22.10.2001

Dr. Martens Southern Premier League

Hednesford Town

Lancashire (15), Airdrie (53)

Hinckley United

Wilkes (11)

(1) 2

(1) 1

Attendance

MoTM

Current Form

Next Match

698

Stewart Airdrie

L L L L W W L L W W

 

Salisbury City (A) 27.10.01

The Pitmen make it two wins from two at the start of Kenny Hibbitt's tenure as Hednesford manager with victory over Hinckley United at Keys Park this evening to move them out of the bottom three of the league table

Saturday had seen Hibbitt get off to the perfect start as the Pitmen's new boss, overseeing a 2-1 victory over Havant & Waterlooville to hand the Hawks their first defeat of the season in the process. Unsurprisingly, Hibbitt named the same side that had started against Havant but was able to call upon the services of Wayne Simpson, who took his place amongst the substitutes after recovering from injury

 

Hinckley made the short journey to Keys Park for their second successive away game in four days, after coming away from South Wales with a 2-2 draw at Merthyr Tydfil to make it only one defeat in their last five games for Dean Thomas's side. Thomas made two changes to the side that had been selected at Pennydarren Park with Steve Coates and Paul Hunter coming in ahead of Morton Titterton and Andy Lucas

On a chilly autumn evening in South Staffordshire with a threat of rain constantly in the air, the hosts made a good start and created an opening for Graham Lancashire in the fifth minute as Damien Chaire and Paul Bagshaw combined to cross for the striker, only for the former Burnley man to miss his connection by a matter of inches

Charie was handed the chance to grab his first Hednesford goal five minutes later as a fine slide-rule pass from Dean Craven found the teenager in behind the Hinckley defence, only for a last-ditch tackle from Karl Brennan to save the day for the Knitters and nick the ball off the toe of Charie

A minute later, and with their first attack of the game, Hinckley took the lead against the run of play; a long ball forwards from Jamie Lenton was not dealt with by the Hednesford defence, giving Tim Wilkes enough time to bring the ball down, swivel and fire past Mark Gayle from twelve yards out

As had been the case on Saturday however, the goal brought the Pitmen back to life and within four minutes they were level once more. Craven's inswinging corner kick drifted to the far post, where Lancashire was on hand to score with a simple header home from close range - it was Lancashire's sixth goal in his past seven games at Keys Park since his summer move to the club

A good run from Stewart Airdrie saw him get to the byeline down the right-wing and cross for Neil Davis on nineteen minutes, but the striker tamely sidefooted his effort straight into the hands of Damien Beattie in the Hinckley goal

Four minutes later, a free-kick from Lenton was lifted into the Hednesford penalty area and onto the head of Hunter, who was denied by the presence of mind of youngster Adam Shakespeare at the far post

On the half-hour mark, clever hold-up play from Davis saw him shield the ball from Brennan and play a reverse ball into the path of Craven, only for the midfielder to drive his low shot wide of Beattie's goal and into the Hednesford fans huddled in the Hednesford end of the ground

Two minutes later, a quickly-taken free-kick from Airdrie found Andy Brownrigg on the overlap, with the former Rotherham United man taking a touch before sending over a fine cross that Beattie did well to claim before Lancashire could turn the ball home at the near post

On thirty-seven minutes, a cross from Richard Lucas saw Beattie fumble the ball into the path of Lancashire, only to recover sufficiently to scoop the ball away before the striker or Shakespeare could react and turn the loose ball into the net from close range

Right on the stroke of half-time, Hinckley's Neil Cartwright got in down the Hinckley right and rifled in a low angled shot that Gayle did well to push away at his near post

It had been a fairly even first-half from both club's standpoints, with chances at either end squandered and a number of individual errors scuppering further shots on goal. Both sides were forced into half-time changes due to injuries, with the hosts bringing on Simpson for the struggling Brownrigg at right-back. The Pitmen emerged with purpose at the start of the second period and went close to going back in front on fifty-nine minutes as Shakespeare headed a Craven corner kick narrowly over the crossbar from eight yards out

The hosts did take the lead again three minutes later, however, and what a strike it was from the impressive Airdrie, bagging what was to be the winner with a goal of the season contender in the process; Stuart Storer's loose pass was intercepted by the winger just inside the Hinckley half before taking the ball into space in front of him and unleashing an unstoppable shot from fully thirty yards out that flew past Beattie and nestled into the far corner of the net. A truly wonderful strike from Airdrie - his second goal of the season

Simpson made a fine, but risky, sliding tackle in his own penalty area on fifty-six minutes to deny Hunter a shot at goal following a pass from Coates, followed two minutes later by a long-range shot from Storer that Gayle watched over his crossbar

Stuart Lake did well to escape the attentions of Brennan on sixty-three minutes and play a forward pass to Davis, whose square ball to Lancashire saw his strike partner fire wide of Beattie's goal from the edge of the Hinckley penalty area

Bagshaw's persistence saw him win the ball off a dawdling Cartwright and take the ball down the left wing on sixty-nine minutes, crossing well to Davis who was denied a tap-in by Brennan's late intervention

The Pitmen should have stretched their lead four minutes later as a well-taken Lake free-kick was met by the head of Shakespeare, only for the young centre-back to head straight into the arms of Beattie from only six yards out. A header either side of the Hinckley keeper would have given Beattie trouble but Shakespeare's header was at a comfortable height for him to claim

With twelve minutes of the game remaining, Lucas played Davis into space down the left wing with a lofted ball down the line. The striker took the ball into space and crossed for Lancashire, whose first-time shot was spectacularly turned over the bar by Beattie

As the game entered the final ten minutes, Hinckley came back into contention as they committed more men forwards in search of an equaliser. Hunter's header from a Storer cross was easily held by Gayle on eighty-one minutes, followed a minute later by a deflected shot from Lenton that Gayle once again fielded with relative ease

With five minutes remaining, Lancashire turned provider for Davis to play the striker clean through on goal, only to be denied by a smothering save by the Hinckley stopper down to his right-hand side before pouncing on the rebound and claiming the ball at the second attempt

Wilkes toe-punted a shot on the run straight at Gayle in the final minute of normal time before Airdrie had a great chance to settle the game in added time as his mazy run and shot from twenty yards out was well saved by Beattie.Robbie Meacham was brought on by Hibbitt in a bid to waste valuable time as he afforded Airdrie generous applause from the mian stand as he was replaced following a fine performance 

Six points in four days puts a far more positive spin on the Pitmen's league position as they climb out of the bottom three, albeit on goal difference currently to the sides below them. However, Hibbitt's influence on the side appears to have been instantaneous as the Pitmen look far more organised and confident under the stewardship of their new manager. Their recent upturn in form will be tested on Saturday as they make the trip to another side bogged down in the bottom four like themselves in the form of Salisbury City - a team beaten 6-0 by the Pitmen earlier on in the season

Hednesford Town: Gayle, Brownrigg (Simpson 45), Lucas ©, Shakespeare, Lake, Bagshaw, Charie, Craven, Davis, Lancashire, Airdrie (Meacham 90)      Subs Unused: Francis

Hinckley United: Beattie, Cartwright ©, Lenton, Brennan (Lucas 74), Penny (Brown 45), Eustace, Storer (Hamilton 86), Coates, Rowland, Hunter, Wilkes    Subs Unused: None  

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