UniBond Northern Premier League


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Hednesford Town

Alexander (68)

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Darren Alexander


Prescot Cables (H) 11.9.06

Hednesford lost their 100% away record but maintained their unbeaten run in their travels home this afternoon after earning a draw against high-flying Guiseley at Nethermoor


 Manager Phil Starbuck had been hit by the suspensions of Marlon Walters and Steve Brannan and was forced to make one change to the side that won the thrilling game at Ashton United on Monday night as a result; Martin Ridley returning to the side in place of Walters at right-back which allowed Ross Dyer to return to a more attacking position, whilst there was a first call-up for youth team captain Keenen Meakin-Richards, who appeared on the bench in place of Brannan

Guiseley - some pundits' tip for the title this term - had started the season in mixed form and sat just above the Pitmen in the table in seventh place. A 5-0 hammering of Whitby Town on Tuesday had seen them leap-frog today's opponents courtesy of the Lions' first win since the opening day of the season. Unsurprisingly, manager Terry Dolan stuck with the same XI that had scored freely against Whitby as he looked for back-to-back wins from his side

On a beautifully bright sunny afternoon in West Yorkshire, both sides started cagily in the opening exchanges as they sussed each other out. Guiseley's topscorer Gavin Knight - who grabbed a hat-trick in Tuesday night's rout - was given the bird from the healthy Hednesford following in the fifth minute on their first-ever visit to Nethermoor as he appeared to go over very easily as he challenged Ross Adams to a long ball forwards from goalkeeper Steve Dickinson, with the away fans suggesting that Knight was trying to influence the referee into awarding him a penalty kick illegally

The Pitmen were almost architects of their own downfall in the ninth minute as a stray pass from Phil Hadland fell well short of its intended recipient Tom Marshall, allowing Scott Jackson to seize upon the pass and enter the penalty area with the ball. Fortunately for the former Reading winger, Marshall was alert to the danger and managed to get back in time to kick the ball off Jackson's shins and out of play for a Hednesford goal kick

Good play involving Chris White and Ross Dyer in the fifteenth minute saw the pair link up well as White played Dyer into space down the left, with Dyer returning the ball to White with a fine pass. The veteran midfielder took a touch and tried his luck from twenty-five yards out, only to see his shot take a deflection off Danny Ellis and out for a Hednesford corner kick

The Pitmen had their best spell of the game so far in the next few minutes as they created a clutch of good openings; Hadland's quick throw-in down the left on seventeen minutes found Marshall in acres of space down the flank, with the young defender looking to pick out Alexander with a cross to the near post. Former Southport stopper Dickinson was alert to the danger and got there before the striker could claim the inswinging cross from Marshall

Alexander was denied a clear sight at goal two minutes later as a quick break from the Pitmen through midfield saw Iain Screaton play the striker through on goal, only for skipper Richard Dunning to make a timely block to deny the former Chasetown man

Flying winger Mario Pedro had arguably the best opening of the opening quarter of the game on twenty minutes as the ball was squared to him on the edge of the penalty area by Dyer, only for the Portuguese winger to take a swing at the ball and completely miss his kick, much the ironic cheers of the home supporters. Despite this, Pedro rescued the loose ball and cross for Dyer, who was denied a shot at goal by a timely clearance from Simon Sturdy

Knight was giving the Hednesford defence all sorts of issues with his movement and almost opened the scoring on twenty-two minutes as he met a Sturdy cross with his head, only for the former Barro hitman to head wide of Ryan Young's near post

A minute later, however, it was Knight's strike partner Jackson that broke the deadlock as a deep cross from Dunning down the left was met at the back post by the striker, who guided the ball beyond the reach of Young from six yards out to give the hosts the lead

Hednesford skipper Danny Jellicoe was guilty of allowing Jackson again straight from the restart as Guiseley won the ball back and pumped a long ball forwards with the former Connah's Quay defender mistiming his header and allowing Jackson in behind him, only for Young to parry the striker's low shot away from goal 

Dyer had started the new season well and had seen the Football League scouts flocking to Keys Park to keep tabs on the teenager's progress. On twenty-nine minutes, Dyer got on the end a Marshall corner after Pedro had once again missed his kick and unleashed a rising shot that just cleared the bar from the edge of the Guiseley penalty area

The game became scrappy and littered with stop-start moments as half time started to loom; both sides were guilty of lax passes and long, aimless balls up to their front men. Knight got the better of Ridley on thirty-five minutes as he swivelled on a pass from Dunning, only for the right-back to nick the ball off him at the crucial moment fifteen yards from goal

On forty minutes, Jellicoe brought Andy Wright down on the edge of the Hednesford penalty area to halt the winger's flying run. Midfielder Stuart Gray - son of Leeds legend Eddie - tried to take the kick quickly but found Screaton in the way as he blocked the shot. Screaton took a nasty blow to his lower body as a result of the block, but a very unsympathetic referee denied his request for treatment from Don Drakeley and he was forced to run off the injury


Darren Alexander had a chance to level matters in the final minute of the first half as Pedro's run and pass found the striker in space just inside the Guiseley penalty area, only for his low effort to fly agonisingly wide as he was put under pressure by Ellis

There was a lengthy stoppage just a couple of minutes after the restart as Marshall accidentally ran into Young as the pair looked to clear a cross from the right, leaving the young defender on the deck and requiring lengthy treatment from Drakeley before the game could continue

Jackson was first to register a shot in anger on fifty minutes, turning well just inside the penalty area but seeing his speculative shot saved easily by Young

Two minutes later, Ridley was shown a yellow card after mistiming his tackle on Andy Wright down the flank as the flying winger skipped past the full-back right on the touchline

Meakin-Richards replaced the Ridley on fifty-five minutes to make his first-team debut after a string of fine displays for the youth team at full-back, slotting into the team in the space vacated by Ridley

Starbuck has been talking recently in the press about the improvements in the team's fitness since the season had started; this started to become evident the longer the half wore on as Guiseley started to tire and the visitors grew into the game once more. A long throw from Screaton on fifty-eight minutes was flicked on by Marshall at the near post and into the path of Alexander, who was a matter of inches away from connecting just a couple of yards from goal before Guiseley cleared the danger


Hadland forced Dickinson into a good save on the hour mark as he collected a cushioned Alexander header and drove into the Guiseley penalty area, only to see his shot held by the veteran stopper


 Dickinson made an even better save from the same player just a minute later, tipping Hadland's shot over the bar from close-range with a superb instinctive stop after Meakin-Richards' back-header was turned towards goal by Hadland

The Pitmen finally got themselves on level terms once more on sixty-eight minutes but required an element of luck and some questionable goalkeeping from Dickinson to do so as a long ball over the top from White was chased down by Alexander, who clashed with Dickinson just inside the Guiseley penalty area. Despite being favourite for the bouncing ball, Dickinson made a hash of it and fumbled the ball under pressure from the striker, with both players tumbling to the floor and the ball running loose. Alexander reacted quickest by getting to his feet and turning the loose ball home from an angle, despite the attentions of Dunning

With their tails up, the Pitmen went in search of a winning goal that would extend their 100% away record so far this season. Hadland was off-target on seventy-two minutes with an angled drive from eighteen yards out that Dickinson saw over his crossbar

The Guiseley rearguard - well marshalled by Dunning - stood firm in the face of the Hednesford pressure as the game entered the final fifteen minutes, with Dunning heading the ball out of his own six-yard box on seventy-eight minutes as Alexander flicked a Dyer cross towards goal following a period of pressure

 Dyer almost forced Sturdy into putting the ball into his own net on eighty-five minutes as the youngster's turn and cross into the Guiseley six-yard box was turned just past his own near post by Sturdy, under pressure from Alexander


Alexander had a chance in the final minute of normal time but pulled his effort well wide of the target, followed in added time by a well-hit corner kick from Pedro to the near post that was somehow missed by everyone in red

All in all, a fine point for the Pitmen against one of the more fancied sides in the UniBond Premier League and one that keeps their unbeaten away record intact. They return to Keys Park on Monday night still looking for that elusive first home win of the season as they face Prescot Cales in what will be the first-ever meeting between the two sides 

Guiseley: Dickinson, Denton, Ryder, Sturdy, Ellis, Dunning ©, Smithard, Gray, Jackson (Clarke 76), Knight, Wright (Morris 90)       Sub Unused: Hall

Hednesford Town: Young, Ridley  (Meakin-Richards 55), Marshall, White, Jellicoe ©, Adams, Screaton, Pedro, Dyer, Alexander, Hadland      Subs Unused: Brown, Franklin

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