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Dr. Martens Southern Premier League

Hednesford Town

Lancashire (26), Davis (30)

Havant & Waterlooville

O'Rourke (10)

(2) 2

(1) 1



Current Form

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Mark Gayle



Hinckley United (H) 22.10.01

Kenny Hibbitt's first match in charge of Hednesford Town sees him turn the form book around with a morale-boosting win this afternoon over Havant & Waterlooville at Keys Park

Hibbitt had watched from the stands last weekend as his new charges were soundly beaten by Ryman Premier League side Bedford Town in the F.A. Cup third qualifying round. With only one training session to get his message across, the former Wolves midfielder elected to make one change to the side that had started at the New Eyrie with Graham Lancashire restored to the side in place of the struggling Wayne Simpson

Havant - making their first-ever trip to Keys Park - arrived late at Keys Park after a hold-up on the M6 saw their preparations cut short with only thirty minutes of warm-up time before kick-off at 3.10 pm. Liam Daish's side had made progress in the F.A. Cup last weekend with a tight 1-0 win over Croyden to continue their unbeaten run in all competitions this term and made for one change to the side that had started last weekend as Gary Connolly returned to the team in place of Ben Price

The visitors made light of their traffic-related issues and started the game well on a heavy Keys Park pitch under leaden skies and went close to scoring in the sixth minute after a bout of pressure; Connolly's run and cross down the right saw him pick out James Taylor, whose goalbound header dropped kindly into the arms of Pitmen stopper Mark Gayle

Two minutes later, Stewart Airdrie swung in a fine free-kick from out wide on the right and found the head of Stuart Lake, whose flicked header was punched clear by former Chelsea keeper Paul Nicholls and away from danger

The Hawks were rewarded for their enterprising start to proceedings with the opening goal of the game in the tenth minute. A quickly-taken free-kick from Dean Blake played Connolly into space down the right-wing without anyone in white reacting quickly enough to get across and block the cross. Connolly's ball in dropped kindly onto the head of James O'Rourke, who neatly cushioned a header beyond the reach of Gayle from close-range to give Havant the lead


Shocked into action, the Pitmen forced successive corner kicks from the restart through the left boot of Richard Lucas, with his second ball in falling at the feet of Lake just on the edge of the Havant penalty area. The burly midfielder's long-range effort took a nick of player/manager Daish and forced Nicholls into a fine save low down to his right

A quickly-taken free-kick from Airdrie on nineteen minutes saw the winger play Lake through in the inside right position, only for Lake's low cross to skip across the Havant six-yard box and away from danger with no-one in a white shirt able to apply the finish

Airdrie looked the Pitmen's best bet to create a chance to get back into the game, skipping past two Havant challenges on twenty-two minutes before dragging his shot wide of Nicholls' left-hand post

Two minutes later, Lucas strode forwards to pick up a pass from Dean Craven before thumping a shot goalwards that Nicholls did well to hold in front of Lancashire

Lancashire did, however, get the Pitmen back on level terms on twenty-six minutes with a typical poacher's effort from the former Rochdale man; a shot from Bagshaw was too hot for Nicholls to handle with the keeper fumbling the winger's shot and allowing Lancashire to do enough to nip in and bundle the ball over the line. Not a pretty goal by any means, but an important one for the home side as they levelled matters once more

With their tails up, the Pitmen streamed forwards at will and turned the game on it's head four minutes later with a superb strike from Neil Davis. A neatly clipped pass from Lancashire saw him chip the ball over Gareth Hall's head and into the path of Davis, whose unchallenged run down the left wing saw him cut inside before driving his shot beyond the reach of the onrushing Nicholls and high into the net


The visitors responded through a Chris Ferrett free-kick that was headed goalwards by former Chelsea man Hall on thirty-four minutes, only to be denied by more good glove work from Gayle


Two minutes later, O'Rourke was inches away from levelling the game once more as he slid in to meet Blake's low cross but missed out on turning the ball home by a matter of inches


Havant continued to press and tested Gayle once more thirty-eight minutes as Daish found Taylor in the Hednesford penalty area with a simple pass. Amidst a goalmouth scramble, Taylor managed to get his shot away but was denied by Gayle once more as he made the save


The Hawks felt that they should have been awarded a penalty kick with four minutes of the half remaining as Blake's cross appeared to strike the hand of Lake to block the cross from the left. Referee Mr. Casswell took a long, hard look at the incident but waved play on, despite Havant's loud protests


Lake was in action once more a minute before the break as he did well to block shots from both Daish and O'Rourke to deny the pair clear sights of goal. Gayle was also called upon in added time to push a shot from O'Rourke around the post after the striker had escaped the attentions of Shakespeare


Havant started the second half purposefully as they went in search of an early equaliser; Blake was played through on goal by Taylor a couple of minutes after the restart but drove his shot into Gayle's side-netting from a tight angle


A swing and a miss from Airdrie unwittingly played Havant in on goal on fifty minutes as the winger completely missed his kick and allowed the ball to run through to O'Rourke, who was denied a clear shot on goal by the quick thinking of Gayle to race out and head the ball away from danger


Taylor - normally a steady performer up front for the visitors - was guilty of a shocking miss a minute later, somehow nodding Connolly's cross wide at the far post when it looked easier to score as he met the ball unmarked


Gayle did well to palm over a header from Tim Hambley on fifty-six minutes, turning the midfielder's flicked effort away for a corner kick after Hambley had met Blake's deep cross


With an hour on the clock, Gayle was diligent in his positioning to make a solid stop to deny Blake at his near post to scoop up the winger's cross-cum-shot from the left


The Pitmen had done well to weather the storm at the start of the second half and came back into the game as Havant started to tire and become frustrated with their inability to find an equaliser; Lancashire had a great chance to put the game beyond the Hawks on sixty-three minutes but missed his kick at the crucial moment from Lake's pull-back


O'Rourke did well to get goal side of Lucas three minutes later and head a Blake cross towards goal, but once again Gayle was equal to it with another fine save to turn the ball away from goal

A quick break from the Pitmen almost caught the away side out on seventy minutes as Lucas's rangy ball down the line found Craven in acres of space in behind the Havant defence. The midfielder steadied himself before curling a shot beyond the reach of Nicholls on the edge of the penalty area, only to miss the target by a matter of inches

The Pitmen made their only substitution of the game on seventy-six minutes with the introduction of Robbie Meacham for the tiring Airdrie. This saw a tweaking of the formation midfield that saw Damien Charie pushed wide to accommodate Meacham in the centre of the park

Meacham was involved with ten minutes of the game remaining, latching onto a pass from Craven but lifting his effort over the crossbar from twenty yards out

The Hawks piled the pressure on in the final few minutes of the game, with Daish heading wide from a Blake cross and Hall attempting to force the ball home from a corner kick on eighty-five minutes before the Pitmen managed to clear their lines

Veteran goal-getter David Leworthy - a thorn in previous Hednesford sides during the 1990s for Kingstonian, Rushden & Diamonds and Dover Athletic - had come on for the away side and fired wide with his one sight at goal with a couple of minutes remaining

With the game entering added time, Hawks skipper Hambley had the best chance of the half to level matters later on as he met a cross from Blake at the far post and headed downwards towards goal, only to be denied by a miraculous save by Gayle as he clawed the ball away from goal with a briliant one-handed save

The Pitmen held on to condemn their visitors to their first defeat of the season and lift themselves off the foot of the league table in the process with a fine victory. Hibbitt will be pleased with the character shown by his new side but much still remains to be fixed within the squad. Expect some comings and goings as Hibbitt looks to reshape the squad in his own form, with Craig Hopkins the first player of the Paul Raynor era to leave this week and return to Ilkeston. Monday night sees the Pitmen back at Keys Park as they face local rivals Hinckley United, looking to avenge the heavy 4-0 defeat handed to them by the Knitters back in September at Middlefield Lane 

Hednesford Town: Gayle, Brownrigg, Lucas ©, Shakespeare, Lake, Bagshaw, Charie, Craven, Davis, Lancashire, Airdrie (Meacham 76)      Subs Unused: Curtis, Francis

Havant & Waterlooville: Nicholls, Connolly (Anstey 53), Ferrett, Gale, Hall, Daish, Blake, Hambley ©, O'Rourke, Taylor (Leworthy 76), Champion (White 44)       Subs Unused: None


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