4.4.2013

Evo-Stik Northern Premier League

Hednesford Town

Lennon (40), (61)

Kendal Town

Cook (2)

(1) 2

(1) 1

Attendance

MoTM

Current Form

Next Match

344

Michael Lennon

D W D W D L W W D W

Marine (A) 6.4.13

On a bitterly cold evening at Keys Park, the Pitmen kept pace with league leaders North Ferriby United courtesy of a narrow win over relegation-haunted Kendal Town

Playing their third game in six days, it was perhaps surprising that the Hednesford line-up contained only one change from the side that had started Bank Holiday Monday's local derby at Rushall Olympic with Sean O'Connor was rewarded for his goalscoring contribution at Rushall by replacing Neil Harvey, who limped out of Monday's 2-2 draw at Dales Lane. Midfielder Dave MacPherson was also starting a two-match suspension after an accumulation of yellow cards, meaning the bench had a youthful look to it with the additions of U21 players Luke Shearer, Asa Wright and Scott Meer

Kendal, who had lost their previous nine league games, came into the game in desperate need of a pick-me-up as they lay just a point above the drop zone. Despite their recent poor record, they shocked the Pitmen with a goal from the very first attack of the game. Jack Cook got the better of a Hednesford defence that had been caught cold, beating Ben Bailey for pace before slotting past Dan Crane to give Kendal a surprise lead

 Hednesford quickly picked the pace up, forcing a corner kick that was wasted by Elliott Durrell. A free-kick, won by Jamey Osborne on five minutes, was also wasted by Kris Taylor, whose clipped ball drifted over the heads of the incoming Hednesford players

Cook threatened the break clear of the Hednesford defence on fifteen minutes, picking up another loose ball and running at a hesitant Hednesford defence, but an excellent tackle from Bailey denied the midfielder another effort on goal

The frustration around Keys Park grew as the half progressed, as the Pitmen continued to waste chances from good positions. Elliott Durrell over-hit a twentieth-minute corner kick, followed two minutes later by a scuffed effort from Taylor, who failed to get decent contact on his shot from the edge of the penalty area

There were more groans on twenty-seven minutes, as John Disney headed a ball back into the danger area following Darren Campion's cross, but neither O'Connor nor the hardworking Michael Lennon could take advantage

Despite the frustrations, Hednesford continued to create openings as they searched for an equaliser. Disney was involved once again on twenty-nine minutes, playing in Osborne with a square ball. The in-form midfielder mis-hit his shot, curling it wide of Kendal keeper Craig Dootson's goal

Kendal were content to allow the Pitmen to have most of the ball and catch them on the counter-attack and almost grabbed a shock second goal through Danny Mitchley on thirty-five minutes. The striker's goalbound header from Cook's ball in was brilliantly turned away by Crane, conceding a corner kick in the process

Back came the Pitmen, with strike partners O'Connor and Lennon linking up on thirty-seven minutes to create a chance for Monday's goalscorer; Lennon's flick-on found the big man O'Connor, who got too much on his shot and fired well over

The Pitmen's incessant pressure eventually bore fruit just before half time, as they finally forced home an equaliser from a Durrell corner. His flag-kick found O'Connor, who saw his initial shot cleared off the line. Francino Francis headed the ball back into the danger zone, with Lennon lurking to divert the ball home with his head from close range

The second half saw Hednesford play with more poise and authority, cutting out the silly errors of the first half and playing with more fluidity. Dootson was to earn his money in a busy second half for the Kendal stopper, repelling Hednesford with a number of saves to keep Kendal in the game

On fifty minutes, he was called upon for the first time, as he made a smart stop to deny Taylor who fired in a low, dipping shot at goal

Ten minutes later, Dootson was again on hand to deny O'Connor, but came off worst on a challenge with the big striker and received treatment after being roughed up by the former Queen of the South man

A minute later, Dootson could do little to stop the Pitmen finally taking the lead for the first time in the game, as a Taylor corner was only partially cleared by a nervy Kendal defence. Taylor picked up the loose ball and produced a superb sweeping cross that was headed confidently home by Lennon for his, and the Pitmen's, second of the night

The Pitmen continued to pepper the Kendal goal with shots in the next ten minutes, looking to extend their lead further. Dootson was on hand to deny O'Connor once more on sixty-six minutes, saving the striker's shot after Durrell's free-kick was only cleared to Osborne

This was to be O'Connor's final act of the evening, as he was taken off on sixty-nine minutes in favour of the pacy Aaron Rey

After Durrell had gone close with a powerful rising shot from twenty-five yards out, Rey got involved for the first time in the game as he ran onto a clever through ball from Taylor on seventy-seven minutes. Dootson again was on hand to deny the hosts, turning Rey's low shot behind for a corner to the Pitmen

The dropping temperatures seemed to have an effect on the game in the final ten minutes, as the game petered out as a contest with both sides seemingly content to settle for the result. Three points for the Pitmen puts them five points behind North Ferriby once more, still with a game in hand on the Villagers. A tough trip to Marine is next on the schedule for Rob Smith's outfit, who must surely need something from Liverpool to stay in contention at the top of the table

Hednesford Town: Crane, Disney, Campion ©, Bailey, Francis, Barnes, Osborne, Durrell, O’Connor (Rey 69), Lennon, Taylor      Subs Unused: Patterson, Wright, Shearer, Meer

Kendal Town: Dootson, Overson, Hoctor, Freeland, Brown ©, Lee, Vickers (Taylor 85), Cook, Mitchley, Wilson (Rawnsley 79), McGeechan

 Subs Unused: Eastwood, Foster, Robinson