26.3.2013

Evo-Stik Northern Premier League

Kendal Town

McGheechan (64)

Hednesford Town

Harvey (2), Lennon (32), Durrell (67) (penalty)

(0) 1

(2) 3

Attendance

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101

Neil Harvey

W W W D W D W D L W

Buxton (H) 30.3.13

Hednesford took full advantage of one of their three games in hand on league leaders North Ferriby United this evening, earning all three points to condemn relegation-haunted Kendal Town to yet another defeat in their bid to stay in the Evo-Stik Premier League

Having been without a league game in over a week due to the snowy weather, manager Rob Smith took the opportunity to rotate his squad ahead of a busy Easter schedule - in came centre back Sam Barnes in place of Francino Francis, whilst Michael Lennon was restored to the starting XI in place of Aaron Rey. Alex Melbourne suffered a nasty looking ankle injury in the Pitmen's Birmingham Senior Cup game at Coventry Sphinx the previous week, so Jamey Osborne returned to the side after suspension in his place

The Pitmen made the perfect start to a must-win game, as they opened the scoring with the first attack on seventy-five seconds. Nathan Woolfe cut in from the left-wing and hung a cross up to Neil Harvey, who had the simple task of heading past Craig Dootson in the Kendal goal from six yards out

With their next attack, the away side very nearly made it two, as top scorer Elliott Durrell raced away from a static Kendal defence to bear down on goal. Dootson did well to deny Durrell a twenty-fifth goal of the season, however, with a smart save low down

Kendal, struggling for confidence and form after six successive defeats in the Evo-Stik Premier League, allowed the Pitmen too much time and space on the ball in the opening quarter of the game and were fortunate to remain only one goal behind. Ben Bailey flicked a shot narrowly over the crossbar on fourteen minutes after meeting Durrell's free-kick at the far post

A minute later, Dave MacPherson wasted an excellent opportunity to put daylight between the two sides, as he picked up Woolfe's cross but lashed his shot over the crossbar from twelve yards out

The Pitmen could have extended their lead during a frenetic three-minute spell, as Kendal gifted them three excellent chances from corner kicks that could have been avoided. Lennon headed over the bar from Durrell's ball in, closely followed by another headed chance for Harvey, who glanced his header just wide of the post

Kendal's one and only chance of a disappointing first-half showing came through Danny Mitchley, whose driven shot from the edge of the box on twenty-two minutes was well saved by Dan Crane

A sweet effort from Ben Bailey almost gave the Pitmen a deserved second goal on twenty-five minutes, controlling the ball brilliantly before firing in a snapshot that was inches from finding the net

Two players tried their luck at the same effort on the half-hour mark, as Woolfe's corner kick was slashed at by Harvey and MacPherson, before falling kindly for Harvey once again. The big striker connected with his second shot but dragged his effort wide of goal

The elusive second goal for Hednesford arrived two minutes later, as Lennon got his name on the scoresheet for the fourth time this term. John Disney's long throw was missed by Kendal captain Kevin brown, allowing Lennon to control the loose ball and fire home

Oozing confidence, the visitors continued their excellent build-up play and peppered the Kendal goal with chances. Three more corner kicks followed, with the final one seeing Harvey head over from a Woolfe cross

Mitchley was inches away from reducing the deficit for Kendal on thirty-eight minutes, as Maison McGeechan fizzed a cross in across the Hednesford six-yard box, with Mitchley unable to get a toe to the cross as it flew across the face of goal

A McGeechan corner kick on forty minutes caused confusion in the Hednesford ranks, as Brown flicked the ball into the path of centre back Reiss Lee. His shot was high, wide and not at all handsome, however, as he sliced his effort well over the crossbar

With a couple of minutes left in the half, Harvey did well to race onto a through ball and stay onside, before squaring the ball into the path of the onrushing MacPherson. Once again, the Hednesford skipper got his shot all wrong, scuffing his effort wide of goal from a good position

Half time saw the Pitmen forced into a change, as Woolfe was withdrawn due to a hamstring problem - he was replaced by Kyle Patterson

Osbourne could have given the Pitmen a flying start to the second period, as Dootson came to Kendal's rescue once again with a fine save to deny the midfielder

Kendal, playing down the considerable slope at the Cosyseal Stadium in the second half, came back into the game after this early scare and pushed the Pitmen back into their own half. On fifty-two minutes, a mix-up between Crane and Disney almost let in McGeechan, but with the ball bobbling around, Disney managed to get back and hack the ball clear

McGeechan got the goal his efforts deserved two minutes later, as he picked up a deflected Martin Grundy shot before turning and firing past Crane from eighteen yards out

The hosts went looking for a quickfire equaliser and forced a succession of corner kicks as they pressed the Hednesford defence. Lee headed wide from one such set-piece, followed a minute later by a blocked shot from Mitchley

The Pitmen managed to weather the storm and restored their two-goal advantage on sixty-seven minutes. A marauding run from Osborne was finally brought to an end by McGeechan, who tripped the midfielder in full flow as he entered the penalty area. Durrell confidently fired home the resultant spot-kick to grab his eleventh successful  penalty kick of the current campaign

Durrell almost doubled his tally for the evening, and thus settle the game, four minutes later, as his free-kick was turned away from goal by the palm of Dootson

This was to be Durrell's final action of the game, as the playmaker was given a well-earned rest for the final seventeen minutes as he was replaced by Francis. This saw a reshuffle in defence, with Barnes moving to right-back, Disney to left-back and Kris Taylor adopting a more familiar role in midfield

Crane was called upon to keep the Pitmen two goals clear with fifteen minutes left, as he made a great save to deny Grundy at his far post

Rey was given a late run out with ten minutes remaining, replacing Harvey up front alongside the hard-working Lennon

Kendal appeared to run out of ideas in the final ten minutes, as the introduction of Francis stiffened up the Hednesford back line. The Pitmen saw out the final action with relative ease to record one of three required wins to draw level with Ferriby at the top of the table. Next up - a difficult home game against play-off chasing Buxton

Kendal Town: Dootson, Cook, Hastings, Wilson, Brown, Lee, Grundy, Rushton (Taylor 64), Mitchley, McGeechan, Clark (Barron 76)      Subs Unused: Helliwell, Rawnsley, Freeland

Hednesford Town: Crane, Disney, Taylor, Bailey, Barnes, MacPherson ©, Osborne, Durrell (Francis 73), Harvey (Rey 80), Lennon, Woolfe (Patterson 45)       Subs Unused: Wright, Fincher