Pre-Season Friendly

Heath Hayes

Giles (24)

Hednesford Town

Cater (25), Turner (62), (74), Thompson (68)

(1) 1

(1) 4



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Behind Closed Doors

Dan Turner



Stafford Rangers (H) 15.8.20

The Pitmen get their much-delayed pre-season programme underway this evening with a well-earned win over their near-neighbours Heath Hayes at the Coppice Colliery Ground behind closed doors

A full 182 days after Hednesford had played their last game - a 1-1 draw at St. Ives Town back in March - the Pitmen returned to the pitch having seen much change to the club both on and off the pitch in the interim period; new owners Graham Jones and Hayden Dando had completed their takeover of the club from previous owner Steve Price and had appointed Andy Morrell as the club's new manager. Morrell had been busy putting a squad together for the forthcoming season and had re-signed a number of last season's side with Danny Glover, Ben Bailey, Jack Hallahan, Sam Griffiths, Callam Mendez-Jones, Rhys Thompson and Carter Lycett all agreeing to new deals for 2020-2021. Morrell had moved to re-sign both Lee Smith and George Cater whilst also convincing the impressive Andy Wycherley to sign for the club permanently, topping this off with the signings of former loanee Dan Preston, Louis Dodds and Dan Turner. Tonight also saw the Pitmen fielding a large number of triallists as the new Hednesford manager looked towards adding to his ranks in the pre-season programme

The coronavirus pandemic was still gripping the world and had ruled out any spectators attending this, or any of the Pitmen's, pre-season friendlies up to this point. Morrell named a strong starting XI for the first forty-five minutes and witnessed a slow start from both sides, understandably so as this was the first competitive football any player had played in almost six months

An early offside denied new player/assistant manager Glover a chance in the eleventh minutes, followed a few minutes later by another tight call by the officials to deny Cater a clear shot at goal

Step six Heath Hayes looked quick and willing up top, with striker Mark Giles side-footing an effort wide for the home side on fifteen minutes with a scuffed shot past Wycherley's right-hand post


The very familiar-looking triallist A went close to giving the Pitmen the lead on twenty-one minutes as triallist B's free-kick was picked up by the winger, whose dipping, swerving half-volley just cleared the crossbar

Giles was on hand to put a fine finish on a move for the hosts on twenty-four minutes as Lycett failed to clear his lines down the left and allowed a cross to reach Giles, who showed good skill and composure to turn past a half-hearted challenge from Smith and fire past Wycherley into the far bottom corner of the net to give Heath Hayes an unexpected lead

From the restart, however, the Pitmen levelled straightaway as they worked the ball down the left flank through triallist A once more. His slide-rule pass found Cater, who showed great composure to take a touch and steer the ball home from eight yards out for his first-ever Hednesford goal for his hometown team

A quick move across the pitch from the Pitmen on the half-hour mark saw Glover spray the ball into the path of triallist B, who stepped inside a couple of challenges before lifting a shot from the edge of the penalty area over the crossbar

Cater came closest to giving the Pitmen the lead ahead of the half-time break but steered another shot just wide of goal with five minutes of the first period remaining

Half-time saw Morrell make wholesale changes to his side as he looked to give his whole squad at lead forty-five minutes each. Ten changes were made in all at the break for the men in neon yellow, with only Wycherley remaining from the first-half side. Bailey, Thompson, new signing Turner and youth team graduate Ollie Waddison were the only familiar faces who started the second period as Morrell elected to take a look at no fewer than seven triallists in the second period

The opening exchanges were scrappy and disjointed with so many changes for the Pitmen as they struggled to get going again after the break. Triallist E fired just wide of goal on fifty-four minutes after good play from Turner had provided him with a chance on the edge of the Heath Hayes penalty area

Triallist G turned a deep cross from Triallist H wide at the far post for the Pitmen two minutes later before former Port Vale striker Turner gave a glimpse of his goalscoring potential with the Pitmen's second goal of the night on sixty-two minutes; Triallist C's long, rangy ball forwards was beautifully brought down and controlled by Turner, who confidently turned the ball home unchallenged from twelve yards out

Traillist G forced the Heath Hayes keeper into a fine save two minutes later, palming a rising shot from the triallist away for a Hednesford corner after along ball over the top of the Heath Hayes defence

An inswinging corner kick from triallist E was headed goalwards by Thompson on sixty-eight minutes and fumbled by Heath Hayes' number one on the line, with the assistant signalling that the ball had gone over the line before being cleared by the home defence

Another ball over the top from the impressive triallist C led to Turner almost grabbing his second of the evening on seventy minutes, racing onto a rangy ball forwards and beating the keeper to the ball before firing into the side-netting from a tight angle


Turner did eventually get his goal as he turned home the Pitmen's fourth goal of the evening four minutes later; triallist E set him up with a run and cross down the right, handing Turner the simple task of sidefooting the ball home at the far post from close-range

There was a late run-out for veteran stopper Jose Veiga with the game well and truly won as he came on for Wycherley in between the posts for the final fifteen minutes of the game

Truner could have  had a hat-trick but for some sharp goalkeeping from the Heath Hayes keeper with eight minutes to go, turning the striker's goalbound shot away from the target after breaking in behind the home defence by the striker

Veiga had to be alert in the final minute of the game to palm a loose ball away from goal after an inswinging corner kick caused confusion at the near post for the Pitmen

A good first workout for the Pitmen, who will just be pleased and relieved to have got back out on the pitch again after such a long lay-off. A couple of the triallists will have caught Morrell's eye and may be involved once more on Saturday as the Pitmen play host to their local rivals Stafford Rangers at the PRG Stadium @ Keys Park with both sides continuing to ramp up their match fitness

Hednesford Town: Wycherley (Veiga 75), Griffiths (Triallist C 45), Preston (Bailey 45), Mendez-Jones (Thompson 45), Lycett (Triallist D 45), Smith (Waddison 45), Hallahan (Turner 45), Triallist A (Triallist E 45), Cater (Triallist F 45), Glover (Triallist G 45), Trialist B (Triallist H)       Subs Unused: None 

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