Nationwide Conference North

Hednesford Town

Dyer (63)

Lancaster City

(0) 1

(0) 0



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Richard Teesdale



Gainsborough Trinity (H) 28.1.06

There may just be life in the Pitmen after all, as Steve Anthrobus's side record back-to-back wins this evening for the first time this season as they put a dent in Lancaster City's play-off ambitions with all three points over the Dolly Blues

Saturday's huge win over Hinckley United had brought the Pitmen back within striking distance of the other sides above them in the league table, starting this evening's game just a point adrift of Alfreton Town. Anthrobus had dipped into the transfer market once more to bring in former Shrewsbury Town and Telford United right-back Jason Drysdale, who was the first of two changes to the side from the one that had beaten Hinckley as he replaced the injured Ian Wright, whilst Ross Dyer came back into the side up front in place of the injured Andy Bell

Lancaster made the long trip down to Staffordshire in eighth place in the Conference North table, just three points behind Hucknall Town in the final play-off place. The Dolly Blues had lost 2-0 at mid-table Kettering Town on Saturday, with manager Peter Ward electing to make one change to his side for tonight's clash as Joe McMahon came back into the side for Griff Jones

On a cold late winter evening, both sides were cagey in the opening ten minutes, with very little to show from either XI early on. The crowd had to be patient as both midfields dominated the opening exchanges, with Sean Platt being warned by referee Mr Heywood in the eighth minute for a sliding tackle on Ryan Elderton that brought the midfield man down just inside the Hednesford half

The first shot of any real note came in the twelfth minute as the visitors won a corner kick, which was floated in by Tony Sullivan and onto the head of Alan Dodd, whose wayward effort drifted high over Gary Hateley's crossbar

Three minutes later, Leon McSweeney was pulled up by a late offside flag on the main stand side as he raced onto a fine pass from Colin Hunter but had moved a little too soon and had strayed offside in behind the Lancaster defence

The away side produced their best moment of the game so far in the eighteenth minute as neat play from Steve Skinner and Andrew Bond opened up the Hednesford defence and played the ball through to striker Tom Pope, whose first-time effort bounced twice before skipping past Hateley's right-hand post

The Pitmen's best chance of the evening so far came midway through the half as Mark Briggs sent over a free-kick from the left that was knocked down by Richard Teesdale and into the path of Brannan, whose subsequent cross-cum-shot was diverted over the crossbar by Dyer from six yards out

Sixty seconds later, Platt played McSweeney into space down the right with a slide-rule pass, with the striker dragging the ball back onto this left boot and striking a firm shot across goal, forcing Lancaster goalkeeper Tony McMillan to urn the ball away from danger with a one-handed stop


Tricky wing play from Sullivan on twenty-six minutes saw the Lancaster man beat new boy Drysdale and cross for the incoming Alex Taylor, who got underneath the ball as he beat Barrow to the cross and headed high over the bar

Just after the half-hour mark, Dyer won a free-kick for the hosts to the left-hand side of the Lancaster penalty area as he was sent sprawling by Steve Smith. Tom Marshall took the resultant free-kick but saw his fiercely struck effort deflected just wide of the target by the Lancaster wall

The hosts were forced into a substitution and subsequent reshuffle to their ranks on thirty-four minutes as Briggs was forced off holding the back of his leg and was replaced by Grant Beckett. The introduction of Beckett saw the Pitmen revert to a 5-3-2 formation with Beckett slotting in at left-back and Marshall moving to a more central role alongside Teesdale and Barrow

Beckett was straight into the game two minutes after coming on, making an overlapping run beyond Hunter to create acres of space in behind Smith. His deep cross to the far post found Brannan, who stretched to reach the ball and volleyed his angled effort over the crossbar from eight yards out

Brannan was involved again for the home side on thirty-seven minutes as he won the ball in midfield from Elderton and sent McSweeney on his way. The Irishman held the ball up well just outside the Lancaster penalty area before picking out Dyer with an instinctive pass that the youngster stumbled on at the crucial moment and could only scuff his shot wide of the target

With four minutes of a low-quality half remaining, Tom Marshall climbed highest to nod down a Brannan corner kick but was penalised for a foul on McMillan in the build-up before McSweeney could turn the loose ball home from a couple of yards out

In added time, McMillan was alert to the danger posed by Dyer as he came out of his goal to kick Platt's through ball away from the teenager before Dyer could get on the end of the on-loan Walsall man's long ball forwards

It had been an attritional first period from both sides, with neither side really looking convincing in front of goal so far; Hateley had not made a save of note for the Pitmen as he had been well protected by his defenders but Anthrobus will have been irked at the lack of penetration his forwards had made against a stubborn Dolly Blues defence

Lancaster made a good start to the second half and went close to taking the lead six minutes after the restart as Taylor broke the Hednesford offside trap after getting on the end of a good pass from Skinner, taking the ball into the penalty area and past Marshall but seeing his shot beaten away by Hateley at his near post

The Pitmen responded through McSweeney once more, with the forward controlling Beckett's pass brilliantly in mid-air on fifty-four minutes before striking a shot at goal from nearly thirty yards out that had McMillan scrambling across his goal to watch the shot wide of the post

Four minutes later, Lancaster's Joe McMahon flicked a Sullivan corner on at the near post and into the path of Pope, who was crowded out by the Hednesford defenders before he could apply the finish from close-range

The Pitmen got their noses in front on sixty-three minutes as Dyer scored his first-ever goal at Keys Park thanks to a superb cross from Hunter, swinging the ball in from the left after his corner kick was played back to him by the Lancaster defence. The ball found Teesdale at the far post, who managed to turn the ball back from the byeline and into the path of Dyer, who turned the ball past McMillan from three yards out

More good play from Hunter saw him tie Smith up in knots with a mazy run down the flank on sixty-six minutes, crossing low into the feet of Brannan who struck his shot into the side-netting from fifteen yards out

Dyer's soaring confidence saw him make a forceful run from the halfway line and deep into the Lancaster half on seventy minutes, shooting tamely into the arms of McMillan when a pass to Brannan would have perhaps been a better option

The play-off chasing Dolly Blues made a couple of positional changes and substitute Mike Eckersley was involved on seventy-three minutes, crossing from the right-wing after beating Beckett to find Pope, whose sidefooted effort was blocked promptly by Barrow

Skinner delivered a fine ball into the Hednesford penalty area with seventeen minutes of the game remaining and saw his inswinging ball punched away by Hateley but straight into the path of Elderton, whose follow-up shot was blocked by the tall, rangy Marshall inside the Pitmen's six-yard box

Drysdale's quickly-taken free-kick sent Brannan away down the right flank on seventy-nine minutes, with the teenager taking the ball all the way to the byeline and standing up a cross to the far post, where McSweeney's downward header was easily saved by McMillan

The visitors ramped up the pressure on the Hednesford defence as the game entered the last ten minutes, with Eckersley's cross on eighty-two minutes headed over the crossbar by the over-stretching Taylor eight yards from goal, under pressure from Barrow

Three minutes later, Joe McMahon seized upon Platt's loose pass out of defence and took the ball forwards before shaking his long-range effort just over the crossbar

More anxious defending from the Pitmen saw them struggle to clear their lines from Skinner's free-kick on eighty-seven minutes, with Hateley eventually punching the ball away once more as both Barrow and Teesdale failed to get the ball away from danger

The Pitmen remained a threat on the counter-attack, however, and almost took advantage of the lack of numbers at the back for Lancaster in the final minute of the game as they broke quickly through McSweeney, who released Dyer to run in behind the retreating Lancaster back line. Dyer got the better of Dodd but dragged his shot wide of the far post with only McMillan to beat

In added time, Dyer was again handed a chance to finish the game off for the hosts as he broke down the right to latch onto Platt's long pass but once again pulled his effort across goal wide of the far post as McMillan narrowed down the angle


It hadn't been particularly pretty but pretty isn't what the Pitmen need at the moment as they look to get themselves back on track with a run of form in the league. Three points lift them back off the foot of the table for now ahead of a run of games that could yield a decent points haul for Anthrobus's side, starting with the visit of fifteenth-placed Gainsborough Trinity to Keys Park on Saturday afternoon

Hednesford Town: Hateley, Drysdale, T. Marshall, Platt, Teesdale, Barrow ©, Brannan, Briggs (Beckett 34), Dyer, McSweeney, Hunter     Subs Unused: P. McMahon, Adams, Bragoli, Whittle

Lancaster City: McMillan, Smith (Eckersley 65), Scott, Dodd, J. McMahon, Elderton, Bond, Skinner, Taylor, Pope, Sullivan (Jones 75)       Subs Unused: Shaw, Greenwood, Feeney