F.A. Trophy 2nd Round

Ilkeston Town

Kelly (59), Freestone (78), (90)

Hednesford Town

Maguire (64)

(1) 3

(0) 1




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Anthony Maguire



Halesowen Town (H) 14.12.02

The Pitmen crashed out of this season's F.A. Trophy after an insipid performance against Ilkeston this afternoon called into question some of manager Ian Painter's decisions on rotating players after a whole host of changes failed to inspire his side against the league's basement club


Last week's draw against Stafford Rangers was still a major talking point amongst the Hednesford supporters who had made the journey to the New Manor Ground for this afternoon's tie, with the Pitmen still smarting at allowing Stafford to snatch a point with the last kick of the game and continue their stranglehold over the Chase derby. With a good chance to progress to the the third round of a competition the club had been historically poor in, Painter made another raft of changes to his side from the one that had started against Rangers; Paul Kiely was missing due being ineligible against his parent club, joining Shaun Wray, Darren Simkin and Steve Piearce in being replaced by Wayne Simpson, Stewart Airdrie, Damien Charie and Graham Lancashire as half of the side was rotated. Youngster Anthony Maguire, recently of Torquay United, had joined the Pitmen recently and was rewarded for a string of fine games in the reserves by being named amongst the substitutes


Ilkeston - hammered 6-2 by the Pitmen two months ago at Keys Park - had continued to struggle at the foot of the league table since being handed that heavy defeat by their visitors, sitting on nine points for the season with only two wins to their name all season. Manager John McGinlay could at least call upon the experienced duo of Chris Freestone and Carl Heggs once more, with the pair missing in the league game between the two sides due to injury. McGinlay had handed a debut to new signing Andy Lodge in midweek after the midfielder's arrival from Stamford as he looked for more creativity from his side


New boy Lodge was keen to make an impression on his home debut and was first to test the visitors rearguard in the sixth minute, firing over after he had done well to control the ball and turn skipper Les Robinson on the corner of the Hednesford penalty area


Lodge was involved again three minutes later, as his incisive pass put Leon Kelly through on goal, only for the striker to scuff his shot straight into the arms of Michael Bingham


The Pitmen's philosophy was simple for all to see during the opening quarter of the game - get the ball up to Kevin Francis, who towered over the Ilkeston defenders and won a number of headers and knock-downs against the Ilson centre-backs. However, the visitors were struggling to use this to their advantage, with chances limited to long-range efforts from the likes of Carl Adams and Simpson


 In comparison, the hosts were content to play the ball through midfield and enjoyed the better of the possession during the first half. Simon Coleman's quick thinking saw him play the ball to Freestone on twenty minutes, catching the Hednesford defence on the heels. Former Premier League player Freestone tried a cheeky lob over the head of Bingham, but got too much behind his effort and lifted his shot into the Ilkeston fans behind the goal


Former West Brom man Heggs was next to test Bingham's reflexes a minute later, driving in a low shot from just outside the Hednesford penalty area that Bingham was equal to


The Pitmen had offered very little going forwards in the first half hour of the game, with the front three of Francis, Lancashire and Charie not blending as Painter had hoped. Charie's enthusiasm and pace almost forced Ilkeston's Matt McKenzie into an error on thirty-three minutes, as his rushed backpass to Matt Nurse in the Ilkeston goal went narrowly wide of goal and close to finding the corner of the net as Nurse chased after the overhit pass


Francis was first to reach an Adams free-kick on thirty-seven minutes, nodding the ball back across the Ilkeston six-yard box but a yard or so away from the boot of Lancashire, who perhaps hadn't expected the ball to come his way from close-range


Five minutes before half-time, Freestone rose highest to meet a cross from Heggs, but his glancing header sailed wide of Bingham's far post from eight yards out


An almighty scramble in the Ilkeston area saw the Pitmen finish the half frustrated, as no fewer than three men in yellow had a swipe at the bouncing ball, but all were denied by a forest of Ilkeston legs in front of them before the ball was cleared


Hednesford controlled the early stages of the second period, abandoning their route one approach of the first half and played some decent one and two touch football through midfield. Nurse was called upon to make a fine save on fifty minutes to deny Lancashire, before making an even better save three minutes later as he dived full-length to his right to tip Charie's goalbound effort out for a Hednesford corner


And yet, despite enjoying their best period of pressure in the game thus far, the Pitmen found themselves behind on fifty-nine minutes as Coleman's long, searching ball in behind the Hednesford defence was latched onto by Kelly, who took the ball around the sprawling Bingham and sidefooted the ball into the empty net for his twelfth goal of the season


There was an immediate reaction from the Hednesford bench to going behind, as new boy Maguire - a creative, attacking player who can play on the wing too - was introduced in favour of Chris Brindley


And what an introduction it was to be for the Cannock-based youngster, as with only his second touch, he pulled the Pitmen level on sixty-four minutes. Ilkeston failed to deal sufficiently with an inswinging Adams corner kick, allowing the unmarked Maguire to stab the ball past Nurse from close-range at the far post for his first Hednesford goal


Suddenly, the Pitmen were attacking in waves, with the likes of Airdrie and Charie seeing much more of the ball than they had done in the game so far. Airdrie's out-swinging cross on sixty-nine minutes was flicked on by Francis towards Lancashire, only for McKenzie to get enough purchase on the ball to turn it away from the striker as he shaped to shoot


Three minutes later, a fine move through the centre of the pitch from the Pitmen saw Simpson and Adams combine to play Charie through on goal, only for the youngster to fluff his effort wide of goal from fifteen yards out


With the visitors sensing a win and progress to the next round, the out-of-favour Mark Jones came on for Lancashire with fifteen minutes remaining to add guile to the attack


However, the Pitmen found themselves chasing the game once more with eleven minutes remaining, as a fine run from Lodge saw him beat Ashley Willaims down the left and send over a cross that was headed past Bingham by Freestone


Painter's men continued to push forward as they searched for a leveller to take the game to a replay, with Airdrie doing well to jink his way past three challenges on eighty-four minutes before slipping Jones in. McKenzie was once more alert to the danger and eased the former Wolves man out of play for an Ilkeston goal kick


With the clock ticking down, the away side were reliant on the boot of Adams to create something from a set-piece, but stout defending and the gloves of Nurse saw the hosts hold firm going into added time


With the Pitmen committing so many men forwards, they were inevitably hit with a sucker punch in added time, as Freestone made the game safe for Ilkeston on the counter-attack; Lodge broke down the left and crossed for Kelly, whose header was well saved initially by Bingham. However, Bingham's save was pushed straight into the path of Freestone, who had the simple task of tapping home to send Ilson through to round three, where they would be facing UniBond Premier League side Burscough


Another rotten away day for the Pitmen, whose form away from Keys Park can only be described as shocking at present and at complete odds with their unbeaten home form. Maguire's bright cameo was a brief high point in a disappointing encounter, as once again the Pitmen miss out on more prize money and the chance to move into the next round of non-league's premier cup competition. This experienced squad of players is most definitely underperforming and there is every likelihood that Painter will make more changes to his squad in the coming weeks as he looks to find that crucial blend of youthful talent and old, wise heads that is currently missing

Ilkeston Town: Nurse, Whitehead, Atkinson (Robinson 80), Coleman, McKenzie, Nwadike, Freestone, Ford, Heggs, Kelly, Lodge       Subs Unused: Foster, Coates, Mitchell, Evans


Hednesford Town: Bingham, Williams, Small, Robinson ©, Brindley (Maguire 60), Simpson, Airdrie, Adams, Francis, Lancashire (Jones 75), Charie     Subs Unused: Ware, Simkin, Jenkins