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Evo-Stik Northern Premier League

Hednesford Town

Carline (40)

Grantham Town

(1) 1

(0) 0



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Tom Thorley


Stafford Rangers (H) 12.11.16

Three successive league wins in the last fortnight has propelled the Pitmen up the table and into contention, with today's narrow win over Grantham Town leaving Liam McDonald's side just three points off the Evo-Stik Premier League summit


Monday night's comprehensive win over Sutton Coldfield Town had continued the Pitmen's good recent form, with Hednesford now the highest scorers in the Evo-Stik Premier League with thirty-six goals already plundered this term - this despite the Pitmen wasting numerous chances in each game to further add to their season's tally. McDonald made one enforced change to his side in goal, bringing Dan Crane back into the fold after injury ruled Lloyd Ransome out of starting. Danny Glover also failed to shake off injury and was ruled out of the matchday squad which meant a continuation of the unpredictable strike partnership of Gurjit Singh and Jamie Matthews


Grantham arrived at Keys Park off the back of a good run of form, unbeaten in their last four games, including a 4-0 win over Stratford Town in the F.A. Trophy last week. Perhaps unsurprisingly, manager Adam Stevens stuck with the same side that had beaten Stratford, including former Oxford City man Felipe Barcelos who had been the man in form in recent games, scoring eight times in ten games since joining the Gingerbreads from Banbury United recently

The Keys Park pitch had stood up well to the recent batch of poor weather and looked fine at the kick-off for the first of two games on it in the next seven days with the imminent visit of deadly rivals Stafford Rangers in the F.A. Trophy next Saturday  


The recalled Crane was called into action a little earlier than expected, as Simeon Maye's slack back pass in the seventh minute was seized upon by the in-form Barcelos, whose through ball to striker Lee Shaw was cut out by the onrushing Crane, who had spotted the danger early and rushed out to smother the ball


The Pitmen somehow failed to take the lead with their first real attack of the game a minute later, as an excellent cross by Cohen Bramall was turned goalwards by Jamie Matthews. His shot was saved by former Bristol Rovers keeper Kieran Preston, with George Carline denied a certain goal on the rebound by last-ditch defending by young centre-back Stefan Galinski

Jimmy Mutton's downward header from a Thorley corner kick was hacked away by former Wolves youngster Jamie Tank in the twelfth minute as the hosts pressed, with Singh scuffing the rebound well wide of goal after Grantham had struggled to clear their lines

Neat play from Barcelos set Lee Shaw on his way four minutes later, although his run was checked by a late offside flag against namesake Luke in the build-up


A long-range effort from Barcelos was easily fielded by Crane on twenty minutes as he skipped past Maye's challenged and unleashed a powerful shot from twenty-five yards out


The same player headed narrowly wide of goal from Ellis Storey's deep cross six minutes later with Crane beaten, which had been the best chance either side had created thus far


A superb run from Joel Logan saw the winger drift past three challenges on twenty-eight minutes, but his shot did not match the run and Preston made a simple stop at his near post


The two sides traded corner kicks without success towards the end of a fairly even first period, with Mutton heading wide of goal following a Thorley flag-kick on thirty-seven minutes as he beat Galinski to the Hednesford skipper's inswinging ball


The home side made the crucial breakthrough with five minutes of the first half remaining; another one of Thorley's inswinging corner kicks found the head of Carline, who rose highest to powerfully head past Preston and into the net for his ninth goal of the season with a typically powerful effort in the air from the player whose reputation continues to grow game by game 


A minute later, Matthews was presented with a peach of a chance to double the Pitmen's lead as he was played clean through a static Grantham defence. However the striker dithered in front of goal and allowed the Grantham defence to recover and block his eventual effort as he could not decide on the best course of action with Preston and his defenders bearing down on him

It had been a first-half short on chances and overall quality, with Grantham seemingly content to sit back and allow the Pitmen to have the ball and look to catch them on the counter-attack in a similar manner to many clubs that have visited Keys Park so far this term


The Pitmen made a superb start to the second half, playing some delightful football in the opening stages of the period. Matthews, Carline, Logan and the excellent Thorley were all prominent as the hosts knocked the ball about with confidence and purpose


Carline's long-range shot was blocked by Galinski on fifty-one minutes, conceding a corner kick that Thorley played quickly into the path of Maye, whose angled shot flew over the crossbar as the Gingerbreads were caught on their heels

Thorley was involved again for the hosts three minutes later as he dispossessed Martin Hollingsworth in midfield and sprayed a delightful ball out to Bramall. The youngster skipped past Danny Meadows and crossed for Matthews, whose weak effort rippled the side-netting as his angled shot failed to test Preston at his far post

Chances had been limited so far in the second half for both sides with the midfields on top in the first fifteen minutes of the second period. Barcelos was caught offside as he traded passes with Luke Shaw on the edge of the Hednesford penalty area before he could shoot, whilst Preston turned a drifting cross from Bramall over his crossbar on sixty-two minutes under pressure from Singh


The referee made himself an unpopular figure with the Hednesford supporters on sixty-six minutes, as he awarded Grantham a penalty after spotting what was allegedly a handball by Mutton. Barcelos stepped up to take the resultant spot-kick, but Crane guessed right and made an excellent save to his right to deny the Brazilian/Italian striker


Matthews was replaced by teenager Myles Phipps on sixty-nine minutes, which was followed soon after by Ashley Sammons' introduction in place of Gurjit Singh as the Pitmen made two attacking changes

Sammons did well to find the head of Mutton on seventy-one minutes with a free-kick out on the right-wing, only for the centre-back to nod well wide of Preston's far post

Mutton found his name taken by the referee two minutes later for manhandling Luke Shaw to the floor as the pair challenged for a long, searching ball forwards from Galinski

Crane was called upon once again with twelve minutes remaining, rushing out to the edge of his penalty area to deny Lee Shaw with a smothering save down by his feet before the striker could get a shot in at goal

The Pitmen had looked blunt in attack during the second half, missing the work ethic of Glover and the unpredictability of Singh since he had been replaced by Sammons. They were reliant on set-pieces more and more, with Sammons and Thorley sharing duties from corner kicks and free-kicks in the latter stages of the game


With five minutes of the second half remaining, young midfielder Desean Martin made his first appearance as a Hednesford player as he came on in place of Logan


A late chance fell Carline's way as he looked to seal the win, lobbing the ball over the head of Galinski and then Preston, but saw his effort cleared off the line by the recovering Galinski in what was to be the final action of the game


Three hard-earned points keep the Pitmen in touch at the top of the table, with all of the top three also winning in the league today. They take a break from Evo-Stik Premier League action once again next week with the prospect of the aforementioned local derby against Stafford to come next weekend after the local rivals had been drawn against each other in the F.A. Trophy on Monday afternoon


Hednesford Town: Crane, Williams, Bramall, Maye, Mutton , Flanagan , Logan (Martin 86), Thorley ©, Matthews (Phipps 71), Singh (Sammons 77), Carline      Subs Unused: Ransome, Hutton


Grantham Town: Preston, Meadows, Storey, Tank (Wildin 60), Galinski ©, Hollingsworth (Lewis 74), Clifton, Burrows, Barcelos, Lee Shaw, Luke Shaw (Durkin 82)     Sub Unused: Martin

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