F.A. Trophy 3rd Qualifying Round


Ogleby (21), Taundry (58), Mackey (70), (74) (penalty)

Hednesford Town

Todd (14), Bailey (71)

(1) 4

(1) 2



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Andy Todd


AFC Fylde (H) 5.12.15

After seeing some green shoots of progress amongst his team in recent games, Bernard McNally watched on in horror as his Jekyll and Hyde Hednesford side turned in a woeful, disinterested display in the wind and rain at Southern Premier League side Leamington this afternoon, falling at the first hurdle of this season's F.A. Trophy in the process

Coming off the back of encouraging displays against Solihull Moors and Bradford (Park Avenue) in the past fortnight, McNally made the surprising decision to drop the sprightly influence of Danico Johnson back to the bench and brought Paul Ennis back into the starting line-up

Leamington had seen many changes to their set-up since relegation from Conference North at the end of last season. Paul Holleran had seen the likes of Danny Newton, Jordan Goddard and Luke Hubbins depart to other step two clubs over the summer, but had kept hold of the likes of Tony Breeden, Jamie Tank and Richard Taundry in the summer shake-up. At the start of proceedings, the Brakes were pushing for top spot in the Evo-Stik Southern Premier League after a consistent campaign so far at step three

The Pitmen went close to making a flying start to the game in the seventh minute, as Ennis whipped in a free kick from the left that drifted over everyone's heads and bounced off the far post before falling to the feet of Ahmed Obeng. The diminutive striker's rebound was blocked by Tank, who turned the ball away for a Hednesford corner

Former Hednesford loanee Breeden looked uncomfortable with the swirling conditions in the early stages of the game, twice kicking the ball straight out of play after misjudging the conditions

Leamington tested Dan Crane's reflexes for the first time in the afternoon on ten minutes, with Lee Moore firing straight at the Hednesford keeper after being played in by a Taundry through ball

The Pitmen took advantage of the wind blowing in their advantage to take the lead on fourteen minutes, with the old warhorse Andy Todd coming up with the goods once again to underline his importance to the side this season. Ben Bailey's long throw was headed back in his direction, with the Hednesford skipper driving a cross-cum-shot volley across the face of goal. Todd was alert to the ball, diverting it into the roof of the net despite Breeden's best efforts to keep the ball out

Despite having the better of the opening quarter of the game, the Pitmen's defensive frailties returned to cost them dearly once more on twenty one minutes. Breeden's long ball forwards found Ben Mackey, whose looping header back across goal allowed Rob Ogleby to force the ball home from close range

Moore went close to turning the game on it's head four minutes later, as he pulled his shot from an angle into the side netting. A minute later, Ogleby was denied by Crane from the right hand side of the penalty area after Jack Edwards had played the Leamington goalscorer in on goal

A mistake by Ennis on the half hour mark allowed Leamington the chance to break down the right, with Moore crossing for Edwards to head narrowly wide of goal from a good position

Ennis atoned for his error a minute later, trying his luck with a wind-assisted Durrell-esque effort from fully thirty five yards that dipped over the head of Breeden and landed on the roof of the Leamington net

Leamington were now having the better of the game, with the Pitmen's early dominance in midfield disappearing as the half wore on. Ogleby was guilty of not giving the Brakes a half time lead on thirty eight minutes as he somehow put his shot over the crossbar after Edwards had laid the ball into his path

One can only guess at McNally's half time team talk, but needless to say the Hednesford supremo was dissatisfied with his team's reaction at the start of the second half as Leamington continued to have the better of the game into the second period. McNally took the bizarre decision to make two early changes in the second half, bringing Phil Trainer on for the ineffective Jack Dyer on fifty minutes and then flummoxing the Hednesford supporters behind the goal by bringing on target man Kyle Perry - but removing the man tasked with supplying the big man with crosses, Adam Thomas

Perry's first act was to flatten Breeden in the Leamington six yard box, as the former Tamworth team-mates clashed in meeting Tom James's deep cross

The tinkering with the side and a lack of conviction soon counted against the poor Pitmen, as Leamington seized upon the indecision in the ranks to take the lead on fifty eight minutes; a Leamington corner kick was partially cleared by the Pitmen, with the ball dropping to Taundry as he lurked just outside the penalty area. The former Walsall man unleashed an unstoppable low volley beyond the reach of Crane and into the corner of the net to give the Brakes the lead for the first time in the afternoon

There was an almost instantaneous response from the Pitmen, as Bailey headed against the underside of the Leamington crossbar after Ennis had swung in a corner from the right

Perry did well to outmuscle Joe Magunda out on the left wing with an hour on the clock, turning the ball across goal and inches away from Obeng connecting with the ball and sliding it home at the far post

With the rain lashing down on the pitch and the wind continuing to swirl around the New Windmill Ground, Leamington put a further nail in the Pitmen's coffin with twenty minutes remaining. Crane was at fault for it, as he failed to claim a cross from the Leamington right and spilled the ball into the path of Mackey, who slid the loose ball home

The Pitmen weren't finished yet, though, and reduced arrears two minutes later as Sean Williams corner kick was headed home by Bailey at the near post to make it 3-2

With the Pitmen now chasing the game, Leamington started to play on the counter-attack as the visitors left gaps in defence. One such move saw Mackey break through the back line, with Bailey shoving the striker out of the way illegally as he entered the penalty area. The referee had little doubt as to the outcome, and awarded the hosts a penalty kick. Mackey picked himself up and fired past Crane to end the game as a contest with sixteen minutes left

Obeng saw Magunda smother his low shot and Matt Regan headed over from an Ennis corner in the final ten minutes, but it was all too little, too late for the Pitmen, who were booed off after another unacceptable performance. There will need to be big improvements in attitude and quality in the next week before they face big-spending AFC Fylde at Keys Park when they return to league action

Leamington: Breeden ©, Fry, Kelly, Magunda, Hood, Tank, Ogleby, Taundry, Mackey (Green 87), Edwards, Moore      Subs Unused: George, Chilton, Baldwin, Caviezel-Cox

Hednesford Town: Crane, T. Williams, James, Bailey ©, Regan, Dyer (Trainer 50), S. Williams Thomas (Perry 55), Obeng, Ennis, Todd      Subs Unused: Johnson, Disney, Digie

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