16.8.2014

Vanarama Conference North

Hednesford Town

Glover (45), (83), Osborne (66)

Harrogate Town

Walshaw (71), Rowe (80)

(1) 3

(0) 2

Attendance

MoTM

Current Form

Next Match

465

Danny Glover

L L W

Gloucester City (A) 23.8.14

Hednesford finally get their Vanarama Conference North campaign up and running at the third time of asking this afternoon, but not after oh-so-nearly throwing away a commanding winning position against the much-fancied Harrogate Town at Keys Park

A double defeat in the opening week for the Pitmen saw Rob Smith ring the changes for today's game, finally scrapping the unpopular three centre-halves experiment that had been ditched during both of the first two games of the season. Alex Melbourne was restored to the starting line-up in place of Jamie Ashbourne, with Marvin Robinson making his first start of the season up front as he replaced Ben Bailey. Tom Thorley was passed fit to play after suffering a nasty cut above his eye in the defeat to Leamington on Tuesday night. Ex-Wolves duo Jordan Cranston and Dominic Dell had been registered with the league just in time to make up the final two places on the substitutes bench after the pair had signed for the club yesterday

Harrogate had once again spent big in the summer months, bringing in established names at Conference North level as they looked to finally force their way into the title reckoning. Strikers James Walshaw and Ryan Kendall had joined from Altrincham and North Ferriby respectively, with former Wolves man Colin Larkin recently returning to the club after a spell at Gateshead

A swift break down the left from the Pitmen in the first minute of the game led to a chance for Glenn Walker, as Danny Glover made his way down the flank and sent over a dangerous cross that just evaded the foot of the Hednesford winger at the far post

A dangerous ball in from Kris Taylor on thirteen minutes caused Harrogate's defence all sorts of issues, with Paul McCone seizing upon the bouncing ball and turning it towards goal. Phil Barnes in the Harrogate goal did well to turn the ball away from goal and followed it up with a smart recovery save to deny Walker on the rebound

A spell of pinball inside the Harrogate penalty area did little to calm the nerves of a shaky-looking visiting defence after Taylor's sixteenth-minute corner dropped inside the six-yard box and was only partially cleared

Tuesday's goal hero Glover went close to adding to his tally a minute later but pulled his shot narrowly wide of goal after striker partner Robinson had flicked Melbourne's cross into his path

Another excellent run from Melbourne on twenty minutes saw him pull the ball back from the byeline and into the path of Walker, whose shot was blocked by Shane Killock

Melbourne was looking impressive in his right-back role, contributing at both ends of the pitch as the Pitmen continued to press. Another good cross from Melbourne midway through the half saw Glover miscue his overhead kick and send the ball high over the crossbar

Dan Crane had had very little to deal with up to this point in the game, but came up trumps on twenty-seven minutes with a superb stop to deny Walshaw; heading down towards goal, Walshaw could only watch as Crane produced a superb save low down to deny the prolific striker a certain goal

Osborne picked up a booking on thirty-six minutes for his constant berating of the referee after one foul too many on him in midfield

Another great run from Osborne led to the Pitmen taking the lead with virtually the last kick of the first half, as his burst towards the penalty area was checked by Lewis Turner. Glover took the free-kick and curled a delightful shot over the wall and into the net, via a touch from goalkeeper Barnes and the crossbar

Osborne had been given far too much time and space by Harrogate during the first half to dictate the tempo of the game, with the midfielder starting the second half in much the same form. Another run from deep saw him step past two players and fire in a powerful effort that was blocked by Killock, who came off worse after taking 'one for the team'

A succession of corners from Taylor were continuously off target, with balls either overhit beyond the far post or straight into the grateful hands of Barnes without a Hednesford player near to the ball

A brief period of pressure at the other end saw Harrogate go close to an equaliser twice in quick succession; on the hour mark, a foul by Taylor on the edge of the Hednesford penalty area saw Lloyd Kerry whip in a free-kick that Dave McGurk turned wide of goal from close range

A minute later, Crane made a brave block to deny Louie Swain a clear shot on goal, with McCone doing brilliantly to block Walshaw's goalbound shot on the line as the big striker seized upon the loose ball

This proved to be a turning point in the game, as the Pitmen grabbed a second goal one sixty-six minutes through the brilliance of Osborne. Picking up the ball from deep again, Osborne made another one of his trademark bursts towards the penalty area and unleashed a low drive beyond the despairing dive of Barnes and into the right-hand corner of the net

Walshaw continued to offer a threat to the Hednesford defence, heading Dominic Rowe's cross over the crossbar on seventy minutes under pressure from McCone

A minute later, Walshaw got the goal his efforts deserved to pull Harrogate back into the game. A neat turn on the edge of the penalty area saw him gain half a yard on Francino Francis before firing a shot across Crane and into the far corner of the net

In an attempt to quash any potential comeback from the visitors, winger Walker was replaced on seventy-two minutes by right-back Jamie Ashmore

However, the away side did indeed complete their comeback with ten minutes remaining, as a free kick on the edge of the Hednesford penalty area from Kerry was brilliantly palmed away from goal by Crane. Unfortunately for the Hednesford keeper, his parry fell straight to the feet of Rowe, who tapped the rebound home from close range to level matters once more

Despite the blow of surrendering a comfortable two-goal lead, the old Hednesford spirit that has been so prevalent for the last two seasons came to the fore once again as the Pitmen dug deep to come up with a winner on eighty-three minutes. It was Osborne who was once again the architect, as another mazy run from his own half was halted by Killock. Glover stepped up once again and rifled in an unstoppable shot that dipped over the Harrogate wall and into the top corner of the net to give Barnes little chance to respond

There were still a clutch of hairy moments for the Pitmen in the final minutes, as Kerry tried his luck from the left wing with a dipping, swerving cross-cum-shot that came back off the top of the crossbar, whilst Alex Metcalfe fired narrowly wide in the final minute when well placed inside the penalty area. Dell was given a late run out by the Pitmen in an attempt to run down the clock, with the teenager replacing the excellent Glover up front

The relief was evident around Keys Park at the final whistle, as the Pitmen finally got three points on the board after two luckless games. A free week for the club will allow more time for injuries to key personnel to heal, with a trip to Cheltenham to play Gloucester City next up in seven days now looking a far more positive prospect

Hednesford Town: Crane, Melbourne, Campion ©, McCone, Francis, Taylor, Osborne , Thorley, Glover (Dell 89), Robinson, Walker (Ashmore 72)       Subs Unused: Bailey, Cranston, Smith

Harrogate Town: Barnes, Turner, Meynell, Lenighan (Metcalfe 45), Killock, McGurk, Kerry, Nelthorpe, Swain, Walshaw, Dean (Rowe 58)       Subs Unused: Heath, Bloomer, Crook

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