Nationwide Conference

Hereford United

Wright (70)

Hednesford Town

Davis (50)

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Mark Cooper



Morecambe (H) 11.9.00

The Pitmen's upturn in form continues today as they make it three games unbeaten as they earn themselves an impressive point against high-flying Hereford United at Edgar Street

Having earned themselves four points in the past seven days, it was perhaps unsurprising that Hednesford manager John Baldwin elected to stick with the same XI for the third game in a row for today's trip down the M5 as he went in search of another three points to further move up the Nationwide Conference table. Keith Russell was replaced on the substitute's bench by Val Owen after picking up a calf strain playing for the reserves on Wednesday night

Third-placed Hereford - still unbeaten this season having won four and drawn two of their six games so far - had beaten local rivals Telford United 2-0 at Edgar Street to remain just two points behind early league leaders Rushden & Diamonds. They had also gone 540 minutes without conceding a goal, with former Hednesford goalkeeper Scott Cooksey in commanding form between the sticks for the Bulls. Manager Graham Turner also named an unchanged side for today's game, the third game in a row that he had done so

In front of another 2,500-plus Edgar Street crowd, the Bulls made all of the early running with Gavin Williams going close in the third minute as he made a darting run into the penalty area to latch onto a fine through ball from Kerry Giddings, just to the right-hand side of the penalty area. The Welshman attempted a shot on the run but got his angles all wrong and the ball sailed harmlessly wide of Mark Gayle's left-hand post

Two minutes later, the in-form Paul Bagshaw picked up Mark Cooper's pass and took the ball past right-back Matt Clarke down the left and pulled the ball back into the Hereford penalty area, only for the ball to skip across goal and away from danger as both Micky Norbury and Neil Davis were unable to turn the ball home from close-range

Gayle made a timely interception to deny Williams a minute later, racing off his line to claim a long, probing pass from Phil Robinson ahead of the young striker before Williams could prod the ball home from twelve yards out

Young Hereford midfielder Michael McIndoe was denied a chance by veteran Russell Bradley in the eighth minute as the former Nottingham Forest player slid in to turn the ball away from the Hereford man as he shaped to shoot just inside the Hednesford penalty area

Former Wolves man Robinson forced Gayle into a fine save in the tenth minute, picking up a fine through ball from McIndoe and firing in a crisp shot at goal from ten yards out which Gayle did well to turn over the crossbar

Former Hednesford hero Cooksey's first involvement in the game on fourteen minutes saw him race out of his goal to deal with a floated cross from Bagshaw but only succeeded in flattening his own skipper Ian Wright as the pair looked to keep the ball away from the lurking presence of Davis at the far post. Former Hull City man Wright required a lengthy spell of treatment before getting back to his feet, albeit a little groggily

Three minutes later, captain Neil Pointon's pass sent Bagshaw away down the left once more, clear of Clarke as he missed his tackle on the former Barnsley man. Bagshaw elected to shoot from a tight angle rather than look to pick Norbury out in the penalty area and drove his shot beyond Cooksey's right-hand post

Cooper whipped in the Pitmen's first corner kick of the game in the twentieth minute, finding the head of the powerful Bradley at the far post but the veteran defender was off-target with his header as he nodded the ball wide of the post from six yards out

Midway through the first half, Stuart Lake exchanged passes with Ian Robinson before sending over a cross to Norbury, who executed a fine overhead kick from ten yards out that went just wide of Cooksey's post. Close from the combative striker

Lake picked up the game's first booking of the afternoon for a late and aggressive challenge on Ian Rodgerson, prompting an angry response from the Bulls' bench and a deserved yellow card from referee Mr Habgood

Hereford started to take a grip on proceedings and created much the better of the chances in the remainder of the first period; Williams dragged a good chance well wide of goal on thirty-one minutes as he controlled a pass from Chris Lane and held off Mark Haran's challenge before firing horribly wide of goal

Giddings followed Lake into the referee's notebook a minute later for a mistimed challenge on Robinson in the centre circle, earning him a yellow card and handing the Pitmen a free-kick that Lake floated into the penalty area and forced Cooksey into a parry over his crossbar to deny Norbury a chance

Ten minutes before half-time, good, patient build-up play from the home side saw the ball laid off to John Snape, whose effort from fully twenty-five yards out skipped over Gayle's crossbar

Two minutes later, another well-delivered corner kick from Cooper was met by Haran at the near post, but the former Emley centre-back's unchallenged header drifted wide of Cooksey's upright

On forty-one minutes, McIndoe cleverly turned past Bradley and turned into space on the edge of the penalty area, feeding the ball into the path of Rodgerson whose snap-shot was easily saved by Gayle

Davis tested Cooksey with a goalbound header from six yards out on forty-three minutes but did not get enough purchase on Cooper's corner kick and the Hereford stopper made an easy save

In first-half added time, Williams held off Pointon as he picked up a Phil Robinson cross, but was adjudged to have fouled the veteran full-back in the process and was denied a shot at goal by Mr Habgood's whistle

The Pitmen had given as good as they had got in the first half against an in-form Bulls side, creating chances of their own as well as frustrating their free-scoring hosts in the process

A rousing half-time talk from Baldwin had the Pitmen fired up at the start of the second half and saw them take the lead just five minutes after the restart; a quick-witted piece of play from the men in navy blue saw Lake play Bagshaw into space down the left, with the winger leaving Clarke for dead and crossing for Davis, who turned the ball past his former team-mate from ten yards out with a first time shot that nestled in the far corner of the net. It was the first goal conceded by the stopper in just shy of 600 minutes of action

The Pitmen could have struck again just three minutes later as the impressive Cooper's free-kick found the head of the late-arriving Lake, who was stretching to reach the cross and could only glance the ball over the crossbar

In a bid to stem the tide of Hednesford pressure, Turner made a bold double change on fifty-five minutes as the fit-again Rob Elmes came on for Giddings and former Birmingham City veteran Rodgerson was replaced by the much younger legs of winger Paul Parry

Wright should have levelled the scores once more just sixty seconds later as McIndoe's corner-kick picked the centre-back out at the far post, only for his header to drop a matter of inches wide of Gayle's upright as the Hednesford defence was caught ball-watching

Norbury's usual bustling approach to the game saw him incur the wrath of Mr Habgood on fifty-eight minutes as the striker was shown a yellow card for an overly-aggressive challenge in challenging Tony James

Good wing play from Parry on sixty-one minutes saw the youngster get away from Bradley and enter the penalty area, where his cross with the outside of his boot was turned wide at the far post by the toe of Williams, under pressure from Haran

Four minutes later, Scott Goodwin was on hand to clear the danger inside his penalty area as Phil Robinson's free-kick dropped in the Hednesford six-yard box, with Goodwin hacking the ball clear before Snape could turn the loose ball home

With twenty minutes remaining, Hereford equalised after another period of pressure as McIndoe won a free-kick on the left flank and took the kick himself, floating the ball into the box where Wright was on hand to firmly place a header beyond the reach of Gayle from close-range

Bagshaw was the latest player to be shown a yellow card by the inconsistent Mr Habgood on seventy-three minutes as he was harshly booked for kicking the ball away in the Hereford penalty area

With the game there to be won for both sides, play moved quickly from end to end in the final fifteen minutes of the game; Lake somehow avoided a second yellow card on seventy-six minutes as he brought Parry down in full flight, with Mr Habgood producing another bizarre decision as he only ticked off the midfielder when many inside Edgar Street were expecting a red card

Wright headed over the crossbar from another fine Phil Robinson free-kick on seventy-nine minutes, getting underneath the ball as he challenged Haran and looping his effort high over Gayle's crossbar

Norbury had a great chance to take all three points for the Pitmen on eighty-three minutes as a quick break down the right from Ian Robinson saw the midfielder play Davis into space, with the striker turning well and pulling the ball back into the path of Norbury, whose goalbound shot took a nick off substitute Matt Gardiner and went out for a corner kick to the Pitmen

With four minutes remaining, Elmes brought down a Lane pass and played a slide-rule pass into the path of Williams, who took a touch before shooting well wide for fifteen yards out

Cooksey's long kick forwards on eighty-eight minutes bounced just outside the Hednesford penalty area and over the head of Lake, falling into the path of McIndoe who brought the ball inside from the left and drilled a low shot straight into the arms of Gayle at his near post

The Pitmen were intent on hanging onto their point and slowed the game down in added time to kill off any Hereford momentum. Haran was booked for time-wasting as he took far too long to take a throw-in just inside his own half

It had been a very useful and welcome away point for the Pitmen against a very good Hereford side that had struggled in front of goal all afternoon, nullified by a resolute and experienced Hednesford back line and well protected by Cooper in front of them. Five points from their last three games is an excellent return in September after a horrible August programme, maintaining sixteenth place in the table and keeping Baldwin's side away from the bottom three. Victory over mid-table dwellers Morecambe on Monday night at Keys Park would extend their recent unbeaten run and move the Pitmen up into the relative safety of mid-table for the first time this season

Hereford United: Cooksey, Clarke, Lane, James (Gardiner 81), Wright ©, P. Robinson, Rodgerson (Parry 55), Snape, McIndoe, Giddings  (Elmes 55), Williams      Subs Unused: Baker, Hanson

Hednesford Town: Gayle, Bradley, Pointon ©, Goodwin, Haran , Lake Cooper, I. Robinson, Davis, Norbury , Bagshaw        Subs Unused: Airdrie, Shakespeare, Owen, Sedgemore, Carney