UniBond Northern Premier League

Leigh Genesis

Marsh (60)

Hednesford Town

Dyer (25) (penalty), (31), (47)

(0) 1

(2) 3



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Ross Dyer


Kendal Town (A) 14.2.09

Hednesford got back to winning ways this afternoon, ending their mini-slump by defeating crisis club Leigh Genesis at their new home, the recently-opened Leigh Sports Village


Unhappy at his side's loss to Blue Square Premier side Forest Green Rovers last week, Hednesford manager Dean Edwardsmade wholesale changes to the starting line-up; out went Sean Platt, Anthony Maguire, Chad Sheppard and Curtis Ujah, who were replaced by Sam Hall, the returning Dean Craven, Mark Briggs and Rapinder Gill respectively. Stuart Brock and Tyrone Barnett were both missing due to injury, so Danny Woodhall and Ross Dyer returned to the side in their absence

Leigh, who have lurched from one disaster to another in recent months, were playing only their second home game at their new home as they went in search of their first win in ten league games. Five successive defeats had left the Whites rock bottom of the UniBond Premier League and facing an uncertain future on and off the pitch. Manager Lee Merricks made three changes to the side that had been beaten by Worksop Town last Saturday in their Leigh Sports Village debut as the returning Andy Heald, Steve Settle and Stephen Edwards replaced Ben McHugh, Ross Thaker and Sam Parkinson


The hosts started brightly with their young players showing plenty of willingness; Leigh debutant Heald was first to show any movement going forward, making a good run before firing across the face of goal

Former Hednesford midfielder Karl Brown almost opened his account for his new club on fifteen minutes, as he got on to the end of Heald's through ball but flashed a shot narrowly wide of Woodhall's post. The same player also called Woodhall into action for the first time two minutes later with a weak shot that was easily fielded by the on-loan keeper

The Pitmen raised the tempo of their game after the frenetic few minutes in and around their box, bringing an immediate reward on twenty-five minutes. A crisp passing move from midfield involving Briggs and Elliott Durrell saw the ball played into space for Craven to run onto. As the left-back shaped to cross he was clearly brought down by Alex Cunliffe, with the referee given no choice but to award a penalty. Dyer stepped up to fire confidently home from the spot and give the Pitmen the lead

The away side were buoyed by the goal, and six minutes later were celebrating again. Durrell, who was being given the freedom of the pitch to control the game, took the ball down the right-hand side before sending over an inch-perfect cross for Dyer to head firmly past Danny Morton in the Leigh goal

The delight at being two up at the break turned into higher levels of jubilation in the opening moments of the second half, as Dyer completed a superb hat-trick, sweeping the ball past Morton after being put through

The spaces were opening up on the pitch as Leigh's youngsters visibly tired. Draper was being given too much room in the centre of the park, and he forced Morton into a smart save with a twenty-yard effort soon after

Durrell was looking to get in on the scoring act, and his powerful effort on fifty-six minutes just missed the target by a few inches

After Briggs had gone close with a rising shot for the Pitmen, Leigh grabbed themselves a lifeline on the hour mark. A sluggish approach from the Hednesford defence allowed former Hyde man Phil Marsh to seize on the ball before he out-paced Danny Harvey and fired past Woodhall

The hosts enjoyed a threatening spell for the next ten minutes, as they looked to find a way back into the game. Rapinder Gill and Danny Harvey were particularly outstanding in dealing with the tricky partnership of Marsh and on-loan Barrow man Chris Thompson, with Harvey making a last-ditch tackle from close range to deny Thompson with twenty minutes to  go

At the other end, Draper wasted an excellent chance when Durrell presented him with a great opportunity to score by laying the ball off to him on the penalty spot. The former Stafford man leant back and blazed his shot way over the crossbar

Despite having a strong-looking bench, Edwards decided against making any changes to his new-look side, with Rapinder Gill shaking off a nasty-looking injury to play through the pain in the final fifteen minutes

Further half-chances for Dyer and Durrell came to nothing, with Dyer's hat-trick more than enough to see the Pitmen home


The result was even sweeter as news filtered through the stand that leaders Eastwood Town had lost at Cammell Laird, thus bringing the Pitmen within a point of the big-spending Derbyshire side. With the two meeting at Keys Park in a fortnight's time, it could well shape up as the turning point in the campaign for either side

Leigh Genesis: Morton, Bayunu, Edwards, King, Cunliffe (Lambert 82), Page, Brown (Whitham 90), Heald (Hill 48), Thompson, Marsh, Settle       Subs Unused: Porter, McHugh

Hednesford Town: Woodhall, Hall, Craven, Gill, Harvey, Marshall, Briggs, Durrell, Anderson, Dyer, Draper ©      Subs Unused: Platt, Sheppard, Maguire, Edwards