UniBond Northern Premier League

Hednesford Town

Platt (18) (penalty), Barnett (84), Burley (90)

Kendal Town

Taylor (10), Hallam (12), Osman (22)

(1) 3

(3) 3



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Elliott Durrell


Hyde United (A) 22.11.08

Hednesford earned quite possibly their toughest point of the season this afternoon, as a late goal from Adam Burley concluded a high scoring, and at times brutal, confrontation with fellow high-flyers Kendal


The team had looked tired on Monday in the defeat at Ashton United, but manager Dean Edwards elected to stick with the same XI that had started at Hurst Cross on Monday night.  There was one notable change on the bench, however, with former Leicester City, Cambridge United and Watford striker Trevor Benjamin making up the numbers after signing for the club in midweek

The Pitmen, backed by the biggest crowd of the season at Keys Park, started well, playing with their usual up-tempo style. However, with their first real attack of the game, Kendal took an early lead. The impressive Alex Taylor picked the ball up wide on the right and crossed into the box. The ball deceived everyone, including Stuart Brock in the Pitmen's goal, and dropped over Brock's head and find the far corner of the net

Kendal hit the Pitmen with a sucker punch two minutes later, as they extended their lead. Taylor's cross found Tony Hallam in the area, and he headed past Brock after a vital slip from marker Danny Harvey

The Pitmen were shocked - it was only the second time this season they had been two goals adrift, and that game saw them lose to North Ferriby United on their own patch. Kendal's driving approach to the game had caught them out and left them with a mountain to climb

That mountain became more of a hill six minutes later, as they reduced the deficit. Harvey and Hallam had a coming-together in the Kendal area, leaving the referee no choice but to award the Pitmen a penalty. Rather than one of the usual suspects taking it, right wing-back Sean Platt stepped up to fire confidently past David Newnes in the Kendal goal

The game was being played at a frantic pace, with an almost cup-tie feel to it as both sides went hell for leather going forward. Midway through the half, the visitors regained their two-goal advantage. A free-kick on Kendal's left was floated in by Taylor, finding the head of Carl Osman, who beat the Hednesford defence to it to head past Brock - it was the first time this season the Pitmen had conceded three goals in a game

The game started to turn aggressive, as players from both sides ended up in the book. The referee was in danger of losing control of the game as a number of challenges either went unpunished or were simply missed by a poor set of officials

The aggressive tone to the game came to a head as the game entered added time at the end of the first period. Ross Draper, relishing the kind of physical threat thrown down by Kendal, won a ball on halfway as he looked to get his side going again. The man robbed of the ball, Callum Warburton, took a dislike to Draper's challenge and consequently attempted to punch Draper in the head. Such a blatant act of dangerous play made the decision simple - a straight red card for the Kendal man

The Pitmen emerged for the second half with one clear goal  - to get into the game as quickly as possible against the ten men of Kendal

They started well, with the bright, sparky Elliott Durrell always looking for the killer ball. He was first to test Newnes three minutes after the restart, volleying towards goal after being set up by Tyrone Barnett

The Pitmen were clearly in the mood to go for it, with Durrell again making Newnes work for Kendal, heading towards goal but watching as the keeper managed to get his hands on the ball

The eagerly-awaited appearance of Benjamin came a little earlier than some may have expected, with the former Hereford man replacing Harvey as the Pitmen adjusted their shape to compensate for a more attacking formation

Benjamin had been on the pitch barely five minutes before he was presented with a chance. Draper's ball to him allowed Benjamin time to pick his shot firing low at goal but seeing Newnes equal to it

A raft of changes changed the dynamic of the game during the second half, with Sam Hall replacing Platt and Adam Burley coming on in place of Maguire, with both players encouraged to 'bomb on' in the latter stages of the half

There was very little in the way of an attacking threat from the away side, with their defence being heavily reliant on to hold on to the lead they had

They managed to hold out until six minutes from time when the Pitmen's pressure eventually told. Burley made a marauding run into the Kendal half, before sending over an inviting cross that found top scorer Barnett. His header beat Newnes and dropped over the line, despite the keeper's best efforts to fool everyone that it had not gone in

From there on in, it was a siege, as the Pitmen bombarded the Kendal goal. Half chances came and went, with Durrell and Ross Dyer both denied by a series of last-ditch tackles and unfavourable bobbles

As the game entered added time, the Pitmen launched one last attack. Marshall's lofted ball into the Kendal area found Draper, whose flick header fell perfectly for the onrushing Burley, who fired home a late  - and for many relieved supporters - deserved, equaliser

A well-earned point for the hosts after their nightmarish first quarter to the game, but with Guiseley now hot on the Pitmen's heels at the top of the UniBond Premier League, they cannot afford too many slip-ups like this especially with Guiseley visiting Keys Park in three weeks time. Before all that, there is the small matter of a trip to Blue Square North side Hyde United in the third qualifying round of the F.A. Trophy next weekend

Hednesford Town: Brock, Platt (Hall 77), Maguire (Burley 67), Gomes , Harvey (Benjamin 57), Marshall , Briggs , Durrell, Barnett, Dyer , Draper © ▆       Subs Unused: Stamps, Brown

Kendal Town: Newnes, Standley, Byrne , Hallam , Wordsworth , Warburton  (45), Osman, Hobson, Taylor  (Williams 85), Cole , Mulvaney (Melling 90)      Subs Unused: Ashcroft, Kilford, Wisdom