7.11.2005

Nationwide Conference North

Hednesford Town

Sucharewycz (51) (OG)

Hucknall Town

Ward (65)

(0) 1

(0) 1

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434

Rob Heath

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Worcester City (A) 12.11.05

The Pitmen had to be content with a point as they returned to Conference North duty this evening, held to a draw by fifth-placed Hucknall Town despite taking the lead early in the second half through a fortuitous own goal

Brindley was once again forced into making changes to his side due to injuries, with recent loan signing Richard Brush ruled out due to a dead leg picked up late on Saturday in the 4-0 defeat to Histon in the F.A. Cup. Brindley had brought former youth team graduate Adam Jenkins back to the club from Pelsall Villa as cover, with the goalkeeper making his second debut for the club in Brush's place. New signing Danny Scheppel - signed from Redditch United - was handed a debut in place of Steve Brannan in midfield, with Brindley himself the final of the three changes as he replaced Paul McMahon

Hucknall - currently sitting in the final play-off places - arrived at Keys Park for the first time in three years off the back of a 2-0 win against basement side Vauxhall Motors at the weekend. Manager Dean Barrick made one change from the side that had beaten Motors as Mark Ward returned to the side after serving a suspension, replacing the experienced Gary Ricketts up front. Barrick included his two former Hednesford stars of recent seasons in his starting XI, as former skipper Steve Palmer and striker Leon McSweeney both lined up against the Pitmen since their relative departures from Keys Park

It was a chilly and windy Monday evening, with winter starting to take its early grip of the month; the sky-blue clad visitors had two early chances to take the lead and stamp their authority on proceedings. Robert Gill turned a third-minute chance wide of Jenkins' left-hand post as McSweeney's reverse pass played his fellow forward into space behind Brindley, but sliced his effort wide of the target

More good play from last season's F.A. Trophy finalists in the sixth minute saw Palmer's chipped effort flicked on by Ward and into the path of Gill once more, only for the former Doncaster Rovers man to drag his shot wide of goal once more from fifteen yards out

A minute later, the Pitmen pushed forwards through Ross Adams, whose cross was flicked away by defender Gary Sucharewycz but only into the path of Andy Bell, whose dipping volley from twelve yards out just cleared former Stafford Rangers goalkeeper James Lindley's crossbar

More good play from the creative Ward in the tenth minute saw the returning midfielder play Phil Rowland into space down the left, but Rowland got his foot underneath the ball and lifted his long-range effort over Jenkins' crossbar

It had been an end-to-end encounter thus far, akin to a cup-tie rather than a league game; sixty seconds later, Mark Branch's neat through ball found Bell once more, running through the left-hand channel of the Hucknall penalty area before fizzing a cross-cum-shot across the face of Lindley's goal and just wide of the far post

In the sixteenth minute, the visitors kept possession well inside the Hednesford third of the pitch, working the ball from right to left through McSweeney and Gill to left midfielder Tom Groves, whose low driven shot at goal from fifteen yards out was blocked by the leg of Brindley, who was stretching to reach the ball

Midway through the first half, the Yellows should have taken the lead through the impressive Ward as Hucknall worked the ball down the right to McSweeney, who in turn pulled the ball back from the byeline and into the path of Ward, who headed wide from close range with a diving header

The Pitmen responded through Rob Heath's long-range effort on twenty-six minutes, striking a firm effort at goal from twenty-five minutes after he had disposed Palmer just inside the Hucknall half and driven forwards

On the half-hour mark, Brindley had a good chance to put his side ahead from a Lee Williams free-kick, heading into the side-netting from eight yards out as he beat Alistair Asher to the cross

New boy Scheppel looked to add creativity and legs to the Hednesford midfield and played a delightful pass into the feet of Bell three minutes later. The striker took a touch and drifted past Sucharewycz, but scuffed his effort wide of the post

Groves quickly took a free-kick for the visitors on thirty-eight minutes and played Chris Beech beyond him, whose cross into the six-yard box was punched away by Jenkins, dropping into the path of Palmer - the Yellows skipper tried his luck with a first time effort that drifted high over the crossbar

With five minutes of a competitive half remaining, McSweeney reminded Keys Park of his talent as he neatly sidestepped a flailing challenge from former team-mate Richard Teesdale and struck a left-footed shot at goal, forcing Jenkins into a save at his far post

In the final minute of the half, Brindley almost changed his half-time team talk as he rose at the near post to head a Williams corner kick goalwards, but was denied a certain goal by a goal-line clearance from Groves

Both sides had seen chances come and go throughout the first half, but neither strikeforce had shown enough composure in front of goal to take advantage of the several good openings

With the wind at their backs in the second half, Hednesford started brightly and neat play involving Heath and Scheppel on forty-seven minutes saw him play the ball through to Bell, whose snapshot from fifteen yards was blocked by the covering Sucharewycz

Former Leek Town man Sucharewycz was in the spotlight once more on fifty-one minutes, but for the wrong reasons, as he inadvertently gave the Pitmen the lead. Branch was fouled out on the left by Asher, allowing Colin Hunter to place the ball down and swing in a free-kick that was aimed at Brindley at the far post. Sucharewycz beat the Hednesford manager to the ball, but could only divert the ball past Lindley from close-range. The goal was initially awarded to Brindley, but on second viewing the final touch was from that of Sucharewycz

Barrick made an immediate double change to his side before the game could restart, bringing on Ricketts up front for Gill and Mark Smith replacing Groves down the left flank

Ricketts' introduction almost had an immediate effect for the visitors as he went close to converting a cross from Beech just three minutes after coming on, but was a yard or so behind the play and couldn't quite get his foot to the low cross from the left-back

At the other end, Adams went close to doubling the Pitmen's advantage on fifty-eight minutes as his speculative cross from the right caught the gusty wind and sailed over the head of Lindley, coming back off the crossbar and dropping into the path of Asher to clear

On sixty-two minutes, more good play from Ward saw him exchange passes with Palmer before making a mazy run into the Hednesford penalty area, pulling the ball back into the path of substitute Smith who saw his low driven shot saved by Jenkins

The dangerous Ward finally got his side back on level terms on sixty-five minutes as he made another purposeful run down the left wing, cutting inside challenges from both Adams and Brindley before unleashing a superb shot that beat Jenkins all ends up from the edge of the Hednesford penalty area. A great strike

Hucknall were on top of the game at this point and went close to turning the game on its head on sixty-eight minutes as Ward was once again involved, picking up a pass from Russell Cooke before playing the ball into the path of Ricketts, who in turn lifted the ball over the Hednesford defence and back into the path of Ward, only to see his rising shot well saved by Jenkins, who had come out of his goal to narrow the angle

Three minutes later, Asher played a long, searching ball forwards and into the path of McSweeney, who got in behind the Hednesford defence that stopped and appealed for offside against their former player. Only a late, late offside flag on the main stand side denied the striker a shot at goal, much to the relief of the Pitmen's back line

With fifteen minutes remaining, Paul McMahon was introduced into the game as the Pitmen looked for another cameo off the bench from their super-sub, who replaced the completely ineffective Steve Anthrobus

More good play from Ward eleven minutes from time saw the winger dance his way past Adams down the left, thinking his way to the byeline before standing up a cross into the penalty area, where Ricketts tried his luck with an acrobatic overhead kick from ten yards out that cleared the crossbar

A rare move forwards from the Pitmen on eighty-two minutes saw Heath intercept a loose pass from Cooke and send McMahon away down the left; the striker steadied himself and drove into the penalty area, beating Asher but getting a little too greedy as he drove his angled shot high over the crossbar, rather than squaring the ball to Bell

The visitors continued to look the more likely to grab a winner and went close on eighty-five minutes as Ricketts laid the ball off to Ward with a neat chest-down, but Ward's effort was saved by Jenkins at his near post

Veteran striker Mark Nangle came on in place of McSweeney and almost conjured up a winner for the Yellows two minutes later as he stretched to reach a cross from Asher at the far post, but could only toe-poke the ball wide of the target as Teesdale closed him down

In the first minute of added time, a quick break from the Pitmen saw Hunter break down the left and play McMahon into space ahead of him; McMahon returned the ball to Hunter after holding the play up, but Hunter's shot was wayward and failed to test Lindley

The Pitmen had been required to dig deep to hang on to their point against a strong Hucknall side that had struggled to convert their possession into chances. It was, however, a welcome point that dispels their drubbing at the hands of Histon last week and keeps their points total for the season ticking over. A trip to struggling Worcester City is next up for Brindley's side, with the Pitmen making the short trip down the M5 to St. George's Lane to face Andy Preece's side on Saturday afternoon

Hednesford Town: Jenkins, Adams, Branch, Brindley, Teesdale, Williams ©, Scheppel, Heath, Anthrobus (McMahon 75), Bell, Hunter      Subs Unused: Beckett, Brannan, T. Marshall, Dyer

Hucknall Town: Lindley, Asher, Beech, Rowland, Sucharewycz, Cooke, Groves (Smith 52), Palmer ©, Ward, Gill (Ricketts 52), McSweeney (Nangle 85)       Subs Unused: Timons, Carter