Dr. Martens Southern Premier League

Hednesford Town

Anthrobus (29), Danks (73)

Grantham Town

(1) 2

(0) 0




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Carl Palmer



Tiverton Town (H) 25.10.03

It's amazing what seventy-two hours and a couple of new faces can do... Hednesford got back to winning ways this evening to end a run of three winless games with a fine performance and win over a shot-shy Grantham Town at Keys Park


 Saturday's defeat at Dover Athletic was the final straw for manager Barry Powell, who swung the axe on a couple of his under-performing players by placing youngsters Ashley Williams and Damien Charie on the transfer list. He had also given up on club great Stuart Lake's lack of fitness and availability, allowing the long-serving utility man to leave and join Nuneaton Borough after only one start so far this term. Powell had also been busy bringing new faces in to freshen up the side, signing left winger Chris Gray from Sutton Coldfield Town and young right-winger Danny McGhee from Rushall Olympic. Both players started tonight's game, whilst there was also a recall for Mark Danks, who replaced the out-of-form Nathan Lamey up front. Stuart Ryder was the final change as he returned to action at centre-back after a spell out injured

Grantham's early season form had put them firmly in the play-off picture, but recently had fallen away from the chasing pack and into mid-table after only one win in their last six league games. Manager Roger Ashby made one change to the side that had drawn at Bath City on Saturday, recalling Dominic Hallows to the XI in place of Jason Minett, who had to be content with a place amongst the substitutes

Autumn had descended on Hednesford in the past couple of days, with the weather taking a season turn for the cooler since the weekend as the temperature plummeted into single figures for tonight's game. The Pitmen were to go on and dominate the game, taking the initiative straight from the off and pushed Grantham back into their own half early on as they looked to end their run of inconsistent form. Gray's first involvement saw him beat Tim Wooding down the left and sender a low cross that Mario Ziccardi fielded before Danks could get to the ball

Ziccardi was called into action again in the tenth minute of the game, turning over a free-kick from Les Hines after the left-back had cleanly struck his effort from fully twenty-five yards out. From the resultant Hines corner, Ryder's backwards header drifted well wide of the far post as he beat Adrian Speed to the ball

Trickery from McGhee down the right on fourteen minutes saw him drift past Martin Fox and Speed and send over a great cross for Danks, whose chance to score was from close range was denied by an offside flag from the assistant on the Wimblebury side of the ground

Four minutes later, Darren Simkin - playing at right-back this evening - played in a deep cross to the far post for Anthrobus, whose powerful header was narrowly off target at the far post

Gray was impressing on his Hednesford debut, thriving in his role down the left that was complimented by Hines's overlapping runs. Another good run from the former Gresley Rovers man on twenty-six minutes saw him make his way inside from the left-wing before drilling a low shot at goal that was deflected wide of goal by Wooding

The Pitmen finally got the goal that their efforts deserved three minutes later, with Hines prominent once more in an attacking role as he added another assist to his ever-growing list of goals created this season. A superbly delivered free-kick from Hines from the left found the head of Anthrobus, who powerfully headed past Ziccardi from eight yards out to open the scoring

The hosts almost doubled their advantage on thirty-four minutes as Danks picked the ball up from the excellent Carl Palmer before driving straight at the heart of the Grantham defence with a powerful run; his shot, however, was saved by the shaky Ziccardi at the second attempt as Anthrobus lurked with intent at picking up any rebound

A short spell of pressure from the Gingerbreads saw them force a succession of corner kicks, only for a series of poorly taken set-pieces failing to test Ryan Young and his defence, who cleared with relative ease

A poor kick from Ziccardi on forty minutes played his team into trouble as he chipped the ball straight into the path of Carl Palmer, who drove his first-time effort narrowly wide of the right-hand post rather than steady himself and play Danks in on goal

In added time, another sliced clearance from the Grantham captain saw Gray seize upon the loose ball and send over an early cross that found McGhee at the far post, only for the youngster to lack a bit of composure and sidefoot the ball into the side-netting

It had been an impressive worst-half display from the Pitmen, who had looked more dynamic and pacy with the introduction of Gray and McGhee, whilst the return of Danks was proving a great decision as Grantham were struggling to cope with the youngster's pace and trickery

The second half was to prove much the same as the first, as the hosts continued to have the better of the possession, territory and chances against a Grantham side seemingly lacking in confidence going forwards. Another walkabout moment from Ziccardi on fifty minutes saw him beat Gray to a long Chris Brindley punt but only managed to play the ball straight to Hines, whose instinctive ball to Anthrobus was headed wide by the big man with the goal gaping. A poor miss and one that could have settled the game as a contest


Steve Palmer fired high into the Heath Hayes end on fifty-four minutes after Danks had laid the ball off to him twenty yards from goal, followed three minutes later by a stabbed effort at goal by McGhee from a Hines corner that was hacked clear by Fox inside the Grantham six-yard box


Grantham enjoyed a good spell of possession midway through the second period but again appeared to run out of ideas after getting in and around the final third. Long-range efforts from both Rob Gould and Kevin Slinn were easily saved by Young, followed on sixty-seven minutes by an inswinging corner from Hallows that was headed high over the crossbar by Speed fro seven yards out

Former Nuneaton Borough man Simon Dakin came on in place of Gould on sixty-eight minutes to add more creativity to the Grantham midfield as the Gingerbreads made a tactical tweak to their side

However, the Pitmen did finally get their second goal of the evening on seventy-three minutes as a mother threatening run from Danks saw him jink his way past a couple of half-hearted Grantham challenges before firing low past Ziccardi from twelve yards out

Grantham responded to going two goals down by bringing on forward Jamie Clarke for midfielder Stuart Wilson and playing with three up top for the remainder of the game

Danks almost produced a replica of his goal on seventy-nine minutes as he slalomed his way past two challenges before driving goalwards, only for Ziccardi to get the better of Danks on this occasion by making a smothering save

Grantham's only shot on target came on eighty-six minutes, as substitute Clarke got the better of Simkin as he skipped past him down the left wing before cutting inside and firing a shot straight at Young from a slight angle

In the final minute of the game, McGhee thought that he had grabbed a debut goal for the Pitmen as he gleefully headed Gray's deep cross home at the far post, only for a late offside flag to deny McGhee his goal on an encouraging debut form the youngster


An excellent reaction from the Pitmen to Saturday's controversial defeat at Dover, dominating their fellow-mid-table rivals and deservedly earning the three points to move them above Grantham in the table and into ninth position in the process. Powell's inconsistent side have the chance to make it back-to-back wins on Saturday when they face another mid-table side in the form of Tiverton Town at Keys Park

Hednesford Town: Young, Simkin, Hines, McGhee, Brindley, Ryder, C. Palmer , S. Palmer ©, Anthrobus, Danks, Gray      Subs Unused: Maguire, Dodd, Brown, Lamey, P. Evans

Grantham Town: Ziccardi ©, Wooding, Fox, Wenlock, Speed, Gould (Dakin 68), Wilson (Clarke 74), Kearns, Slinn, Hallows      Subs Unused: Bowater, Wilkin, Minett