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UniBond Northern Premier League

Hednesford Town

Alexander (31), Sheppard (68) (penalty)

Kendal Town

Foster (17)

(1) 2

(1) 1



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Mario Pedro


Ilkeston Town (H) 9.10.06

Hednesford climbed up one place in the UniBond Premier League to third place in the table following a hard-fought victory over Kendal Town at Keys Park this afternoon with a goal in each half


There were no changes to Phil Starbuck's starting line-up from Tuesday night's draw at Lincoln United as the Pitmen looked to extend their unbeaten run to five games after two frustrating draws last week

Kendal made their first-ever trip to Keys Park off the back of an F.A. Cup defeat to Warrington Town on Tuesday night, losing 3-2 to their lower league opponents in the second qualifying round replay after extra time. Kendal player/manager Lee Ashcroft - the former Preston and West Brom player - made three changes to his side with Nigel Taylor coming back in for Andy Hill in defence, Scott Redhead replacing Paul Osborne and goalkeeper Ross Baxter replacing the injured Ben Hinchcliffe

The Pitmen were on the front foot early on as they went in search of an early opener, with Mario Pedro's dancing feet getting past Paul Rigby in the third minute, crossing well for Ross Dyer but just missing the head of the incoming striker at the far post

Taylor tested Young's reflexes a minute later with Kendal's first effort of the afternoon from a free-kick, curling in a twenty-five yard effort that was easily fielded by Young

Darren Alexander had been impressive in recent games with his work rate and goal threat and probably had not scored the goals that his efforts had deserved. He did well to sneak in behind the Kendal defence in the sixth minute to latch onto a Chad Sheppard pass but allowed Taylor to intervene before he could pull the trigger

A great cross from Sheppard in the eleventh minute saw Dyer clash with Baxter at the near post, with the stopper just doing enough to push the ball away from danger under pressure from the Hednesford man

Against the run of play, Kendal took the lead in the seventeenth minute of the game; Pedro brought the ball out of defence and appeared to be fouled by Chris Ward as he looked to play the ball forwards. To the Pitmen's amazement, the referee failed to award them a free-kick and play continued with Russell McKenna, who made a run down the left flank and pulled the ball back into the path of Dave Foster. The long-serving striker took advantage of a slight deflection off the boot of Ross Adams to steady himself and fire past Young with a well-taken first-time effort

Chris White chased the referee back to the centre circle to question his judgement in not awarding a free-kick to his side in the build-up to the goal and was booked for taking his protests too far

Sixty seconds later, the Pitmen really should have pulled themselves level as Pedro did well to get to the byeline down the right flank and stood up a cross to the far post, where Tom Franklin arrived late to somehow head wide of the target with the goal gaping. A poor miss from the midfield man

 Kendal probably should have doubled their advantage on twenty minutes, but Young denied Scott Redhead with a smart stop down to his left after the Kendal midfielder had stolen in behind the Hednesford defence with a late run onto a McKenna pass


Four minutes later, Alexander attempting to bundle home a low Adams cross at the near post but found Hinchcliffe equal to his effort with a save at his near post

The Pitmen continued to waste good chances, with Terry Henshaw's deep cross headed back across goal by Alexander on twenty-eight minutes but was smuggled behind by Rigby before Dyer could react the rebound

A minute later, Taylor tested Young once more as he struck a fierce long-range shot that was tipped around the right-hand post by the former Telford stopper

On the half-hour mark, Taylor was shown what was to be the first of two he was to receive in the game as he was cautioned for bringing Alexander down in full flight

 Hednesford did get their deserved leveller a minute later as a cross from the right was fumbled by Baxter which allowed Alexander to seize upon the loose ball before turning well and firing through as forest of legs from twelve yards out to level matters once more

Franklin could have swept the hosts into the lead on thirty-six minutes as he got on the end of a flowing move through the centre of the pitch but snatched at his shot and lifted it into the Hednesford end stand

With four minutes of the half remaining, a quick break from Kendal saw McKenna get the better of Adams and cross for Foster, whose header on the stretch drifted over the crossbar from eight yards out, under pressure from Tom Marshall

It had been another dominant display from the Pitmen, in keeping with several of their recent performances that had left their supporters feeling frustrated at them failing to take the several opportunities presented to them

Pedro set Dyer away in behind the Kendal defence on fifty-eight minutes, only for the young striker to fluff his lines with a wild effort on the run as he tried to get away from Jon Forbes

Two minutes later the same players combined once more as Pedro's cut pass into the feet of Dyer saw him turn past Taylor and scuff his shot well wide of Baxter's goal

Ross Dyer missing a glorious opportunity on fifty-four minutes as Pedro yet again presented him with a great cross from the right that found the striker unmarked at the far post, only for the youngster to divert his header wide of the target

 With Pedro having plenty of joy against Craig Redhead, Starbuck elected to make an early attacking change on fifty-five minutes as Franklin was replaced by the speedy Phil Hadland to add width to the left-hand side

Hadland's first involvement saw him take a free-kick from the left-hand side of the penalty area on the hour mark and find the head of Danny Jellicoe at the far post, only for the former skipper's header to drift away from goal and into the fans gathered in the Heath Hayes terrace

Two minutes later, Sheppard did well to dispossess Ward and play Pedro into space down the right; the winger took three touches before skinning Craig Redhead and pulling the ball back into the path of the former Birmingham City midfielder, whose swipe at the ball saw him curl the ball wide of the left-hand post


Kendal were reduced to ten men on sixty-five minutes as Taylor was shown his second yellow card of the afternoon for a late challenge on Dyer in the centre circle

Visibly lifted by the red card, the Pitmen stepped up their game and Baxter had to be alert to deny Dyer two minutes after the red card at his near post to claim a Pedro cross ahead of the striker


The home side's persistence finally paid off on sixty-eight minutes as Henshaw's burst into the area was checked by Ward just inside the Kendal box, resulting in a spot-kick to the Pitmen. Sheppard stepped up and confidently dispatched the kick straight down the middle for his first goal for the club as he gave Baxter the eyes from twelve yards out


The Pitmen won the ball back from the restart and quickly made their way forwards once more, with Baxter doing well to palm Alexander's low drive away from goal for a Hednesford corner kick

A flurry of yellow cards followed during a niggly five-minute spell as Alexander was booked for kicking the ball away followed by cautions for both Ward and Foster for accumulations of petty fouls

With eleven minutes remaining, player/manager/skipper Ashcroft did well to get the better of Marshall and lay the ball off to McKenna, who stepped inside of Adams' challenge and drilled in a shot that hit Young's side netting at his near post

With eight minutes remaining, the hosts were forced into making their second substitution of the afternoon as Marshall and Henshaw clashed heads after challenging for a high ball. After receiving treatment from Don Drakeley, Marshall was withdrawn and replaced by Iain Screaton as he was sent off to hospital with what appeared to be a concussion

Dyer's fine through ball to Alexander with five minutes remaining saw the striker have a coming together with the onrushing Baxter and coming off worst in the challenge. The youngster was forced off after suffering a nasty gash to his leg and was replaced by Marlon Walters for the remaining minutes of the game

There was a late rally from the ten-man visitors and they had what they felt was a legitimate call for a penalty kick in added time as Foster felt that he was held back by Henshaw as he pulled a shot wide of Young's left-hand post. The referee was unimpressed with the men in yellow's claims and awarded the Pitmen a goal kick


The hosts held on to record their first win in three games and move them up into the top three of the UniBond Premier League table once, more sitting behind early pace-setters AFC Telford United and Guiseley after thirteen games. This was the first of back-to-back home games for the Pitmen this week, as they face former Southern Premier League rivals Ilkeston Town on the same pitch in forty-eight hours looking to go top of the table once again with a win

Hednesford Town: Young, Adams, Henshaw, White © , Marshall (Screaton 82), Jellicoe, Franklin (Hadland 55), Sheppard, Alexander ▆ (Walters 88), Dyer, Pedro       Subs Unused: None

Kendal Town: Baxter, Rigby, C. Redhead, Forbes, Taylor ▆  (65), S. Redhead (Hill 66), Ward , Mercer (P. Osborne 89), Foster , Ashcroft ©, McKenna      Subs Unused: Smith 

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