5.9.2000

Nationwide Conference

Leigh RMI

Jones (17), (36)

Hednesford Town

Swan (19) (OG), Bagshaw (39)

(2) 2

(2) 2

Attendance

MoTM

Current Form

Next Match

476

Paul Bagshaw

L L D L W D

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Hereford United (A) 9.9.00

A battling performance from the Pitmen saw them make it successive games unbeaten in the Nationwide Conference this evening as they claim a point at Leigh RMI's Hilton Park

 

Saturday's spectacular hammering of Northwich Victoria had temporarily lifted the Pitmen off the foot of the league table ahead of their trip up the M6 for tonight's game, with manager John Baldwin unsurprisingly sticking with the same side that had started at Keys Park at the weekend

Leigh - sitting in ninth place in the table ahead of play after a good start to the season for the league's lowest spenders - had been soundly beaten by the much-fancied Stevenage Borough on Saturday at Broadhill Way, with manager Steve Waywell also electing to stick with the same XI for the fifth game in succession

On a surprisingly mild evening in Greater Manchester and on a superb playing surface, the navy blue Pitmen made a bright start to proceedings and had the game's opening chance in the fourth minute as Mark Bagshaw's slalom-like run down the left wing saw the former Barnsley man drift past two Leigh challenges before shooting from an angle twenty yards from goal, lifting his shot over the crossbar and into the small band of Hednesford supporters standing on the vast Hilton Park terraces

Good play from Neil Pointon in the ninth minute saw the veteran left-back play a one-two with Bagshaw before laying the ball off to Ian Robinson, who worked the ball onto his right foot before drilling a low shot well wide of goal from twenty yards out

Skipper Mark Cooper was also off-target for the Pitmen in the thirteenth minute as he seized upon a loose pass from former Hednesford man Dave Ridings and took the ball deep into the Leigh half before shooting just over the crossbar with a rising effort from the edge of the penalty area

Leigh started to come back into the game and Iain Swan headed wide of the target with the home side's first chance of the game on fifteen minutes, nodding Ged Kielty's free-kick just wide of Mark Gayle's left-hand post from ten yards out

The hosts took the lead two minutes later in fortuitous circumstances through winger Steve Jones as the Northern Irishman was given far too much room on the right flank to bring the ball inside, skipping past Pointon before lifting a ball to the far post that sailed over the head of Gayle and nestled in the far corner of the net. Whether Jones meant it or not, it was enough to give his side a lead they barely deserved

Leigh's lead lasted only two minutes, however, as the Pitmen struck straight back with another unorthodox goal. An aimless free-kick from Stuart Lake was flicked on by Mark Haran and into the path of Swan, who got his angles all wrong as he headed the ball back towards goalkeeper Craig Dootson and could only divert the ball beyond the reach of his goalkeeper and into his own net from six yards out

Leigh went close to restoring their lead midway through the first half as Jones's run and cross from the right saw the winger pull the ball back from the byeline and into the path of the incoming Kielty, whose first-time shot lacked any power and was easily fielded by Gayle

Gayle was called into action once again on twenty-six minutes as he tipped a looping header over the crossbar to deny Peter Cumiskey a goal, pushing the ball behind as it threatened to drop in the net just underneath the crossbar

At the other end, Dootson was on hand to deny Neil Davis a chance as he smothered the ball at the feet of the striker, dashing his goal line to claim a Lake through ball ahead of the former Aston Villa man before he could turn the ball home

Pointon was shown the game's first yellow card just before the half-hour mark as he brought Jones down in full flight down the right flank and was rightly booked by referee Mr Yates

On thirty-two minutes, neat interplay between Scott Goodwin and Cooper sent Bagshaw away into space down the left flank; the winger stole half a yard on right-back Gary Scott and sent over a cross for the combative Micky Norbury, who got underneath the ball and headed high over the crossbar as Swan challenged him

Norbury was penalised for his aggressive style of play three minutes later as he was denied a shot at goal by the referee's whistle, pulling play back as the former Halifax Town man looked to pull the trigger from eight yards out for a foul on rick Harris by the striker in the build-up

The Pitmen proved that they had not learned their lesson from Jones's first goal as they allowed the winger to score a carbon copy for the hosts once more on thirty-six minutes. Pointon - now standing off Jones having been booked a few minutes earlier - allowed him to twist and turn past him and create a pocket of space on the edge of the area before curling a shot beyond the reach of Gayle and finding the far corner of the net once more to make it 2-1 to the hosts

However, as with the first Leigh goal, the home side could not hold onto their lead for long as the Pitmen struck back within three minutes to level matters once more. Bagshaw picked the ball up from deep from Lake and made a driving run into the Leigh half - the home defence stood off the winger and allowed him time and space to pick his spot, unleashing a crisp right-footed shot from twenty-five yards out that flew past Dootson and found the top corner of the net. A superb goal from the young winger

Haran was shown the game's second yellow card on forty minutes as he mistimed a challenge on Kielty to halt the midfielder's progress just outside the Hednesford penalty area. Ridings took the resultant free-kick but lifted his effort high over Gayle's crossbar

Two minutes before half time, Norbury won a free-kick for the Pitmen as he was pushed over by Harris twenty-five yards from goal; Lake took the kick and curled the ball beyond the Leigh wall but was denied by a flying save from Dooston, who palmed the ball away for a corner kick

It had been a highly entertaining first period from both sides, with both defences struggling to keep pace with the opposition's attack throughout the first forty-five minutes. There was an assumption that the goals would continue to flow in the second half, but both managers appeared to tighten up their defences at half-time and chances became few and far between

The near-500-strong crowd had to wait eight minutes into the second half for the game's first chance since the restart as Cooper intercepted a pass from Ridings and sent Robinson away, only for the youngster to drill his low shot well wide of the target with a wild effort

On fifty-five minutes, Scott and Jones played around the hapless Pointon down the right once more to allow Jones to reach the byeline and cross for Tony Black, whose weak downward header was hacked clear by Haran

Superb wing play from Bagshaw on the hour mark saw the winger escape the attentions of Jamie Udall as he made his way inside from the left, working the ball onto his left foot but firing well wide of goal from twenty yards out as Harris closed him down

On sixty-four minutes, Norbury flicked on a long ball from Goodwin into the path of Davis, who appeared to have broken through the Leigh defensive line but was pulled back for a tight offside call against him

With twenty minutes remaining, Cooper made a timely goal-line clearance to save Lake's blushes after his fellow midfielder had misdirected a free-kick from Kielty towards his own goal

Leigh's man of the match Jones picked up a throw-in from Scott down the right on seventy-five minutes and crossed for Cumiskey, who brought the ball down with his chest but was jockeyed away from goal by Haran and pushed him wide, forcing him to shoot wide from an angle

The home side were finishing the game the stronger of the two sides, with Ridings stinging the palms of Gayle on seventy-eight minutes as he fired in a long-range effort that the experienced stopper turned away from goal

Leigh had the ball in the net on eighty-one minutes as neat interplay from Black and Ridings played Kielty through on goal, with the midfielder turning the ball past Gayle from close-range but having his goal ruled out for an offside flag against him on the main stand side

The Pitmen made their first substitution of the evening with eight minutes remaining as Goodwin was replaced by Stewart Airdrie; this saw Baghsaw dropped into a more central role and Airdrie playing out on the left flank

Black dragged a good chance wide of goal for the hosts on eighty-five minutes as Jones's low pull-back found the striker in space inside the Hednesford penalty area, only for the veteran former Wigan Athletic man to scuff his effort wide

With a couple of minutes remaining, a quick break on the counter-attack from the Pitmen saw Robinson break quickly down the right and find Norbury, who held off a challenge from Harris but struck his angled drive into the side-netting from a tight angle

Pointon's topsy-turvy evening was brought to an end in the final minute of the game as the veteran left-back was replaced by the fresher legs of Keith Russell

The Pitmen held on in the four minutes of added time to record a useful point that moves them up to sixteenth in the Nationwide Conference table. Baldwin's men are on their travels once more on Saturday when they make the trip down to Edgar Street to face high-flying Hereford United, who are still unbeaten in their first six games this term

Leigh RMI: Dootson, Scott, Farrell, Udall, Swan, Harris, Kielty, Ridings, Cumiskey, Black (Mason 90), Jones      Subs Unused: German, Durkin, Matthews, Felgate

Hednesford Town: Gayle, Bradley, Pointon ©  (Russell 90), Goodwin (Airdrie 82), Lake, Haran , Cooper, Robinson, Davis, Norbury, Bagshaw      Subs Unused: Sedgemore, Rhodes, Carney