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Southern Premier League

Hednesford Town

Bell (17), (67), McSweeney (22), (59)


I. Cambridge (45)

(2) 4

(1) 1



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Leon McSweeney



Banbury United (A) 7.9.04

The Pitmen extended their unbeaten league run to five games this afternoon as they confidently dispatch of Histon this afternoon at Keys Park to move up to eighth place in the Southern Premier League table

Bank Holiday Monday had seen Chris Brindley's side claim a point in their first-ever visit to Stamford to leave them in mid-table upon their return home for today's game. Brindley made one change to the side from Monday afternoon as the injured Alex Gibson was replaced by Ross Adams at right-back. On the bench, former Walsall youngster Mark Branch - the son of 1980s Hednesford favourite John - made his first appearance in place of the now-departed David Berks

Histon's recent good run of form had come to an end on Bank Holiday Monday when they lost 3-2 at home to Hitchin Town. leaving the Stutes in sixth place in the table ahead of their first-ever trip to South Staffordshire. Manager Steve Fallon made one change to his side as Jamie Barker returned in midfield ahead of Ossie Mintus, the brother of former Hednesford striker Tyrone

The game got off to a luckless start for the away side, as they were forced into making an injury-affected change in just the fourth minute of the game. Richard Teesdale's full-blooded clearance caught Histon skipper Neil Edwards full in the face, flattening the midfielder and ultimately forcing him off after suffering from concussion. He was replaced by Mark Webster

The Pitmen probably should have taken the lead with their first chance of the game in the eighth minute as Craig Dean's free-kick from just inside the Hednesford half found the head of skipper Lee Barrow, whose glancing header looped over the clutches of goalkeeper Paul Barber and came back off the crossbar before Roscoe Hipperson cleared the danger

Barrow was alert at the other end to make a timely challenge on former Cambridge City man Ian Cambridge in the thirteenth minute, sliding on the greasy Keys Park turf to dispossess the striker as he raced on to a through ball from brother Adie

An excellent piece of play from the Pitmen saw them open the scoring in the seventeenth minute of the game; Dean's excellent delivery from the left once again found Leon McSweeney, whose clever flick played Matt Turner in on the edge of the Histon penalty area. His cheeky chip over Barber came back off the crossbar and dropped kindly for Andy Bell, who followed the ball in and had the simple task of turning the loose ball home from close-range

Lee Williams was once again the pick of the midfield men for the hosts, playing some delightful football with his range of passing. A free-kick won by Anthony Maguire in the twenty-first minute was taken by the former Peterborough United man, who curled his effort beyond the Histon post but saw his effort drift narrowly wide of Barber's far post

Williams was involved again a minute later as the Pitmen doubled their lead through the excellent McSweeney. Williams sent over a dangerous-looking corner kick from the right that was not cleared by a hesitant Stutes defence, finding Bell at the far post. The young striker unselfishly pulled the ball back into the path of McSweeney, who guided the ball home with a cushioned sidefooted effort from six yards out

Maguire found space down the right four minutes later for the rampant hosts, playing Adams into acres of space on the overlap. The former West Brom youngster played in a deep cross to the far post, where Chris Gray was unable to turn the ball home as he arrived a touch too late to apply the finish

Barrow's slack pass out of defence was seized upon by Robbie Nightingale four minutes later, supplying Adie Cambridge with the ball down the right. Dean failed to nick the ball off the midfield man and allowed him to cross for Neil Kennedy, only for the long-serving Stutes stalwart to get his angles all wrong and turn the ball wide of Ryan Young's left-hand post

Just after the half-hour mark, Teesdale made a late run into the Histon penalty area to meet an Adams free-kick from the right but saw his effort hit the shoulder of Hipperson and deflect the ball wide of goal for a Hednesford corner kick

Turner was brought down by former Kettering Town man Colin Vowden four minutes later, earning the veteran performer a talking-to from Mr Sheffield in the process. Williams picked out Barrow with the resultant free-kick but the defender headed tamely over the crossbar from ten yards out

Bell forced a good save out of Barber on thirty-seven minutes as he latched onto Gray's hopeful ball forwards and struck a half-volley at goal from fifteen yards out

Three minutes later, McSweeney met Maguire's cross full-on at the near post and sent the ball towards goal, only for a flying save from Barber to deny the Irishman his second goal of the game as he pushed the ball away for a corner kick

Despite having much the better of the first period, the Pitmen allowed Histon to get a foothold back in the game with a goal on the stroke of half-time; Teesdale gave away a needless free-kick just outside the Hednesford penalty area after holding Kennedy back. Ian Cambridge lined up the resultant kick and curled a delightful around the Hednesford wall and beyond the reach of Young to register his fifth goal of the season

Conceding so late in the first half will have changed Brindley's half-time message to the players to remind them not to be complacent as they had bossed long stages of the first period but were only a goal to the good again at the start of the second period. Brindley was forced into making a change at the break as Turner was forced off due to injury and was replaced by Grant Beckett on the left side of midfield

Buoyed by their late goal, Histon made a bright start to the second half and almost levelled matters within five minutes of the restart; Ian Cambridge forced Young into another flying save on forty-nine minutes as he let fly from thirty yards out and struck an effort that the former Hucknall man pushed away to his left

A minute later, the ball was worked into the path of Nightingale on the edge of the Hednesford penalty area, only for the midfield man to lift his shot over the crossbar with Barrow closing him down

This was as good as it got for the away side in the second half, as the Pitmen exerted their authority on the game once more. Gray drifted past Matt Haniver on fifty-three minutes and got himself to the byeline, pulling the ball back into the path of the incoming Williams whose low drive was saved by Barber

The Pitmen restored their two-goal cushion just before the hour mark as man of the match McSweeney grabbed his second goal of the afternoon. Williams was the provider as he made a run deep into the Histon penalty area before pulling the ball back to McSweeney, who was lurking fifteen yards from goal. Williams continued his run across the face of goal and took Vowden out of play as he dragged him away from McSweeney, creating enough time and space for the striker to fire into the roof of the net with a powerful rising shot

The Pitmen were surging forwards at every opportunity and Maguire got on the end of a fine through ball from Bell on sixty-three minutes, only for a late offside flag against the former Torquay United man to deny him a clear shot at Barber's goal from ten yards out

It was Bell's turn to register a brace of goals on sixty-seven minutes as he matched McSweeney's goal haul with the Pitmen's fourth of the afternoon. Gray's searching ball down the right flank found Maguire in space once more, cutting inside past Farrington and pulling the ball back to Bell, who turned the ball home at the far post with ease

Both sides appeared to have settled for their respective fates from this point onwards, with the Pitmen dropping the pace and intensity and Histon putting men behind the ball to further limit the damage. Williams lifted another free-kick over Barber's crossbar on seventy-four minutes with another curling effort from twenty yards out

McSweeney had led the Histon defence a merry dance with his pace and trickery and went close to grabbing a hat-trick on seventy-nine minutes as he streaked away from Vowden and got on the end of a pass from Beckett but got caught in two minds as Barber came out to narrow the angle and forced McSweeney into a rushed effort that dropped wide of the post

With six minutes remaining, teenager Branch was handed his Hednesford debut as he came on in place of Dean at left-back to see the game out for the hosts

Two minutes later, Maguire was given warm applause from all sides of the ground as his excellent display was brought to an end as Damien Charie replaced him on the right wing

McSweeney was denied a hat-trick in a cruel way three minutes from time as Williams crossed from the right and found the Irishman unmarked in the six-yard box, with McSweeney beating Vowden to the ball and heading home. His celebrations were brought to a halt, however, as the assistant on the main stand side raised his flag against McSweeney for offside and the goal was ruled out

It had been a fine display from the Pitmen across all areas of the pitch and had been arguably their best performance of the season so far against a Histon side expected to do well this season. This lifts them up to eighth in the table and within striking distance of the top five chasers, with a trip to struggling Banbury United next up on Tuesday night and a chance to move into the play-off spots if results in midweek go their way

Hednesford Town: Young, Adams, Dean (Branch 84), Barrow ©, Teesdale, Williams, Maguire (Charie 86), Turner (Beckett 45), Bell, McSweeney, Gray      Subs Unused: Brindley, Evans

Histon: Barber, Haniver, Farrington, Hipperson, Vowden, A. Cambridge, Nightingale, Andrews © (Webster 4), Kennedy, I. Cambridge, Barker (Beck 80)     Subs Unused: Goddard, Okay, Mintus 

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