2.3.2019

Evo-Stik Northern Premier League

Hednesford Town

Hallahan (19), Grantham (33)

Grantham Town

Dawson (90)

 

(2) 2

(0) 1

Attendance

MoTM

Current Form

Next Match

365

 

Reece King

 

L L L W D L L W W W

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Nantwich Town (H) 16.3.19

Another rollercoaster seven days at Keys Park is finally handing the Pitmen's long-suffering supporters some good news, as Nicky Eaden's side put aside off-the-field rumours regarding a change of ownership at the club with a third successive win to lift them to the relative safety of thirteenth place in the Evo-Stik Premier League table

 

Friday had seen strong rumours surfacing online that the club was close to being sold to new owners, with the Pitmen announcing that there would be a statement being released regarding a potential new regime due next week. Eaden's side concentrated on the playing side of things, looking to continue their fine form that had seen them record back-to-back wins in the league this week for the first time since September. Javan Vidal had picked up a knock in Tuesday night's 1-0 win over Hyde United and missed out on the game, with Alex Melbourne returning to the side in place of the former Wrexham man. Jud Ellis was passed fit to take his place amongst the substitutes after missing the Hyde game, but left-back Ben O'Hanlon was missing again after his late injury at Buxton last weekend

 

Grantham arrived at Keys Park off the back of a 2-0 home win over Matlock Town last weekend, lifting the Gingerbreads up to fifteenth place in the table in the process before the Pitmen jumped over them in midweek. New management side Paul Rawden and Russ Cousins had overseen an improvement in overall results following their arrival in February after Grantham had dropped closer to the drop zone under previous manager Richard Thomas. Rawden and Cousins had added to their numbers for the run-in this week with the acquisitions of Guiseley midfielder Luke Hogg and experienced Matlock Town striker Jamie Jackson as the Gingerbreads looked to move away from the drop zone themselves

 

Grantham made a swift start to proceedings, backed by a small but noisy band of supporters in the Hednesford end of the ground. With their first attack in the game in the second minute, midfielder Nathan Smith tried his luck with a low long-range effort that Kieran Preston did well to turn away down to his right-hand side

 

Midfielder Danny Racchi had the Pitmen's first effort on goal two minutes later, hitting a low free-kick just outside the Grantham penalty area that was fielded by Gingerbreads keeper Sam Andrew

 

A long throw from Ben Bailey caused the Grantham defence all kinds of problems on ten minutes, with Kieran Wells flicking a Reece King header back into the danger zone only for Grantham to clear their lines as Jon Moran tried to head the ball towards goal

 

A deep, swerving cross from left-back Nathan Fox gave Andrew a problem to deal with in the fourteenth minute, with Fox's ball in tipped over the crossbar by the Grantham keeper as the ball arrowed towards the far corner of the net

 

Another long throw from Bailey was headed wide by King three minutes later before a superb cross from Fox found the same player lurking at the far post two minutes later, with King's header scrambled clear by the Grantham defence. The Pitmen recycled the ball well down the left, with Courey Grantham laying the ball off to Jack Hallahan twenty-five yards from goal. The midfield man unleashed an unstoppable long-range shot that beat Andrew all ends up, finding the net via a deflection off the left-hand post. A great goal and another in a long line of potential goal of the season contenders

 

A strong run from Grantham gave the Gingerbreads' defence more issues four minutes later, laying the ball off to Hallahan once more in a similar position to his goal a few moments earlier. This time, however, Hallahan tried to strike the ball with his wrong foot and skewed the ball well wide of goal

 

 A deep free-kick from Preston on twenty-nine minutes found Bailey lurking at the far post, with the Hednesford skipper's towering header at the far post only just missing the target as he headed back across goal

 

The Pitmen were well on top of proceedings, and created a glorious opening on thirty-one minutes to double their lead; a superb header from King - who had won everything in the air so far - played Wells in behind the Grantham defence to the left-hand side of the penalty area. Andrew did well to narrow the angle and limit Wells' options, with the striker electing for power and placement in trying the drill the shot through the legs of the keeper, only for Andrew to make the stop at his near post

 

From the resultant corner, Alex-Ray Harvey slipped the ball to Racchi on the edge of the Grantham penalty area, with the experienced midfield man lifting his shot just over the crossbar from long range

 

The Pitmen did, however, find a way through once ore two minutes later, as Bailey's long throw was headed back into the danger zone by Hallahan to find Grantham, whose quick turn and shot found the corner of the net to hand him his second goal in three games since joining the Pitmen from Basford United

 

The away side mustered a reply through the rangy Jordan Adebayo-Smith on forty minutes, as the tall striker broke clear of the Hednesford defence but pulled his low shot wide of former Grantham keeper Preston's far post

 

A quick break down the left from goalscorer Grantham saw him play the ball back into the path of Wells on forty-two minutes, but the striker struck a wild shot well over with a first-time effort

 

Half-time saw Grantham make an enforced change as Connor Bartle was forced off due to injury. Jackson was handed his second debut for Grantham by Rawden as his replacement

 

The away side came out fighting at the start of the second period, with Jackson winning an early free-kick in a good position. Skipper Danny Brooks struck and fine free-kick at goal, forcing Preston into a good save low down to his left-hand side to turn the shot away from goal

 

More fantastic battling from Wells saw him win another lost cause on fifty-one minutes, playing the ball to Harvey despite being on the deck. Harvey, in turn, played King through on goal, but the midfield man was denied by a save from Andrews as he tipped the shot over his crossbar

 

King felt that he had a valid shout for a penalty kick on fifty-eight minutes as his shot cannoned off Ross Barrows from close range, only for the referee to wave away King's protests for a spot-kick

 

A minute later, Harvey's corner kick found the head of Wells once more, with the striker's bullet header saved by Andrews as the ball fell straight at him on his goal line

 

Excellent play from Racchi on sixty-four minutes saw the midfielder win the ball back and lay it off to Melbourne, whose low cross evaded everyone and looked to be heading for the unmarked Grantham at the far post for a tap in until late intervention from Barrows

 

The hardworking Wells had once again worked himself into the ground with a selfless display in front of goal and was given a well-deserved rest by Eaden on sixty-six minutes as he made way for veteran striker Shane Benjamin

 

With fifteen minutes left, the Pitmen made their second change of the afternoon with the light dimming around Keys Park, as Ellis returned to the side by replacing goalscorer Hallahan

 

The change in personnel seemed to check the Pitmen's attacking instincts, as they lacked the earlier spark up front as they looked to see out the remainder of the game. Adebayo-Smith tried his luck with a long-range bobbling free-kick on seventy-eight minutes that was straight at Preston

 

With four minutes remaining, the hosts made their final change of the game as the excellent Racchi was replaced by Charlie Gatter with the Pitmen adding a defensively-minded player to the side for the remaining moments

 

Despite offering little in the way of an attacking threat, Grantham did grab a consolation goal as the game moved into added time; Adebayo-Smith's cross-cum-shot from the left was blocked by Fox, but he only succeeded in laying the ball off into the path of striker Chris Dawson. The Grantham number ten hit a fine first-time shot from twelve yards out that flew into the top corner of the net to give Grantham brief hope of a comeback

 

Another excellent display from the Pitmen, and further proof of their growing confidence and togetherness as they record a third win in seven days. Eaden's men are now nine points above the drop zone with eight games to play. Two more wins are likely to see the Pitmen retain their step three status, likely to be a key component as the club inches towards a change of ownership. We will now wait for more news of this on Wednesday, ahead of a well-earned two-week break for the players before we return home to play Nantwich Town in a fortnight's time

 

Hednesford Town: Preston, Melbourne, Fox, Harvey, Moran, Bailey ©, Racchi (Gatter 86), King, Wells (Benjamin 66), Hallahan (Ellis 75), Grantham       Subs Unused: Archer, Veiga

 

Grantham Town: Andrew, Barrows (Luto 66), Bartle (Jackson 45), Omar , Ward, Tweedy , McGovern, Brooks ©  (Chaplin 61), Adebayo-Smith, Dawson, Smith      Subs Unused: Briers, Kelly

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