Nationwide Conference North

Hednesford Town

Harrogate Town

Smith (42), Philpott (46), Grant (60), Holland (71)

(0) 0

(1) 4



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Richard Teesdale



 Hyde United (A) 3.12.05

The Pitmen are handed their third heavy defeat in four games this afternoon as play-off chasing Harrogate Town plunder four goals without reply against Chris Brindley's hapless side

Monday night's battling 2-2 draw against Kettering Town had extended the Pitmen's winless run in all competitions to five games, leaving them looking over their shoulders in sixteenth place. Brindley elected to stick with the same XI that had earned their point against the Poppies in midweek, with Paul McMahon recovering from his hamstring pull to take his place up front alongside Andy Bell

Sixth-placed Harrogate had been cruelly denied a place in the second round of the F.A. Cup in midweek as they went down to a penalty shoot-out defeat to League Two side Torquay United at Wetherby Road. Manager Neil Aspin made only one change to his side from the one that had started against Torquay as Joe Anyon replaced Michael Price in goal

The visitors asserted their authority on their hosts early on in the game, putting the ball into the net with their first attack of the game in the third minute as former Leicester City midfielder Lee Philpott played in a free-kick from the left and found Leigh Wood unmarked in the six-yard box, with the young midfielder turning the ball past Brush from close-range. However, referee Mr Lindsay disallowed the goal as an offside flag against the Harrogate number four had been raised in the build-up

Five minutes later, striker Danny Holland held off Ian Wright's challenge and laid the ball off to Roy Hunter, whose first-time shot flew high over the crossbar from twenty yards out


In the eleventh minute, the Pitmen had their first sight at goal as Brush's long kick forwards was flicked on by Andy Bell and into the path of Colin Hunter, only for the former Harrogate man to scuff his shot wide with a wild shot

Philpott made a strong run into the Hednesford third of the pitch on fourteen minutes, taking the ball past Wright and standing up a cross to the far post, where Marc Smith headed over the crossbar as he beat Tom Marshall to the ball

Marshall was involved again in his own penalty area three minutes later, making a timely block with his left leg as he came across the box to deflect Holland's goalbound shot away for a Harrogate corner kick

Midway through the first period, the dangerous Holland forced Brush into a fine save as took a touch to beat Wright and drove in a shot that Wright managed to get a touch to, taking the sting out of the ball and sending the ball into the hands of Brush

Wright appeared to be struggling with looked to be a leg injury and was replaced a minute later by Brindley as the Pitmen were forced into an early change to their struggling defence

Holland tested Brush's reflexes on twenty-three minutes as the striker held off Marshall once more to turn on the ball and fire in a shot that Brush pushed around his post for a corner kick

Danny Scheppel dispossessed Chris Brass in midfield on twenty-seven minutes and played the ball into the path of Lee Williams, who held the ball well and picked McMahon out with a delightful pass. However, an offside flag from the assistant on the Wimblebury side against McMahon pulled the play back

McMahon did get a shot away for the Pitmen on the half-hour mark, breaking clear of the Harrogate defence to get on the end of a Richard Teesdale pass but saw Chris Mason get across and block the shot to turn it wide

The overworked Brush had to make another good save for the Pitmen on thirty-five minutes as Mason's corner kick was played along the floor to Philpott, whose well-struck effort from twenty yards out was saved by Brush inside his six-yard box

Good play from Roy Hunter three minutes later saw him drift past Scheppel just inside the Hednesford half and exchange passes with Wood before playing Holland into the penalty area - his shot was well blocked by Teesdale, who was alert to the danger and made a timely challenge on the striker

The away side finally made their pressure pay with the opening goal of the afternoon just three minutes before the break; Philpott's inswinging free-kick from the left found the head of Smith, who met the ball unchallenged to head home from close-range

The Pitmen could have little argument with the half-time scoreline, as they had struggled to cope with the visitors confident and powerful play; Holland and Smith had been a constant handful and only good performances from the likes of Teesdale and Brush had kept the scoreline down to just the one goal thus far

With only forty-five seconds played in the second half, Harrogate doubled their lead as they started the second half with a bang; Teesdale cleared Mason's corner away from goal, only for the ball to fall to Philpott, whose twenty-five yard shot at goal took a nick off Tom Marshall and beat Brush down to his right-hand side

Four minutes later, Holland sprayed the ball out to Philpott, who left Mark Branch for dead and curled his shot from the corner of the penalty area just wide of Brush's far post

A rare break from the Pitmen on fifty-three minutes saw Colin Hunter make a twenty-yard run and play Bell into the penalty area with a fine through ball. Bell took a touch and looked to catch Harrogate goalkeeper Joe Anyon out with a cheeky chip, but got a little too much on his shot and chipped his effort wide of the far post

On fifty-six minutes, Teesdale headed wide for the Pitmen as he made a late run into the six-yard box to meet a Williams free-kick, but got underneath the ball and headed over the crossbar and into the fans stood on the Heath Hayes terrace

Harrogate stretched their lead further on the hour mark as midfielder Gareth Grant showed tremendous pace to make a run in behind the Hednesford defence and get on the end of Chris Ellerker's pass, chipping the advancing Brush from fifteen yards out and lobbing the ball into the unguarded net

The away side were happy to sit back and catch the Pitmen on the counter-attack as the hosts looked to push forwards in reaction to going three goals down; Branch was caught out of position on sixty-five minutes as he pushed into the Harrogate half before losing the ball to Roy Hunter, who played Grant into the space in behind Branch down the right. Teesdale - one of only a clutch of players in white to come out of the game with any credit - made a superb sliding challenge to deny the midfield man a shot at goal as he advanced on the Hednesford penalty area

Harrogate wrapped up the scoring with a fourth goal of the game on seventy-one minutes as Holland capped a fine individual performance with the game's best goal; good build-up play through midfield from Brass and Grant saw the ball sit up for Holland, who struck a crisp volley beyond the reach of Brush from just outside the penalty area to make it 4-0

With the game now lost, the Pitmen made their second change of the afternoon as assistant manager Steve Anthrobus replaced the out-of-luck McMahon up front

The visitors were still in the mood for more goals and substitute Anton Lally drifted in from the left wing on seventy-five minutes before attempting a shot at goal from a tight angle that Brush watched over his crossbar

Lally played a quick one-two with Brass two minutes later and crossed for Holland once more, who was jockeyed wide of goal by Teesdale and forced the striker into a rushed shot into the side-netting

With eight minutes of the game remaining, Anthrobus forced Anyon into action for the first time in the game as Colin Hunter's deep cross from the left was headed goalwards by the veteran striker, forcing Anyon into a save on his goal line

The visitors went straight up the other end of the pitch through Grant, who out-paced Branch and Marshall before pulling his shot across the face of Brush's goal from a tight angle

Substitute Danny Ryan stung the palms of Brush with three minutes remaining as he was allowed time and space to make a run into the penalty area and shoot from sixteen yards out, finding Brush standing firm at his near post

In stoppage time, Branch made a move into the Harrogate penalty area and hit a cross that he got a little too much on, carrying the ball over Anyon and clipping the top of the crossbar as it dipped out of play

A desperately poor showing from the Pitmen, who had lacked in every area of the pitch against a much-fancied Harrogate side that showed their hosts what the benchmark for a successful step two team is this season with a powerful display. Brindley's men are now nervously looking over their shoulders as a sixth successive game without a win leaves them only a couple of points above the drop zone after sixteen games. Hednesford take a break from league duty this coming Saturday when they play their third home game in a row as Moor Green make the short trip to Keys Park in the third qualifying round of the F.A. Trophy

Hednesford Town: Brush, Scheppel, Branch, Wright (Brindley 22), T. Marshall, Williams ©, Heath, McMahon (Anthrobus 73), Bell, C. Hunter    Subs Unused: Adams, C. Marshall, Molloy

Harrogate Town: Anyon, Heard, Mason (Ryan 58), Wood, Brass, Ellerker, Grant, R. Hunter, Smith (Jones 78), Holland, Philpott (Lally 70)      Subs Unused: Lennon, Sutcliffe