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Dr. Martens Southern Premier League 

Hednesford Town

C. Palmer (43) 

Havant & Waterlooville

(1) 1

(0) 0




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Carl Palmer



Hornchurch (H) 28.2.04

The Pitmen finally end their long league run without a win at the twelfth attempt as a goal just before half-time from Carl Palmer is enough to earn the hosts all three points over Havant & Waterlooville at a snowy Keys Park tonight

Despite their reverse against bottom side Chelmsford City at the weekend, manager Barry Powell stubbornly stuck with the same XI that had started the game at the New Lodge as he looked to halt a depressing run of results in the Dr. Martens League that had seen his side drop from top six contenders as recently as New Year's Day to occupying a bottom three position at the start of play

Havant's season had been little better than the Pitmen's, with David Leworthy's side sitting only a couple of places and a couple of points above their hosts before kick-off. The Hawks had been on their own depressing run of recent form in the league recently, having lost six of their last seven games and not having registered a goal in their past three games, all defeats against Weston-Super-Mare, Bath City and Eastbourne Borough. Leworthy made only once change to the side that had started Saturday's game at home to Weston with James Ford replacing Bobby Howe in midfield after Howe had limped off at half-time on Saturday

Snow had been in the air all day, with a light dusting covering the Keys Park pitch at kick-off and the promise of more to follow as the game progressed. Havant keeper Gareth Howells made his first save of the evening in the fifth minute of the game as Steve Evans drove a low shot towards goal, only for Howells to make a good stop at his near post

At the other end, Ryan Young - dressed in a garish attire to avoid a colour clash with the Hawks' away kit - had to be alert to tip a cross from Chris Ferrett over his crossbar in the ninth minute as it threatened to drift into the net at the far post

Dean Blake created an opening for himself four minutes later with a mazy run that saw him skip past three challenges as he entered the Hednesford penalty area. However, after doing the hard work in finding space, Blake then got caught in two minds and allowed Lee Barrow to block his eventual shot with a sliding challenge

Carl Palmer was having a fine opening quarter of the game, looking more the old Carl Palmer we had seen in the opening months of the season as he and skipper Steve Palmer dominated the midfield area. A powerful run from the ginger-haired powerhouse on sixteen minutes saw him beat Geoff Pitcher but drag his long-range effort wide of goal


 The Pitmen continued to press as the snow started to fall once again in light patches, with Chris Brindley's firm header from a Les Hines free-kick midway through the half cleared off the line by an alert Luke Byles, who did his job on the near post by hacking the ball away from danger

Two minutes later, Jamie Campbell denied the frustrated Pitmen once more as he diverted Danny McGhee's effort away from goal with a timely block inside his own six-yard box

A quick break from Havant on twenty-eight minutes saw David Town work some space for himself before playing in top scorer Chukki Eribenne, whose well-struck shot from fifteen yards out was well held by Young on his goal line. Eribenne was denied a further effort at goal just a minute later as a forward pass from Byles sent the striker away, only for a tight offside call to deny the former Bournemouth youngster a shot at goal

The normally prolific James Taylor had found chances at a premium so far this evening up against Brindley and Barrow, but went closest to opening the scoring on thirty-three minutes as Ferrett's cross from a corner kick was headed inches wide of the far post by Taylor

This was Havant's best spell of the game so far, with Ford inexplicably missing a glorious chance to give his side the lead on thirty-six minutes as Eribenne's pinpoint cross landed at the feet of the midfielder, who somehow lifted his shot over the crossbar with the goal gaping

A minute later, Ferrett and Taylor linked up once more to create another fantastic opportunity for the away side as Ferrett's deep cross was headed onto the crossbar by Taylor, who had beaten Barrow to the ball in the air

Havant were made to pay for missing these great opportunities as the Pitmen received well to strike just before half-time; Carl Palmer's run took him into the penalty area and past Campbell, who in his haste to get goal side of the midfielder, ran straight into goalkeeper Howells, who had rushed out to narrow the angle. Palmer was left with the simple task of turning the ball into the net from a slight angle and hand the Pitmen the advantage

It was a rare half-time lead for the Pitmen, who will have felt a little fortunate at being ahead after weathering the storm from Havant towards the end of the half. They started the second half well, with Steve Anthrobus lifting an early shot over the crossbar after strike partner Mark Danks had fed the ball to him inside the Havant penalty area

Three minutes later, Anthrobus was played in again, this time by Carl Palmer as the big man found space to the right of the Havant penalty area. This time, Anthrobus dallied on the ball too long and dragged a low, dribbling shot across the increasingly snowy turf and wide of goal

Howells made a superb save on fifty-six minutes to deny Danks, turning the striker's low shot away from goal after the youngster had streaked away from Gary Connolly to latch onto a pass from McGhee

Town's deep free-kick was headed high over the crossbar by Taylor on sixty-one minutes as Havant struggled to create any significant openings at the start of the second half. At the other end, Hines skipped past Connolly three minutes later and crossed well for Anthrobus, whose weak header glanced off the top of his head and drifted well, well wide of goal

Havant created a good opening on sixty-eight minutes as a Ferrett corner kick eventually dropped to Town, whose follow-up shot was well saved by Young at his near post

A clever turn by Danks on seventy minutes saw him leave Byles in his wake and create enough room for him to get the shot away, only for Howells to make a good save down to his right

Steve Evans had found the going tough on the hard Keys Park pitch and was taken off two minutes later and replaced by Chris Gray down the left flank to give the Pitmen more width

McGhee was next to test Howells on seventy-five minutes, driving in a bobbling, bouncing shot that the Havant keeper did well to hold first time ahead of Danks

Try as he might, Danks could not find a way past Howells despite his best efforts and was denied once more by the Havant stopper four minutes later as Danks flicked a Gray cross goalwards, only for Howells to turn his shot over the crossbar

The Pitmen's second change of the evening saw Anthrobus taken off after another tireless performance from the striker and replaced by youngster Damien Charie on eighty-three minutes

Charie tested Howells with his first touch of the ball, taking in a pass from McGhee and driving a shot at goal from fifteen yards out that the over-worked Howells once again did enough to turn away from goal

With two minutes remaining, McGhee's game came to a premature end as Powell elected to bring on the pace of Nathan Lamey for the remaining minutes down the right flank

The inevitable Havant push in added time saw the away side force three successive corners, the last of which saw Ferrett send over a fine cross that found Byles on the edge of the penalty area, whose rasping drive was brilliantly turned away from goal by Young to deny Havant a point and clinch the win for Hednesford

A welcome win for the Pitmen in bitterly cold conditions that moves them away from the bottom three and back into the relative safety of mid-table, at least for a few days as they once again take a break from the league with a historic F.A. Trophy quarter-final game against Hornchurch at Keys Park this weekend

Hednesford Town: Young, Gibson, Hines, McGhee (Lamey 88), Brindley, Barrow, C. Palmer, S. Palmer ©Anthrobus (Charie 83), Danks, S. Evans (Gray 72)       Subs Unused: Dean, P. Evans

Havant & Waterlooville: Howells, Connolly, Ferrett, Ford, Byles, Campbell, Town, Pitcher, Eribenne, Taylor, Blake (Taylor 73)      Subs Unused: Turner, Knight, Kerridge, Poyser

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