-back found Palmer unmarked ten yards from goal, only for his header to clear Ziccardi's crossbar

Lamey tested Ziccardi on sixty-five minutes with a well-struck drive from the edge of the Grantham penalty area that the highly-rated stopper made a good save from down to his right-hand side

A long ball forwards from Young on seventy-three minutes was flicked on by Carl Palmer to Lamey one more, but again Ziccardi was equal to the striker's effort as he held Lamey's angled shot from eighteen yards out

Despite it looking like the Pitmen being more likely to take all three points, it was Grantham that ended the game strongly and forced Young into several good saves in the latter stages of the game. On eighty-one minutes, he made a wonderful save from point-blank range to deny substitute Kevin Wilkin after the striker had nipped in behind the Hednesford defence to latch onto a through ball from fellow substitute Jason Minett

Four minutes later, Minett himself had a great chance to win it for Grantham as a tired-looking Hednesford defence allowed him to run in behind them unchecked to get onto the end of a pass from Fox, only for Young to once again come up with the goods with a brilliant one-handed stop to turn Minett's goalbound shot over the crossbar when it looked destined for the top corner of the net

In added time, Young made his third save in quick succession to ensure the Pitmen protected their point as he deflected a shot from Jamie Kearns away from goal with his legs to deny the hosts once again

All in all, a good point earned by the Pitmen in a game that either side could have taken all three with a bit more luck and composure in front of goal. Anthrobus scoring his first goal will be a big plus for Powell and his team, who will look to build on the last two games with another positive result on Saturday when they travel to South Wales to face Merthyr Tydfil

Grantham Town: Ziccardi ©, Wooding, Fox, P. Wilkin (Minett 75), Dakin, Gould, Wilson, Kearns, Collins (K. Wilkin 70), Slinn (Clarke 85), Innan      Subs Unused: Hallows, Wenlock

Hednesford Town: Young, Williams, Hines, Dodd, Simkin, Ryder, C. Palmer, S. Palmer © , Anthrobus, Lamey, Brown ▆       Subs Unused: Swann, Lake, Danks, Charie, P. Evans