12.4.2014

Skrill North

Hednesford Town

Thorley (19), McCone (30), Glover (34)

Guiseley

Johnson (12), Boyes (16)

(3) 3

(2) 2

Attendance

MoTM

Current Form

Next Match

574

Tom Thorley

L L W L L W W W D W

Oxford City (A) 19.4.14

Hednesford Town continued to consolidate their place amongst their play-off rivals in the race for the top five, as they saw off rivals Guiseley at Keys Park this afternoon in an exciting, action-packed Skrill North clash of two in-form sides

The Pitmen came into their penultimate home game of the season in great recent form, unbeaten in six games and coming off the back of another excellent win at Gainsborough Trinity the previous week. Charlie Anagho-Ntamark was unavailable due to injury, with his place taken by Alex Melbourne, who was available again following suspension. There was also the heartwarming sight of Kris Taylor's name amongst the substitutes after the midfielder was given the all-clear to resume first-team action after ten weeks away battling testicular cancer

Guiseley arrived in South Staffordshire on the crest of a wave, having remained undefeated in the last thirteen games and chalked up wins over both AFC Telford and North Ferriby United in the process. Mark Bower's side had moved into the play-off places due to their superb run of form, lying just a point behind the Pitmen with a game in hand ahead of this crucial clash of the play-off chasers

As befits a side in such brilliant recent form, it was Guiseley who made a confident start to proceedings, playing the Pitmen on the counter-attack with pace and power, particularly down the right-hand side. Paul McCone did well to get his body across the shot of Alex Johnson in the third minute, blocking the striker's drive and deflecting it away for a Guiseley corner

Johnson tested the reflexes of Dan Crane on nine minutes, firing goalwards after he got in behind the static Hednesford defence but was denied by a fine stop by the in-form goalkeeper

Crane was called upon again a minute later to smother the ball right on the edge of his penalty area after another quick, neat move down the Guiseley right opened the Pitmen up again

The hosts failed to heed the early warnings and fell behind on twelve minutes through former Halifax hitman Johnson. A deep cross from the left was not dealt with by either Ben Bailey or McCone, allowing Johnson the simple task of tapping the ball home from close range to give Guiseley a deserved lead

The Pitmen were at sixes and sevens at the back, a common theme at times through this season, and conceded a second goal four minutes later as Guiseley scored again. McCone allowed a through ball to bounce behind him, giving Johnson the opportunity to seize upon the loose ball and fire towards goal. Crane produced an outstanding instinctive save to turn the ball away from goal and deny Johnson, but could only watch in despair as his parry fell into the path of Adam Boyes, who lashed the rebound into the empty net

Many inside Keys Park would have not given the Pitmen much hope of getting anything from the game from this point onwards, but as they have proven time and time again under Rob Smith's stewardship, this squad has a unique character that does not know when they are beaten. Three minutes later, they dragged themselves back into the game as neat build-up play down the right saw Tom Thorley fire confidently home from twenty yards out to reduce the deficit

The Pitmen suddenly sensed a comeback was very much on after such a poor start to the game, with the hosts forcing back-to-back corners midway through the half as they cranked up the pressure of a flaky-looking Guiseley defence

It was a corner kick that was to undo the Guiseley defence again on the half-hour mark, as Thorley's kick from the right was dropped by Steve Drench in the Guiseley goal as he was put under pressure by Danny Glover. The referee, rather than give Guiseley the seemingly standard free-kick for a foul on Drench, allowed the game to continue and allowed McCone to atone for his earlier error by turning the loose ball home from a yard out

With the crowd back behind them and the momentum with them on the pitch, Hednesford attacked in waves at the Guiseley defence, and unbelievably completed a fifteen-minute turnaround on thirty-four minutes; a quick move down the left involving Darren Campion and Marvin Johnson saw the ball whipped into the far post, where McCone was on hand to turn the ball past Drench from an angle. With the ball rolling towards goal, Glover made absolutely sure by tapping the ball home, although Guiseley felt that the former Bradford (Park Avenue) striker was in an offside position when he scored. Drench was booked for his protestations following the goal, with Bower also spoken to by the referee for his comments

The referee was not exactly covering himself in glory as the afternoon progressed, making several bizarre decisions against both sides and setting odd precedents for booking players. He booked Marvin Johnson and Guiseley's Wayne Brooksby on forty minutes for their part in a minor altercation, followed by only a booking for centre back Danny Hall two minutes later after he appeared to bring Glover down when he was clean through on goal

Guiseley ended the half on the front foot, with Crane coming to the Pitmen's rescue in the final minute of the half as he denied Boyes once again with a smart stop

As with many games that have plenty of goals in the first half, the second half could not match up to the first in terms of goals, as both sides fell back and concentrated their efforts on the midfield battle. The neat, precise actions of Thorley were complemented by the hard-working, industrious Dave MacPherson, who for the second week put in a superb shift for the Pitmen on his 100th appearance for the club

Guiseley substitute Kevin Holsgrove - on for Alex Johnson early in the half - fired just wide of Crane's goal with a wicked cross-shot after he was allowed too much time and space to the left of the penalty area

Brooksby was lucky to stay on the pitch for the visitors on the hour mark, as two successive blatant dives in front of the referee saw him told to get to his feet by a clearly unimpressed Mr Radford

Melbourne - playing in a more advanced position than perhaps he was used to - found a pocket of space on sixty-five minutes and fired in a low, bobbling shot that Drench easily fielded

Hednesford made their first chance of the afternoon with nineteen minutes remaining, as the hard-working Glover was replaced by the experienced Marvin Robinson to add power to the forward line

The Pitmen were happy to play on the counter-attack as the game entered the final ten minutes, utilising the pace of loanee Marvin Johnson to catch Guiseley out down the left and relieve pressure on their defence. One such move on eighty-two minutes saw the ball end up at the feet of MacPherson, who shot weakly at  Drench

The whole of Keys Park rose to its feet a minute later, as Taylor stepped off the bench to return to first-team action and received a warm, heartfelt round of applause from the crowd as he replaced Melbourne in midfield

A late rally from Guiseley saw them force two corners in the final minute, but excellent defending from McCone, Bailey and Crane all dealt with the aerial threat of the Guiseley attack. Michael Lennon was introduced in the dying seconds to chase down loose balls up front and hurry the Lions defence as they looked to launch attacks from the back

Three points for the Pitmen here now puts them in a very, very strong position in the race for the play-offs with three games remaining. Several sides in and around the top five have still to play each other, leaving the Pitmen with three games against sides all in the bottom half of the table as they look for those final clutch of points to seal either fourth or fifth place. Oxford City - beaten 6-0 at Gainsborough today - host the Pitmen next Saturday, when a win may well be just enough for the Pitmen to seal that top five place

Hednesford Town: Crane, Disney , Campion © , Bailey, McCone, MacPherson, Riley, M. Johnson  (Lennon 90), Glover (Robinson 76), Melbourne (Taylor 86), Thorley       Subs Unused: Sullivan, Francis

 

Guiseley: Drench , Holdsworth ©, Meynell, Hall , Ellis, Lawlor (Forrest 84), Brooksby , Boshell, Boyes, A. Johnson (Holsgrove 73 (O. Johnson 87)), Rothery        Subs Unused: Potts, Dickinson

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