26.9.2009

Zamaretto Southern Premier League

Hednesford Town

Bailey (3), Barnett (7), Nisbett (33), Dyer (73)

Leamington

Bellingham (45), Broadhurst (58) (penalty)

(3) 4

(1) 2

Attendance

MoTM

Current Form

Next Match

475

Tyrone Barnett

W D W L L L D L D W

Hemel Hempstead Town (A) 3.10.09

Bernard McNally's chances of landing the Hednesford manager's job on a permanent basis were given a huge shot in the arm this afternoon, as the Pitmen rediscovered their goal touch to put newly-promoted Leamington to the sword at Keys Park, thus moving them back into the top half of the Zamaretto League table

McNally was forced into making one change to the side that drew at Evesham on Tuesday, with Carl Palmer departing for King's Lynn in midweek. In came teenager Zak Martin, who had moved in the opposite direction on a month's loan from the UniBond Premier League club. He slotted in at left-back, with Aaron Gibson surprisingly dropped to the bench in favour of Justin Nisbett, who made his first start for the club after nine games on the bench

Step three rookies Leamington had made a good start to life in the Southern Premier League and sat just outside the play-offs in seventh place ahead of today's round of games. Manager Paul Holleran - aided by former Hednesford midfielder Lee Williams as his assistant - stuck with the same side that had soundly beaten Swindon Supermarine last week courtesy of a Mark Bellingham hat-trick for today's trip to Keys Park

The Pitmen, looking for only their third league win at home during the whole of 2009, made a flying start, with two early goals to destroy Leamington's game plan inside the first seven minutes. Three minutes in, Elliott Durrell put the ball down thirty yards from goal, out on the right-hand side after the Brakes had given away a free-kick. His inch-perfect ball into the box found the head of Ben Bailey, who thumped a header past Chris Kiely in the Leamington goal to grab his third goal of the campaign

Hednesford's forwards were clearly in the mood to test the away defence with their pace, with Tyrone Barnett firing in a 'sighter' three minutes later that failed to test Kiely

Barnett did not have long to wait to make amends, as he moved level with Bailey on three goals for the season with a fine finish on seven minutes. A ball pumped forward out of the Hednesford half saw Barnett chase down Brakes skipper Guy Sanders and fellow defender Andy Gregory, somehow winning the ball despite the attentions of the two players. As Kiely came out to narrow the angle, Barnett coolly slipped the ball past him and into the corner of the net

The Pitmen could not have dreamt of being in this position so early on in the game, with Leamington struggling to cope with Messrs Barnett, Durrell and Ross Dyer, plus the added threat of Nisbett wide on the left

Barnett almost added a third on eleven minutes, somehow heading inches wide of the post after getting his head on Durrell's corner kick

At the back, Hednesford were looking for their third clean sheet in succession in the league, with Richard Walker sticking to Leamington's danger man Bellingham like glue throughout the first period

The officials, as seems to be almost the norm at step three-level games these days, then proceeded to turn the attention on themselves, as a string of, shall we say. 'questionable' decisions. Two marginal offside decisions went against the hosts, with Dyer unlucky to be called back on the second occasion as he prepared to pull the trigger

Back came Leamington, finally showing some attacking presence, and Sean Platt had to be alert to head off his own line on twenty-five minutes to deny Mykel Beckley, whose scuffed shot took a deflection off Bailey, looping over the head of Gavin Ward, but onto the head of the backtracking Platt

Stung back into action going forward, the Pitmen put themselves three goals clear of their seventh-placed opponents on thirty-three minutes, with Nisbett finally grabbing his first league goal for the club. Picking the ball up out near the left touchline, Nisbett brilliantly beat two defenders as he came back across the pitch, before firing an unstoppable low shot past Kiely into the far corner of the net

Dyer, so desperately in need of a goal to lift his spirits, almost got his reward for a hard-working performance sox minutes from the break but was half a yard away from tapping Durrell's great cross home at the far post as he gambled on a late run into the area

Just as the Pitmen looked to have seen off the limited threat of Leamington's attack in the first half, so they conceded a goal, with the Brakes grabbing a lifeline with the last action of the half. Leon Broadhurst played in a free-kick to the right of the penalty area, causing chaos in the ranks. In a flash, the prolific Bellingham took advantage of the uncertainty to head past Ward to reduce arrears

McNally must have been happy with the Pitmen's overall performance at the break, as they started the second half in very much the same vein as the first. Durrell, always busy and willing, forced Kiely into an early save, hitting one of his trademark efforts from just outside the area that saw the Leamington number one scramble down to get his hands to it

Hednesford were still looking for more goals at this stage, where perhaps they should have been looking to play the percentages at this point at killing the game for a spell. Their maverick streak was to cost them again just before the hour mark, as Leamington worked their way back into the game. Barnett, back defending, appeared to manhandle Bellingham in the area, leading the referee to use one of his over-exaggerated hand signals to point to the penalty spot. Broadhurst stepped up, firing to Ward's left to bring Leamington within a goal of the Pitmen once again

Suddenly, it was all Leamington, as they sensed a point at least from the final half hour's play. Broadhurst was allowed to pick the ball up just inside the Hednesford half and take the ball twenty yards, before firing straight at Ward with a fierce shot

New signing from Castle Vale, Adam Overton, made his debut for the club with twenty-five minutes left as McNally decided to make a defensive change, taking off the attacking threat of Nisbett and bringing on the holding midfielder for him

Barnett almost grabbed a fourth goal for the hosts two minutes later, but Kiely was alert to turn Durrell's cross away from goal as it looked as though it was about to drop onto the head of Barnett at the far post

ward, who has come in for much criticism in recent games, certainly earned his wages in a manic five-minute spell twenty minutes from the end; firstly, he made a good save to deny James Husband, closely followed a well-fielded catch falling towards his goal to deny Broadhurst. The visitors also used this attacking spell to introduce former Hednesford loanee Luke Corbett to their attack

Dyer was still plodding on up front for the Pitmen, and twice in quick succession he almost grabbed that all-important fourth goal. After 'spooning' a shot high over the bar, he followed this up with an agonising miss at the far post, as the ball flashed past his outstretched boot after Platt had pulled back a fine cross from the wing

However, with fifteen minutes remaining, last season's top scorer finally got the goal his efforts deserved, settling the game in the process. A punted ball over the top saw Dyer race onto it, with the Leamington defence all appealing for an offside flag that never came. Dyer kept his head, rounding Kiely and slotting the ball home from an angle

Hednesford kept it tight during the final ten minutes, with Walker and Bailey both standing firm despite Leamington throwing everything at them in an attempt to salvage a point. Bellingham and Corbett both had late headers from free-kicks that dropped wide, whilst Barnett almost stole in for another one-on-one but was denied by a late-ditch challenge

A morale-boosting win for the Pitmen, then, and McNally's chances of being the next manager of the club will have been boosted massively with this impressive win. The next manager of the club, be it Bernard or A.N. Other, still has plenty to do to get the team challenging at the top of the tree, but confident performances such as this on a regular basis will see them there sooner rather than later

Hednesford Town: Ward, Platt, Martin, Walker ©, Bailey, Lycett, Durrell, Aiston , Barnett, Dyer (Gibson 84 ), Nisbett (Overton 61)     Subs Unused: Flynn, Bandurak, Amos

Leamington: Kiely, Tuohy, Sanders ©, Cooper, Gregory, Jackson (Murphy 70), Herlihy, Broadhurst, Beckley, Bellingham (Corbett 55), Husband      Subs Unused: Travis, Anstiss, Reynolds

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