Evo-Stik Northern Premier League


Hednesford Town

Thorley (48), (90)

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Tom Thorley


Nantwich Town (H) 25.2.17

The Pitmen finally get the chance to record three points at struggling Ilkeston this evening as they beat the relegation-threatened hosts for the second time this season at the New Manor Ground after the original fixture had been abandoned back in December with the Pitmen winning in the eighty-seventh minute

Hednesford made the journey over the Derbyshire off the back of a morale-boosting and much-needed win over Ilson's fellow relegation candidates Skelmsersdale at the weekend. The Pitmen's interim management team made stuck with the side that had started the 5-0 thrashing of Skem, perhaps unsurprisingly after they had ended a rotten run of results that had seen them lose six of their previous eight games. Youth team striker Ryan Nesbitt received his first-ever call-up to the first team after plundering goals recently for the club's academy side, joining Marvin Robinson amongst the attacking options off the bench

Ilkeston's season had been one struggle on and off the pitch as financial issues had dogged the club from the outset. Former manager Paul Holland had left last week following a 0-0 draw against Coalville last week and had been replaced by former Manchester City and Bermuda striker Shaun Goater, who oversaw a 1-0 win over fellow strugglers Sutton Coldfield Town at the weekend. Goater made only one change to his side from Saturday as keeper Dale Eve came back into the team ahead of Jamie Hannis

The original game had been called off due to a floodlight failure, with the lighting system remaining inconsistent for tonight's clash as they fluctuated and dimmed at regular intervals. Both sides, however, were happy to proceed after the referee had asked the two managers if they were happy to play in such gloomy conditions

There was also a very strong head wind coming in from the south that made conditions tricky for both sides, particularly in the first half as the two teams struggled to find their footing during a drab opening forty-five minutes. Lanky centre-back Dan Brenan had the first sight at goal in the sixth-minute ads he met a Tom Thorley corner kick full-on with his head but diverted his chance wide of Eve's far post

Brenan's centre-back partner Nat Brown almost found the net four minutes later - but at the other end of the pitch - as a cross from Brandon Clarke was mis-hit by the veteran defender who succeeded in scooping his clearance over the head of Dan Crane and narrowly over his own crossbar

Ilson responded with a chance of their own in the fourteenth minute as Dale Morris picked up a loose pass from Stuart McNaught and drilled in a low shot from twenty yards out that Crane held low down to his right

Both midfields were on top during a lull in the first-half action midway through the first period, with skipper Thorley leading from the front for the visitors with his crisp, simple passing style. A fantastic slide-rule pass from him on twenty-six minutes played Tony Clarke through on goal, only for an offside flag to pull the former Lichfield City man back

Glover tested Bermudan keeper Eve's reflexes in the thirty-third minute as he raced onto another sublime pass from Thorley and drove a shot straight at the home goalkeeper, who made the save to his right

Brenan headed straight into the hands of Eve from another Thorley corner kick two minutes later before Morris linked up well with Danny Gordon to play Charlie Scanlon into space down the left-wing; his deep cross was glanced away by Brown, but only into the path of Dexter Atkinson, whose rising follow-up shot sailed over the crossbar

It had been a poor spectacle of a half from both sides, highlighting the current dreadful form of both sides amidst the challenging conditions. The Pitmen's interim management team had their say at the break and the away side responded well at the start of the second period

With just two minutes of the second-half gone, the Pitmen took the lead through a man not well-known for his goalscoring prowess in the form of Thorley; a weak back pass from Jaylon Bather towards Eve was seized upon by the Hednesford captain, who took the ball around Eve and guided the ball home from close-range unchallenged

Saturday's man of the match George Washbourne had found the going tough out on the left flank but went closest to doubling the Pitmen's lead on fifty-two minutes as Thorley dummied a twenty-five-yard free-kick and allowed Washbourne to lift the ball over the Ilkeston wall that was pushed over the crossbar by Eve

From the resultant corner kick, Tony Clarke flicked the ball on at the near post but failed to find anyone in white in the six-yard box to apply the finish as it bounced across the face of the Ilkeston goal


Six minutes later, David McDermott was played in through the right-hand corner of the Ilson penalty area by Glover's fine pass, but a poor finish from the former York City winger saw him fire wide of goal from fifteen yards out


Young striker Anthony Dwyer had come on for the hosts on sixty-five minutes for Morris and had an immediate impact on the hosts as he seized upon an error by Brenan to nick the ball off the defender and advance on goal, only for his low shot to be turned away from goal by Crane

The Pitmen made their first chance of the evening at the same time as McDermott was hooked in favour of right-back Lewis Wright after another poor game down the flank from the former Worcester man 

Glover went close to sealing the win for Hednesford on seventy minutes as he got on the end of a cross from Washbourne but hooked his effort just wide of Eve's post

Three minutes later, McNaught lifted his shot high and wide of the Ilkeston goal as he wildly slashed at a Thorley pass twenty yards from the home side's goal

The hosts had struggled to put together any meaningful attacks in what had been a disappointing second-half display. Dwyer did well to hold off Brenan and lay the ball off the Atkinson on seventy-eight minutes, but Brown did well to nip the ball away from the midfielder before he could shoot from distance

The floodlights had another moment of uncertainty with seven minutes remaining, flickering intermittently like a séance halting play for a couple of minutes as work was carried out to stabilise them

Another Ilson substitute - Reece Horne - almost go the home side back on level terms with his very first touch of the ball on eighty-seven minutes as his shot on the run was well saved by Crane at his near post

The Pitmen looked to see the game out with a couple of late substitutions to counter Ilkeston's late surge forwards as Shrewsbury Town loanee Callum Roberts came on in place of Washbourne down the left and Nesbitt was handed a debut in place of the tiring Glover

With the game now into added time and Ilkeston committing more men forwards, the Pitmen caught them on the counter-attack and clinched all three points through Thorley; Tony Clarke did well to hold the ball up and play Thorley clear of the retreating Ilkeston defence, slotting the ball past the advancing Eve to seal the win with what was to prove the final action of the game

Two wins in four days - albeit against two sides likely to be in the relegation scrap at the end of April - makes the league table look a lot healthier for the Pitmen, who move back into the top half of the table, still five points behind the final play-off place with thirteen games remaining this season. One of the teams looking to get themselves into the play-off picture - Nantwich Town - are the next visitors to Keys Park this Saturday, with the Pitmen looking to go within two points of the Dabbers if they can make it three wins on the bounce for the first time since September

Ilkeston: Eve, Thornberry, Scanlon, Bather, Baker ©, Leverock, Rose, Gordon, Atkinson (Horne 87), Morris (Dwyer 65), B. Clarke       Subs Unused: Head, Gamblen, Hannis

Hednesford Town: Crane, Haynes, Campion, McNaught, Brown, Brenan, Washbourne (Roberts 89), Thorley ©, Glover (Nesbitt 90), T. Clarke, McDermott (Wright 65)        Subs Unused: Ransome, Robinson