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F.A. Trophy 3rd Round

Hednesford Town

Dean (61), Danks (90)

Gresley Rovers

(0) 2

(0) 0




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Steve Evans



Weymouth (A) 17.1.04

Hednesford's run in this season's F.A. Trophy continues into the fourth round of the competition today as they beat Southern League Western neighbours Gresley Rovers with two second-half goals

Having seen his side go five games without a league win since their last win against Lancaster City in the second round of the Trophy, manager Barry Powell rang the changes once more as he made three changes to his side; Darren Simkin, Steve Evans and the fit-again Stuart Ryder all returned to the side at the expense of Alex Gibson, Danny McGhee and Chris Brindley as Powell looking for a response from his side after a dreadful second-half display against Bath City last weekend saw them crash to a fourth defeat in eight league games

Gresley made the short trip to Keys Park sitting in mid-table at step three, having been inconsistent so far this term. Manager Gary Norton was without Notts County's young striker Shaun Harrad after the player had been recalled by his parent club, as well as cup-tied defender Matt Smith to leave the visitors with a paper-thin squad ahead of today's game against their step two opponents

Gresley almost made a flying start to the tie with a great chance for Danny Haynes in the second minute of the game; Gary White made a bold run down the right wing and swung in a cross that Haynes headed goalwards only to be denied by a flying save by Ryan Young in the Hednesford goal

Two minutes later, Rovers cut the Pitmen's defence open once more as another pass from White found Carl Francis, who saw his low shot saved by Young once more, diving to his right to make the save

The Pitmen recovered from these early warnings from Gresley and had a great chance of their own to open the scoring with their first real chance of the game in the fifth minute. Steve Anthrobus - criticised in some quarters for his recent poor form - played a superb slide-rule pass into the feet of Evans, who had made a darting run through the Gresley defence, only for the winger to be denied by a smothering save by former Tamworth keeper Dale Belford with his legs


 Evans was the supplier for Anthrobus seven minutes later as the Pitmen started to build pressure on the Gresley defence, crossing from the right to the back post where the big man was lurking. Anthrobus's first-time shot lacked direction, however, and flew well wide of Belford's upright from ten yards out

Belford kept his side in the game on seventeen minutes as he stretched full-length across his goal to make a superb fingertip save to turn Carl Palmer's goalbound shot away from the target after the midfielder had made a late run into the penalty area to reach a Craig Dean pass


 A fantastic piece of team play from the Pitmen three minutes later saw most of the players receive a touch in a patient build-up that culminated in the ball being played out to Les Hines, whose dangerous cross narrowly missed the heads of Anthrobus and Carl Palmer in the six-yard box

The two sides were cancelling each other out in midfield, with Steve and Carl Palmer finding it difficult to dominate the central areas as youngster Jamie Barrett impressed with his quick pass and move play alongside Haynes

A Simkin piledriver from long range failed to test Belford on the half-hour mark as he lifted his shot over the crossbar, before Ryder made a hash of his shot at the far post following and Evans cross as he stabbed a good chance well wide of goal

Good work from skipper Steve Palmer created space for Evans on the right wing on thirty-six minutes, only for the winger's cross to be plucked out of the air by Belford as he and Anthrobus challenged for the ball a couple of yards from goal

A disappointing first half ended with Gresley on the front foot as Barrett did well down the left wing to create space for himself against Simkin, crossing well for Leon Doughty to flick the ball on to Haynes, whose acrobatic scissor kick at goal flew narrowly wide of Young's far post

The Pitmen had seen plenty of the ball, but the age-old problem of what to do with it in the final third had reared it's ugly head in another frustrating first-half display from the hosts, who will remember that they were level at the break against Gresley's league rivals Bromsgrove in the F.A. Cup back in September, only to produce a poor second half display and get themselves knocked out against lower league opposition on their own turf

Gresley were forced into a half-time change to their side, as Haynes was replaced after picking up an injury in a move that saw top scorer Steve Lenagh come on in his place

The hosts gifted Gresley an early free-kick after the second period kicked off which Gary White swung into the six-yard box from the right hand side, only for the ball to somehow miss all of the players in red who were running into the penalty area and drift wide of goal

Ryder was given ticking-off by the referee for a foul on Carl Slater on fifty minutes after bringing down the striker with a crude late challenge thirty yards from goal, possibly due to Ryder's lack of match fitness 

Gresley almost gifted the Pitmen the opening goal of the afternoon on fifty-three minutes without a Hednesford player within ten yards of the ball as Young's long kick forwards was turned back to Belford by White, whose horribly miscued back-pass looked to be heading for net until Belford scrambled back and hooked the ball off the line for a Hednesford corner

From the resultant Les Hines corner and the melee that followed, the hosts were awarded a penalty kick a little controversially as the referee Mr. Aston pointed to the spot for an alleged push by Barrett on Carl Palmer in the six-yard box. The Gresley players surrounded the referee to protest what they believed to be a weak decision, but the award stood. The normally dependable Hines stepped up to take the resultant spot-kick, but lifted his shot over the crossbar and into the Heath Hayes terrace. Justice for the tame award of the penalty if you are of a Gresley persuasion

Pumped up by the missed penalty, Hednesford exerted heavy pressure on the Gresley defence as they went in search of the opening goal. Hines crossed well for Anthrobus on fifty-eight minutes, but the striker got his angles all wrong and headed over the bar with a misguided header

The Pitmen finally made their pressure pay just after the hour mark as former Gresley man Dean - who made one appearance for the Moatmen last month before joining the Pitmen - scored his first Hednesford goal. Sloppy defending from Rovers saw them fail to clear their lines from a Steve Evans cross, allowing Dean to fire past Belford from eight yards out

Gresley found a second wind and had three good chance to level matters in a seven minute period, with Barrett heading straight into the arms of Young on sixty-four minutes from Francis's well-delivered cross

Francis himself went close for the visitors two minutes later as the Pitmen got themselves into a muddle as the back with Simkin gifting the ball to Gareth Holmes, whose cross was turned over the bar from his strike partner, who should have done better from a great position ten yards from goal


 Three minutes later, Francis was put clear of the Hednesford defence by a great pass from former Nuneaton Borough man Leigh Everitt, only to lose his footing at the crucial moment and scuff his shot weakly into the hands of Young

A rash challenge by Hines on Doughty saw both sets of players come to blows on seventy-five minutes, with Hines and Belford squaring up and incurring the wrath of the match officials. Many in the ground expected Hines to be sent off for the challenge on Doughty, but the left-back's mixed afternoon continued with a yellow card for the foul, whilst Belford was also cautioned for his part in the unsavoury afters

The Pitmen thought that they had earned themselves a second penalty of the afternoon on seventy-eight minutes as Andy Cheetham appeared to bring Mark Danks down in the Gresley area, only for the referee to gesture to Danks to get to his feet as he felt that the youngster had gone down a little too easily

Goalscorer Dean was replaced with eleven minutes remaining in the Pitmen's only substitution of the afternoon as Dodd came on in his place down the left flank

A frenetic final ten minutes saw both sides have further chances to score, with the Pitmen guilty of missing two great chances to kill the tie off; Carl Palmer fluffed a great chance on eighty-two minutes as he dragged his shot well wide of goal after Danks had cleverly found him with a reverse ball, followed two minutes later by a header from the returning Lee Barrow that the centre-back headed wide from a Hines free-kick down the left flank

A minute later, Gresley had their best chance to take the game to a replay as good play down the wing from substitutes Lenagh and Earl Alexander saw Alexander cross for Francis, only for Young to block the striker's goalbound shot from close-range

Young's save had been a let-off for the home side, who finally settled the tie in the first minute of added time through the in-form Danks, who added to his goal tally for the season as Richard Wardle's poor back pass left Belford in no-man's land to allow Danks to nip in and round the keeper before slipping the ball into the empty net

It had been an eventful and chilly afternoon for the healthy 660 crowd to witness, with both sides playing their part in a typically end-to-end cup tie that had pretty much everything. The Pitmen move into the fourth round of this season's competition, which is incidentally the furthest they have ever gone in the competition's history since they first entered in 1977-1978 and will find out who they will play in Monday's draw. A return to league action next weekend sees Powell's side make the daunting-looking trip to league leaders Weymouth as they look to arrest a slide in league form that has seen them take only two points out of the last eighteen available

Hednesford Town: Young, Simkin, Hines , S. Evans, Ryder, BarrowC. Palmer, S. Palmer ©Anthrobus, Danks, Dean (Dodd 79)    Subs Unused: Brindley, Charie, Lamey, P. Evans


Gresley Rovers: Belford , Wardle, White (MacKenzie 76), Everett, Cheetham, Haynes (Lenagh 45), Doughty, Barrett, Slater (Alexander 76), Holmes      Subs Unused: Clarke, Sylla

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