15.4.2017

Evo-Stik Northern Premier League

Marine

Mitchley (6), Wall (80), Hamilton (89)

Hednesford Town

(1) 3

(0) 0

Attendance

MoTM

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383

Lloyd Ransome

W L D L W W D L L L

Stafford Rangers (H) 17.4.17

It's three successive defeats for the weary Pitmen this afternoon as they are eased out of today's encounter by hosts Marine at Rossett Park to leave them hanging on to a top-half place in the Evo-Stik League table

Defeats last week to Halesowen Town and Matlock Town had left the Pitmen firmly entrenched in mid-table and wishing away the remaining games as they limp towards the end of the current season. Manager Gary Birch made five changes to the side that had been beaten last weekend by Matlock Town with Lewis Wright, fit-again Stuart McNaught, Blake Thompson, George Cater and Jordan Fitzpatrick all returning to the side at the expense of Gavin Hurren, Dan Brenan, David McDermott, Tom Thorley and Tony Clarke

 

It had been a tough campaign for Tommy Lawson's Mariners, who had spent the majority of the campaign in the bottom half of the table. A 1-1 draw at Rushall Olympic on Tuesday night inched the hosts closer to safety, with a win today giving them enough points to confirm their participation at step three for next season. Lawson made one change to the side that had started at Dales Lane, with one-time Hednesford man Alfons Fosu-Mensah coming in for Matty Hamilton up front

It was a bright and breezy afternoon on Merseyside with the all-red Pitmen starting well through Cater, whose early run and shot from the left was blocked by Adam Hughes and deflected into the path of Desean Martin, only to lift his shot over the crossbar from twenty yards out

Two minutes later, however, the visitors found themselves a goal down as Marine struck with their first effort of the game; Florian Da Silva's pace was too much for Louis Danquah, who brought the winger down on the right-hand corner of the Hednesford box. Hughes's subsequent free-kick picked out skipper Danny Mitchley at the far post, who chested the ball down and drilled the ball home from ten yards past Ransome

Kicking towards the main stand, the Pitmen struggled to muster a response to Marine's goal with Danquah's cross from the right drifting over the heads of the incoming Hednesford players and drifting just wide of the far post in the eleventh minute

Three minutes later, Mitchley did well to turn past McNaught and play the ball neatly into the path of Fosu-Mensah, only for Joe Ballinger to produce a fine block just inside his penalty area

In the sixteenth minute, Da Silva did well once more down the right to cut inside and drift past Danquah, drilling in a low cross that Ransome did enough to turn away from goal ahead of Mitchley at his near post

Ransome turned a drifting cross from Da Silva over the crossbar on twenty minutes, keeping his eye on the ball as it threatened to dip underneath his crossbar

Midway through the first period, Fosu-Mensah did well to turn past Ballinger and strike a rising shot from just outside the Hednesford penalty area that ended up sailing into the Crosender Road terrace

A rare attack from the visitors saw them quickly break down the right-wing through Washbourne and Wright, culminating in a deep cross that was headed wide of goal by on-loan Danquah at the far post

The hosts continued to have the better of the possession and chances, with youngster Hughes having a great chance to put Marine two goals up on twenty-eight minutes as Mitchley's clever reverse pass released Hughes down the right-hand side of the Hednesford penalty area, only for Hughes to drag his shot just wide of Ransome's far post

The Pitmen's best spell of the game came just before the half-time break in a brisk ten-minute spell from the visitors; Washbourne's marauding run into the Marine penalty area saw the former Walsall man drift past two challenges before firing wide of goal

Skipper for the day Danny Glover was played into space by a pass from McNaught on thirty-eight minutes, turning past Michael Brewster before unleashing a powerful shot from twenty-five yards out that dipped over veteran stopper Paul Phillips' goal

Kenny Strickland curled a free-kick over the Hednesford wall and into the grateful arms of Ransome on forty-two minutes before McNaught seized upon a ball that had been rebounded to him off the face of Strickland two minutes later but lifted his shot high into the stand behind the goal

 

The Mariners had just about edged a low-quality first period, with the Pitmen looking a little out of ideas in the final third of the pitch and struggling with a lack of overall quality. The dreadfully disappointing Washbourne was hooked at the break in favour of Clarke after failing to get involved in the game during a tame first-half showing

Marine started the second half strongly through Mitchley, who evaded a sliding challenge from Lewis Wright but dragged his low shot wide of Ransome's left-hand post from fifteen yards out

The overworked Ransome was earning his man of the match nomination and made a string of smart saves to keep his side in contention; on fifty-three minutes, Da Silva once again showed Danquah a clean pair of heels down the right before crossing to Mitchley, whose sidefooted effort towards goal was turned away by the outstretched leg of the Hednesford stopper

At the other end, Phillips made his only save of note all afternoon as Danquah hit a first-time volley from the edge of the penalty area that was turned over the crossbar by the 39-year-old Phillips for a corner kick

Mitchley turned provider to Da Silva on fifty-nine minutes as he rolled the ball into the winger's path after playing around Danquah, only for Ransome to block the shot with his legs once more

Despite having three strikers on the pitch, the visitors struggled to make any headway going forwards and were joined by another attacking player on sixty-two minutes as teenager Ryan Nesbitt was handed his first-team debut in place of another player who had looked dreadfully out of place in the form of Cater

The hosts still looked the likelier to add to their tally for the afternoon as Mitchley continued to lead the Pitmen's back line a merry dance with the support of Da Silva and substitute Hamilton. On seventy-one minutes, Brewster headed over the crossbar from Da Silva's cross before Hamilton was pulled up by a late, late offside flag after breaking through the flimsy Hednesford back line three minutes later.

With fifteen minutes remaining, Mitchley felt that he had earned the Mariners a penalty kick as he skipped past both McNaught and Blake Thompson before being brought down by the Australian midfielder, only for referee Mr. Crusham to wave away the striker's protests and continue with the game

The hosts finally put clear daylight between themselves and the Pitmen with a second goal on eighty minutes; Danquah's loose pass fell to the feet of Wall, who drove into the Hednesford penalty area and fired confidently past Ransome from twelve yards out, despite the keeper's best attempts to keep the ball out

It could have been three soon after as James Short's long-range effort dropped to Hamilton, only for his rising shot to narrowly clear Ransome's right-hand upright

Phillips claimed a Glover free-kick with ease on eighty-five minutes with their final chance of the game as Marine put a gloss finish on their performance with a third goal on eighty-nine minutes; youngster Hamilton nutmegged Thompson and fired beyond the reach of Ransome with a low, driven effort into the far corner of the net

In added time, Mitchley went close to a fourth goal as he struck a fine volley from the edge of the penalty area that was parried away from danger by the overworked Ransome

Another defeat for the Pitmen leaves them with very little to play for in the final week of the season other than pride, which starts with a Chase derby against Stafford Rangers at Keys Park on Monday night as they look to avenge the 2-1 defeat at Marston Road on Boxing Day to at least claim the local bragging rights from a topsy-turvy campaign

Marine: Phillips, Kisimba, Short, Hughes, Wylie, Brewster (Foley 64), Da Silva , Strickland, Mitchley ©, Fosu-Mensah ▆ (Hamilton 70), Menagh (Wall 58)      Subs Unused: Foy, Shacklock

 

Hednesford Town: Ransome, Wright, Danquah, McNaught, Thompson, Ballinger , Cater (Nesbitt 62), Fitzpatrick (Nadat 72), Glover ©, Martin, Washbourne (Clarke 45)      Subs Unused: Crane, Robinson