10.4.2004

Dr. Martens Southern Premier League 

Hednesford Town

S. Palmer (75)

Hinckley United

L. Jackson (70)

(0) 1

(0) 1

 

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Carl Palmer

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Moor Green (A) 12.4.04

The Pitmen are held to a point this afternoon by high-flying Hinckley United, leaving Barry Powell's side remaining in nineteenth place in the table and with only the slimmest chances of making it into the top thirteen as the games start to run out 

The under-pressure Powell had raged in the press this week about the inconsistency of his underperforming team and had promised to make wholesale changes to his side for today's game after a dreadful performance against Dorchester Town in midweek. Powell was as good as his word, making four changes to his side by dropping Darren Simkin, Les Hines, Steve Anthrobus and Anthony Maguire in favour of Ross Adams, Craig Dean, Karl Hawley and Steve Evans

Hinckley were having a fine season in what was likely to be their final season at Middlefield Lane ahead of their move to a new purpose-built ground to the north of town some time next year. Manager Dean Thomas made one change to the side that had drawn at Merthyr Tydfil last weekend, bringing midfielder Wayne Dyer into the side in place of Andy Penny as the Knitters looked to close the gap on the top five above them in the table

The Keys Park pitch was showing signs of wear and tear after two games already this week on top of a bout of heavy rain just before Tuesday night's game against Dorchester. Both teams struggled to get the ball down and play a passing game, with the ball ending up in the air more often than not as the game progressed. 

Mark Danks threatened for the home side in the seventh minute as he ran onto a pass from Steve Evans and turned Jamie Lenton, only to lift his effort high over the crossbar from fifteen yards out

The Pitmen had a shout for a penalty kick three minutes later as Carl Palmer burst into the Hinckley penalty area before being brought down by Hednesford native Gavin Stone. The referee Mr. Hutchinson took a long, hard look at the challenge and continued with the game despite Palmer's protestations

A quickly-taken free-kick from Dyer played Brad Piercewright into space down the wing in the sixteenth minute of the game, crossing well into the Hednesford danger zone towards Justin Jackson. Chris Brindley was switched on to the danger and managed to get a toe to the ball and turn it behind, getting goal side of Jackson as the striker prepared to pounce

A good move down the right wing from the Pitmen three minutes later saw Steve Evans play Carl Palmer down the flank; his cross into the box was just too strong for the onrushing Brindley, who was inches away from heading the ball home from six yards out

Young Hinckley keeper Tommy Whittle dealt with a free-kick from Steve Evans midway through the first half, easily holding the winger's inswinging ball in from the right after Steve Palmer had won a free-kick

Ryder inadvertently deflected a Leon Jackson shot away from his own goal on twenty-nine minutes, diverting the midfielder's shot away from the target with his leg after closing down a long-range Jackson effort

Former West Brom youngster Adams was impressing at right-back against the lively Piercewright, following up his promising debut against Dover at centre-back with another calm, measured display that is something some supporters have been demanding for a while - younger, technical players in defence that can challenge the old guard and give Powell other options in a position he has struggled with all season

Leon Jackson went close for the Knitters on thirty-seven minutes as he was set up by Stone, whose clever pass found Jackson in space just inside the Hednesford penalty area; his low driven shot from eighteen yards out whistled just past Ryan Young's far post, although the Hednesford keeper looked to have the shot covered

A marauding run from Danks on forty-three minutes saw him drift past Stone before being pushed wide by Lenton, narrowing the angle of his shot as he drove a shot across the face of Whittle's goal and just wide of the far post

 

It had been a throughly unmemorable first-half from both sides from both sides, with the Pitmen once again frustrated by the opposition's set-up and lacking the inspiration and creativity to break down a stubborn Hinckley side that was content to play on the counter-attack

The Pitmen emerged with a more positive approach at the start of the second period and adopted a shoot on sight approach to the opening fifteen minutes. Danks drove a shot just wide of goal on forty-eight minutes after being played in by Hawley, followed three minutes later by a rising shot from Steve Palmer from nearly thirty yards out that Whittle watched over the crossbar

Carl Palmer played a quick one-two with Steve Evans on sixty-three minutes before moving forwards and driving a shot narrowly wide of goal as the Pitmen got a little closer with every effort. Steve Evans tried his luck with an angled drive at goal two minutes later that drifted over the bar after he had jinked inside from the right wing and past the challenge of Lenton

On the hour mark, Steve Palmer wasted a great opportunity to give the Pitmen the lead as he scuffed a great chance from ten yards wide of the post after Dean's deep cross had been nodded back into the Hednesford skipper's path by Hawley

The Pitmen adopted a more direct approach to their play having failed to break the deadlock early on in the half and pumped balls into the Hinckley box at will through the likes of Dean, Steve Evans and Carl Palmer. However, without the aerial presence of Anthrobus, Hinckley dealt with the crosses with relative ease as Stone and his team-mates kept the hosts at bay

The disappointing Hawley was taken off on sixty-one minutes having failed to impress on his full debut up front and was replaced by Steve Piearce. Four minutes later, Dean started to tire having not played much football in recent weeks and was replaced by Hines at left-back

With Hines coming on, the Pitmen started to play higher up the pitch to force more set-pieces out of their opponents that Hines could deliver with his wand of a left boot into the box. One such cross from the substitute saw him send over a fine, drifting ball into the Hinckley box on sixty-nine minutes that was headed into the side-netting by Ryder at the far post

Despite dominating proceedings, the Pitmen once again gave themselves work to do on seventy minutes as Hinckley stole into the lead against the run of play; Piercewright's cross was not dealt with by the Hednesford defence, allowing Leon Jackson time and space to swivel on the ball and fire past Young from the edge of the penalty area

Hinckley's lead lasted only a matter of minutes, however, as the Pitmen struck back with a leveller from Steve Palmer; Hines was involved in the build-up, picking the ball up from Steve Evans' free-kick before crossing to the far post where skipper Palmer dived in to head past Whittle from close range

The Pitmen sensed a late winner with the wind in their sails once more and pushed Hinckley back into their own third for touch of the remainder of the game. Brindley headed high over the bar from a Steve Evans cross on seventy-nine minutes, followed a minute later by Carl Palmer's wild swing at the ball that sent it into the crowd behind the goal from fifteen yards out

Damien Charie was brought on by Powell with nine minutes remaining to add youth and pace to his attack as he replaced the tiring Steve Evans down the left

 

However, Charie's game ended almost immediately as he was stretchered off just two minutes after coming on as he went over on his ankle. The Pitmen were forced to play for the final seven minutes with ten men, having already made three changes to their side

With four minutes remaining, the hosts forced three successive corner kicks as Hines delivers a series of dangerous ball into the area, but again man of the match Stone and his defence stood firm against the likes of Brindley, Ryder and Adams

Indeed, it was Hinckley who had the best chance of the remaining moments to take all three points and complete a league double over their hosts as a quick break form the Knitters saw substitute Chris Smith lay the ball off to Dyer, whose well-struck shot was tipped around the post by Young in the final minute of normal time

A point apiece did very little for either side's requirements, leaving Hednesford further adrift of the sides above them with only six games left. Bank Holiday Monday sees the Pitmen on their travels with the short journey to Birmingham to face Moor Green, who themselves are only a couple of points adrift in the race for the top thirteen and a place in the new Conference set-up for 2004-2005

Hednesford Town: Young, Adams, Dean (Hines 65), King, Brindley, RyderC. Palmer, S. Palmer ©, Hawley (Piearce 61), Danks, S. Evans (Charie 81 (83))      Subs Unused: Maguire, P. Evans

Hinckley United: Whittle, Cartwright ©, Lenton, Murray, Dyer, Stone, Storer (Penny 86), L. Jackson, J. Jackson, Sadler (Smith 77), Piercewright     Subs Unused: Lewis, Burns, Marriner

 

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