Dr. Martens Southern Premier League

Hinckley United

Hednesford Town

Dakin (69) (OG)

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(0) 1




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David Moss




Worcester City (H) 21.4.03

The Pitmen earn themselves an absolutely crucial three points in their quest for safety this afternoon in utterly absurd circumstances at Hinckley United's Middlefield Lane


With two successive defeats in the league from their last two games, manager Chris Brindley knew it was now or never for his relegation-threatened troops as they went into the last four league games only three points above the drop zone. Brindley made two changes to the side that had been beaten at Dover Athletic on Monday night, bringing himself and Bryan Small back into the side at the expense of Stuart Ryder and Stuart Lake


Hinckley sat just above the Pitmen in the table at the start of play, with Dean Thomas's side coming off the back of a morale-boosting 2-1 win over Havant & Waterlooville in midweek, moving the Knitters up to thirteenth place in the table in the process. Thomas made two changes to the side that had beaten their fellow mid-table dwellers, bringing Brad Piercewright and Justin Jenkins back into the side at the expense of Martin Fox and Wayne Dyer as Hinckley looked for a second home win in a week to all but secure Southern League football again for next season


The weather could be described as difficult for both sides to play in at kick-off, with a near-gale force wind blowing across the Middlefield Lane pitch to add to the squally showers that were in the air. This affected the quality of the game quite significantly, as both sides struggled for possession and clear-cut chances throughout the afternoon


A long ball forward from keeper Michael Bingham caught the wind in the fourth minute, swinging the ball back into the Hednesford half where it was picked up by Jamie Lenton. He played the prolific Dave Sadler through on goal, but the usually-accurate target man lashed his effort well wide of goal


The Pitmen countered through midfielder David Moss on nine minutes, who charged forward and tried his luck with a shot that sailed harmlessly wide of Tommy Whittle's goal


Steve Piearce drifted past two Hinckley defenders a minute later and got his shot off from the edge of the penalty area, only to fire straight into the arms of former Gresley keeper Whittle


Stuart Storer set Jenkins on his way for Hinckley on fourteen minutes, only for Brindley to make an aggressive but fair challenge just outside the Hednesford penalty area to halt the striker's progress


Wing wizardry from David Berks saw him beat Piercewright and send over a fine cross on twenty minutes, only for Luke Corbett to sidefoot a half-chance wide at the far post


Sadler wasted a good chance for the Knitters four minutes later, shooting tamely into the arms of Bingham after Lenton had chipped the ball into the striker's path behind the Hednesford backline


The home side had two good opportunities within a few seconds of each other on the half-hour mark, as skipper Neil Cartwright sent in a cross for Sadler, who saw his shot well saved by Bingham. The rebound fell kindly for the incoming Lenton, who fired his shot high and wide of goal when he really should have found the net. A let-off for the Pitmen indeed


Simon Dakin headed wide for the hosts from a Storer free-kick on thirty-nine minutes before Leon Jackson wildly lashed a great chance wide of goal two minutes later after being set up by Lenton on the edge of the Hednesford penalty area. Bingham was also alert to an inswinging corner from Storer on forty-two minutes, catching well under pressure from Sadler 


 That was the last action of the afternoon that Bingham was to see, as he sustained an injury from a clash with Jenkins with Hinckley's next attack. Despite treatment from physio Don Drakeley, Bingham had to admit defeat and limped off just before half-time and was replaced by youngster Adam Jenkins


The Pitmen showed their assertive side at the start of the second half, piling the pressure on Hinckley as they used the gust to their advantage now it was at their backs. Brindley's up and under was headed up in the air by Piearce on fifty-one minutes, prompting Whittle into a race out of his net to punch the ball away from Corbett, who was lurking


Berks was next to try his luck by using the weather to his advantage on fifty-five minutes, striking a powerful shot from fully thirty yards out that was a matter of inches away from the right-hand post


On-loan Emeka Nwadike made a powerful run into the heart of the Hinckley defence on fifty-seven minutes as United retreated into their own third. Nwadike was caught in two minds as to what to do and ended toe-poking a shot well wide of goal, rather than playing Piearce in on goal


Defender Darren Simkin was also unlucky on the hour mark with another one of his trademark long-range pile-drivers that narrowly missed the goal after he had played a quick one-two with Moss 


 Then the slice of luck the Pitmen so desperately needed on sixty-nine minutes; Adam Jenkins sent a long goal kick up the field towards the Hinckley penalty area. The ball swirled around in the air, before dropping in front of Hinckley's Paul Browne. His misdirected header hit fellow defender Dakin and rolled into the net, with not a single Hednesford player in attendance - a real fluke of a goal, but the sort of luck you rarely get when results are going against you. Either way, the Pitmen would take it in their current predicament


The home side made two substitutions in quick succession as they looked to get themselves back into the game, with sub Dyer lifting a shot with his first touch high over Jenkins' crossbar on seventy-two minutes


The Pitmen had started to close ranks as they guarded against the inevitable Hinckley comeback. Brindley was magnificent after returning to the side, marshalling the troops and showing commitment to the cause. In midfield, Moss was again highly impressive as he used his years of professional experience to break up Hinckley's attacks and use the ball wisely to get the Pitmen moving forward again


Dakin tried to atone for his earlier error on eighty-four minutes, heading into the side-netting from a Storer free-kick after the midfielder had chipped his cross into the Hednesford six-yard box


Jenkins made a fine save in the final minute of the game, turning Dyer's low shot away from goal and into the path of Brindley, who completed the clearance


After three nervy minutes of added time, the Pitmen could breathe a massive sigh of relief at the final whistle at a job well done and three crucial points that inches them away from the bottom four. With three games remaining - two at Keys Park - the Pitmen now have a great chance to survive for another season, starting with a tough-looking local derby against Worcester City on Bank Holiday Monday


Hinckley United: Whittle, Cartwright ©, Piercewright, Crowley (Fox 80), Dakin, Browne (Woolley 74), Storer, Jackson (Dyer 65), Jenkins, Sadler, Lenton     Subs Unused: Wilkes, Doughty


Hednesford Town: Bingham (Jenkins 44), Williams, Small, Simkin, Brindley, Nwadike, Moss, Berks, Corbett, Piearce ©, Maguire     Subs Unused: Francis, Dodd, Rae, Ryder