5.4.2017

Evo-Stik Northern Premier League

Hednesford Town

Clarke (41)

Halesowen Town

Bragoli (33), Charlton (80)

(1) 1

(1) 2

Attendance

MoTM

Current Form

Next Match

353

Tony Clarke

W L W L D L W W D L

Matlock Town (H) 8.4.17

The Pitmen's mini-revival ends in defeat this evening as Gary Birch's tiring side are edged out of this Wednesday night at Keys Park by the odd goal in five by local rivals Halesowen Town

It was Hednesford's third league game in six days, leaving Birch with a number of selection dilemmas ahead of tonight's game with several players carrying knocks and struggling with general fitness; Birch made two changes to the side that had drawn with Halesowen's local rivals Stourbridge on Monday night as Tony Clarke and George Cater starting in place of injured duo Danny Glover and Remeao Hutton respectively

Halesowen had had the luxury of four days off since their last game, a 1-0 win over struggling Skelmersdale United to lift the Yeltz further away from the drop zone in fifteenth place. Long-serving manager John Hill made three changes to the side that had started at the weekend as James Bennett-Tindall, Kidderminster loanee Joel Taylor and former Pitmen Danny Bragoli came into the side in place of Cameron Steele, Bradley Lewis and Jon Moran. Other ex-Hednesford players in the form of Jay Denny and Asa Charlton were named by Hill in an experienced Yeltz side who were looking to avenge the Pitmen's 3-1 defeat at the Grove back in August

The number of games being played was also taking its toll on the supporters, many of whom missed tonight's game after forking out for Monday night's game and will be due back at the ground on Saturday for the visit of Matlock Town. This saw tonight's gate take a severe tumble from the near-500 in attendance on Monday night

The home side started well on an increasingly threadbare Keys Park pitch with an early cross from Darren Campion headed well wide at the far post by big man Clarke in the fourth minute of the game

It was a cagey start from the visitors, who were struggling to get out of their own third in the opening ten minutes; a slack pass from veteran Charlton in the eleventh minute fell to Tom Thorley, whose shot lacked direction or power as it drifted wide of Daniel Platt's left-hand post

Bragoli had Halesowen's first real sight at goal in the thirteenth minute as he stabbed a low cross from Lee Chilton just wide of Dan Crane's left-hand post after nipping in to beat Campion to the ball

Cran was called upon two minutes later to keep the hosts on level terms as he turned a shot from Mo Diop around his post for a Halesowen corner kick.

 

The same player squandered a great chance to hand the Yeltz the lead on eighteen minutes as he fired wide of goal from a great position twelve yards from goal following a neat period of play involving Denny and Tyree Clarke

The Yeltz were wasteful from a series of free-kicks and corners midway through the half as the Pitmen's defensive line held strong against a limited Halesowen attack. Crane easily claimed a dipping cross from Chilton on twenty-five minutes as Diop briefly threatened him at his near post

On-loan Bradley Peace-McDonald had to be alert to the danger three minutes later as he slid in to toe-poke a shot from Ethan Delaney away from Crane's near post for another Yeltz corner

Halesowen's pressure finally told on thirty-three minutes as another series of corner kicks ended with ex-Hednesford youth team player Bragoli heading firmly past Crane from eight yards out after meeting an inswinging cross from Clarke

This seemed to shock the home side into life after an impotent last twenty minutes; Gavin Hurren's through ball on thirty-six minutes was turned into the path of Jordan Nadat by Clarke, only for Platt to smother the ball before the striker could get his shot away

The hosts did draw themselves level once more however on forty-one minutes as Clarke did well to turn Charlton and take the ball into the Halesowen penalty area before turning it past Platt with a low finish

Hednesford finished the half the stronger of the two sides, although they were limited to a wayward effort from Cater in the final minute of the half as his shot on the run drifted harmlessly over the crossbar

It had been a fairly mundane encounter so far, with both sides seemingly lacking in confidence and overall quality which can be summed up in the two club's relative league positions at present

 

Halesowen made a good start to the second period with Diop outmuscling Joe Ballinger on forty-nine minutes and firing just wide of Crane's near post with a low drive

Clarke was dragging the Halesowen defence around their half with his hard work and merit, linking up well with Lewis Wright on fifty-three minutes as the pair played a quick one-two which saw the former Bromsgrove Sporting striker slice a shot wide of Platt's near post

More powerful play from Clarke three minutes later saw him outmuscle Charlton on the edge of the Yeltz penalty area as he was played into the box by Thorley, only for Platt to make a comfortable save from inside his six-yard box

And yet, Halesowen had a glorious chance to take the lead on the hour mark as Diop was played clean through on goal by Denny but somehow lifted his shot over the crossbar from ten yards out with the whole goal at his mercy

Platt was called upon to deny the lively Clarke on sixty-five minutes, with the former Crewe and Nantwich stopper making a fine save to push Clarke's shot away for a corner kick. From the resultant Thorley corner, Ballinger headed over the crossbar as he beat Bragoli to the inswinging kick at the far post

Bragoli was involved at the other end three minutes later, driving a shot wide of goal from just outside the penalty area after Bennett-Tindall had pulled the ball back into his path

The Pitmen made their first change of the evening on seventy-two minutes as Glover was brought on to add to the striking options in place of Cater, who had struggled with the pace and physicality of the game against a robust Yeltz defence

Three minutes later, Hurren - tiring after playing in successive games for the first time since returning to the club - was replaced in midfield by George Washbourne

Clarke was again denied by Platt's reflexes a minute later as the striker's powerfully-hit first-time shot from Blake Thompson's pass was pushed around the post by the Halesowen stopper

A good run by Bennett-Tindall saw him beat Campion for pace on seventy-eight minutes and whip in a cross from the right that was headed into the arms of Crane by Diop from eight yards out

Two minutes later, another one of the ex-Hednesford crew was to swing the ball Halesowen's way with what would turn out to be the winner; Chilton's cross caused havoc in the Hednesford six-yard box after a corner kick had been cleared initially, with Charlton on hand to force the ball over the line from close-range despite the best attempts of Campion to clear the danger

The Pitmen responded with a spell of pressure inside the Halesowen third and a series of corner kicks from the left, taken by Thorley. A ball into the far post on eighty-three minutes was headed back across the face of goal by Ballinger but was weakly turned wide by Nadat on the rebound

Three minutes later, a free-kick from Campion was lifted into the danger zone and headed up in the air by Peace-McDonald. Glover attempted to force the ball home from close-range but was denied by a combination Platt's presence and last-ditch defending by Denny

In the final minute of normal time, Wright and Washbourne linked up well to cross for Glover, whose square ball to Clarke saw the striker's effort blocked by Charlton

The Pitmen's late period of pressure was in vain as the Halesowen defence stood up firm to clinch all three points. The Pitmen had looked short of ideas in the final quarter of the game as their lack of fitness had started to kick in against a fresher Yeltz side. In only seventy-two hours time, the Pitmen face Matlock Town at Keys Park in what will be their fourth game in seven days carrying a number of injuries and general wear and tear to their threadbare squad; the end of the season cannot come soon enough for this weary club and it's supporters 

Hednesford Town: Crane, Wright, Campion, Thompson, Peace-McDonald, Ballinger, Hurren (Washbourne 75), Thorley ©, Clarke, Nadat, Cater (Glover 72)      Subs Unused: Ransome, Brenan, Danquah

 

Halesowen Town: Platt, Bennett-Tindall, Taylor, Denny ©, Charlton, Walker, Clarke, Bragoli, Diop, Delaney, Chilton      Subs Unused: O’Neil-Martin, Johnson, Steele, Stead, O’Day

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