UniBond Northern Premier League

Hednesford Town

Durrell (37)


Hussey (44) (penalty), Tuck (74)

(1) 1

(1) 2



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Rapinder Gill


Forest Green Rovers (A) 31.1.09

Hednesford relinquished their lead at the top of the table this afternoon after two individual errors condemned them to defeat against play-off chasing Marine at Keys Park


With the big F.A. Trophy tie at Forest Green Rovers looming next Saturday, manager Dean Edwards decided not to risk striker Ross Dyer for this one after the youngster was injured in midweek; he was replaced by new signing Luke Edwards. The other change to the starting XI was in defence, with Sam Hall replacing Adam Burley at left-back. Ross Draper's ban had ended against Frickley, so he made up one of the five substitutes

Marine's run at the play-offs had taken a blow in recent weeks with three successive league defeats, dating back to early December. A 2-0 defeat against Witton Albion last weekend left the Mariners down in seventh place, two points behind Ilkeston Town. Manager Alvin McDonald made three changes to the side that had started the Witton game as Lee Williams, Peter Cumiskey and Darren Brookfield replaced Paul Woolcott, Karl O'Donnell and Ian Latham

The home side made a solid start, almost taking the lead inside the first couple of minutes. Sean Platt's run and cross from the right just evaded Tyrone Barnett and Edwards, who were rushing into the penalty area

The Pitmen enjoyed much of the better possession in the opening stages, with Edwards taking on the 'Dyer Role' with relish, testing the Marine defence with clever runs and pace

On fifteen minutes, Hednesford went closest to scoring with two excellent chances squandered. Hall floated a corner across from the right, finding Barnett in the centre of the goal. His firm header came back off the crossbar, with the rebound falling to Elliott Durrell. His close-range effort came off the bar as well, although he failed to get proper contact on the ball

The Pitmen seemed to have a 'shoot on sight' policy in the first quarter of the game, with Barnett, Durrell and Tom Marshall all blazing over with efforts from outside the area

Mark Briggs was guilty of a poor miss on eighteen minutes, firing well over from the edge of the area after being set up by Durrell. Durrell himself was also failing to get his radar tuned in, scooping a ball over the Heath Hayes end two minutes later

Briggs found his range three minutes later, collecting a ball from Sam Hall before steadying himself and hitting a superb swerving shot towards the left-hand corner of the net. However, Marine keeper Sean Lake made an outstanding save, stretching full length to turn Briggs's shot away for a corner

Marine had offered little in the way of an attacking threat up to that point, with Rapinder Gill looking much improved from his nervous showing in the first half a week ago. The closest the visitors came to a goal in the opening half-hour was a stubbed shot from Cumiskey that sailed wide of Stuart Brock's goal

As the Pitmen's pressure grew, you felt that a goal was in the offing. On thirty-seven minutes, it duly arrived. Hall, having a good game on his return to the starting line-up, played a great ball over the Marine defence to find Durrell, who hammered the ball home from inside the penalty area

As the Hednesford faithful breathed a sigh of relief, Hall blotted his copybook just before the break by conceding a penalty after tripping Steve Hussey just inside the area. Hussey took the kick himself, firing past Brock but only just squeezing the ball past the Hednesford keeper, who got a hand to the ball

Still the Pitmen persisted with long-range efforts, with Marshall again wasting a good opportunity by clearing the stand with a wild effort in added time at the end of the half

With news of a healthy lead for Eastwood at Bradford (Park Avenue), the Pitmen knew that they had to make their pressure count in the second half. As it was, they failed to make an impact as the two sides started to cancel each other out

Draper came on just before the hour mark, replacing Edwards, who had run out of luck as the game had worn on. His first touch took him past two players and towards the Marine penalty area, where he was tackled

With the Pitmen failing to convert their chances there was always a chance for the visitors to nick a second goal. Three minutes later, Shaun Tuck hammered a shot just wide of goal after he had won the ball from Platt out on the right-hand side of the Hednesford box

Platt's thrown-in from the left-hand side caused chaos in the Marine ranks a minute later, with the ball missing everyone before bouncing across the face of goal and out of play

Barnett was presented with a great chance to put the hosts back into the lead on sixty-six minutes when he connected with Danny Harvey's flick header. However, he failed to get his angles right and headed over the bar

Anthony Maguire replaced Platt with just over twenty minutes to go to add more penetration down the left-hand side. He was involved in the move to set up Draper on seventy-three minutes, with the former Stafford Rangers midfielder bursting through the middle of the Marine defence, only to be stopped by Williams as he shaped to shoot

Despite having all the chances, the Pitmen were forced to regret not taking one as Marine snatched what was to be the winner. A seemingly harmless ball towards the edge of the Pitmen's penalty area was seized upon by Tuck, who took advantage of a misunderstanding between Brock and his defence to take the ball past the Hednesford number one and calmly turn the ball home, despite Marshall's best efforts to keep the ball out

Dominic Musafiri came on late on for Sheppard, but could only succeed in skying his only effort of the game high over the Hednesford End as the Pitmen piled the pressure on late in the game. Half chances fell to Durrell and Barnett as the clock ticked down, but resolute defending from a determined Marine defence saw them through

Many would consider this an unlucky defeat, and for the most part, the home side did perhaps deserve something out of this game. However, Marine were well-drilled and took their chances well, further cementing their place as one of the favourites for a play-off place. It is not the ideal preparation for next week's tough test at Forest Green and Edwards will be looking for a response from his misfiring squad

Hednesford Town: Brock, Platt (Maguire 67), Hall, Gill, Harvey, Marshall, Sheppard © (Musafiri 80), Durrell, Barnett, Edwards (Draper 57), Briggs       Subs Unused: Burley, Harbutt

Marine: Lake, Farley, McDermott, Brazier, McMahon, Lynch ©, Willams, Hussey, Tuck (Latham 62), Cumiskey (Woolcott 70), Brookfield (McShane 70)       Subs Unused: Doyle, Bigland

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