Dr. Martens Southern Premier League

Hednesford Town

Lucas (41) (penalty), Jones (68), Brindley (87)

Halesowen Town

Elmes (58), Hines (73)

(1) 3


(0) 2



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Les Robinson


Cambridge City (H) 28.8.02

The Pitmen's first home game of the new season turned out to be an enthralling one, as they left it late to record their first win of the season over against newly-promoted Halesowen Town in front of a healthy Keys Park crowd


Coming off the back of a morale-boosting draw at the much-fancied Crawley on Saturday, manager Ian Painter kept faith in the same starting XI that had started at the Broadfield Stadium. Youngster Damien Charie made his first appearance of the campaign amongst the substitutes, with Graham Lancashire missing out due to injury


Halesowen had started the season with a draw themselves, holding Welling United 0-0 at the Grove. Former Hednesford striker Richard Leadbeater was named in the Yeltz starting line-up, whilst former Pitmen left-back Dominic Reece was amongst the Halesowen substitutes


An high-energy first half saw the Pitmen on top for large periods, with Derek Rae going close for the hosts on six minutes as he lifted his shot over the crossbar after Mark Jones's initial shot from the edge of the penalty area had rebounded to him


A minute later, a deep corner kick from Yeltz left-back Les Hines found Leadbeater at the far post, but the ex-Pitmen forward headed wide of goal from a good position


In the ninth minute, Jones did well to turn Jason Burnham on the edge of the Halesowen penalty area and drive his low shot well wide of the left-hand  post


The game flowed from end-to-end in the opening quarter of the game, with Burham's clipped free-kick headed wide of Mark Gayle's goal by Lee Collins on twenty minutes. A couple of minutes later, Collins was on hand in a defensive role to make a crucial challenge on ex-Halesowen man Shaun Wray as the winger broke into the Yeltz penalty area


Leadbeater was bright and breezy for the visitors, linking well with strike partner Rob Elmes and striking the post on the half-hour mark with a powerfully-struck effort that cannoned off the woodwork and back into play

Halesowen's experienced keeper Tim Clarke made a fine stop to deny Jones on thirty-three minutes, diving low to his right to deny the striker the opening goal of the evening after Jones had skipped past Lee Smith and made his way into the penalty area


With four minutes remaining in the first half, Wray earning his new club a penalty kick as he was felled in the area by Richard Colwell after initially beating his man with clever skill. Skipper Richard Lucas stepped up and sent Clarke the wrong way from the spot to give the Pitmen a half-time lead


Much like it had on Saturday, Hednesford's half-time lead looked on decidedly dodgy ground at the start of the second half as they allowed Halesowen to dominate possession and territory as they looked for a leveller. Neat build-up play down the left on forty-seven minutes saw Andy Spencer link up with Colwell, whose superb cross was a yard or so in front of both Leadbeater and Elmes as they made a run into the six-yard box


Halesowen did get themselves on level terms a few minutes later, however, as former Hereford man Elmes was not to be denied for the Yeltz in grabbing his first goal of the season; Clarke's long kick downfield was flicked on by Spencer and into the path of the overlapping Hines. His superb cross from the left found Elmes, who confidently volleyed past Gayle from close-range to level matters


Stewart Airdrie was introduced by Painter on sixty-five minutes in an attempt to get a foothold in the game once more, with the left-winger coming on for Stuart Ryder in an attack-minded change


Two minutes later, Jimmy Quiggin really should have put Halesowen in front, as he broke clear of a static Hednesford defence but put his effort wide of Gayle's goal when he should have worked the former Crewe man


Quiggin's miss was to prove even more costly for the Yeltz a minute later, as more dazzling wing play from Wray saw him send over a cross from the right wing that was firmly headed home by Jones from fifteen yards out to give the hosts the lead once more


 Hednesford stole back the initiative on sixty-eight minutes when a cross from Wray was powerfully headed home by the in-form Jones at the near post, to give the home supporters hope of a home win so early in the season


And yet, there was still time for the pendulum to swing back and forth in this exciting local encounter, as Halesowen hit back almost immediately; Burnham's sent over a cross for Elmes, whose header came clattering off the far post. Hines reacted quickest to the loose ball and turned the ball home from close range to level matters once more


 The Pitmen made their second change of the evening with thirteen minutes remaining, as Steve Piearce came on to add his presence to the side in place of Kevin Francis


The hosts took the game to Halesowen in the final minutes, creating a number of good openings as they looked to get off to a winning start at Keys Park. A mazy run from Airdrie on seventy-nine minutes saw the former Guiseley man force Clarke into a fine save, followed a minute later by a quickly-taken Carl Adams free-kick that the former Kidderminster keeper did well to save

As the minutes ticked away, Hednesford finally made the key breakthrough once more with three minutes remaining. Lucas sent in a high, dipping free-kick from just inside the Halesowen half that looked to be a simple catch for Clarke. However, the stopper made his first mistake of a previously-flawless evening, calling for the ball but making a rare lapse of judgment with the flight of the ball, allowing Chris Brindley to nip in and head into the net to send the home fans wild


There was still time for Hines to try his luck from a free-kick in added time, requiring Gayle to make a save to turn the left-back's shot over the crossbar for a corner kick


A pleasing win for the Pitmen on an entertaining evening for the neutral fan, lifting the hosts into the top six ahead of the rest of the league playing their second fixtures of the season tomorrow night. Painter's new boys have a chance to record back-to-back wins on Saturday when Cambridge City visit Keys Park, with the Lilywhites looking for their first win of the season after an opening day defeat to Newport County

Hednesford Town: Gayle, Simkin, Lucas ©, Robinson, Brindley, Ryder (Airdrie 65), Wray, Rae, Francis (Piearce 77), Jones, Adams     Subs Unused: Williams, Charie, Jenkins


Halesowen Town: Clarke; Colwell, Burnham ©, L. Smith, Collins, Skidmore, Spencer (Quiggin 59), Leadbeater, Elmes, Taylor, Hines     Subs Unused: Newall, Reece, Ashby, Garvey