2.9.2002

Dr.Martens Southern Premier League

Hednesford Town

Wray (17)

Grantham Town

(1) 1

.

(0) 0

Attendance

MoTM

Current Form

Next Match

644

Shaun Wray

D W W W L W

Weymouth (A) 7.9.02

Hednesford returned to winning ways this evening with a superb victory over league leaders Grantham at Keys Park, maintaining the Pitmen's 100% start at home this season and lifting them into the top three of the Dr. Martens League table

 The 2-0 defeat at Hastings on Saturday was a frustrating one for manager Ian Painter, who had seen his side create a host of opportunities but fail to convert any of them. With this in mind, he made one change to his starting line-up - midfielder Paul Ware returned to the side in place of Wayne Simpson in a more attacking XI from Painter

 

Grantham's start to the season had even more impressive than Hednesford's, with the newly-promoted Gingerbreads sitting top of the table ahead of kick-off after recording four wins and a draw from August. Manager John Wilkinson called upon the experience of former York City man Gary Bull up front, whilst still able to rely on the excellent Mario Ziccardi between the sticks. Wilkinson was shorn of key duo Adrian Speed and Dave Gilbert, however, with the highly experienced duo both missing the start of the season through injury

 

On a pleasant evening at Keys Park the Pitmen started with purpose, looking to quickly erase the memory of Saturday's disappointing defeat on the south coast. Shaun Wray's dancing feet were quickly into the groove, beating two players in the fourth minute and crossing for Kevin Francis, who was crowded out at the far post by a gaggle of Grantham defenders as he tried to turn the ball home

 

The hosts won their first corner of the game on ten minutes, with Carl Adams delivering a fine ball into the area that caused momentary panic in the Grantham ranks before Darren Dye hacked the ball away from goal

Derek Rae could have opened the scoring for the home side on thirteen minutes but fired wide of goal after good build-up work from Richard Lucas and Francis had played the Scottish midfielder in on goal

 

However, the Pitmen did open the scoring four minutes later, with what was to prove to be the winning goal. Ware's inswinging free-kick from the left was flicked on at the near post by the excellent Darren Simkin into the path of Wray, who fired home from close range via a deflection off Grantham full-back Steve Wenlock

 It was Wray's first goal for the Pitmen, and he seemed to thrive on the goal, turning in a superb individual display of pace, guile and creativity to justify Painter's faith in him since his summer arrival from Nuneaton Borough. He almost doubled his, and the Pitmen's, advantage five minutes later, but his run and shot was turned away by the in-form Zaccardi, who did well to palm Wray's powerful shot behind for a Hednesford corner

 

Grantham were struggling to get a foothold in the game in the opening quarter, with Bull robbed of the ball by Chris Brindley inside the Hednesford penalty area as he shaped to shoot on twenty minutes in the away side's best opening of a disappointing half

 

Neat interplay between Ware and Wray carved open the Grantham defence once more on twenty-nine minutes, with Ware unleashing one of his trademark long-range efforts that Hednesford supporters were used to in his first spell at the club. However, on this occasion, Ware was off-target and drove his effort into the hoardings behind the goal

 

The same players linked up again four minutes before half-time, as Wray chipped the ball into ware's path of the edge of the penalty area. ware found some space and drove the ball across the face of goal, just failing to find the boot of either Francis or Jones

 

However, for all the home side's dominance in the first period, it was almost even-steven at the break as a rare error from the highly experienced Les Robinson almost gifted Grantham an equaliser in added time; the centre-back played a short back-pass to Gayle, allowing Ricky Renshaw to pounce on the ball. Robinson, however, recovered brilliantly to force the ball away from goal before Renshaw could pull the trigger

 Grantham smartened their act up after the interval after making a change, with the experienced Wayne Hallcro coming on in place of Ian Wilkins and looked a far better side on the break, proving they were not the early league leaders for no reason. Bull exchanged passes with Renshaw on forty-eight minutes and then laid the ball off to Hallcro, but the substitute could only weakly strike the ball straight at Mark Gayle

 

 Three minutes later, Jim Neill almost equalised for the Gingerbreads with their best chance of the game so far. The midfielder hit a swerving free-kick that beat Gayle, but also narrowly beat the far post. 

 

The pressure continued to build on fifty-six minutes, as Neill then crossed for Brendan McDaid to head against Gayle's left hand post with the Hednesford stopper beaten. A let-off for the Pitmen

 

 Hednesford were content to play on the counter-attack at the start of the second period, with Wray an ever-present threat with his pace down the right wing. On such run on sixty-two minutes saw the winger pick out Francis with a delightful ball, but the big man headed wide of goal 

 

Wray picked put Francis again with another cross on sixty-nine minutes, with Francis this time flicking the cross on towards Jones, who was inches away from connecting at the far post

 

The Pitmen made their first change of the night on seventy-one minutes, with Steve Piearce coming on in place of Jones. This was followed six minutes later with another substitution, with Stewart Airdrie replacing the excellent Wray on the wing

 

Grantham still sensed a point was on offer and pushed in the final fifteen minutes in search of a leveller. Substitute Stuart Wilson skewed his effort wide from Chris Hall's slide-rule pass on seventy-nine minutes, followed two minutes later by a free header from McDaid at a corner that he glanced over the crossbar

 

A frenetic last five minutes saw the game become end-to-end, with both sides having chances to score. Zaccardi denied both Francis and Piearce in quick succession with a fine double save on eighty-six minutes before Wenlock thought he had snatched an equaliser with a far-post header that came back off the post in the final minute to deny the Gingerbreads a late goal

 

Another excellent home result for Painter and his men, who extend their 100% record at home to three games, moving them up to third in the table ahead of a full league programme tomorrow night. Having travelled to the south coast last weekend, the Pitmen must do the same again on Saturday when they travel to the inconsistent Weymouth

 

Hednesford Town: Gayle, Simkin, Lucas ©, Robinson, Brindley, Adams, Wray (Airdrie 77), Ware (Simpson 87), Francis, Jones (Piearce 71), Rae   Subs Unused: Ryder, Jenkins

 

Grantham Town: Ziccardi, Wenlock, Dye, McDaid, George, Wilkins (Hallcro 45), Marshall, Bull (Wilson 74), Ranshaw, Neil (Clarke 80), Hall      Subs Unused: Foster, Hallows

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