F.A. Trophy Quarter Final

Hednesford Town

Danks (5) (penalty), Brindley (65), (79)


Brayley (39)

(1) 3

(1) 1




Current Form

Next Match


Danny McGhee



 Eastbourne Borough (A) 6.3.04

The Pitmen's historic run in this season's F.A. Trophy sees them proudly, one into the semi-finals for the first time in the club's history tonight as they sweep aside Ryman Premier League Hornchurch at Keys Park this evening to set up a two-legged last four tie against old F.A. Cup foes of yesteryear, Aldershot Town

Manager Barry Powell can count the F.A. Trophy as his saving grace as he continues to cling on to his job at Keys Park after a dreadful run of league form had seen the Pitmen drop into the relegation scrap over the past two months. Last Tuesday night's win over Havant & Waterlooville was a welcome return to form in the Dr. Martens Premier League, with Powell sticking to his the same XI that had started last week's league game for a fourth successive game He was still without the experienced duo Stuart Ryder and Andy Thompson who were both still injured, whilst Chris Gray was once again missing due to being cup-tied

Hornchurch were having a fine season in the Ryman Premier League, sitting fifth in the table currently with games in hand over the teams around them. Former Aldershot manager George Borg had crafted a fine squad that had already beaten the likes of Newport County, Stevenage Borough and Burton Albion in previous rounds to reach the quarter final stages and were not to be taken lightly despite being at the same level as Hednesford in the football pyramid. Borg stuck with the same side that had been Braintree Town ten days ago as the Urchins went in search of their own piece of club history with a semi-final spot

The two teams were trying again this evening after Saturday's original date was postponed due to a frozen pitch at Keys Park. And what a start to the game it was for the hosts, who stole into the lead with their first meaningful attack in the fifth minute; Mark Danks made a jinking run into the Hornchurch penalty area and was was halted illegally by Ollie Adedeji. Referee Mr. Pollock had no hesitation in pointing to the spot and awarding the hosts an early penalty, which Danks dusted himself down for and confidently slotted him past Hornchurch keeper Danny Gay

The early lead handed to them allowed the Pitmen to play in a relaxed manner, stroking the ball around with confidence and forcing their Essex opponents to chase the ball in the early stages of the game. Carl Palmer drilled a shot well wide of goal in the ninth minute after a neat spell of passing from the Pitmen, followed by an off-target curling effort from Les Hines four minutes later after the left-back had made progress down the left wing and cut inside

Hornchurch had offered little in the way of an attacking threat, with Gavin McGowan firing high over the crossbar from long-range on fourteen minutes with the away side's first chance of any real note

Two minutes later, Steve Anthrobus headed a Steve Evans cross wide of Gay's near post after beating Adedeji to the cross with a darting run to the near post


Skipper Steve Palmer was wasteful for the hosts on nineteen minutes as he got into a fine position just inside the Hornchurch penalty area and dragged his shot wide from Danny McGhee's defence-slipping pass 

Midway through a dominant first quarter from the Pitmen, Danks got on the end of another good cross from Steve Evans as he nipped in front of Scott Gooding to turn the ball goalwards, only for his effort to lack sufficient power and was easily fielded by Gay

A rare chance for the visitors fell at the feet of Lee Matthews two minutes later as McGowan and Bertie Brayley set up the midfield man, who slipped on the hard surface at the crucial moment but still managed to control his shot which Ryan Young saved for the Pitmen

A quick break from the Pitmen on twenty-nine minutes saw McGhee escape the attentions of Danny Kerrigan down the right wing and send over a low cross to the far post where he found the incoming Hines, making a late dart into the area from left-back. However, the ball skipped off the bobbly pitch and over the outstretched foot of Hines as he attempted to turn the ball home from close range

Gay was again equal to a Danks shot on thirty-five minutes, palming the youngster's opportunistic effort away from goal after the former Wolves youngster had tried a first-time shot from McGhee's pass

Despite dominating the game up to this point, the Pitmen undid all of their own good work in the thirty-ninth minute with a moment to forget for the normally reliable Alex Gibson at right-back; Gay's long kick forwards was met by Gibson, who made a horrible mess of judging the flight of the ball and headed the ball straight into the path of McGowan rather than back towards Young. The winger clipped the ball into Brayley, who headed home from close-range despite Young's best efforts to rescue the situation

With a minute of normal time left in the first period, Hines won a free kick out on the left touchline and crossed well for Chris Brindley, who brushed off a challenge from Matthews to head down into the Hornchurch six-yard box. However, before either McGhee of Danks could turn the ball home, the referee awarded Hornchurch a free-kick for a foul by Brindley in the build-up to the chance

You could feel the sense of frustration around Keys Park at half-time as yet again the Pitmen had little to show for a good performance with regards the scoreline that had not selected the overall play in forty-five minutes

The Pitmen started the second period in an assertive mood with an inswinging cross from Gibson on fifty minutes spilled by Gay into the path of Danks - the striker seemed a little surprised that the ball had fallen at his feet and struggled to react quickly to the ball being loose and toe-poked his effort towards goal, only to be denied by Adedeji. Hines took the resultant corner kick and found the head of Brindley once again, lurking at the far post. The veteran's header thundered off the outside of the post and back into play before being cleared by the Hornchurch defence

Danks looked to take advantage of McGhee's dithering on fifty-seven minutes as the young winger's indecisive cross-cum-shot was deflected into the path of Danks, whose instinctive half-volley into the ground bounced up and over Gay's crossbar

Steve Evans forced Gay into a fine save just after the hour mark as Hines' corner was headed back across goal by Brindley and into the path of the winger, whose header was brilliantly pushed away by the overworked keeper. He was called upon again from Hines' second corner kick as Lee Barrow got on the end of another fine cross to head goalwards, only for Gay to once again come to his side's rescue with another tip over the crossbar

Hines' third corner in a row finally led to the Pitmen taking the lead once more as his wicked inswinging ball was firmly planted into the net by the head of Brindley, who powerfully headed home form close-range to give Gay no chance


Hornchurch were forced to play on the offensive in a bid to get back into the game and at the very least force a replay next week; John Martin's first time effort was pushed away by Young on seventy-two minutes, with the Hednesford keeper making another impressive follow-up save to smother Andrew Douglas's rebound

Carl Palmer was wasteful with a wild effort from fifteen yards out on seventy-five minutes, firing well wide of goal after a quick break from the Pitmen down the right had seen Gibson play the midfield man in behind the Hornchurch defence

Two minutes later, Danks was also guilty of a poor miss, dragging his shot wide of Gay's right-hand post after Steve Evans had laid the ball to his on a plate only eight yards from goal

The hosts finally put any doubts to bed with the killer third goal on seventy-nine minutes, although there was some confusion as to who got the final touch; Another great cross from Hines was met by Brindley, whose initial header came back off the post and bounced in the Hornchurch six yard box. Brindley and McGhee reacted quickest, with McGhee wheeling away in celebration as the ball was fumbled home from close range. On closer inspection, however, it appeared that Brindley had got the final touch to the ball and the goal was awarded to the Pitmen's assistant manager

The visitors looked leggy and out of ideas in the final ten minutes as they struggled to muster a response following the Pitmen's third goal. Brayley scuffed an effort wide Young's goal on eighty-three minutes, whilst Matthews briefly threatened with a late downwards header in the Hednesford six yard box that was hacked clear by Barrow


The Pitmen continue to make club history with this unprecedented F.A. Trophy run to the last four, where they will face Nationwide Conference side Aldershot Town in three weeks time in a two-legged semi-final. Memories of the two F.A. Cup ties between the two sides only four seasons ago are still fresh in the memory as Hednesford must this time face the Shots as underdogs against their higher league opponents. Before this, however, the Pitmen must look to improve on their woeful league position and improve on their current lowly eighteenth position, starting with a first-ever trip to Eastbourne Borough this coming Saturday

Hednesford Town: Young, Gibson, Hines, McGhee, Brindley Barrow C. Palmer, S. Palmer © Anthrobus, Danks, S. Evans        Subs Unused: Dodd, Maguire, Lamey, Charie, P. Evans

Hornchurch: Gay, Gooding, Kerrigan (Douglas 75), Adedeji, Matthews, Locke (Keeling 68), Graham, Martin, John, Brayley, McGowen      Subs Unused: Southern, Rowlands, McCartney