23.2.2016

Vanarama National League North

Lowestoft Town

Hednesford Town

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Kyle Perry

W D L L W L L D L D

Brackley Town (H) 27.2.16

The Pitmen make a 400 mile plus round trip to fellow strugglers Lowestoft Town this evening and return with a useful point in their bid to move away from the Vanarama National League North drop zone

Having been outfought and outclassed in Saturday's 3-1 defeat against Chorley, manager Hednesford manager Frank Sinclair made three changes to his side for tonight's longest trip of the season as Ben Bailey was replaced by Phil Trainer, Ahmed Obeng came in for Tom Thorley and Matt Regan was deployed in an unfamiliar left-wing role as he was preferred to Paul Ennis

Lowestoft sat just two places and two points above the Pitmen in eighteenth place in the league table, having beaten Bradford (Park Avenue) 3-0 at the weekend. Long-serving Trawlerboys manager Ady Gallagher made stuck with his victorious side from the weekend as the hosts went in search of a third successive league win over one of their rivals for the drop

It was a cold evening in Suffolk and the Crown Meadow pitch was uneven and hard. Both sides made a slow start to proceedings, with chances at a premium throughout the ninety minutes. Kyle Perry flicked on a long ball forwards from Trainer in the fifth minute of the game and found Obeng in space behind the Lowestoft defence, only for referee Mr Rathbone to pull the striker up for an offside flag against him in the build-up

In the ninth minute, a free-kick out on the left from Chris Henderson was aimed at Rossi Jarvis at the far post, only for Dan Crane to make a timely interception as he punched the ball away with his right fist to deny the defender a header from six yards out

Rossi Jarvis went closest of anyone to opening the scoring in the fifteenth minute of a muted contest as Harry Barker swung in a corner from the left and found the head of the midfielder, who beat brother Ryan to the ball but headed narrowly wide of Crane's far post with a looping effort from eight yards out

Four minutes later, the hard-working Perry forced Lowestoft goalkeeper Ben Killip into a good save as good interplay from the visitors just inside the Lowestoft half saw Adam Thomas link up with Sean Williams to play the ball into the path of the burly striker, who turned past Fleetwood Town loanee Harvey Hodd and fired in an ambitious long-range shot that Killip held down to his left-hand side

Midway through the first period, sixteen-goal Jake Reed tested Crane as he raced onto a flick-on from Ryan Jarvis, escaping the attentions of Kennedy Digie and striking a first-time shot at goal that Crane held on his goal line

A long, searching ball forwards from Trainer on twenty-six minutes sent Thomas away down the right flank, with the youngster tricking his way past Smith and crossing low towards Obeng at the far post, only for the ball to skip away from the reach of the diminutive forward as he looked to turn the ball home from six yards out

On thirty-one minutes, Andrew Fisk won the ball from George Cleet in the centre circle and played a quick one-two with Ross Jarvis before setting Ryan Jarvis away down the right-hand side of the Hednesford penalty area. The striker held the ball up well before squaring it to Reed, who sliced his first-time shot well wide of goal from eighteen yards out

More tigerish midfield play from Fisk ten minutes before half time saw him outbattle Regan and play Barker into space on the overlap down the right. The full-back took a touch before swinging the ball into the near post, where Crane was on hand to claim the ball ahead of the incoming Reed

Perry did well to hold off Harry Kypriano's challenge on thirty-eight minutes, chesting down Trainer's long ball and bringing Obeng into play with a simple lay-off. The tricky forward twisted and turned past Barker but got caught in two minds whether to pass to Thomas or shoot and did neither, allowing Spillane to clear the danger

Thomas created an opening for himself in the final minute of the half as he tricked his way past Smith as he drifted in from the right flank, taking the ball across the face of the Trawlerboys penalty area before seeing his low shot deflected behind by Kyprianou

Put very frankly it had been a woeful first-half display from both sides, highlighting their relative positions towards the foot of the table as they had both struggled to create clear-cut chances of note in the opening forty-five minutes

Obeng's pace got him away from Barker on fifty-one minutes as he streaked away down the left and left the defender in his wake, taking the ball to the byeline and standing up a cross to the far post that was a touch too high for Perry to reach as he looked to nod the ball home from close-range

Patient build-up play from the hosts three minutes later saw Fisk and Rossi Jarvis combine well to create space for Reed, who made a darting run in behind Digie to take the ball to the byline down the left. Despite calls for offside against the striker, Reed was allowed time to turn and cross the ball into the danger zone, where Ryan Jarvis was denied a header at goal by some last-ditch defending from Cleet

The hard and bumpy pitch was to cost Reed another great chance on fifty-eight minutes as a superb through-ball from Ross Jarvis saw the home side's top scorer break through the flimsy Hednesford offside trap and make a run in on goal, only for the ball to bounce away on the uneven pitch and out of play before the striker could bring it under his control and shoot at goal

Kyprianou headed over the crossbar for the hosts three minutes later as Barker's inswinging corner kick was met by the defender, who got underneath the ball and looped it over Crane's upright

The Pitmen had struggled to get themselves going at the start of the second half and had to wait until sixty-five minutes for a clear sight at goal; Truelove made a rare foray into the Lowestoft third of the pitch as he got on the end of a passing move involving Trainer and Williams but saw his long-range effort easily saved by Killip

Two minutes later, Perry's physical presence saw him win a free-kick in a dangerous position as he had his shirt pulled by Spillane just outside the Lowestoft penalty area. Williams took the free-kick but saw his effort blocked by the wall, with Regan picking up the rebound but seeing his effort deflected behind for a corner by Smith

On sixty-nine minutes, Obeng was once again played into space down the left by a punt forwards from Trainer to find the pacy attacker in behind Smith once more. Obeng had no one to pick out in the middle so elected to bring the ball inside himself, creating a pocket of space but dragging his effort well wide as he attempted a shot across the face of goal

The Pitmen's first substitution of the evening came on seventy-two minutes as Tom Peers came on in place of Regan, who had looked ill-at-ease with his left-wing role and had struggled to make an impact on proceedings

With fifteen minutes remaining, Henderson made a slalom-like run into the Hednesford penalty area as he left three red and yellow shirts in his wake but snatched at his shot at goal and pulled it across the face of Crane's goal and inches wide of the far post

Shaun Bammant - on for Reed just after the hour mark - was also guilty of pulling a good chance wide for the home side on eighty-one minutes as a slip from Cleet allowed Fisk's pass to find the substitute just inside the penalty area. With Digie closing him down, Bammant snatched at his rushed effort and drilled a shot wide of Crane's left-hand post

Peers was denied a good chance by another frustrating offside flag two minutes later as Obeng's pass sent the striker away, only for a flag on the main stand side to deny the substitute a shot at goal as he worked the ball onto his right foot

With four minutes remaining and the points still there for the taking, Sinclair made his second change of the game as Danny Glover came on in place of Thomas which saw the men in red and yellow move to a 4-2-4 formation

In the final minute of the game, Hodd was denied a late winner by more good goalkeeping from Crane as he got the better of Truelove down the right flank, cutting inside and trying his luck with an angled drive from fifteen yards out that Crane pushed away from goal

The Pitmen had seemingly accepted that a point was a good return for their efforts at this point, with Bailey coming on to add an extra body in defence as he replaced Obeng before play restarted

And yet, there was to be a late, late chance for the visitors in the final minute of added time as Bailey launched a long throw from the right that was missed by everybody and drifted out of play at the far post with Perry just failing to get a touch at the far post

In a game of few chances and lacking in quality, a goalless draw was perhaps a fair and expected result, with the Pitmen making the long journey back to Staffordshire taking a point that brings them level on points with Brackley Town in twentieth place, still holding a game in hand on the Saints. Saturday sees the Pitmen host Brackley in another absolutely crucial six-pointer at the foot of the table

Lowestoft Town: Killip, Barker, Spillane, Kyprianou, Smith, Hodd, Rossi Jarvis, Fisk, Henderson, Ryan Jarvis, Reed (Bammant 63)      Subs Unused: Eagle, Crow, Deeks, Putnins

Hednesford Town: Crane, Fitzwater, Truelove, Trainer ©, Digie, Cleet, Thomas (Glover 86), Williams, Perry, Obeng (Bailey 90), Regan (Peers 72)       Subs Unused: Ransome, Ennis