Skrill North

Hednesford Town

Pearson (4)

Harrogate Town

Hardy (47), Hall (84), Taylor (90)

(1) 1

(0) 3



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Tom Thorley


Stalybridge Celtic (H) 14.12.13

The Pitmen's mini-slump continues to frustrate all at Keys Park, as Rob Smith's troops lose their first home game of the Skrill North season this evening despite taking an early lead against an improving Harrogate Town side

With Saturday's heavy defeat at Gloucester City still fresh in the memory, Smith was forced into one change to his starting line-up due to John Disney's unavailability due to illness. Paul McCone was restored to the line-up in a more unfamiliar right-back role, replacing Disney in an otherwise unchanged side

Harrogate had improved tremendously in recent games, having won three of their last four games; having been many people's choice as dark horses for the title in the summer, Simon Weaver's outfit  were now starting to play with a belief that they could challenge the top five and claim a play-off spot come May

And yet it was the Pitmen who came flying out of the blocks, looking for an immediate reaction to Saturday's horror show in Gloucestershire. Ben Bailey played the ball up to Elliott Durrell, who picked out Neil Harvey with a delightful cross. Harvey forced Harrogate keeper Craig MacGillivray into an excellent save but could do little to stop Greg Pearson from stealing in and tapping home the loose ball for his first Hednesford goal

A great run from Osborne on seventeen minutes saw the midfielder carve his way through the Harrogate defence en route to goal. However, he elected to try and play in Durrell rather than take the ball on further and allowed Adam Bolder to block his ball

McCone went close to grabbing his first goal for the Pitmen midway through the first half, as Durrell's free-kick dropped at the feet of the big defender, but his toe-poke flashed inches wide of the far post

Loan ranger Pearson almost doubled his, and Hednesford's advantage on twenty-eight minutes, as he managed to get in behind the Harrogate defence to latch onto a Kris Taylor ball, but his weak shot was easily stopped by MacGillivray

Two successive free-kicks from the Pitmen were both wasted by Durrell and Pearson around the half-hour mark, with the pair both clearing the crossbar with wild efforts at goal

The visitors had offered little, if nothing going forwards so far, electing to try and make their set-pieces count against a Hednesford defence that had conceded nine goals in their last two games. Bolder's free-kick was met firmly by the head of Shane Killock on thirty-four minutes, but his effort lacked direction and was easily fielded by Crane. A minute later, the same player nodded a Craig Nelthorpe free-kick high into the Heath Hayes end as he rose unmarked in the box

Pearson's strike partner Harvey was presented with an ideal chance to break his recent dry spell in front of goal in the final minute of the half, as another superb run from Osborne saw him skip away from two tackles and play Durrell down the right-wing. Durrell's inviting cross was somehow headed wide of goal by the big man, who miscued his effort as he leapt to meet it

Having dominated the chances in the first half, Hednesford would rue not taking more than the one chance that had presented itself by conceding an equaliser early in the second period; Crane turned Nelthorpe's shot away for a corner, which provided the delivery for Liam Hardy to poke the ball home at the far post after Killock had flicked the ball on from Bolder's flag-kick

Hednesford responded with a series of corner kicks, taken by Durrell from the left. His second corner was headed across the face of goal by Ben Bailey, fizzing across the box with no-one in white willing to attack the ball

A great run from Durrell on fifty-three minutes saw him outmuscle two challenges and lay the ball back into the path of Kris Taylor, who wasted his chance by firing well over the bar when well placed

MacGillivray came to Harrogate's rescue a minute later, diving bravely at the feet of Osborne to deny the midfielder a shot after a clever ball in behind the visitor's defence

Harrogate responded with a great chance of their own on sixty-four minutes, as Hardy volleyed narrowly over the bar after a corner kick had been headed directly into his path

A scrappy period of the game followed in the next ten minutes, with the sides trading efforts; Woods forced Crane into a fine save, closely followed by a header from Osborne that was wide of goal after man of the match Tom Thorley had found him with a glorious cross

 On sixty-nine minutes, Harrogate striker Ashley Worsfold wasted a great chance to put his side ahead for the first time in the evening but dragged his shot wide of goal

With fifteen minutes left on the clock, the Pitmen made the first of their changes as new signing Ümit Eminoğlu came on for his home debut in place of Harvey

Despite the Pitmen putting pressure on the Harrogate defence through a series of throw-ins and free kicks, it was the away side who took the lead with six minutes remaining. Bolder's corner kick was not sufficiently dealt with by the Hednesford defence, allowing substitute Chris Hall to turn and fire past Crane from close range unmarked

On came Wayne Riley and Nathan Woolfe for Pearson and Taylor, but they could do nothing to remedy the situation that got worse in the final minute of the game as the Pitmen chased an equaliser. A long ball behind the retreating Hednesford back line was picked up by Worsfold, who squared the ball to substitute Cleveland Taylor. He had the simple task of sidefooting past the horribly exposed Crane and seal the points for the Yorkshire outfit

An alarming run of results for the Pitmen has seen them drop to fifth in the standings following tonight's set of fixtures, with the visit of Stalybridge Celtic on Saturday now assuming added importance as Smith's side look to halt this slide down the Skrill North table by searching for their first league win in over a month

Hednesford Town: Crane, McCone , Campion ©, Bailey , Francis, Taylor (Woolfe 88), Osborne , Durrell, Harvey (Eminoglu 75), Pearson (Riley 88), Thorley       Subs Not Used: Melbourne, MacPherson

Harrogate Town: MacGillvray, Bloomer, Nelthorpe, Bolder , Franks, Killock ©, Hardy (Hall 75), Abbott, Worsfold, Woods (Taylor 83), Sellars  (Nowakowski 45 )       Subs Not Used: Mallory, Merris