Evo-Stik Northern Premier League

Hednesford Town

Bailey (5), Rey (47), Harvey (54)

Grantham Town

(1) 3

(0) 0



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Ben Bailey


Witton Albion (A) 2.3.13

Hednesford got themselves back in the winning habit this afternoon, as they swept aside relegation-haunted Grantham with another confident display in front of their supporters at Keys Park

Following last weekend's frustrating draw at Ashton United, which had seen the Pitmen drift to six points behind league leaders North Ferriby United, manager Rob Smith brought Neil Harvey back into the starting line-up after he recovered fully from injury. Michael Lennon dropped to the bench, despite grabbing his second league goal of the season at Ashton

Grantham arrived in Staffordshire with a losing streak stretching back to New Year's Day, having lost all four games in the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League since beating basement club Eastwood Town on January 1st. The new management team of Gary Sucharewycz and Ian Robinson - both former Hednesford players - had found the going tough in motivating last season's promoted side

Looking to get a quick start, as they did in their previous home game against Nantwich, the Pitmen pressed high up the pitch in search of an early goal. Elliott Durrell fired in an early sighter at goal on two minutes, curling his free-kick just wide of goal from twenty yards out

It was a more unlikely source that grabbed the opener for the hosts on five minutes, as Ben Bailey scored a superb goal to register his fifth goal of the season. Picking up a loose ball from a Jamey Osborne throw-in, the centre back showed great ability to wrong-foot Deon Miekle and fire a low shot across Grantham keeper Jake Turner and in off the far post

Grantham's game plan appeared to revolve around stopping the Pitmen from playing their natural game, as a number of early hefty challenges left Hednesford players on the floor. The talented Osborne was a familiar target, with the creative midfielder left on the deck and requiring treatment on twelve minutes after a rough tackle

In terms of attacking threat, the Gingerbreads limited their movements to set-pieces, as they aimed for the head of giant striker Sam McVicar at every opportunity. However, Bailey's defensive form in recent weeks has been simply peerless, with the youngster making timely interventions to head the ball away from danger

Recently, Nathan Woolfe has been showing the kind of form that wowed the crowd at the start of the campaign - he produced one of his mazy runs on twenty minutes, shimmying past two challenges as he cut inside, but fired his low drive just wide of goal

Bailey looked to add to his tally on twenty-six minutes, as he got on the end of Durrell's long, drifting corner but could only head wide of goal as the ball drifted away from him

Just after the half-hour mark, the Pitmen went close to stretching their lead after a great passage of play involving Durrell, Osborne and Woolfe saw the winger whip a cross that Dave MacPherson headed narrowly wide of the post from eight yards out

Another excellent break from midfield on thirty-nine minutes saw the ball played into the feet of Aaron Rey, who jinked his way into the box. However, he got the ball stuck under his feet as he looked to get his shot away, and allowed a covering defender to clear

A fairly straightforward first half for the Pitmen ended with Grantham failing to force a single save from Dan Crane in the Hednesford goal, highlighting the issues Sucharewycz and Robinson had in keeping their side out of the bottom two

The second period started with a bang for the hosts, as they essentially sealed all three points with a two-goal salvo inside the first ten minutes of the half. On forty-seven minutes, Tommy Hannigan only succeeded in heading Woolfe's cross up into the air, with Rey rising highest as the ball dropped around the penalty spot to beat Alistair Asher and keeper Turner to the ball and looping his header into the empty net

The Pitmen settled the game as a contest on fifty-four minutes, as Harvey scored his ninth goal of the campaign - with a little help from a deflection. Quick feet from the big striker, six yards out, saw him fire in a low shot that took a wicked deflection off the shoulder of Rey, looping up and landing in the corner of the net after clipping the woodwork

It could have got worse for the poor Gingerbreads a minute later, as Durrell sized up a free-kick from twenty-two yards out and fired in a low shot. Turner made a superb one-handed stop, turning the ball around his left-hand post when it looked as though Durrell had found the corner of the net

The Pitmen broke at will during a strong next ten minutes, with Durrell, Osborne and Woolfe all prominent in supplying balls down the channels for Rey and Harvey to chase. Alex Melbourne, having another strong game at right-back, also allowed himself opportunities to make runs forward to support the front men

More determination from Osborne on seventy minutes saw him win the ball in midfield, before supplying Durrell with a superb ball. The league's second top scorer pulled the trigger but was denied via a Grantham deflection wide

With fourteen minutes remaining, the hardworking MacPherson was given a well-earned rest as he was replaced by John Disney - Melbourne made the move into midfield to allow Disney to take his place at right-back

Four minutes later, the dynamic duo of Rey and Harvey were also allowed to take a break, as they were replaced by Michael Lennon and Sean O'Connor respectively

News filtered through to Keys Park in the last ten minutes that local rivals Stafford Rangers had forced a late equaliser at North Ferriby, meaning that if the scores stayed the same, the Pitmen would claw back the advantage they lost in last week's draw at Ashton

Durrell - still looking for his customary goal to add to the twenty-two already this season - wasted a great chance with two minutes remaining, firing well over after Grantham had failed to deal with Woolfe's corner

So, it was 'as you were' at the start of last weekend, with the Pitmen once again four points behind Ferriby, with two games in hand. FC United of Manchester's recent excellent form has seen them move into third place, as they start their annual late move into a play-off place. For the Pitmen, they will be content with another regulation win at Keys Park, with another struggling team in the form of Blyth Spartans next to visit Staffordshire next weekend

Hednesford Town: Crane, Melbourne, Campion ©, Bailey, Francis, MacPherson (Disney 75), Osborne, Durrell, Harvey (O’Connor 80), Rey (Lennon 80), Woolfe       Subs Unused: Barnes, Craven


Grantham Town: Turner, Asher, Meikle, Hannigan, Hawes, Lewis, Watson (McGhee 45 ), Nwadike © (Elliott 75), McVicar (Troke 62), Nightingale , Smith       Subs Unused: Maddox, Demidh

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