3.2.2007

UniBond Northern Premier League

Leek Town

Nagington (79), (89)

Hednesford Town

Dyer (29)

(0) 2

(1) 1

Attendance

MoTM

Current Form

Next Match

350

Ross Dyer

D W W W W D L L W L

Radcliffe Borough (H) 17.2.07

Two late goals from Leek striker Alan Nagington condemned the Pitmen to their third defeat in four games as the hosts claim the points at Harrison Park in this afternoon's bad-tempered Staffordshire derby 

 Following their confident 3-0 win over Whitby last week, Hednesford manager Phil Starbuck kept faith in the same side as they went in search of three points to possibly close the gap on leaders AFC Telford United; the only change he made was to the bench as Chad Sheppard returned to the squad after injury and replaced Tom Franklin

Struggling Leek returned home after a 2-1 reverse at fellow relegation battlers Mossley last weekend, with under-pressure manager Paul Moore making one change to his side for today's game as Nagington came back into the side in preference to Dave Tickle

It was to be a frenetic start of the game, with Leek having the first effort at goal through former Hednesford man Steve Brannan in the fifth minute; Tom Marshall gave away a free-kick on the edge of his own penalty area after bringing down Carl Rendell, prompting Brannan to fire in a free-kick that was straight into the wall. The ball rebounded back to the combative midfielder, who drove his second effort wide of Ryan Young's goal

 Jamie March was first to get in a shot on goal for the all-red clad visitors in the tenth minute as he collected a cross from Phil Hadland and attempted a lob over the head of Leek goalkeeper Peter Collinge that just dipped wide of the far post

A clever through ball from Marshall three minutes later sent former Leek striker Dave Whittaker away at goal down the left, only for the striker's pull-back into the danger zone to prove just too far in front of both Danny Bacon and Hadland at the far post

Leek captain Dave MacPherson - an unsuccessful transfer target for Starbuck in the summer -  fired in a long-range effort in the seventeenth minute shot that Young did well to turn away for a corner at the other end. From the resultant Anthony Danylyk corner kick, the ball was headed goalwards by MacPherson once more, only for Young to deny him once again as he tipped the ball over for another corner. Former Hednesford triallist Wayne Johnson met the ball this time around with a powerful header but saw Whittaker hack the ball off the line 

 Rendell was next to test Young midway through the first half, seeing his low curling effort from the edge of the Hednesford penalty area easily saved by the former Hucknall Town stopper

 

Hednesford skipper Chris White responded for the visitors two minutes later as he picked up a slide-rule pass from Whittaker but fired in a long-range shot that was more hopeful than accurate and sailed over the crossbar

Hadland was the first of numerous players on both sides to end up in the referee's notebook on twenty-five minutes as he brought down former team-mate Brannan down with a crude tackle from behind

  The Pitmen got their noses in front just before the half-hour mark as White's free-kick found Marshall, who in turn headed into the path of Ross Dyer, arriving late at the far post to have the simple task of turning the ball home from close-range. This moves him ahead of Darren Alexander as the club's top scorer this season in the process

Leek responded positively and forced the Pitmen back into their own third for the next ten minutes in search of an immediate reply. Marshall had to be alert to turn away a deep cross from Danylyk on thirty-three minutes just over his own crossbar after Young had missed the ball in front of Nagington

Following three successive Leek corners, Young claimed the final one well in the air and sent Dyer away with a quick throw-out that sent the youngster away down the right. Dyer did well to pick out Whittaker, only for the striker to waste a good opening by skying his shot from twenty yards out over the crossbar as he took on Johnson

Hadland was denied a goal by a late intervention from Rob Hawthorne on thirty-nine minutes as Bacon won the ball from MacPherson and played the winger into space down the right, only for the Leek midfielder to get enough on Hadland's shot to deflect it away from goal

Iain Screaton was the next player to find himself shown a yellow card with three minutes of the first period remaining as he deliberately used his hand to try and turn a loose ball home from close-range after Hadland had crossed from the right-wing

Centre-back Gary Sucharewycz has been in imperious form for the club since making the switch from Alfreton Town in November, so it came as a big blow to the away side that he was forced off at half-time having picked up a muscle pull to his groin and was replaced by Chad Sheppard. This upset the balance of the side as Sheppard was forced into playing in defence rather than his natural spot in the centre of midfield

The Pitmen made a bright start to the second half and Dyer could have doubled his tally for the afternoon on fifty minutes as he attempted an ambitious lob over the advancing Collinge, only to find the Leek stopper equal to his effort and scooped the ball away at full stretch before Andy Thomas completed the clearance

Leek were nearly gifted an equaliser by the Pitmen four minutes later as a hopeful long-range shot from Danylyk was deflected off the boot of Marshall and headed towards the corner of the net, with Young making a fine last-ditch save to spare Marshall's blushes

On the hour mark, Dyer was presented with a glorious chance to put the game beyond the hosts as he inexplicably lobbed a cross from Ross Adams over the crossbar from just six yards out when a header may have been a better option

Brannan once again showed the firey side to his game that both sets of supporters will be well aware of on sixty-four minutes as he slid in and wiped out White in midfield with a late challenge. This prompted an angry response from the Hednesford bench and a bout of pushing and shoving amongst the players before Brennan was only shown a yellow card

The game was becoming stretched and both sets of players were showing their commitment to the cause as the ball pinged around at pace, with MacPherson also picking up a caution on sixty-nine minutes for a late tackle on Screaton

Bacon - who had signed a contract with the Pitmen the previous day to ward off interest in him from other clubs - was next to have a go at goal with nineteen minutes remaining but his effort from fifteen yards out was deflected away from goal by Johnson after Whittaker had shown good vision to pick him out

Another flashpoint involving Johnson and White saw the two sets of players clash once more on seventy-five minutes, with both players shown a yellow card for their part in the melee. The referee took both captains to one side at this point and warned them of their conduct as this Staffordshire derby threatened to spill over

Despite this, Marshall was cautioned for the Pitmen on seventy-nine minutes as he brought MacPherson down just outside the Hednesford penalty area and was booked for a persistent fouling

From the resultant Brannan free-kick, Leek got their equaliser as the midfielder's ball into the box was turned home by the head of Nagington, who got to the ball ahead of Adams and glanced it past Young at his near post only six yards from goal

The momentum was swinging the way of the home side in the final ten minutes of the game, with the Pitmen clinging on to their point at this point in the proceedings. Nagington had come alive following his goal, and almost won it for the hosts on eighty-four minutes as he raced onto a pass from Hawthorne, only to slightly overrun the ball with a heavy final touch and allow Young to save at his feet

With five minutes remaining, the Pitmen made their second change of the afternoon as Dean Oliver came on up front in place of Bacon looking to emulate his late cameo against Whitby last week with a late goal

However, it was to be the hosts who struck again in the final minute of normal time as Steve Towey's long, raking ball forwards caught the Pitmen ball-watching and found Nagington in behind them once more, with the diminutive striker firing past Young from twelve yards out to grab Leek a crucial winner

Despite a late flurry of corner kicks from the Pitmen, there was to be no equaliser late on for the visitors, who came off the pitch to news of a defeat for league leaders AFC Telford United at Matlock Town, leaving the gap between the sides as it had been at the start of play. The Pitmen now take a couple of weeks off before they return to action in a fortnight's time when they play host to Radcliffe Borough for the first time at Keys Park

Leek Town: Collinge, Everitt, Thomas, Johnson  , Brannan  (Smith 75), Hawthorne, Danylyk, MacPherson © , Rendell (Tickle 80), Nagington, Towey      Sub Unused: Wood

Hednesford Town: Young, Dyer, March, White © , Marshall , Sucharewycz (Sheppard 45), Screaton , Hadland , Whittaker, Bacon (Oliver 85), Adams      Sub Unused: Pedro