19.4.2006

Nationwide Conference North

Harrogate Town

Timons (20), Philpott (72)

Hednesford Town

Heard (25) (OG), Hunter (40), Hadland (88)

(1) 2

(2) 3

Attendance

MoTM

Current Form

Next Match

335

Gary Hateley

L D W D L L L D L W

 

Droylsden (H) 22.4.06

 

The Pitmen turned the form book on its head this evening as they left it late to record a first win in eight games to shock play-off chasing Harrogate Town on their own turf and give them a small glimmer of hope in their unlikely quest to avoid relegation in the final two games of the season

Monday afternoon had seen the Pitmen on the end of a comprehensive defeat to Harrogate's fellow play-off chasers Stalybridge Celtic, leaving Steve Anthrobus's men five points from safety with only three games remaining. Anthrobus made two changes his side from the one that had started at Bower Fold only forty-eight hours earlier as Grant Beckett came in ahead of Scott Hadland, whilst Anthrobus brought himself back into the side ahead of Sean Platt

Harrogate came into tonight's re-arranged clash having beaten Worksop Town 2-0 on Bank Holiday Monday to maintain their fifth-place standing in the Conference North table, although recent form had been distinctly patchy for the Yellows with two wins and four defeats from their last six league games. Manager Neil Aspin made only one change for the Pitmen's visit as Jamie Heard replaced Gareth Grant

Kicking up the Wetherby Road slope in the first half, the all-red clad Pitmen had an early chance to open the scoring in the fourth minute of the game as he flicked on Tom Marshall's long ball forwards into the path of Leon McSweeney, who took a touch to take the ball into the penalty area before Chris Timons came across to clear the danger

Harrogate's first sight at goal came three minutes later as former Leicester City player Lee Philpott's corner kick found the head of Marc Smith at the far post, only for the ex-Eastwood Town man to head wide of Gary Hateley's left-hand post

 

Timons was involved at the opposite end of the pitch for the Yellows in the twelfth minute as he made a move into the Hednesford penalty area to meet Philpott's inswinging corner kick but headed high over the crossbar and into the Harrogate supporters gathered at the bar end of the ground

Hateley was equal to an almost identical situation involving Timons and Roy Hunter in the fifteenth minute of the game, with Timons making a late run into the box to meet Hunter's left-wing cross, but headed straight into the arms of the Hednesford goalkeeper at his far post

There were muted calls for a penalty kick from the visitors on eighteen minutes as McSweeney picked up a loose pass from Chris Mason and took the ball into the Harrogate penalty area before shooting at goal, with the shot appearing to strike the arm of Leigh Wood as he came across to block the shot. Referee Mr Tawson took a long, hard look at the incident but gestured that the ball had struck Wood's torso initially and waved away McSweeney's pleas

This was to cost the Pitmen as Harrogate took the lead in the twentieth minute of the game; Philpott's cross from the left was headed down by Smith and into the path of Timons, who hooked the ball out of the reach of Hateley from the edge of the penalty area and into the far corner of the net; it was the former Leyton Orient man's first-ever goal for the club

The Pitmen responded positively to this latest blow to their step two status and Graham Hyde played former Harrogate man Colin Hunter clear of the home defence midway through the half, only to be denied by an offside flag by the assistant on the Wetherby Road side of the ground

On twenty-five minutes the away side got themselves back on level terms, although they were given a helping hand by Heard to get them back into the game. Ross Adams did well to bring the ball inside from the right flank and chipped a cross into the Harrogate penalty area, where Heard - under pressure from the incoming Colin Hunter - inexplicably turned the ball past Liam Sutcliffe in the Harrogate goal as he attempted to clear his lines

The away side had their tails up and Anthrobus did well to meet a Grant Beckett free-kick with a flick header on twenty-eight minutes, rising above Heard but diverting his effort narrowly wide of Sutcliffe's left-hand post

Timons once again offered a threat in the air for Harrogate in the Hednesford penalty area on thirty-two minutes, heading over the bar from a Darren Dunning cross after Philpott's initial corner kick was cleared to the right-back by Richard Teesdale

A defensive misunderstanding between Sutcliffe and Mason two minutes later saw the pair leave Graham Hyde's pass to each other, allowing McSweeney to seize upon the ball and take it into the Harrogate penalty area. However, on his weaker right foot and with the angle severely narrowed, the Irishman could only fire wide

In an attempt to push further up the pitch, the home side made a surprise tactical change on thirty-seven minutes as the hapless Heard was taken off in favour of the more attacking Gareth Grant

However, it was the visitors who were to strike next as Colin Hunter got one over his former employers to put Hednesford in front on forty minutes. Brannan's long throw level with the Harrogate penalty area was flicked on by Adams and into the path of Hunter, who had the simple task of nodding past Sutcliffe from six yards out

 

The hosts pushed forwards in search of an immediate equaliser and spent the final minutes of the first period camped inside the Pitmen's half; the usually-dangerous Danny Holland - who had been quiet so far having been well marked by Teesdale - clipped a half-chance wide of goal on forty-two minutes as he managed to get a toe to Philpott's low cross from the left, turning the ball just wide of the post from six yards out

In the final minute of a keenly-contested first half, Grant made a late run into the Hednesford penalty area to meet a cross from Dunning but saw his header saved by Hateley on his goal line

It had been a good half for the Pitmen, who had shown plenty of character and desire to come from a goal down to go into the break in the lead. Holding onto their slender lead could bring them within two points of safety with two games to play. Harrogate elected to make a second tactical change before the restart as Chris Ellerker replaced Mason

With Aspin's half time talk still in their minds, Harrogate started the second half on the offensive but found the excellent Teesdale and Tom Marshall in top form to repel their early crosses into the penalty area

Indeed, it was the men in red that were to have the first sight at goal in the second half as Anthrobus headed a Brannan cross down into the path of McSweeney on fifty-one minutes, only for the forward to get his laces underneath the ball and fire high over the crossbar from twelve yards out

A corner kick from Hines on fifty-six minutes was looped goalwards by Teesdale's front post header, forcing Sutcliffe to come through a crowd of players to push the ball over his crossbar for another corner to the Pitmen

Sixty seconds later, Colin Hunter's marauding run was halted illegally by Dunning, gifting Les Hines a free-kick twenty-five yards from goal. the left-back's curling ball into the penalty area found Brannan, whose low drive was turned away by the legs of Sutcliffe

The hosts started to come back into the game and excellent wing play from veteran Philpott on the hour mark saw him scamper away from Adams before crossing to Holland, who blazed his first-time shot high over the crossbar from fifteen yards out when it may have been a better idea to take a touch first

Sutcliffe's long free-kick forwards three minutes later was allowed to bounce by the hesitant Hednesford back line, allowing Ellerker to head the ball on into the path of Smith. He brought the ball down and jinked one way, then the other, to get away from Tom Marshall before lifting his shot over the crossbar from just inside the Hednesford penalty area

Grant had an effort well saved by Hateley midway through the second half as Roy Hunter's long throw found the midfielder unmarked inside the Hednesford penalty area, with the substitute taking a touch before firing in a low shot at goal on the turn that Hateley parried away down to his right

The Pitmen continued to look a threat from set-pieces, with Tom Marshall skying an effort over the crossbar on seventy minutes after a Hines corner kick was headed into his path of Ellerker

The hosts finally got themselves back on level terms two minutes later as Grant found space out on the right to send over a cross that Smith headed down into the path of Philpott, whose unstoppable first-time shot flew past Hateley and nestled in the top corner of the net

Harrogate sensed a late winner and were almost gifted one as a sloppy pass from Hyde on seventy-five minutes saw the ball end up at the feet of Grant, who sprayed the ball out to Philpott down the left-wing. The winger was held up well by Adams and forced him to lay the ball back to Danny Ryan, whose angled ball in was just too high for Holland to reach at the far post as the ball ran harmlessly out for a goal kick

A minute later, and with very little to lose despite being under the cosh, the Pitmen brought another attacker onto the pitch as youngster Craig Marshall made a rare first-team outing as he replaced Brannan. This saw the visitors revert to a direct 4-3-3 formation for the remainder of the game

Grant was denied by Hateley once again on eighty minutes as the Hednesford stopper continued to frustrate the home side with the latest in a string of fine saves, turning the substitute's twenty-five-yard effort around the post for a Harrogate corner kick

The Pitmen made their second change of the evening a minute later as Scott Hadland replaced Hyde at the base of midfield - it had been another game that the veteran midfielder had struggled to stamp his mark on and questions remain as to his suitability in a one-paced midfield that continues to be overrun by better teams

Hadland was followed onto the pitch by fellow midfield man Sean Platt two minutes later as the Pitmen's final roll of the dice came with the on-loan Walsall man replacing McSweeney

The teams continued to trade efforts as the game entered the final five minutes, with three points to either side going a long way to settling their relative fates at the end of the campaign; Holland's header from Philpott's cross failed to test Hateley as he headed into the side-netting from six yards effort on eighty-six minutes, followed by a break down the left from the visitors that saw Colin Hunter send Hines clear down the left to cross for Craig Marshall, who came within a whisker of heading home at the near post but could not quite connect with the ball as it flashed across the face of goal

With two minutes of an enthralling game remaining, the Pitmen grabbed what could be a season-defining winning goal as good play from Platt saw him win the ball in midfield from Ellerker and play it to Adams, whose superb threaded ball intersected the Harrogate defence and found Hadland making a brilliantly-timed late run into the box, with the substitute taking a touch before composing himself and firing past Sutcliffe from close-range to send the twenty or so Hednesford fans who had made the long journey north into raptures

Added time saw Harrogate camped inside the Hednesford penalty area once more in search of another equaliser, but more mature defending from Teesdale and Tom Marshall saw the Pitmen over the line to earn them the points

With two games to go, the Pitmen now have a glimmer of hope in their bid to avoid the drop right at the death after moving to within two points of Redditch United, who occupy the final place of safety in the table. However, they will have to do it the hard way as they face play-off hopefuls Droylsden at Keys Park on Saturday, followed by a first-ever trip to Rivacre Park to face in-form Vauxhall Motors on the final day of the season

Harrogate Town: Sutcliffe, Dunning, Ryan, L. Wood, Timons, Mason (Ellerker 45), Heard (Grant 37), R. Hunter, Smith, Holland, Philpott     Subs Unused: Stoneman, Preston, M. Wood

 

Hednesford Town: Hateley, Adams, Hines, Beckett, Teesdale ©, T. Marshall, Brannan (C. Marshall 76), Hyde (Hadland 81), McSweeney (Platt 83), Anthrobus, C. Hunter    Subs Unused: Barrow, Maguire