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Evo-Stik Northern Premier League

Hednesford Town

Nadat (42), McNaught (45), Thorley (78)


Tyrell (17)

(2) 3

(1) 1



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Tom Thorley


Mickleover Sports (A) 1.4.17

The Pitmen get themselves back to winning ways this evening, as they finally completed a league double over Ilkeston at Keys Park. Gary Birch's side moved back above local rivals Stafford Rangers in the table as a result, as they waved goodbye to a frustratingly inconsistent March schedule that had seen many comings and goings to the side and a host of inconsistent results that had seen them spiral down the league table


Saturday's defeat to play-off chasing Warrington had seen several young players thrown into the side after late injuries to more senior players in the squad. Birch elected to bring the more experienced heads of Stuart McNaught, David McDermott and Danny Glover back into the side, dropping the likes of Tony Clarke, Darren Campion and Remeao Hutton from the side that had lost at play-off chasing Warrington Town last weekend


Ilkeston's campaign has been a rotten experience for their loyal supporters, with the Robins spending the whole season in the bottom three after a number of a poor off-the-field decision by the club's power-brokers. A young Ilson side had been soundly beaten by the Pitmen last month at the New Manor Ground, with skipper Tom Thorley bagging both goals. Manager Shaun Goater made two changes to the side that had won 1-0 at home to Frickley Athletic at the weekend, with Jamie Hannis replacing Dale Eve between the posts, Jaylon Bather taking the place of Ben Morris and midfielder Ryan Head coming in for striker Anthony Dwyer


In front of the Pitmen's lowest league crowd for many a-year, the visitors looked lively in the opening exchanges playing on the counter-attack and trying to use some of their youthful pace and exuberance to unsettle the Pitmen's backline. Striker Dexter Atkinson got the better of Bradley Peace-McDonald in the second minute with a clever turn, only for Joe Ballinger to thump the ball away from his feet and out of play before he could apply the finish from twelve yards out


Glover was wasteful with the Pitmen's first effort of the evening, striking a firm free-kick straight into the Ilkeston wall on a minute later after Jordan Nadat had earned the set-piece twenty-five yards out by drawing a foul from Dante Leverock


Blake Thompson was following up his impressive debut on Saturday with another all-action performance, looking for the ball at all times and setting the Pitmen up for several counter-attacks showing good vision in the defensive midfield role. A lovely ball forwards from the Australian in the eighth minute found McDermott down the right flank, with the former York City man skipping past Charlie Scanlon and crossing for Glover, only for Hannis to claim the ball ahead of the striker at his near post


A half-chance fell to the busy Nadat on fourteen minutes, as he lashed a volley straight into the arms of Hannis after getting onto the end of a cross from Lewis Wright


Despite the Pitmen's domination of possession and territory, it was the away side that took a shock lead with their first shot on target in the seventeenth minute. A run from Atkinson saw the forward get goal side of on-loan Louis Danquah before pulling the ball back into the path of Tavahn Tyrell, who had the simple task of tapping the ball into the net from a matter of inches out


Ilkeston were playing with two banks of four in front of the Pitmen, making it difficult for the home side to play through the channels and create chances against their relegation-threatened rivals. Glover was pulled up for a foul on skipper Matt Baker as he looked to get on the end of a fine cross from Wright on twenty-one minutes


Three minutes later, Thorley's drifting free-kick was met by the head of Thompson at the back post and headed back across the face of goal before being hacked away by the visitors before anyone in white could apply the finish from close-range 

Thorley's well-delivered corner kick on twenty-nine minutes was met by Joe Ballinger at the far post, but the recent signing from Barwell headed a foot or so over the crossbar


Bermudan defender Leverock did well to keep his side ahead a minute later as his block denied Nadat his first goal for the Pitmen from twelve yards out after the former Coleshill man had been played into space by Thorley's slide-rule pass


At the other end, Ballinger had to be alert to deny Tyrell a second goal for the visitors on thirty-four minutes, making a timely block to deny the striker from close-range with a sliding, smothering tackle to nick the ball away from the Ilkeston goalscorer

McDermott showed Scanlon a clean pair of heels three minutes later as he pushed the ball past the left-back and into space down the right-wing. His low cross was deflected into the path of Nadat by a deflection off Baker, but the striker lashed his effort over the crossbar and into the car park behind the goal


The Pitmen's pressure finally told on first-two minutes as they got themselves back on level terms after another spell of pressure around the Ilkeston penalty area; it was Nadat who grabbed the leveller with his first goal for Hednesford - and what a goal it was; a neat bit of skill from Thorley saw him play the ball into the path of Nadat, who rocketed home a shot from fourteen yards out that gave Harries no chance as he found the top corner of the net with an unstoppable strike


Nadat's strike partner Glover's was forced off just sixty seconds later after picking up an injury in clash with Baker and was replaced by Clarke up front after physio Gavin Blackwell indicted that the Pitmen's top scorer could not continue


The hosts turned the game on its head as the first-half entered added time with Stuart McNaught scoring his second goal of the season. After seeing his initial shot blocked, the defensive midfielder fired home at the second attempt after the loose ball had fallen kindly to him just inside the Ilkeston penalty area


And even then, there was still time for Nadat to waste a superb opportunity to grab a third goal for the Pitmen before the break, as the striker somehow failed to convert a simple chance from just three yards out after a pull-back by McDermott by allowing Ilkeston to clear their lines. A great chance wasted by the diminutive striker


Ilkeston made a good start to the second period as they looked to get themselves back into contention with Atkinson shooting narrowly wide of goal just seconds after the restart after being given too much time and space by the dawdling Hednesford defence


On fifty-one minutes, Ilkeston thought they were back on level terms after Tyrell had fired past Dan Crane following a good save from the Hednesford keeper, but an offside flag ruled the goal out after the assistant on the Wimblebury side adjudged the striker to be standing in an offside position when the ball was played back to him


The Pitmen weathered the early Ilkeston storm and responded themselves with a spell of pressure; on fifty-six minutes, a McDermott corner kick found Ballinger free at the far post, but the centre-back put his effort wide of goal from close-range with a stabbed effort


McDermott himself crafted the Pitmen's next chance on sixty-two minutes, making a marauding run from the left before cutting inside and firing narrowly wide with a low drive

Two minutes later, McNaught's searching pass found former Suton Coldfield Town team-mate Nadat, whose touch got him past Leverock and into space. He took a touch before clipping the ball into the path of Clarke, whose bundled effort was easily saved by Hannis

Peace-McDonald headed well wide for the hosts three minutes later before Thorley tried his luck with a long-range effort that ratted into the advertising hoardings behind the goal on seventy minutes


Big striker Clarke got in the way of Nadat settling the game a minute later, leaping to meet a McDermott cross and flicking the ball away from Nadat, who was lining up behind his new strike partner to volley home the cross unchallenged at the far post

More pressure on the Ilkeston defence saw Wright's cross nearly drift into the net on seventy-four minutes, requiring Hannis to turn the ball over the crossbar for a corner kick. Two minutes later, Thorley made another positive run into Ilkeston territory and played the ball through to McDermott, whose attempted shot was blocked by Scanlon


The Pitmen finally made the game safe with twelve minutes remaining as skipper Thorley once again led from the front with the clincher. The impressive Nadat returned the compliment from earlier, setting his captain up with a ball through, allowing Thorley to slot home from twelve yards out with a neat finish past Hannis


The home side could afford to make a couple of late changes to their side, with George Cater coming on for McDermott and George Washbourne replacing the hard-working Thompson as Birch utilised his full set of options within his squad with the game essentially won at this stage

Atkinson crossed for substitute Morris with five minutes remaining, only for Crane to make a timely intervention to claim the ball ahead of the Ilson striker. In the final minute of the game, an inswinging corner kick from Head was glanced wide by another substitute, Dwyer


A much-needed home win for the Pitmen that lifts them back into thirteenth place in the table and within sight of the top ten once more. With seven games remaining in the season during April, a top-half finish should now be the aim for Birch and his side, with a trip to another struggling side in the offing at the weekend as they make the short journey across to Derbyshire to face another side struggling below them in the form of Mickleover Sports

Hednesford Town: Crane, Wright, Danquah, Thompson (Washbourne 87), Peace-McDonald, Ballinger, McNaught, Thorley ©, Glover (Clarke 43), Nadat, McDermott (Cater 78)      Subs Unused: Ransome, Brenan


Ilkeston: Hannis, Thornberry, Scanlon, Leverock, Baker ©, Bather, Head, Gordon, Tyrell (Dwyer 63), Gamblen (Morris 71), Atkinson (Paine 84)      Subs Unused: Horne, Tonge

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