UniBond Northern Premier League

Matlock Town

Hannah (12), Jackson (58)

Hednesford Town

(1) 2

(0) 0



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Ross Draper


Prescot Cables (A) 18.4.09

Well, that's that then. Hednesford now require something of a mathematical miracle to qualify for this season's play-offs after another abject performance against a struggling Matlock side saw them crash to defeat and virtually put an end to their top five ambitions


Manager Dean Edwards stuck with the same side that had lost to Boston United on Saturday, with centre-back Danny Harvey only fit enough to make up one of the places on the bench after passing a fitness test

Hosts Matlock were still one of several teams still not safe from relegation, sitting sixteenth place in the table and only a couple of points above the drop zone. A comprehensive 4-1 defeat to old rivals Buxton at the weekend had followed a 1-0 defeat at another local rival Eastwood Town to leave the Gladiators in desperate need of three points from today's game

In front of a healthy Bank Holiday Monday crowd, swelled by a good turnout from Hednesford, the Pitmen started as though they had a point to prove. Elliott Durrell was first to register a shot of any kind, firing over with a powerful volley in the second minute of the game. Ross Dyer followed this up by warming Matlock keeper Paul Pettinger's hands with a shot after Anthony Maguire had played the ball into him from the right

Despite looking as though they had recovered from Saturday's shock defeat in the early stages, the Pitmen's defensive frailties were soon in evidence as they fell behind on twelve minutes. Decio Gomes lost the flight of a long ball, allowing former Stafford Rangers striker Danny Davidson to steal upon the ball. His lay-off found Ross Hannah, who spotted Stuart Brock ten yards off his line and coolly chipped the ball over his head and into the empty net

The goal seemed to suck the confidence out of the away side, as their passing game started to disappear. There could have been a second goal for the hosts five minutes later, with Davidson sprinting clear of a static Hednesford defence, only for Brock to come to the Pitmen's rescue by making a brilliant diving save bravely at Davidson's feet to concede a corner. the danger was not averted from the resultant kick either, with Davidson allowed time to get in a free header that was only just wide of goal

The Pitmen looked to regain some of their earlier composure, but Matlock were out-battling them in pretty much every area of the pitch, with Ross Draper having to work doubly hard in midfield just to get the ball back off the home side. There were a couple of glimpses of quality going forward, with Durrell offering the biggest threat to the Matlock goal. His well-timed run onto Draper's through ball saw him get away from the defence, but he dragged his shot wide of Pettinger's goal

Arguably the Pitmen's best chance of the half came on the thirty-minute mark; Sam Hall's free-kick from twenty-five yards out was floated towards the back post, where he found the head of Tyrone Barnett. His header looked to be heading for the corner of the net until Pettinger intervened, making a great save low down by his post to turn the ball away

This was only a brief interlude in Matlock's overall dominance of the game, however, as the home side pushed forward again in search of a second goal. Hannah was unfortunate not to grab his second of the game ten minutes before half-time, collecting the ball and turning cleverly to fire in a shot that came off the side of his boot and flew well wide of goal

The Pitmen emerged from what must have been a real ear-bashing from Edwards at the break, with Anthony Maguire making way for Jan Coulston. They started the second half well, pushing Matlock back into their own half in the early stages of the half, but failed to make their possession count in terms of shots on goal. The closest they came to scoring was a header from Draper that was well wide following a run and cross from Ludovic Quistin. Draper was also unlucky with another header that was blocked en route to goal two minutes later

As the Pitmen pushed on, sensing an equaliser, they started to leave gaps at the back. Following a Hednesford corner that went wrong, the home side took full advantage of the lack of numbers in defence, with Davidson forcing Brock to make yet another save. From the corner kick taken by Danny Wood, Jamie Jackson headed firmly past Brock to put the struggling Gladiators two up

There had been very little for the Hednesford followers to cheer up to this point, with the Pitmen struggling to find any real cohesion. Hall went as close as any Hednesford player had been to Pettinger's goal on sixty-five minutes with a wild shot over the bar from Draper's lay-off

If anything, a third goal for the hosts was the most likely outcome, with holes being left throughout the Hednesford defence. Gomes had to be alert to stop Davidson from getting on the scoresheet with a fine block, whilst Hannah should have done better with a misplaced shot from twelve yards out

A double change for the Pitmen with nineteen minutes remaining saw Luke Edwards replace Hall, whilst Coulston, who had barely had a sniff of the game since replacing Maguire at the break, was also taken off, with Matthew West coming on up front

With plenty of attacking threat on the pitch for the away side, you probably would have expected a late onslaught as they looked to salvage their season. In reality, Tom Marshall's header from Durrell's cross was the only real opportunity the Pitmen could muster in the final fifteen minutes, as they huffed and puffed their way through the last quarter of the game

If the evening could not have seemed to have got any worse for the Pitmen, it promptly did ten minutes from time. Gomes went in for a challenge right by the benches, landing awkwardly as he did. After staying down for a number of moments, he was stretchered off, with knee ligament damage the outcome once he had been looked at by the medical staff

The final ten minutes saw neither side really create any true openings, with Matlock content to sit on their two-goal lead, and the Pitmen - well, simply unable to create any chances of their own

The win sees Matlock's chances of avoiding relegation improve dramatically with three key points in the battle against the drop whilst it's now looking likely that the Pitmen will remain at step three for next term after a dreadful run of recent form. A league restructuring at step three has been mooted over the past few weeks which would see a redrawing of the boundaries once more and opening up the possibility of the Pitmen returning to the Southern Premier League after three years struggling with the rigours of the Northern Premier League


Matlock Town: Pettinger, Riley (Featherstone 60), King, Foyle, Laight, Jackson, Warne ©, Davidson, Hannah, Clarke (Cropper 70), Wood      Subs Unused:  Thorpe, Benger, Buxton

Hednesford Town: Brock, Maguire (Coulston 45 (West 71)), Quistin, Gomes (80), Abraham, Marshall, Hall (Edwards 71), Durrell, Barnett, Dyer, Draper ©        Subs Unused: Bailey, Harvey

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