1.12.2007

UniBond Northern Premier League

Ilkeston Town

Hednesford Town

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Rene Gilmartin

D L L W W L L W D D

Fleetwood Town (H) 22.12.07

Hednesford's second successive draw left them six points off the play-offs this afternoon, although with better finishing they could have taken all three points at Ilkeston Town 

Skipper Tom Marshall returned to the side after injury, replacing Gordon Simms. Steve Palmer also returned after Sebastian Arnolin had returned to Stafford Rangers following the completion of his loan. Up front, Chris Hanna came back in after the Pitmen had struck a new loan deal with his parent club Walsall - Alan Nagington dropping to the bench to make way for the returning loanee

Ilkeston were sitting just behind Hednesford in the league table after a season of similar inconsistency to the Pitmen; last week had seen Ilson lose to step four Bamber Bridge in the F.A. Trophy, which had come off the back of a fine 2-0 win over play-off chasers Gateshead. Manager Nigel Jemson resisted the temptation to bring himself back into the side despite scoring against Bamber Bridge and stuck with the same XI that had started at Irongate, which included former Hednesford winger Colin Hunter

On a drizzly, overcast December afternoon there was a minute's applause before kick-off for Ilkeston Chairman Paul Millership, who had died suddenly the previous week that was impeccably observed by both sets of players and supporters

The Pitmen made an assertive start to the game with Anthony Maguire heavily involved in the opening stages; a fine run by the winger in the fourth minutes saw him skip past Lee Featherston and cross for Chad Sheppard, only for the midfielder to fire wide of goal after the ball had dropped to him just outside the area

The in-form Ross Dyer darted in behind the Ilkeston back line in the eighth minute to get on the end of another beautifully threaded Maguire pass, only to find the side netting with his low angled effort

 

Indecision at the back from the visitors almost let in Ilkeston's Adam Lee in with the hosts' first chance of the game two minutes later as Marshall and Robinson left the ball to each other, allowed `lee to nip in and take the ball forwards. Former Ilson defender Robinson managed to get back in time and clear the danger with Lee shaping to shoot

Maguire made another marauding run down the left on fourteen minutes and crossed well for Dyer, who slightly misjudged the bounce of the ball as it bounced off his shin and fell nicely into the arms of Ilkeston goalkeeper Paul Pettinger

Dyer looked to be the Pitmen's best bet for a goal thus far, and headed a cross from Hanna towards goal on eighteen minutes but was denied by a clearing header from Rick Brewer

Chris Adam - another former Ilkeston player - went close for the Pitmen a minute later as he cut in from the left-wing and shot across the face of Pettinger's goal and just wide of the target 

Dyer turned provider on twenty minutes for Hanna as his pass played his strike partner in, only for the striker to overrun the ball slightly and see the ball bounce off his shin and into the arms of Pettinger

Rene Gilmartin had had very little to do during the first quarter of the game but came to the Pitmen's rescue midway through the first half when Lee fired in a shot that the Irishman made a good save from

His opposite number Pettinger denied Dyer two minutes later as he turned the in-form striker's shot around the post with a fine one-handed save to concede a corner kick

 

Back came the hosts as the game became end-to-end, with Ross Gardner's well-struck effort from eighteen yards out parried away from goal by Gilmartin on twenty-five minutes after Adam Muller's good work had set his team-mate up. Muller seized upon the rebound and turned the ball back towards goal only for Ross Adams to dive in and head the ball away

Superb play by Adam saw him turn past two challenges on thirty-two minutes and play a neat one-two with Dyer, only to lash his shot high over Pettinger's crossbar from just outside the penalty area

Gilmartin denied Muller once again six minutes later as he tipped what looked to be a certain goal for the striker away from goal after Muller had headed goalwards from inside the Hednesford six-yard box

With half-time looming, Sheppard was set up by Palmer's smart pass, only for the midfield man to completely slice his shot from a couple of yards inside the penalty area

A flowing move from the Pitmen just before the break saw Hanna, Maguire and Dyer all involved to play Adam in down the left-hand corner of the Ilkeston penalty area, only for the winger to pull his shot wide

Half-time saw a cloudburst and the heavens opened once more as they had done intermittently all day, with the Manor Ground pitch becoming slick and slippery during the second period and started to cut up

There was a massive let-off for the Pitmen just seconds into the restart when Gardner somehow missed an open goal from close range as he was handed a chance on a plate by Liam Powell's low cross

 

Pettinger did well to deny Hanna on the edge of his penalty area on fifty minutes, sliding in to deny the striker but allowing the ball to squirm away from him on the greasy pitch and into the path of Adam, whose follow-up effort was overhit and off-target

Lee's attempted chip over Gilmartin a minute later narrowly cleared the crossbar after the striker had spotted the Walsall loanee off his line and tried his luck from nearly thirty yards out

 

Five minutes later, Gilmartin was on hand to make another fine stop from close-range to parry another effort from Muller away from goal inside his six-yard box

A long ball forwards from Brewer on the hour mark found Muller clean through on a static Hednesford defence, only for the striker to lose his footing at the crucial moment and allow Adams to get back and put the ball behind for a corner kick

The visitors made a double attacking change on sixty-five minutes as Nagington came on for Maguire and winger David Brown replaced Adam in a like-for-like switch

 Gilmartin was called into action once again on sixty-nine minutes, saving Hunter's long-range effort after the experienced winger had left fly from fully thirty yards out

Featherstone saw his name taken by the referee on seventy minutes as he made a crude challenge on Brown to prevent the winger from getting away down the right-wing

The Pitmen felt that they should have been awarded a penalty kick two minutes later as Wayne Dyer's volley at goal appeared to strike the arm of Dan White en route to goal, only for the referee to remain unconvinced

With the game entering the final ten minutes, the Pitmen could have snatched victory with two good chances in the space of a matter of seconds; Robinson's header from a Sheppard corner was cleared off the line but the ball fell to Nagington, whose shot appeared to cross the line by before being hacked away by Powell. Despite protests from the Hednesford players, the goal was not given as the assistant on the far side was not convinced that the ball had crossed the line

Dyer playing in Nagington with three minutes remaining, only for the substitute's shot to be deflected away by Featherstone as he looked to get a clean shot in at goal

Pettinger solidified his man of the match display with a fine save in added time to deny Nagington, diving full-length to his left-hand side to tip the ball away from goal and deny the former Leek man a first Hednesford goal

 

A point apiece does little for either side's ambitions of moving up the league table, with the away side smarting at yet another game where they have dominated the chances but failed to take them when the chances presented themselves. A two-week break means that the Pitmen do to return to the field of play until they play host to mid-table Whitby Town at Keys Park

Ilkeston Town: Pettinger, Powell, Featherstone , Gardner (Holmes 79), Brewer, White, Wade, Walker, Muller, Lee (Jemson 69), Hunter       Sub Unused: Winder

 

Hednesford Town: Gilmartin, Marshall ©, Adams, Robinson, Palmer, Sheppard, Maguire (Nagington 65), Adam (Brown 65), W. Dyer, R. Dyer, Hanna      Subs Unused: Graham