22.2.2014

Skrill North

Hednesford Town

Woolfe (51), Robinson (54)

Histon

Hicks (55)

(0) 2

(0) 1

Attendance

MoTM

Current Form

Next Match

552

Paul McCone

L L W W W W D L L W

Boston United (A) 1.3.14

Hednesford shook of the recent disappointment of back-to-back defeats to return to winning ways this afternoon by completing a league double over struggling Histon at Keys Park - in the process, Rob Smith's side maintained their unlikely title challenge by staying within three points of new league leaders AFC Telford United

Last Saturday's poor reverse at home to Solihull Moors, coupled with a near fully-fit squad for the first time in a number of weeks, saw Smith make changes to the side that had lost only their third home game of the Skrill North season so far. Alex Melbourne returned to the starting line-up after coming on as a substitute against Solihull, with Jamey Osborne and Nathan Woolfe also making welcome starts in midfield. Dave MacPherson, Robbie Thompson-Brown and Marvin Robinson were the unlucky players to miss out

Brian Page's young Histon side had gained a number of plaudits throughout the season for their quality of football but had struggled to lift themselves away from the Skrill North drop zone. Histon's season could perhaps be summed up in the reverse fixture in September when the Pitmen won 1-0 despite Histon having by far and away the better chances and possession

Both sides found the going tough in the opening twenty minutes, with chances at a premium. Lewis Taaffe drove a shot straight at Dan Crane on five minutes, with Hednesford right-back John Disney firing well over the crossbar three minutes later with an off-target effort from long range

The Pitmen thought that they had taken the lead on thirteen minutes as a cross from Disney was powerfully headed home by loanee Nathan Blissett, only to be denied the opener by a late offside flag

Skipper Darren Campion - red-carded late on against Solihull for two bookable offences - earned himself another booking and a ticking off from the referee on eighteen minutes after an altercation with Taaffe in midfield saw the Histon midfielder hot the deck holding his face. The blatant dive was seen by the referee, who ended up booking both players for their part in the piece

Woolfe's well-struck free-kick on twenty-two minutes created an opening for Ben Bailey, but the big defender's header was narrowly off target and flew just over the crossbar

Another Woolfe free kick on twenty-nine minutes tested the reflexes of young Histon keeper Charlie Grainger, currently on loan to the Stutes from Leyton Orient. The winger's wicked left-footed shot was  turned away from goal by the teenager, with the Pitmen wasting the resultant corner as Histon confidently cleared their lines

Woolfe was offering something the Pitmen had been missing for a number of games - genuine width and excellent delivery from set-pieces. A marauding run down the left on thirty-two minutes saw Woolfe cut back inside onto his weaker right foot and fire over the crossbar with a wild effort

An inswinging corner kick from Tom Thorley caused chaos in the Histon ranks on thirty-five minutes, with Bailey again rising highest to reach the ball first. However, he got underneath the ball and succeeded in heading over the bar from six yards out

Blissett's game came to an abrupt halt on thirty-eight minutes, as he limped off with what appeared to be an ankle injury; Robinson came on in his place to play up front with Paul Sullivan, who was still looking for his first goal for the Pitmen

Smith made the bold call at half time to take off the former Chasetown man, replacing him with the pacy and creative Wayne Riley in an attempt to inject a little urgency into his attack

And, as so happens on a regular basis under Smith's guidance, the move paid instant dividends as the Pitmen took the lead on fifty-one minutes. A great run from Riley saw him turn Peter Grant and fire in a shot that Grainger did well to parry away from goal. The ball fell kindly for the onrushing Woolfe, who had the simple task of slotting home the rebound for his fifth goal of the season from close range

Three minutes later, the Pitmen doubled their lead through the other substitute Robinson as he nipped in to get on the end of a lovely through ball from Thorley and lifted his shot over Grainger and into the net

Histon got themselves back into the game straight from the kick-off, courtesy of a superb strike from Nathan Hicks. The midfielder dispatched a simply unstoppable volley that gave Crane no chance at all

Grainger denied Robinson a second goal of the afternoon on the hour mark, turning the big striker's low shot away from goal

Robinson himself succumbed to injury on seventy minutes, as he limped off and was replaced by MacPherson as the Pitmen reverted to a 4-5-1 formation

Credit has to go to Histon's youngsters, as they gave the Pitmen real worries in the final fifteen minutes as they looked to take home what would have been a crucial point in their battle to stay away from the relegation dogfight. After Taaffe had hit the bar with a cross-cum-shot, the away side peppered the Hednesford goal with a number of corner kicks that the likes of Bailey and the excellent Paul McCone had to be at their best to clear from goal

Hednesford were content to hit Histon on the break, with Osborne getting on the end of a quick counter-attack on eighty-six minutes with a low drive that Grainger easily held

Young striker Adi Yussuf fired narrowly wide of goal with a minute left to leave the game on a knife-edge going into added time, with the Pitmen doing just about enough to see the game put. The final whistle was greeted with relief rather than delight, as the Pitmen knew they had been made to work hard for their latest win - one that keeps them in the title hunt with eleven games to go. Next week's trip to play-off chasing Boston United will be a severe test of the Pitmen's credentials as they enter the last quarter of the campaign in a strong position

Hednesford Town: Crane, Disney , Campion ©  ,  McCone, Bailey, Melbourne, Osborne, Woolfe, Blissett (Robinson 38 (MacPherson 70)), Sullivan (Riley 45), Thorley       Subs Unused: Francis, Anagho-Ntamark

Histon: Grainger, O’Malley, Beckles ©, De Havilland (Freeman 45), Grant, Roberts, Taaffe (Built 83), Dowie, Yussaf, Hicks, Sheppard (Day 75)      Subs Unused: Clunan, Libertucci