F.A. Trophy 2nd Round Replay

Hednesford Town

S. Evans (24)

Lancaster City

(1) 1

(0) 0




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Steve Evans



Nuneaton Borough (A) 6.12.03

The Pitmen moved into the third round of the F.A. Trophy this evening as they inched their way past UniBond Premier League Lancaster City in tonight's second-round replay at Keys Park

Manager Barry Powell had come down with a virus since Saturday's encounter at the Giant Axe and was unable to take the team for this evening's replay, leaving team affairs to goalkeeping coach and Wolves legend Phil Parkes for the visit of the Dolly Blues. Parkes selected the same side that had started Saturday's game at The Giant Axe as the hosts looked to finish the job at the second time asking

Phil Wilson also named an unchanged side to his Lancaster line-up, having seen his team have the better of the possession and chances in the first game but lacked any real conviction in front of goal against a flat-footed Hednesford defence. It was the Dolly Blues' first-ever trip to Keys Park and were hoping for a reunion between the two sides next season so long as both sides finish in the top thirteen of their respective leagues and qualify for next season's new Conference North set-up

On a chilly evening in South Staffordshire, both teams gave little away in the opening stages of the game as they continued where they left off at the weekend in cancelling each other out in many areas of the pitch. Hednesford captain Steve Palmer has the first sighting at goal on the night in the sixth minute, driving a low, bobbling shot straight into the arms of Lancaster keeper Mark Thornley from long range after a run from the centre circle

Winger Steve Evans did well to make his way to the byeline on nine minutes after jinking his way past Neil Uberschar, crossing into the six-yard box where Steve Anthrobus headed high over the crossbar

Steve Palmer was off target again on fourteen minutes as he exchanged passes with Les Hines before drilling another effort from twenty-five yards out well wide of goal, incurring the wrath of some of the frustrated Hednesford supporters gathered behind the goal who felt that Palmer should have passed the ball

Lancaster were limited to long-range efforts in the first quarter of the game as they struggled to create any genuine openings inside the Hednesford part of the pitch. Farrell Kilbane struck a shot from nearly thirty yards out on nineteen minutes that was easily claimed by Ryan Young, followed two minutes later by a wild effort from Saturday's goalscorer Tony Sullivan that was lifted into the Heath Hayes end of the ground

The Pitmen got their noses in front on twenty-four minutes, as Steve Evans grabbed his first goal for the club since his summer transfer from Tamworth; Les Hines was the creator once again, as he had been on many occasions already this term as he sent over a fine cross from the left to the far post where Evans was on hand to dive in and head home from close range

Hines himself almost doubled the Pitmen's advantage four minutes later as Anthrobus collected Darren Simkin's pass and played Hines in behind the Lancaster defence, only for the former Halesowen man to drive his low shot across goal and just wide of Thornley's far post

The hosts continued to have the better of the chances, with Evans played in by an exquisite Dodd pass on thirty-three minutes only to dither on the ball and allowed Ryan Elderton and Uberschar to crowd him out and clear the ball from danger

Referee Mr Cook was not endearing himself to either set of players or supporters with a raft of bizarre decisions during the first period, denying the Pitmen a blatant free-kick on the edge of the Lancaster penalty area after Carl Palmer was felled illegally by Phil Clarkson before somehow failing to award the Dolly Blues a clear corner kick after Simkin had turned a Jamie Hughes cross behind

With half-time looming, Anthrobus picked up an Evans pass inside the Lancaster penalty area and elected to pass the ball to Carl Palmer rather than shoot and only succeeded in giving the ball away in a goalscoring position

In first-half added time, Kilbane's chip found the ever-willing Sullivan running in behind the Hednesford defence, only for a late offside flag on the main stand side to deny Sullivan a clean strike at goal

Mark Danks had been a frustrated figure during the game and ended the half even more frustrated as he lifted a great chance over the crossbar following an incisive pass from Alex Gibson

The hosts continued to have the better of the game at the start of the second half as Anthrobus got the better of Elderton on forty-nine minutes by turning the youngster just inside the Lancaster penalty area and firing goalwards, only for Thornley to claim the ball at the second attempt

Another poor refereeing decision from Mr Cook left Anthrobus frustrated on fifty-two minutes as he waved away the big man's protests after he had nipped in ahead of Thornley to get to a Dodd pass and appeared to be brought down by the Lancaster keeper inside the Dolly Blues penalty area

Hines and Evans were developing a real understanding down the left flank as they stretched Uberschar and doubled up on him again and again. The pair quickly took a free-kick between them on fifty-eight minutes with Hines playing Evans in through the inside-left position, only for Thornley to make a fine save at his near post to push Evans' angled drive away from goal

Anthrobus seemed determined to add to his strike on Saturday with a killer second goal to seal the Pitmen's path into round three and fired just wide of Thornley's near post on sixty-three minutes as he nipped in to turn Carl Palmer's cross into the stand

Lancaster started to come back into the game as the second half wore on, playing ten yards further up the pitch as they committed more numbers to the attack to force the game into extra time at least. Hughes appealed in vain for a handball against Simkin on seventy minutes after his hooked effort appeared to strike the arm of the centre-back, although Simkin was standing barely half a yard away and knew very little about the shot

Danks was taken off by Parkes on seventy-three minutes after drawing a blank in front of goal, with the youngster visibly frustrated at his performance and the decision to replace him with Nathan Lamey as he threw his tracksuit jacket to the floor before slumping on the bench

Young had been largely redundant for the majority of the game so far but was called upon on seventy-eight minutes to make a fine save and turn Sullivan's glancing header over the crossbar as it threatened to dip into the net from twelve yards out

The game started to swing from end to end in the final ten minutes as Hughes fired wide of goal from fifteen yards out for the visitors, followed a minute later by Chris Brindley nodding a Hines corner kick wide of the far post

Lamey's chance to shine came and went on eighty-four minutes as Evans crossed from the left to the striker, whose first-time shot forced Thornley into a fine reflex save on his goal line, although he knew very little about it as it hit him before being cleared by Clarkson

A minute later, Lancaster's best chance of the evening came in fluke circumstances as Sullivan picked the ball up on the left-hand side of the penalty area and sent over an inswinging cross that evaded everyone, including Young, before coming back off the base of the far post and relying on Hines to clear the danger

A quick break from the Pitmen on eighty-eight minutes opened up the retreating Lancaster defence as Carl Palmer and Dodd exchanged passes before sending Steve Palmer clear, only for the midfielder to lose his balance at the wrong time and lift his shot over the crossbar

Lamey could have added to the tally in the first minute of added time as he escaped the attentions of Elderton to reach Carl Palmer's slide-rule pass, only for Thornley to palm away his first attempt before Lamey lashed the rebound high over the crossbar

The visitors failed to push on in added time to allow the Pitmen to see out the remainder of the game with ease to see themselves into the next round and set up a home tie against Southern League Western outfit Gresley Rovers next month. The Pitmen return to league action on Saturday with a trip to a ground they have an unenviable record at as they make the short trip down the A5 to Nuneaton Borough's Manor Park having only won three games there in 1911, 1913 and 1991 in over 100 years of games between the two sides

Hednesford Town: Young, Gibson, Hines, S. Evans, Brindley, Simkin, C. Palmer, S. Palmer ©, Anthrobus, Danks (Lamey 73), Dodd     Subs Unused: Williams, Maguire, Charie, P. Evans

Lancaster City: Thornley, Uberschar, Scott (Yates 88), Kilbane, Elderton, Sparrow (Robertson 77), Clarkson, Jones, Sullivan, Hughes, Prince       Subs Unused: Mercer, Newby, Barnes