3.10.2009

Zamaretto Southern Premier League

Hemel Hempstead Town

Black (72), Blake (90)

Hednesford Town

Dyer (17), Barnett (25)

(0) 2

(2) 2

Attendance

MoTM

Current Form

Next Match

249

Ben Bailey

D W L L L D L D W D

Merthyr Tydfil (H) 10.10.09

Hednesford came away from Hertfordshire smarting at a missed opportunity to take all three points from Hemel Hempstead Town this afternoon after racing into a two-goal lead in the first half but saw their deficit cut in a late rally from the home side

Caretaker manager Bernard McNally, looking to further improve his chances of landing the manager's job on a permanent basis, made no changes to his starting XI, with youth team player Sean Turner making the step up to the bench in place of Mark Bandurak

Fifteenth placed Hemel returned home after a 3-1 defeat to the much-fancied Nuneaton Town last weekend with manager Dennis Green making two changes to his side as James Hatch and Adam Bernard replaced Ben Long and Mike McEntegart 

The Pitmen started brightly, playing with their faces into the strong wind that was whipping up over Vauxhall Road. Elliott Durrell, looking to continue his fine individual form under McNally, was straight into the Hemel defenders, forcing keeper Mike McEntegart into a fine save from close range with a snapshot that the Hemel number one turned over for a corner. Durrell's inswinging corner was beaten away by a desperate clearance on the line, with Richard Walker and Tyrone Barnett lurking inches away from the ball

However, Durrell was not to be outdone, as he provided a great cross to set up Ross Dyer to grab his second goal in two games on seventeen minutes. Durrell's free-kick on the right-hand side had pace and accuracy, finding the head of Dyer, who headed firmly low down at the near post to beat McEntegart

It got even better for the visiting side eight minutes later, as they went two goals in front, with Dyer's striker partner Barnett scoring his fourth goal of the season. Durrell, as he seems to be on most occasions, was again the provider, sending over a great corner kick from the left that found the head of Barnett, who rose brilliantly to head past McEntegart with a well-executed downward effort

Hemel had not really been at the races up to that point and were rocked into life after the second goal. On twenty-nine minutes they came close to reducing the deficit when Adam Martin was allowed time and space to fire a great long-range shot against the bar, with Gavin Ward beaten all ends up

A minute later, Hatch raced onto a mistake by Walker, picking up the Hednesford skipper's poor clearance but wasting the opportunity by firing over the bar

Ward was called into action a few minutes before half time, making a great one-handed save to deny Clark Akers a goal by tipping the Hemel man's shot onto the bar and over for a corner

After being involved in a hefty challenge, midfielder Scott Lycett had to be replaced on thirty-eight minutes after suffering blurred vision as a result of the challenge, with Turner coming on in his place to make his first-team debut for the Pitmen

Despite ten minutes of worry at the back, the Pitmen continued to enjoy the better of the game going forward, with Durrell, Dyer and Sam Aiston all having half chances before half time

Ben Bailey, who had once again looked a natural at the back for the Pitmen, almost put the visitors out of sight three minutes after the restart, getting on the end of a free-kick from Durrell, but heading narrowly over the bar from five yards out

Back came the home side, with Yiadom Yeboah heading Danny May's cross narrowly wide of goal with the Hednesford defence ball-watching on fifty-two minutes

Sean Platt's drive almost clinched the game for the Pitmen, but his rising shot just missed the target. Barnett's header on the hour mark was saved brilliantly by McEntegart after Durrell had crossed from the right-hand side

The final quarter saw Hemel up the tempo as the Pitmen desperately looked to hang on to their advantage. With another man in midfield, the Tudors started to overrun the Pitmen in the middle of the park, with Ryan Blake forcing Ward into a fine save on seventy minutes after he had cut in from the left and beaten Zak Martin

Two minutes later, Hemel reduced the deficit, courtesy of newly appointed player/coach Tommy Black, who had come on as a second-half substitute. A ball threaded through the static central defence of the Pitmen by Bernard found the onrushing Black, who fired in a first time shot that beat Ward at his near post, going in eventually off the woodwork

With the Pitmen looking to hang on to their slim lead, McNally made two defensive substitutions, with Aaron Gibson coming on for Justin Nisbett, and Adam Overton replacing Durrell, who had run himself into the ground

The Pitmen almost put the game beyond doubt with ten minutes remaining, when Aiston's clever through ball found Dyer, but the in-form striker fired over the bar with only McEntegart to beat

It was to prove a crucial moss, as the hosts piled the pressure on Hednesford in the final moments, as they sensed at least a point from the game. Martin again managed to get a sight at goal with six minutes left but fired inches over Ward's crossbar

Walker almost gifted Hemel their equaliser with a minute left, adding another error to what had been another gaffe-ridden game for the Hednesford defence, heading back towards goal with a firm header that only just missed the far post, with Ward scrambling across to get to the ball

In added time, the pressure on the Pitmen's defence finally told, as Hemel scored a scrappy equaliser to claim a point. Black managed to get to a Hemel corner kick, forcing Ward into a save close in with his legs. The defenders failed to get a clean enough swing to clear the ball, allowing Leon Solomon to play the ball back into the danger area where Blake managed to force the ball home at the near post

A disappointing end to a game that had started so promisingly for Hednesford and McNally, with the caretaker manager having two more games to stamp his authority on the side before the permanent manager is appointed. McNally will have to wait to see if he has done enough to warrant the job on a full-time basis, and if he has, the first job will be to sort out a defence bereft of any confidence or consistency. He will have another chance to stake his claim once more as the Pitmen return to Keys Park next weekend to face basement side Merthyr Tydfil

Hemel Hempstead Town: Mike McEntegart, May, Soloman, Yeboah, Akers, Bernard, A. Martin (Hillard 66), Walker, Blake, Austin, Hatch (Black 45)      Subs Unused: Long, Eames, Matt McEntegart

Hednesford Town: Ward, Platt, Z. Martin, Walker ©, Bailey, Lycett (Turner 38), Durrell, Aiston, Barnett, Dyer (Overton 77), Nisbett (Gibson 77)     Subs Unused: Amos, Flynn

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