UniBond Northern Premier League

Hednesford Town

Screaton (2), Adams (38)

Lincoln United

Cann (9)

(2) 2

(1) 1



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Ross Dyer


AFC Telford United (A) 26.12.06

Phil Starbuck's side etched their names into Hednesford Town history today with a narrow win over mid-table Lincoln United to remain level on points with AFC Telford United at the top of the table and set up an epic Christmas double-header between the two sides

Last weekend's 3-2 win over Gateshead had seen the Pitmen make it eighteen games unbeaten in the league, equalling the current club record set in the 1994-1995 season. They returned to Keys Park with two changes to the side that had started at the International Stadium with Dave Whittaker dropped to the bench in favour of the lively Mario Pedro and Ross Dyer replacing the injured Darren Alexander

Lincoln had been steadily moving up the UniBond Premier League almost unnoticed in recent weeks, currently sitting in ninth place in the table at the start of play. Manager John Wilkinson made one change to the side that had drawn with play-off chasers Burscough last weekend as Sean Cann came into the side in place of Gio Carchedi

Roared on by another impressive Keys Park crowd, the Pitmen made a flying start to the game as Dyer stung the hands of veteran Lincoln goalkeeper Mario Ziccardi inside the first thirty seconds of the game with a twenty-yard shot

A minute later, Ross Adams swung in a corner kick from the left-hand side and found the head of the incoming Iain Screaton, who headed home from six yards out despite Ziccardi's best efforts to get something on the cross under pressure from Gary Sucharewycz

The Pitmen continued to dominate the early proceedings as Christian Moore drilled a fifth-minute effort just wide of the left-hand post after picking up a pass from Pedro

Sixty seconds later, Dyer tried his luck as he received a pass from Phil Hadland but hit a rising shot over the head of Ziccardi and also narrowly over the crossbar

Lincoln went close to levelling matters once more with their first attack of the game in the eighth minute as a quickly-taken free-kick from Dave Frecklington caught the Pitmen out as they were looking to get themselves set up, finding Brendan McDaid unmarked in the six-yard box. However, midfielder McDaid somehow failed to test Ryan Young from close-range as he tamely headed wide of the post with only the goalkeeper to beat

Lincoln continued to press and did find themselves level again just sixty seconds later; Adams' backward header towards Young fell well short of his goalkeeper, allowing Cann to take up the gift and fire past Young from eighteen yards out

 The hosts were shaken back into action after having their lead taken off them so quickly. Pedro's long-range shot just cleared the crossbar on sixteen minutes after a scrappy five minutes had seen the ball spend more time out of play than in play 

Good play from Hadland midway through the half saw him skip past the challenge of Ben Dixon and cross to the far post, where an overstretching Moore just failed to apply the finish with a glancing header wide of the woodwork

Six minutes later, Frecklington won the ball from Chris White in midfield and played Cann into space down the right. The striker took a couple of touches and managed to get a yard of space on Terry Henshaw to cross for Jason Minett, only for the former Grantham Town man to horribly skew his shot well wide of the post


Another inswinging Adams corner on the half-hour mark found Sucharewycz lurking at the far post, but his bullet header bounced wide of the far post with Ziccardi covering his post well

Two minutes later, Cann volleyed a first-time effort wide of Young's near post as Minett's pass was deflected into the path of the striker by the leg of Tom Marshall

Minett was the first player to be shown a yellow card in the game on thirty-four minutes as crudely brought Pedro down as he was in full flight down the left flank

The consistent supply of quality corner kicks from Adams produced what turned out to be the winner on thirty-eight minutes, swinging in another excellent delivery that was seemingly turned home at the far post by Sucharewycz on the goal line. The goal was initially given to Sucharewycz, although he admitted at half-time that he had not got a touch on the ball as he followed the in and the ball had already crossed the line before he applied the final touch. Lincoln were infuriated that referee Mr Tavinder allowed the corner kick to be taken just as Lincoln substitute Ben Brown was entering the field of play after replacing the injured Dixon, thus meaning that Lincoln were without one of their defensive personnel for the corner kick

Ziccardi made a good save to deny Sucharewycz on forty minutes as he got a faint touch on the central defender's downward header from another Adams corner but saw the Lincoln stopper make a good save

In the final minute of the half, Henshaw strode forwards and attempted a cross-cum-shot from the left-hand corner of the Lincoln penalty area that flew across the face of the Lincoln goal and wide of the far post

It had been an entertaining first period from both sides, who had both produced their share of action in what had been a fine advert for the UniBond Premier League

The Pitmen made a strong start to the second period through the excellent Dyer, who went on a dazzling run from the centre circle into the Lincoln penalty area on fifty minutes before seeing his low shot come back off the foot of Ziccardi's left-hand post

Ziccardi made a fine save to deny Dyer four minutes later after another mazy form from the striker saw him dance past three players and fire in a shot that the visiting goalkeeper did well to hold

Lincoln responded through Cann, who fired high over the crossbar and into the Heath Hayes terrace on fifty-eight minutes after good wing play and cross from Minett

On the hour mark, the Pitmen made their one and only substitution of the afternoon as Dave Whittaker came on in place of Screaton to add more attacking threat to the Pitmen's armoury

Sucharewycz made a timely challenge to deny Sam Wilkinson on sixty-three minutes as he slid in to make a risky but necessary tackle on the striker after he had been played into space behind the Hednesford defence by Stuart Reddington

The mercurial Pedro was having a frustrating afternoon, showing flashes of his quality up against Ian Wilkins down the left. He beat the full-back all ends up on sixty-seven minutes and got to the byeline, but tried to be a little too cute with his cross and ended up chipping his cross into the arms of Ziccardi

The visitors made a bold attacking change on seventy-two minutes which appeared to lift their spirits; Mullarney forced Young into sprinting out of his goal on seventy-four minutes and dispossessing the substitute with a smothering stop at his feet fifteen yards from goal

Ziccardi made another save a minute later to clear an overhit pass from Moore ahead of the incoming Pedro; with the benefit of hindsight, a pass the opposite way to Dyer may have been a better option for the former Burton Albion man

Young did well to make another save to deny Mullarney with eleven minutes remaining as the substitute got the ball caught under his feet ten yards from goal and scuffed his shot straight at the Hednesford custodian

Whittaker headed high over the crossbar for the hosts on eighty-four minutes as Adams crossed well from the right and saw his ball glanced into the Hednesford end stand by the striker

Dyer again went on another mazy run at goal on eighty-eight minutes, making a run down the right and crossing well for before crossing to Moore, who rolled the ball to Pedro. The winger was slightly put off by Henshaw's overlapping run past him and only managed to fire high over the crossbar from eighteen yards out

Dyer could have snatched his well-earned goal in the final minute of the game but elected to shoot to the near post after Pedro's deft flick had played the youngster in on goal

This narrow win for the Pitmen saw set a new club record for consecutive unbeaten league games, which was previously held by John Baldwin's title-winning side of twelve years ago after eighteen unbeaten games in the Dr Martens Premier League. Three points keep them hot on the heels of league leaders AFC Telford United in the process, who also won today and now sets up a mouth-watering double-header between the two sides over Christmas; the Pitmen will travel to the New Bucks Head on Boxing Day to face their local rivals in front of what will no doubt be a massive, and expectant, crowd looking to move to the top of the league with a win

Hednesford Town: Young, Hadland, Henshaw, White ©, Marshall, Sucharewycz, Screaton (Whittaker 60), Pedro, Dyer, Moore, Adams      Sub Unused: Butler, Meakin-Richards

Lincoln United: Ziccardi, Wilkins, Walters, McDaid, Dixon (Brown 38), Reddington, Hawley, Frecklington (Mullarney 72), Wilkinson (Carchedi 72), Cann, Minnett        Subs Unused: None