Southern Premier League
Jaggard (19), Bridge (90)
Halesowen Town (H) 16.8.04
The Pitmen's start to life back at step three is a losing one this afternoon as they are condemned to an opening day defeat at Hitchin Town courtesy of a late, late goal from Canaries substitute Mark Bridge
The Pitmen got their Southern Premier League campaign off to a bad start, with defeat at Hitchin this afternoon. Player/Manager Chris Brindley included himself in the starting lineup, leaving Lee Barrow on the bench alongside assistant manager Steve Anthrobus. It was all fast and furious at the start, with both sides starting off with plenty of passion and commitment. However, it was the home side that struck the first blow on nineteen minutes, when Gavin Jaggard rose to head a Stuart Maynard cross past Ryan Young. A shock for the Pitmen and their travelling supporters, but only a temporary one, as the visitors wasted no time in getting back on level terms. Three minutes later, dead-ball specialist David Berks whipped in one of his typically dangerous corners that reached debutante Richard Teesdale. Teesdale's effort was not cleared by the Hitchin defence, allowing another man making his debut, Leon McSweeney, to score from close range. The Pitmen then enjoyed a spell of good possession, which included a stoppage for two yellow cards, one of which went to Chris Gray. A few minutes before the break, Jaggard could have restored the Canaries lead, but saw his close range shot deflected away. A few moments into the second period, and Berks could have put the Pitmen into the lead. A foul on McSweeney just outside the area saw the number eleven fire in a free kick that just flew wide of the post. The Pitmen were having the better of the chances now, and on fifty three minutes they felt they should have had a penalty when McSweeney chased onto a Gray ball and was hauled down. The referee waved play on, however. Lee Williams, yet another playing his first game for the Pitmen, also had a shot that the Hitchin keeper saved with some difficulty. The home side thought they should have had a penalty six minutes from time when Sozzo went down, but once again the referee was unimpressed. Just when it looked as though the Pitmen had earned a draw, the Canaries snatched a late and dramatic winner when Maynard’s cross was headed on by Sozzo for Mark Bridge, a substitute, to volley home a late, late winner for the home side.
Hitchin Town: Hitchin: Cheek, Barr, Kidd, Covington, McCulloch, Scott, Cavill, Maynard, Hay (Bridge 89), Sozzo, Jaggard Subs Unused: Case, Hassan, Lamacraft, Galvin
Hednesford Town: Young, Gibson, Dean (Beckett 66), Brindley, Teesdale, Williams, Gray (McGhee 71), Palmer ©, Charie (Anthrobus 74), McSweeney, Berks Subs Unused: Barrow, Evans