11.9.2001

Dr. Martens Southern Premier League

Hinckley United

Hill (22), Titterton (72), Hunter (85), Lucas (90) (penalty)

Hednesford Town

(1) 4

(0) 0

Attendance

MoTM

Current Form

Next Match

444

Chris Wood

L L L L L W W L

 

Chelmsford City (H) 15.9.01

The Pitmen's Jekyll & Hyde approach to the season continues this evening as the injury-hit visitors are taken apart by a free-scoring Hinckley United at Middlefield Lane amidst a backdrop of devastating breaking news from the United States

Saturday's astonishing 6-0 win against Salisbury City at the weekend had come at a heavy cost for Paul Raynor's side as a further injury to Adam Shakespeare saw the young centre-back added to the long list of injured players that included senior pros Neil Davis, Wayne Simpson, Stuart Lake, Mark Gayle and Stewart Airdrie. Raynor was forced into calling up 17-year-old defender Ashley Williams, handing the youth team graduate a full debut at centre-back alongside skipper Mark Haran. Craig Hopkins replaced the injured Airdrie at right-back, whilst Robbie Meacham and Graham Lancashire were passed fit before kick-off after limping off at the weekend with their own injury problems

Dean Thomas's Knitters had also started the season in inconsistent form, with Saturday's 2-1 win at Folkestone Invicta only their second win of the campaign so far. Thomas made one change to the side that had come away from Kent with all three points as he brought Darren Hill in for Karl Brennan down the right-wing

All eyes were on the available TV screens at Middlefield Lane as news continued to flow in from over the Atlantic concerning the terrorist attacks that had taken place in New York and Washington DC just three hours previously. The game was played with a much more sombre tone than a normal league game as both sets of supporters started to get a real sense of the seriousness of the news coming in from America

With attention finally turning to the game, the patched-up Pitmen enjoyed plenty of early possession as they looked for an early goal at a ground they had not played at for a good number of years since their Midland League days. Meacham's early slide-rule pass into the path of Raynor saw the player/manager slip the ball through to Lancashire, whose first-time shot was easily fielded by Damien Beattie in the Hinckley goal

In the eighth minute, Raynor swung in a fine corner kick from the right-hand side that was headed high over the crossbar by big Kevin Francis as he met the ball at the far post and beat Steve Coates to the ball

The hosts responded with their first chance of the game in the twelfth minute; Hill got the better of Williams and crossed for Andy Lucas, who brought the ball down before swivelling on a sixpence and firing just wide of goal from fifteen yards out

Beattie's long kick forwards from inside his own penalty area sailed over the heads of both sets of players and dropped just inside the Pitmen's box on sixteen minutes. Chris Wood was alert to the danger and made a fine smothering stop to deny Morton Titterton a clear shot on goal from around the penalty spot

Francis was denied a chance to pull the trigger fo the visitors on twenty minutes as he got goal side of Guy Hadland to beat him to a Craven pass, only for a late call against him for a foul in the build-up to hand Hinckley a free-kick

A grave mistake from Craven gifted the hosts the lead midway through the first period as the midfielder was caught dawdling in possession by Titterton, who robbed him of the ball and sent Hill away behind the Hednesford defence. The winger steadied himself before confidently firing past Wood from close range with an angled drive

The hosts nearly doubled their lead four minutes later from a free-kick as Titterton's driven effort from twenty-five yards out was palmed over the crossbar by Wood to his right

From the resultant corner kick, Hadland got a flick-on at the near post and played the ball into the path of Lucas whose subsequent header at the far post was off-target

Neat interplay from Paul Bagshaw and Richard Lucas down the left flank on thirty-one minutes created acres of room for Bagshaw to take his time to cross for Francis, only for the big man's downward header to drop straight into the grateful arms of Beattie

Hill did well to take the ball around Hopkins and into space six minutes later, crossing low to the near post where Lucas scuffed his shot well wide of Wood's post as he beat Haran to the ball

 

Back came the Pitmen through Bagshaw, whose run past three Hinckley players was halted on the edge of the Knitters penalty area on forty-one minutes. Bagshaw took the resultant free-kick and nearly caught Beattie out with an inswinging effort that dipped narrowly over the crossbar at the far post

 

In first-half added time a long ball forwards from Beattie landed at the feet of the experienced Paul Hunter via a flick-on from Scott Eustace, only for Haran to divert the striker's half volley wide of the target

The Pitmen had been left frustrated at being behind at the break, having had plenty of the ball in the first period and created a number of decent openings, only for one moment of indecision to cost them dearly. This was something the club was learning about with every game since relegation - the Southern Premier League remains a competitive division and not necessarily a league that will be easy to escape for the club. Meacham's lack of fitness forced the Pitmen into a half-time change as teenager Tom Griffiths made his first appearance of the season from the bench

The visitors started the second half brightly after Raynor's half time team talk as Francis did well to control a pass from Bagshaw on fifty-eight minutes before blazing his half volley high over the crossbar from fifteen yards out

Raynor was booked for the away side two minutes later after a foul on Eustace and a bout of verbals directed at the referee that followed a stern warning for the veteran midfielder

Hopkins' lack of fitness saw his game brought to a halt on fifty-five minutes as he was replaced by 17-year-old striker Leon Brown in a positional change to the side that saw Griffiths moved across the pitch to deputise at right-back and Richard Lucas returning to left-back

There was a loud shout for a penalty kick from the Pitmen eleven minutes after the restart as a speculative shot from Lancashire struck the hand of Coates en route to goal from just ten yards out. Despite the Pitmen's calls for a spot-kick, the referee remained unmoved and the game continued

This was to prove a turning point in the game from the Pitmen's point of view, as this was to be their last real chance to get back into the game with Hinckley taking control of proceedings as the half progressed. Titterton lifted a shot just over Wood's crossbar on sixty-three minutes after he was afforded too much time and space on the edge of the Hednesford penalty area

Three minutes later, good link play between Hunter and Lucas laid the ball into the path of Hill, whose shot whistled just past Wood's right-hand post from eighteen yards out 

The Pitmen's patched-up side were starting to show signs of wear and tear as passes started to go astray and Hinckley players found more time and space in and around the Hednesford penalty area. Lancashire was struggling with his fitness and was taken off with twenty minutes remaining and was replaced by Jon Pickess in what was the away side's final change of the evening

Hinckley's pressure finally told on seventy-two minutes as they extended their lead with a quick counter-attack down the right; Hill's pass to Lucas was quickly moved into the path of Titterton, who had run in behind the hesitant Hednesford defence to turn the ball past Wood from ten yards out

Brown was booked on seventy-six minutes for petulantly kicking the ball away after a marginal offside decision was given against him, followed by a yellow card for Bagshaw for a late challenge on Jamie Lenton down the right

Wood was on hand to deny Hinckley a third goal on eighty minutes, palming a low shot from substitute Mick Morrell away from goal and behind for a Knitters corner kick

The home side did put the game beyond Hednesford five minutes later however as another quick passing move through midfield saw the Pitmen chasing shadows, culminating in Hunter firing beyond the despairing dive of Wood to his left-hand side

The Pitmen's rotten evening saw more salt rubbed into the wounds in the final minute of the game as Haran sent substitute Jim Brennan sprawling just inside the Hednesford penalty area with a mistimed tackle. Lucas stopped up the ball and placed it on the spot after the referee awarded Hinckley a penalty, sending Wood the wrong way from twelve yards

It was a bitter pill to swallow for the Pitmen, having been well in contention for two-thirds of the game but shown up for the huge gaps in their squad due to injuries. Hinckley's late goal glut had added a flattering sheen to their pedestrian performance, but the record books will show that Raynor's team were well beaten on a wretched, upsetting and totally forgettable evening. The Pitmen return home on Saturday afternoon as they face in-form Chelmsford City at Keys Park

Hinckley United: Beattie, Bacon, Lenton, Coates, Hadland ©, Eustace (Morrell 68), Titterton, Hunter, Lucas, Hill (Brennan 77)      Sub Unused: Wilkes

 

Hednesford Town:Wood, Hopkins (Brown 55 ), Lucas, Craven, Haran©, Williams, Bagshaw , Raynor , Lancashire (Pickess 70), Francis Meacham (Griffiths 45)      Subs Unused: None

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