22.8.2016

Evo-Stik Northern Premier League

Hednesford Town

Thorley (73)

Marine

Mwasile (48)

(0) 1

(0) 1

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Simeon Maye

W W L D

Whitby Town (H) 27.8.16

It's honours even at Keys Park this evening as the Pitmen once again have to come from a goal down to earn themselves a draw over fellow high-flyers Marine

Looking to shrug off Saturday's first defeat of the season, manager Liam McDonald made one change to the side that had been beaten 2-0 at Ashton United. Michael McGrath was the casualty of the weekend defeat, losing out to Ashley Sammons in midfield as the playmaker was passed fit to return to the side. On the bench, Tristian Dunkley and Joel Logan were both fit enough to take their place amongst the substitutes. Striker Jamie Matthews was available to play despite his controversial red card at the weekend

Marine had made a bright start to the new campaign, with Sean Hessey's team sitting just above Hednesford in the table with seven points from three games. The Mariners are looking back up the table after two difficult seasons at Rossett Park, finishing in a lowly fifteenth position in 2015-2016

Marine started the game in an aggressive manner, picking up two yellow cards in the first fifteen minutes as they attempted to stop the Pitmen's passing game

The closest either side came to opening the scoring in the ninth minute, as Dan Crane partially cleared a corner kick but punched the ball into the path of Craig Lindfield, who in turn scuffed his shot wide of goal from close range

Sean Geddes was the first Hednesford player to register a shot on target midway through a cagey half, firing in a low shot from long range that was easily by Calvin Hare in the Marine goal

Seven minutes later, neat build-up play saw the ball worked to the feet of Matthews, who set the ball up for George Carline just inside the penalty area. His low drive was well blocked by a resolute Marine defence, who quickly snuffed out the threat

Lindfield was denied by a flying Crane on the half mark, with the record-breaking Hednesford stopper capping his 301st appearance for the club with a fine stop to his left

The same combination were back in action five minutes later, as Lindfield headed straight into the grateful arms of Crane with an effort he should have done better with

The final chance of a chess match of a first half fell to the excellent Simeon Maye, who drove a right-footed shot well wide of goal with the last action of the half

Despite making many strides in making the Hednesford defence a tougher proposition this season, McDonald could only watch on in horror as the Pitmen fell behind with a goal straight out of last season's video reel of shame; a long, straight ball forwards from Hare dropped towards the retreating James Mutton, who committed the cardinal sin of allowing the high ball to bounce. The nippy Joe Mwasile nipped in to take advantage of the indecision, dribbling around the exposed Crane and turning the ball home from an angle to open the scoring

Sammons went close to an immediate response for the Pitmen, picking the ball up from deep before striking a curling shot narrowly wide of the left-hand post

Fellow midfielder Geddes was also out of luck from long range just after the hour mark, driving a shot a couple of yards wide of the near post with a low effort from twenty-five yards out

In an attempt to get back into the game, the Pitmen changed formation on sixty-three minutes with Dunkley coming on in place of Sammons to join Matthews up front

The move bore fruit on seventy-three minutes, as Dunkley laid the ball off into the path of skipper Tom Thorley, who drove home his first goal of the season with a superb rising shot that beat Hare at his near post

The unpredictable talents of Gurjit Singh were introduced to the game three minutes later, as the former Kidderminster man came on in place of the tiring Matthews

The Pitmen's final change of the evening came with eleven minutes remaining, as Logan made his Hednesford debut in place of Geddes in midfield

  The former Rochdale winger almost had an instant impact on the game, as on eighty-four minutes he slipped a clever through ball into the path of right-back Rhys Thompson, who had made a dart forwards. Thompson watched in agony as his low drive across the face of goal missed by a matter of inches

With four minutes remaining, any real hopes the Pitmen had of winning the game evaporated with a second yellow card for Dunkley, who was given his marching orders for a late challenge in midfield

Despite being down to ten men, Carline could have won it for the Pitmen in added time, volleying wide of goal at the far post after a Hednesford corner kick had dropped to him

A useful enough point for the Pitmen, who are still waiting to 'click' after four inconsistent games. Another unbeaten side in the form of Whitby Town come to Keys Park at the weekend to offer another test of Hednesford's credentials this season

Hednesford Town: Crane, Thompson, Bramall, Thorley ©, Mutton, Flanagan, Maye, Geddes (Logan 79), Matthews (Singh 76) Sammons (Dunkley 63 ▆ ), Carline      Subs Unused: Ransome, Francis

Marine: Hare, Field, Short, Goulding, O’Hare (Myler 76), Brizell, Davies, Smart, Lindfield, Whyte (Anorou 65), Mwasile (Bellow 84)     Subs Unused: Willis, Hughes

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