Vanarama Conference North

Harrogate Town

Hednesford Town

Hurst (36), Bailey (42)

(0) 0

(2) 2



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Ben Bailey


Lowestoft Town (H) 10.1.15

The Pitmen eased to a comfortable win over an inconsistent Harrogate Town side this afternoon at Wetherby Road, moving themselves back into the top half of the Vanarama Conference North table courtesy of a two-goal salvo in the first half from defenders James Hurst and Ben Bailey

Thursday's goalless draw with Worcester City had highlighted both the good and bad of this Hednesford side at present; confident on the ball, defensively solid in recent times but now lacking real bite up front after Danny Glover's pre-Christmas departure. With the squad now down to fifteen players, Rob Smith had little choice but to stick with the same side that had carved out a point on New Year's Day, again only naming four substitutes amongst his ranks

Big-spending Harrogate had yet again flattered to deceive in the league, with their expensively assembled squad lacking consistency and belief under Simon Weaver's leadership. Former Stockport County captain Jamie Milligan was the latest big name to arrive at the club, having joined the Yorkshire side just after Christmas

The visitors started well, with defender Paul McCone seeing his fourth-minute header deflected away from goal by Leigh Franks for a Hednesford corner kick. From the resultant short corner, Richard Batchelor worked the ball onto his right foot and fired high over the crossbar

Franks incurred the wrath of the referee on twelve minutes after he had crudely brought down Batchelor in midfield, leaving the Hednesford man requiring attention from physio Gavin Blackwell

A rare attack from Harrogate two minutes later saw Lloyd Kerry cross for Jake Speight, who fired wide with a weak shot after turning Ben Bailey

A superb surging run from Jamey Osborne almost carved out a chance for the midfield playmaker on sixteen minutes, as he took the ball past three Harrogate players before overrunning the ball and stumbling before he could get his shot away

Dan Crane was alert to smother a half chance for Harrogate on twenty minutes, as Jordan Thewlis's cross fell into the path of on loan Alfreton man Paul Clayton. Crane was quickly off his line to spit the danger, smuggling the ball away from the striker before he could shoot at goal

Diggin will feel he should have given the away side the lead midway through the half, as he slipped in behind a static Harrogate defence and curled a shot beyond the reach of Peter Crook in the Harrogate goal. However, the striker could only watch in despair as his effort curled inches wide of the far post

Tom Thorley is not known for his goal return from a defensive midfield position, with his off-target long-range shot on twenty-seven minutes not likely to change the perception

The athletic Hurst did well two minutes later to race onto what looked to be a lost cause, keeping the ball in on the bye line and crossing for Diggin, who just failed to turn the ball home at the far post

Crane was again on top of his game on the half-hour mark, making a smart save to deny Thewlis after the winger had broken clear behind the Hednesford defence

The Pitmen finally got their noses in front on thirty-six minutes, thanks to a superb strike from Hurst. Picking the ball up thirty yards from goal, the right-back cut inside and unleashed an unstoppable drive that Crook could not stop flying into the net

There was an immediate response from the hosts, as Speight picked the ball up on the edge of the Hednesford penalty area and drilled a shot narrowly wide of Crane's far post

Having scored his first Hednesford goal, Hurst went close to doubling his, and Hednesford's goal tally on thirty-nine minutes as his cross drifted back towards goal and narrowly missed dropping in at the far post

The Pitmen did double their advantage just before half time, however, as Glenn Walker picked up a partially cleared ball by the Harrogate defence and sent over a dangerous cross from the right. Diggin flicked the ball on to Bailey, who stretched to turn the ball past Crook from close range for his first goal of the season

Another great run from Osborne kicked off the second half action, with the Hednesford number seven bursting through the Harrogate back line and firing just wide of goal

Clayton responded for the hosts on forty-eight minutes, heading Ryan Fallowfield's cross just wide of goal at the far post

Bailey was alert to the danger Clayton was offering in the early stages of the second period, making a brave block to turn Clayton's volley away from goal and concede a corner kick

Osborne seemed determined to get his name on the score sheet in the game, firing a powerful shot just over the crossbar on fifty-eight minutes after the ball had rolled his way via a miskick from Jack Thomas

Crook kept his side in the game on the hour mark, making a superb stop to turn Diggin's stinging drive over the crossbar for a Hednesford corner

The two sides traded chances from set-pieces as the game entered the final quarter, with McCone heading wide from a Thorley corner kick and Hednesford nervously hacking a deep Harrogate free-kick away from goal with Speight and Clayton lurking

Harrogate thought they had found a way back into the game on seventy-nine minutes, as Speight turned the ball home from close range, but was denied the goal due to a late offside flag on the far side

Three minutes later, Harrogate's day was summed up in one move as Luke Sheils flicked a header against the Hednesford crossbar after Adam Nowakowski had headed the ball into his path

McCone required lengthy treatment on the pitch on eighty-four minutes after a clash with a Harrogate player left the centre back with a nasty gash above his left eye

The Pitmen made a raft of substitutions in the final minutes of the game, with Marvin Robinson coming on in place of Diggin, Chris Westwood replacing Osborne and Alex Melbourne slotting into Thomas's midfield role

There was still time for Speight to waste yet another good chance to drop his way in injury time, heading a Thewlis cross over the crossbar from a good position ten yards out

The Pitmen can be pleased with their overall display this afternoon, with the whole team contributing to a fine win over a side that looks very much a set of individuals, rather than a team. Smith will most likely spend this week searching for a new striker to bolster his wafer-thin squad, as the Pitmen look to move further up the table with another good performance over newly-promoted Lowestoft Town next Saturday in what will be a first-ever meeting between the two sides

Harrogate Town: Crook, Bloomer, Meynell, Shiels, Franks, Milligan (Swain 53), Kerry (Nowakowski 46), Fallowfield, Clayton, Thewlis (Walshaw 65), Speight       Subs Unused: Turner, Nelthorpe

Hednesford Town: Crane, Hurst, Campion ©, Bailey, McCone, Thorley, Osborne (Melbourne 90), Walker, Diggin (Robinson 87), Thomas (Westwood 90), Batchelor       Sub Unused: Sullivan

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