28.4.2007

UniBond Northern Premier League

Kendal Town

Wright (77) (penalty), (87)

Hednesford Town

Styche (29), (42), Alexander (54)

(0) 2

(2) 3

Attendance

MoTM

Current Form

381

Reece Styche

D L D D L D L D D W

The Pitmen wrapped up their inaugural UniBond Premier League campaign with a win this afternoon as they completed a league double over Kendal Town at Parkside Road

Hednesford manager Phil Starbuck took advantage of this dead rubber to name three youth team players as substitutes as Keenen Meakin-Richards, Reece Styche, Craig Edwards and Greg Dickinson were all rewarded for their displays for the youth team with call-ups to the first team. The first XI saw three changes to the one that had drawn with Ashton United last weekend with Gary Sucharewycz, Meakin-Richards and Justin Jenkins coming in for Lee Soar, Iain Screaton and Phil Hadland

Kendal's first season at step three level had been one of struggle, with the Mintcakes just having enough points to avoid a final day shoot-out against the likes of Mossley, Leek Town and Frickley Athletic for the final relegation spot. Player/manager Lee Ashcroft made two changes to the side that had lost at Frickley last weekend as Ian Johnson and Ian Kilford came in for Dave Foster and Pete Ferris respectively

It was Jenkins who had the game's first chance of what turned out to be an exciting end-of-season encounter in the fourth minute as he headed narrowly wide of the near post after good play from Ross Dyer and Danny Bacon down the right flank

Darren Alexander was next to have a sight at goal in the ninth minute as he got goal side of Dene Whittal-Williams to reach a cross from Ross Adams but saw his toe-poke at goal saved by Kendal goalkeeper Rick Whiteside

Kendal were struggling to get the ball up to strikers Ashcroft and Lee Mulvaney and were reliant on a free-kick from Kilford in the twelfth minute to find the head of Whittal-Williams, whose lopping effort cleared Ryan Young's crossbar from twelve yards out

Jenkins' season came to an abrupt halt in the fourteenth minute as he limped away from a challenge with John Fowler and was forced off the pitch after a spell of treatment was replaced by teenager Styche

Styche was involved straight away as he played the ball out to Pedro in space three minutes after coming on. The Portuguese winger took Paul Sparrow on and stole a yard before crossing to Dyer in the penalty area, whose downward header was easily fielded by Whiteside

Dyer's own goal drought had reached thirteen consecutive games since his strike at Leek Town in February and continued into a fourteenth game on twenty-one minutes as his header from a Pedro corner was cleared off the line by Whittal-Williams

Three minutes later, Alexander out-muscled Ian Johnson just outside the Kendal penalty area and played a neat one-two with Dyer before playing Pedro into space once more. The winger's quick feet got him away from Sparrow once more but he elected to shoot rather than pass to Styche and lifted his effort over the crossbar from a tight angle

Just before the half-hour mark, the Pitmen got the goal their pressure deserved as Dyer picked up a pass from Chris White before playing a delightful ball to the scampering Styche, who showed great composure to take a touch before lifted the ball over the onrushing Whiteside to score his first-ever senior goal. It must have been galling for Jenkins to watch his replacement grab a goal within fifteen minutes of his introduction, having spent twelve games looking in vain for his maiden strike for the club

Kendal responded to going a goal behind through Peter Wright, who went close to equalising for the hosts on thirty-four minutes as he was played onside by Sucharewycz inside the Hednesford penalty area but was denied by, of all people, Pedro, who chased back and tackled him in the penalty area to dispossess the forward at a crucial moment

 

Mulvaney will feel he should have levelled things up a minute later as he missed a golden opportunity at the far post, firing wide of Young's far post after latching on to Kilford's lofted pass

The Pitmen were awarded a penalty kick on thirty-six minutes as Darren Alexander was sent sprawling just inside the Kendal penalty area by a clumsy challenge from Woods. Marshall took the resultant spot-kick but struck it at a comfortable height for Whiteside, who made a good save to his right

Mulvaney was guilty of another poor miss for the hosts with six minutes of the half remaining as he was put through on goal by player/manager Ashcroft but fired wide with only Young to beat from fifteen yards out

Styche grabbed his, and Hednesford's second goal, on forty-two minutes as the teenager's dream debut continued; Marshall's long, raking ball forwards  ball was misjudged by an apprehensive Whiteside, who allowed the ball to bounce over his head and allow the youngster to nip in and pass the ball into the corner of the net

In the final minute of the first half, a good pass by Johnson was flicked on by Mulvaney and into the path of Wright, who was denied a shot at goal by a late offside flag against him

The Pitmen had been good value for their lead at the break as the shackles had been thrown off and the disappointment of failing to make the play-offs dissipating

Styche could have made it a spectacular debut hat-trick within five minutes of the restart as he picked up a cross from Dyer eight yards from goal but scuffed his shot across the face of goal and wide

Alexander fluffed his lines two minutes later as he drilled a shot well wide of the post from just outside the six-yard box after Meakin-Richards had sent over a deep cross from the left

Styche turned provider for Alexander on fifty-four minutes as the Pitmen grabbed their third goal of the afternoon as he won the ball from a dawdling Whittal-Williams just inside the Kendal penalty area and laid the ball off to the incoming Alexander, who could not miss from eight yards out with a sidefooted shot past Whiteside

Kendal substitute Gareth Arnison - on for Ashcroft just after the Pitmen's third goal - was straight into the action on the hour mark as he made a run deep into the Pitmen's half before pulling the trigger with a left-footed effort that sailed wide of Young's post

Four minutes later, Marshall flicked on a Ross Adams corner kick into the oath of fellow defender Sucharewycz, whose return header back across the face of goal was inches away from being turned home by Alexander

 

Kendal were still giving a good account of themselves despite being three goals down and Wright lashed a good effort over the crossbar on sixty-eight minutes after being fed by Mulvaney's through ball

Five minutes later, Fowler did well to beat White to the ball in midfield and play Kilford into space. The playmaker tried his luck from twenty-five yards out and drove his effort inches over Young's crossbar

With fifteen minutes of the game remaining, the visitors made their second change of the game as Edwards was given his first-team debut in place of Pedro

The hosts were given a chance to get themselves back into the game on seventy-seven minutes as they were awarded a penalty kick; Sucharewycz was penalised for pushing Wright over in the penalty area, with the striker picking himself up to take the resultant spot-kick and send Young the wrong way to reduce the deficit

Kendal sensed a late comeback and Young had to be alert to deny them on more than one occasion. Wright was denied by Young on seventy-nine minutes as he pushed the forward's strike away and around the post for a corner kick

Sixty seconds later, Wright was left frustrated once again by Young as the stopper turned the Kendal man's rising shot over the crossbar for another corner kick

Dickinson was handed a late debut for the Pitmen with ten minutes remaining as the Pitmen's final substitution, coming on in place of the hard-working Dyer

 

Kendal were then reduced to ten men with nine minutes remaining as Johnson was sent off for a second bookable offence after a foul on Alexander in the Kendal half of the pitch

Kilford's shot from the edge of the penalty area was deflected wide of goal by Adams with six minutes remaining; Whittal-Wiliams headed wide from Arnison's resultant kick from just six yards out

With the game seemingly drifting to a conclusion, Kendal set up a grandstand finish with a second goal in the eighty-seventh minute. Dickinson gave away a free-kick just on the edge of the Kendal penalty area after bringing Foster down, allowing Wright to line up the kick and curl it beyond the ball over the wall and beyond the reach of Young to his right to find the corner of the net

Wright was denied a let hat-trick and equaliser for the Mintcakes in the first minute of added time as he picked up a pass from Kilford and tried his luck with a rising effort from fifteen yards out that was tipped onto the crossbar by Young before Adams completed the clearance

The Pitmen held on for a well-earned three points which sees them finish in sixth position in the UniBond Premier League table and a with a feeling of 'what might have been'. Their season has imploded spectacularly since the New Year's Day defeat to AFC Telford United. Three wins in eighteen games during 2007 tells its own story of under-performance from Starbuck and his players, with the Hednesford manager keen to reiterate his desire to see through the job in 2007-2008 after watching in horror at his side's alarming drop down the table from a once-powerful position. Expect much change to the playing squad in the summer months before we return for a second season in the NPL in August

Kendal Town: Whiteside, Sparrow, Byrne, Whittal-Williams, Woods, Fowler (Ferris 82), Johnson ▆ ▆ (81), Kilford, Ashcroft (Arnison 60), Mulvaney (Foster 79), Wright      Subs Unused: None

Hednesford Town: Young, Marshall, Adams, White ©, Sucharewycz, Pedro (Edwards 75), Meakin-Richards, Alexander, Dyer (Dickinson 80), Bacon, Jenkins (Styche 14)    Subs Unused: None