Zamaretto Southern Premier League

Hednesford Town

Francis (25), Durrell (26), Barnett (35), Martin (90)

Hemel Hempstead Town

Brennan (9), Black (45), Akers (85)

(3) 4

(2) 3



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Elliott Durrell


Nuneaton Town (H) 16.3.10

Hednesford's exceptional winning run continued this afternoon - but the Pitmen had left-back Zak Martin to thank for a late, late winner in this seven-goal thriller over lowly Hemel Hempstead Town at Keys Park

Bernard McNally was forced to make one change to his in-form side, with Tuesday's goal hero Cheyenne Dunkley returning to parent club Crewe Alexandra in midweek. In came new signing Jean Prunescu in Dunjley's place after the youngster had joined the club from Romanian giant Steaua Bucharest; former Aston Villa youngster Adam McGurk was amongst the substitutes after the Northern Irishman had also linked up with the club in midweek

Hemel's season had been one of struggle with the Hertfordshire club currently occupying 21st place in the Zamaretto League table ahead of their trip up to Keys Park. A 1-0 defeat at home to Chippenham Town last Saturday had checked the Tudors' progress after they had chalked up their first win in eight games against fellow strugglers Merthyr Tydfil the previous week

Despite being the league's form side, Hednesford have an uncanny knack of tripping up against sides towards the bottom of the table - think Didcot Town, Bedford Town et al -  and their sluggish start resulted in the visitors taking an early lead. On nine minutes, Clark Akers was fed by Tommy Black down the wing, with Akers picking out striker Dean Brennan, who headed back across Stuart Brock and into the corner of the net

The Pitmen immediately responded, with Tyrone Barnett testing Hemel keeper Elvijs Putnins' reflexes on fifteen minutes by heading Martin's cross towards goal, forcing the stopper to make a flying save

This lifted the hosts, and they started to take control of the game as they went in search of an equaliser. Josh Craddock's long-range shot flew harmlessly over on eighteen minutes, following Prunescu's clever ball

Hednesford's pressure paid off on twenty-five minutes, with defender Liam Francis claiming his second goal for the club since his move to Keys Park last month. A Durrell cross was partially cleared, with the ball falling to skipper Sean Platt. He clipped the ball back into the danger zone, with Francis getting his head on the ball amidst a real melee to force the ball over the line from a yard or so out

Within sixty seconds, the home side had turned the game on its head, with the excellent Durrell putting the Pitmen two-one up. A fantastic through ball by Prunescu found Durrell, who produced a superb finish to lift the ball over the advancing Putnins

It was all Hednesford for the next fifteen minutes or so, as they looked to turn the screw. With Barnett keeping the Hemel defence busy with his movement and ability in the air, Durrell was having plenty of joy in his free role in midfield, linking the play for the Pitmen and generally causing havoc in the Tudors ranks

With ten minutes remaining, the Pitmen went three-one up, with top scorer Barnett getting his name back on the scoresheet after six games without a goal. Craddock got the ball rolling in midfield, playing the ball up to Durrell, who gave Barnett the simple task of scoring from close range with a simple pass after drawing Putnins out of his goal

Ross Dyer felt he had a decent penalty claim five minutes before half time, as he fell under a challenge from Hemel's Danny May. However, the referee was unimpressed and waved play on

They may have been on the back foot for much of the first half, but Hemel found a way back into the game with virtually the last kick of the half; Daryl Robson's pass fed player-coach Tommy Black, who confidently fired past Brock from just outside the area

That goal seemed to raise Hemel's hopes of a comeback in the second half, as they enjoyed far more of the ball after the break

The Pitmen were still creating chances though, with Durrell continuing his threatening form with a powerful shot that Putnins held well

McNally chose to make two changes before the mid-way point in the half, with Dyer making way for Dorryll Proffitt and Luke Chapman replacing the tiring Prunescu

This brace of changes seemed to help Hemel, as they started to cause Hednesford problems at the back. Akers broke clear of the Hednesford defence with fifteen minutes remaining, with Decio Gomes producing a fine last-ditch tackle to deny him. He then recovered sufficiently to deny Ryan Blake as he tried to pick up the rebound

Hemel went even closer to scoring three minutes later, with Blake forcing Brock into a fine save after he had beaten Francis to the ball. From the resultant corner the ball found its way to May whose rising shot came back off the bar

With five minutes remaining, Hemel's pressure gave them the equaliser their efforts deserved. A scramble inside the Hednesford penalty area saw Akers play Blake in, but a number of outstretched legs denied him a goal. The ball eventually fell to Akers, who eventually managed to force the ball into the net from close range

The Pitmen's winning run was in grave danger of coming to a shuddering halt, but as the old saying goes, fortune favours the brave, and the Pitmen launched one last attack in added time. Durrell's quick feet and ability created time and space, allowing Durrell to square the ball across the six-yard box to Martin, who fired home with a sliding shot to send Keys Park wild with delight - and a little relief no doubt

It had been a hard-fought three points for the hosts, who have now won their last four games to give them a real shot at the top five as the games continue to come thick and fast, Another play-off chasing side in the form of Nuneaton Town visit Keys Park on Tuesday night in what will be no doubt a keenly-contested local derby as both sides harbour ambitions of promotion to step two in May

Hednesford Town: Brock, Platt ©, Martin, Bailey, Francis, Gomes, Durrell, Craddock, Barnett (McGurk 89), Dyer (Proffitt 68), Prunescu  (Chapman 60)       Subs Unused: Morton, Flynn

Hemel Hempstead Town: TBC