UniBond Northern Premier League

Lincoln United

Hednesford Town

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Mario Pedro


Kendal Town (H) 7.10.06

Hednesford remain unbeaten on their travels in this season's UniBond Premier League but will be kicking themselves for not turning any of several chances into a winning goal at Lincoln United's Asby Avenue this evening in what was their first goalless draw of the season

Hednesford manager Phil Starbuck once again shuffled the pack following Saturday's frustrating draw at home to Ossett Town, leaving out midfielder Iain Screaton for the first time this season and bringing Danny Jellicoe back into the side in defence. On the flank, Mario Pedro replaced Phil Hadland, whilst Ross Dyer moved back up front after Dave Whittaker's injury on Saturday and Tom Franklin returned to his favoured position in midfield after an unsuccessful spell out on the right at the weekend

Lincoln had been in fine recent form to lift them up to seventh place in the UniBond Premier League table, although Saturday had seen them lose in the second qualifying round of the F.A. Trophy to Conference North side Hucknall Town. Manager John Wilkinson made three changes to his side from Saturday's defeat as Gareth Symonds and Dave Gilbert came in for injured duo Gio Carchedi and Stuart Reddington whilst Sean Cann replaced Gary Walters to make it a three-pronged attack with Wilkinson and Simon Bird

 In front of a sparse crowd at the leafy Ashby Avenue, the all-red Pitmen made an assertive start to the game and Tom Marshall went close to opening the scoring in the fourth minute, drilling a rising shot over the crossbar after good play from Pedro to set him up

Franklin did well to win a free-kick in a dangerous position for the visitors three minutes later as he was brought down by Ben Brown, with Marshall clipping the resultant free-kick into the six-yard box but failed to find anyone in red able to apply the finish at the far post

Lincoln's top scorer Bird had Lincoln's first sight at goal in the twelfth minute of the game as he dribbled past both Chris White and Marshall before finding his shot blocked by the covering Jellicoe

A crunching challenge from Chad Sheppard on seventeen minutes saw the former Birmingham City man win the ball from Symonds and send Pedro on his way down the left. The Portuguese showed veteran Ben Dixon a clean pair of heels before thinking into the penalty area but wasting the chance by scuffing his shot so wide that it nearly hit the corner flag on the far side

Midway through the first period, Pedro won a corner kick after more wizardry down the wing saw Dixon turn the ball behind. Sheppard's inswinging flag-kick was met by the ever-willing Darren Alexander, who glanced his effort wide at the near post

It had been one-way traffic from the Pitmen, who were much improved from Saturday's sluggish display against Ossett. However, a chance dropped to Cann on twenty-seven minutes as Wilkinson broke quickly down the right and laid the ball off to the striker, only for Cann to lift his shot over the crossbar from fifteen yards out

Lincoln's Jon Hawley was the first player to have his name taken by the referee on thirty-two minutes as he was shown a yellow card for halting Pedro's progress just outside the Lincoln penalty area. Sheppard's resultant free-kick picked Alexander out once more, only for the young striker to head wide from a good position eight yards from goal, albeit at a tight angle

Franklin exchanged passes with Pedro in midfield on thirty-six minutes and set Dyer on his way down the left, with the youngster getting the better of Brown's challenge and crossed for Alexander, who arrived late at the far post to beat Dixon to the ball but turn his effort wide once more

 Pedro produced a sublime piece of skill in the fortieth minute of the game as he left Brown standing with a delightful chip over his head before cutting inside and attempting a curling effort with his left boot that came back off the top of the crossbar and out of play. Close from the Pitmen's star performer

Two minutes later, Symonds was shown a yellow card for a particularly crude tackle on Sheppard twenty-five yards from goal. The returning Adams clipped the free-kick into the penalty area and found Jellicoe lurking, only for the defender to tamely head straight into the arms of veteran stopper Mario Ziccardi in the Lincoln goal

 In the final minute of the first half, Ryan Young was called upon for the first time in the evening to block a fiercely-struck long-range effort from veteran ex-West Bromwich Albion winger Gilbert

There was still time for Pedro to go on another one of his slaloming runs in added time, beating four Lincoln players before Dixon finally blocked his progress

It had been another largely frustrating night in front of goal for the visitors, who had once again struggled to take any of the numerous chances that had fallen to their players in the first period

 The away side continued to have the better of the chances after the break, with Alexander turning and firing into the side netting only three minutes into the second half as he got the better of Dixon down the right but turned his effort into the side-netting

The two sides traded chances from corner kicks within a minute of each other on fifty-four minutes as Marshall glanced a Sheppard corner wide followed by Bird prodding the ball wide after Jason Minett's flag-kick was not cleared by the Hednesford defence just sixty seconds later

Franklin went closest of anyone to grabbing the all-important opener on the hour mark as his cross-cumshot from the right evaded Ziccardi and headed goalwards, only for Brown to spot the danger early and hack the ball off the line

Marshall found himself in the book two minutes later as his mistimed challenge on Cann in the centre-circle saw the teenage defender shown a yellow card


He was followed into the book by his skipper White just three minutes later as he was cautioned for kicking the ball away in frustration after a free-kick went against the Pitmen

The pacy Dyer looked the Pitmne's best bet of a goal in the second period, streaking away from Symonds on sixty-eight minutes before drilling a shot straight into the arms of former Grantham man Ziccardi

Four minutes later, Dyer was played in behind the Lincoln defence by Pedro, only for the striker to take one touch too many and allow Brown to make a timely tackle

Pedro missed an absolute sitter of a chance with nineteen minutes remaining as he somehow headed wide of the post from just a couple of yards out after a cross from Henshaw had found him arriving late at the far post

Gilbert showed that he still had some quality in his 43-year-old feet and got the better of Adams on seventy-six minutes with a tricky move down the line, crossing for Cann who was adjudged to be slightly offside as he received the ball ten yards from goal

Lincoln substitute Danny Brooks did well to win the ball from Sheppard on eighty minutes and supply Bird with a finely-threaded ball; the striker took two touches and worked it onto this right-foot before striking a low shot that was deflected behind by Jellicoe for a United corner kick

Young's only notable save of a quest second period for the stopper was in the eighty-fourth minute as he fielded a stinging long-range shot from Gilbert on his six-yard line

With three minutes remaining, the Pitmen made their only change of the evening as Hadland came on in place of Sheppard in a bid to force home a late winner for the Pitmen

However, even with Pedro at his mercurial best in the latter stages of the game, Lincoln were happy to keep the game tight and held on to claim a point. The Pitmen will feel that they should have taken the win based on the chances totted up, particularly in wasteful the first half. A point maintains Hednesford's unbeaten away record in the league, taking it to six games. They return to Keys Park on Saturday when Kendal Town make a first-ever trip to the Pitmen's home all the way from Cumbria



Lincoln United: Ziccardi, Dixon, McDaid (Brooks 30), Brown, Hawley , Symonds  , Gilbert, Wilkinson (Frecklington 76), Bird, Cann, Minett (G. Walters 87)       Subs Unused: None

Hednesford Town: Young, Adams, Henshaw, White © , Marshall , Jellicoe, Franklin, Sheppard (Hadland 87), Alexander, Dyer, Pedro       Subs Unused: M. Walters, Meakin-Richards