19.10.2002

Dr. Martens Southern Premier League

Hednesford Town

Brindley (37), Piearce (48), (53), (56), Lancashire (51), Wray (89)

Ilkeston Town

Kiely (74), Kelly (86)

(1) 6

.

(0) 2

Attendance

MoTM

Current Form

Next Match

545

Steve Piearce

D D W D L D L D L W

 

Cambridge City (A) 26.10.02

A game that shall live long in the memory for all that were there gets Hednesford's season back on track - and in spectacular circumstances, as Ian Painter's men go goal-crazy in a second-half demolition of basement club Ilkeston Town at Keys Park

 

It had been a busy two weeks for Painter and his team, having sat out last week's F.A. Cup 3rd Qualifying Round with a free weekend. There had been two notable departures, with Mark Gayle's red card at Hucknall finally putting paid to his Hednesford career as he was released by Painter, who elected to give youth team graduate Adam Jenkins a spell in between the sticks. Former skipper Richard Lucas had also left the club after an approach from Gainsborough Trinity, with Lucas expressing a desire to move to a club close to home after finding travelling to Staffordshire difficult. This left Painter with some re-jigging to do, bringing Mark Jones back into the team up front and moving Stuart Ryder to left-back to replace Lucas, thus allowing Chris Brindley to return to the centre of defence. There was also some long-overdue good news on the injury front, with Kevin Francis finally fit enough to return to the squad as a substitute, although Stuart Lake was still ruled out due to a leg injury. Youth team goalkeeper Elliott Richards was a new face to many Hednesford supporters, with the youngster making the step up into the first-team to replace Jenkins amongst the substitutes

 

Ilkeston's season had been one to forget so far under rookie manager John McGinlay, with Ilson lying rock bottom of the Southern Premier League after only two wins from the previous thirteen league games. Despite this, McGinlay's side contained a number of established non-league faces, including the prolific ex-Stafford Rangers striker Paul Kiely and former Hednesford midfielder Ian Robinson, both of whom started the game. McGinlay resisted the temptation to pick himself in the squad, as he had done in recent games as a substitute, relying on the team that had impressively defeated King's Lynn 6-1 in the F.A. Cup last weekend. He was, however, missing the experienced duo of Scott Dundas and Carl Heggs, with both players ruled out due to injury

 

Jenkins was involved early on in his full debut for the club, tipping away a Ryan Ford shot for a corner kick in just the second minute as Ilkeston started brightly

 

The Pitmen responded through midfield man Derek Rae, who fired narrowly wide of Ilson keeper Matt Nurse's right-hand post with a low, driven effort from just outside the penalty area on eight minutes

The returning Jones - still with only one goal to his name this season - wasting a good chance on twelve minutes after scuffing his shot wide of goal from eighteen yards out

 

Danger man Kiely bustled his way past Les Robinson in the eighteenth minute and forced his way into the penalty area, only to be denied by a crude challenge from Brindley who showed a no-nonsense attitude to ease his former Stafford team-mate off the ball

 

A free-kick from Emeka Nwadike found Leon Kelly lurking in the six-yard box for Ilkeston four minutes later, but the striker's toe-poked effort was weak and was easily pounced upon by Jenkins

 

The game turned scrappy during the middle part of the first half, with both sides struggling to create any genuine openings as the defences continued to dominate proceedings. Paul Ware was his usual industrious self, spraying balls across the pitch left and right, but all to no avail

 

A Darren Simkin pass somehow found its way all the way through to Jones on thirty minutes, with the striker turning swiftly to avoid Tony Brown's attention before lashing his shot high over the Hednesford end stand. Another wasted chance for a player surely running out of chances now that Francis and Lancashire are nearly fully fit

 

The Pitmen did finally break the deadlock, however, with a set-piece opener on thirty-seven minutes, as a deep, inswinging corner from Ware corner was powerfully headed home by Brindley for his fourth goal of the season

 

Ilkeston went close to snatching an equaliser four minutes later, as strike partners Kelly and Kiely linked up well on the edge of the penalty area to play the ball off to Robinson, who struck a shot narrowly wide of Jenkins' goal

 

Half-time saw Painter's patience with Jones finally snap, with the striker hauled off unceremoniously at the break in favour of Piearce. This was to be the pivotal decision in the game, as Piearce turned in an extraordinary display to put Ilkeston to the sword

 

It took the striker just two minutes to get on the scoresheet at the start of the second period, nipping in at the near post to caress Shaun Wray's low cross past Nurse at his near post

 

  Former Wolves man Piearce needed only two minutes to get off the mark, as he turned the ball past Matt Nurse in the Ilkeston goal after good work by Shaun Wray down the flank to create the chance

 

The Pitmen sensed more goals and produced a truly remarkable five-minute salvo where the goals rained down. On fifty minutes, Graham Lancashire finally opened his account for the season as he took advantage of slack marking from Ilkeston to fire home Ware's cross from eight yards out

 

Straight from the restart, the Pitmen won the ball back just inside their half, with Robinson sending the ball forwards in behind the retreating Ilkeston defence. Piearce was alert to the ball, racing in behind the Ilkeston defenders and turning the ball past Nurse via a deflection

 

Two minutes later, the breathtaking pace of the second half came to a crescendo as the Pitmen found the net for the fifth time, with Piearce once again afforded too much time and space twelve yards from goal to sidefoot the ball past a horribly exposed Nurse after good work from Carl Adams

 

The Pitmen could now relax with a five-goal cushion to their credit, content to knock the ball around in midfield and control the pace of the game. Adams sent over a corner kick on sixty-four minutes that evaded everyone before dropping wide of Nurse's far post

 

The Pitmen made their second substitution of the game on seventy-two minutes, as Adams was replaced by Stewart Airdrie in midfield

The home side's relaxed stance cost them a clean sheet for Jenkins on his debut, as Kiely notched for Ilkeston on seventy-six minutes, advancing on the Hednesford penalty area after being handed too much space to run into and firing home past a stranded Jenkins from twenty yards out

 

Francis made his long-awaited return to first-team action with ten minutes remaining, as the big man was brought on in place of goalscorer Lancashire to warm applause from the Keys Park crowd

 

Ilkeston further reduced the deficit with a second goal on eighty-six minutes, as Kelly bundled a loose ball home at the far post following a low cross from Nwadike

 

A highly entertaining encounter had one last goal left in it in the final minute of the game, as the excellent Wray grabbed the Pitmen's sixth goal of the afternoon by volleying home Ware's pass from twelve yards out to score his second goal of the season in the process

 

A fantastic afternoon's football for all people of a Hednesford persuasion and any neutrals, with Pearce's superb cameo the standout of a fine team performance from the Pitmen. With Francis now fit again, there will be a hope that this is the springboard for Painter's side the push their way back up the table after a run of indifferent form. The Pitmen make the trip down the A14 next weekend to face Cambridge City, looking to build upon this fine result and performance

Hednesford Town: Jenkins, Simkin, Ryder, Robinson ©, Brindley, Rae, Wray, Ware, Lancashire (Francis 80), Jones (Piearce 45), Adams (Airdrie 72)     Subs Unused: Williams, Richards

 

Ilkeston Town: Nurse, Whitehead (Mitchell 70), Brown, Coates, Woolley, Coleman, Ford, Robinson, Kelly, Kiely (Foster 79), Nwadike       Subs Unused: McKenzie, Atkinson, Evans

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