7.12.2004

Southern Premier League

Histon

I. Cambridge (62)

Hednesford Town

Teesdale (54)

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Richard Teesdale

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Merthyr Tydfil (H) 11.12.04

The Pitmen earn their third draw in a row this evening on their first-ever visit to Histon's Bridge Road ground as both sides score in the second half to share the points

Saturday had seen Hednesford left frustrated at home to Grantham Town as they had failed to take any of the chances presented to them against the gingerbreads. Player/manager Chris Brindley made just the one change to his side from the one that had started at the weekend as top scorer Andy Bell was ruled out due to injury and was replaced by Lee Williams. This meant that the visitors reverted to a 4-5-1 formation with Leon McSweeney playing as the lone striker. Youth team graduates Jack Rogers and Damien Jarrett were both called up to the first team to fill two of the places on the bench as the Pitmen's squad was stretched it its limit

Big-spending Histon - promoted from the Southern League East last season and doing well in their inaugural season at step three - had won their last two league games and sat just behind league leaders Merthyr Tydfil in the league table. Manager Steve Fallon, perhaps unsurprisingly, stuck with the same XI that had beaten Hitchin Town 3-0 last week, prompting Canaries manager Kerry Dixon to leave Hitchin after the game after a poor run of results

The in-form Stutes started with real authority and played some neat and incisive football in the opening ten minutes to stretch the Pitmen from side to side. The first half chance at goal fell to striker Ian Cambridge in the seventh minute as a fine pass from Rob Nightingale found the striker making a run into the Hednesford penalty area, only for the former Cambridge City man to toe-poke his effort across the face of goal and wide of Ryan Young's far post

Three minutes later, a free-kick from Nightingale was flicked on by skipper Colin Vowden and into the path of Neil Kennedy, whose shot was well blocked by centre-back Richard Teesdale

The hosts continued to push the Pitmen back into their own third of the pitch and created a good opening down the right in the fourteenth minute as Erkan Okay played a delightful reverse pass through Mark Branch's legs into the path of Nightingale, whose low cross was lifted over the crossbar by the incoming Neil Andrews

Midfielder Adrian Cambridge played his cousin Ian in on goal with a fine through ball three minutes later, only for a late offside flag on the main stand side to deny the Stutes' top scorer from firing past an exposed Young

The Pitmen started to come back into the game after their slow start and had a good chance of their own on twenty minutes as Matt Turner skipped past Okay down the left flank and sent over a dangerous low cross that skipped across the Histon six-yard box but was too far in front of both McSweeney or Carl Palmer

Three minutes later, Turner made another one of his marauding runs down the flank as he made a fine run in behind the Histon defence to latch onto a Williams pass. He took two touches before picking out McSweeney with a cross, whose knock-down to Anthony Maguire, whose low shot from the edge of the penalty area was blocked by Vowden

This was proving to be the Pitmen's best spell of the game and the impressive Teesdale almost opened the scoring on twenty-eight minutes as his looping header from a Williams corner kick was tipped onto the roof of the net by veteran stopper Lance Key

 

One the half hour mark, Turner was involved once more as the Pitmen created the best chance of the game thus far; Palmer closed down Nightingale in midfield and won the ball before making a typically bustling run forwards and playing Turner in behind the Histon defence, who claimed offside in vain against the winger. However, Turner's effort lacked composure as he sliced his shot just wide of goal with only Key to beat from twelve yards out

Neat play from Histon's Jamie Barker on thirty-four minutes saw him sidestep a Ross Adams challenge and leave the right-back on his backside on the left wing, sending over a fine inswinging cross that was a touch too firm for Ian Cambridge to get to at the far post

Two minutes later, Adrian Cambridge quickly took a free-kick to play Kennedy in behind Lee Barrow. the striker elected to take a touch to many as he tried to work the ball onto his right foot and allowed Teesdale to come across and make a timely interception

Maguire's persistence won the Pitmen a corner kick on thirty-eight minutes, which the midfielder took himself and found the head of Barrow, who tamely headed into the side-netting at the near post as Roscoe Hipperson put him under pressure

The final goalmouth action of the first period came with two minutes remaining as McSweeney's run down the left was picked out by Williams, who clipped a ball in behind Okay to find the striker. McSweeney took a touch and whipped the ball into the far post, where skipper Palmer arrived late to head the ball narrowly wide of Key's left-hand post

Neither side had looked capable of breaking the other down in a fairly evenly-matched first period. The hosts had enjoyed the lion's share of possession but had been left frustrated by a fine defensive display from Teesdale and Barrow so far

The Pitmen had an early shout for a penalty kick just four minutes after the restart as Turner's fine run into the Histon penalty area appeared to be halted by a late challenge from Vowden, only for the referee to wave away the winger's protests as he felt that the veteran defender had got some part of the ball

Marlon Walters strode forwards to pick up a pass from Maguire two minutes later, holding off the challenge of Adrian Cambridge but lifting his shot over Key's crossbar from twenty-five yards out

The visitors finally made their early pressure tell with the game's opening goal on fifty-four minutes as the excellent Turner once again left Okay in his wake with some superb wing play, crossing from the left touchline to find the head of Teesdale, who powerfully headed beyond Key from eight yards out to find the far corner of the net and score his second goal of the season

The hapless Okay was struggling to cope with the slippery Turner and handed the Pitmen a free-kick just twenty-five yards from goal on fifty-eight minutes as the Hednesford winger turned him inside out following a quick break through midfield. The right-back ended up on the ground and finally stopped the winger's marauding run by handling the ball whilst on the ground, which somehow avoided any form of a caution from the referee. McSweeney took the resultant free-kick but struck his effort over the crossbar after clearing the five-man Histon wall

However, Histon's quality up front was an ever-present concern for the away side as they threatened on the counter-attack time and again. On the hour mark, Barker's run and cross was touched into the path of Ian Cambridge by Kennedy, only for Young to make a smothering save at the feet of the nineteen goal striker

Two minutes later, Ian Cambridge was not to be denied again as he levelled matters once more for the Stutes; Adrian Cambridge did well to get the better of Branch down the Histon right, jinking his way past the teenager and picking his cousin out in the six-yard box with the striker nodding past Young after getting goal side of Barrow

Adrian Cambridge's long throws had caused the Pitmen problems all afternoon, and one monstrous throw landed at the foot of Young's near post on sixty-five minutes; Teesdale partially cleared the danger with a stabbed clearance, only for Kennedy to follow the ball in and fire just wide from ten yards out

Young made a superb save to deny the free-shooting hosts two minutes later, pushing the goalscoring Cambridge's low shot away from goal after he had been played in on goal by substitute Neil Coburn's threaded pass

The game was lurching from end to end at this juncture as the Pitmen responded seventy minutes with Teesdale once again rising highest in the Histon penalty area to reach a Williams free-kick, forcing Key into turning the ball around his near post for a corner kick

The Pitmen made their one and only substitution of the evening on seventy-two minutes as the ineffective Walters was taken off in place of Beckett, who was a surprise inclusion in the squad after initially being ruled out due to injury

Kennedy was the next Histon player to test the reflexes of Young with fifteen minutes remaining, turning well past Adams as he received a pass from Adrian Cambridge with his back to goal, only to find the visiting stopper in top form to push his shot across goal away for a corner kick to the hosts

Maguire did brilliantly to retain possession three minutes later after both Barker and Coburn failed to dispossess him, sending over a fine cross that was met by a late-arriving Teesdale at the far post. The centre-back's flying header had Key scrambling across his goal but ended up heading into the side-netting

Andrews played a delightful lofted ball into the feet of Kennedy on eighty minutes, who in turn picked out Barker as he arrived at the far post. Adams just did enough to put the winger off as he slid in, blocking the route of Barker's shot and forcing him to fire wide of goal from eight yards out

Man of the match Teesdale almost conjured up a late winner for the visitors on eighty-four minutes as he met a Williams cross at the far post but headed high over the crossbar when a knock-down to Palmer may have been a better option

Histon also went close in the closing stages and were denied once more by Young as Ian Cambridge's scuffed shot from ten yards out was palmed away by the stopper as he got across his goal to protect his clean sheet

With two minutes of an entertaining second half remaining, McSweeney got in front of the tiring Vowden for arguably the first time in the game as he met an inswinging cross from Turner, but headed inches wide of Key's right hand post

Two evenly-matched sides had to be content with a point apiece despite their second half efforts, which solidifies Histon's play-off push but leaves the Pitmen marooned in mid-table, albeit only five points adrift of the final play-off spot. This frustrating run of inconsistent form for Brindley's side is leaving its mark on what is undoubtedly a good side, who are looking for an element of luck as they look to shake off this current struggle to turn performances into points. However, Saturday sees league leaders Merthyr Tydfil travel from South Wales to Keys Park in what will be a stern test of Hednesford's current form and confidence

Histon: Key, Okay, Goddard (Coburn 62), Hipperson, Vowden ©, A. Cambridge, Nightingale (Munns 79), Andrews, Kennedy, I. Cambridge, Barker       Subs Unused: Webster, Dean

Hednesford Town: Young, Adams, Branch, Barrow, Teesdale, Williams, Maguire, Palmer ©, Walters (Beckett 72), McSweeney, Turner    Subs Unused: Rogers, Jarrett, Brindley, Evans