Evo-Stik Northern Premier League

Matlock Town

Westcarr (42) (penalty), (61), Jackson (69)

Hednesford Town

Sweeney (11) (penalty, (36) (penalty), (47)

(1) 3

(2) 3



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Dan Sweeney




Buxton (H) 23.10.18

Hednesford Town finally secured their first draw of the season at the thirteenth attempt today, although they were left smarting at blowing a 3-1 lead early in the second half as they allowed an injury-hit Matlock side to come back and secure a point


Tuesday night's defeat to Lancaster City had left the Pitmen feeling deflated following Saturday's excellent win over South Shields, with Rob Smith's side languishing in mid-table at the start of play, six points off a play-off place. Smith had made changes to his squad during the week by releasing both Jermain Hollis and Charley Edge after the pair had struggled to establish themselves in the side during the opening games of the season. This created two openings on the substitutes bench, with both Josh Craddock and Sam Grimshaw passed fit to replace the departed pair in the matchday squad. Joesf Bursik returned from International duty with England U19 to displace Sheridan Martinez between the posts, whilst Callam Mendez-Jones came in for Dan Cockerline to make it a five-man defence for the Pitmen once more. There was still no place for the injured trio of Charlie Gatter, Matt Dodd and Jed Davies, with Davies hopeful of a return to action in the next seven days


Matlock's injury problems had been piling up in recent games, with manager Dave Frecklington down to the bare bones with no less than five first-team players out injured. Tom Davie, Taron Hare, Michael Williams, Shaun Harrad and Cleveland Taylor were all missing from the Gladiators' side, meaning call-ups for youth development players Harry Wood, Billy Whitehead and Ashton Hall to plug the gaps in the Matlock squad. There had also been a blow in the transfer market, with midfielder Alex Hurst moving to Vanarama National League North side Bradford (Park Avenue) after failing to break into the team this term. Despite this, Frecklington's men had remained undefeated in their last five games, beating the much-fancied Warrington Town last week at Cantilever Park before drawing 0-0 at local rivals Mickleover Sports in midweek


It was a pleasant afternoon in rural Derbyshire, as the final flourishes of summer were giving away to autumn. The home side had a half-chance presented to them in the fifth minute, as Bursik's clearance dropped straight at the feet of striker Marcus Marshall, who struck his hopeful shot well wide of goal as he attempted to catch Bursik out


The Pitmen's first attempt of the afternoon was a peach of a chance that fell at the feet of left-wing back Nathan Fox on nine minutes, as he gambled on a move forward to get on the end of a Lewis Archer cross after the striker had broken clear of skipper Adam Yates down the right. Fox's sidefooted effort from the edge six-yard box was somehow turned away from goal through a combination of last-ditch defending from Jordan Lemon and the reflexes of keeper Ross Durrant


The Pitmen stole into the lead through man of the moment Sweeney on eleven minutes, as the on-loan front man was felled in the penalty area by Jake Green as he broke through from the left wing. Sweeney took the resultant spot-kick himself and confidently fired past Durrant to give the Pitmen an early lead


This early breakthrough inspired the Pitmen to go after further goals against their patched-up opponents, with Sweeney robbing Yates in a dangerous position and playing Archer through on goal on thirteen minutes but found Durrant in commanding form to smother his goalbound shot


Matlock offered a brief response from a corner kick on fifteen minutes, as Harry Vince's cross was turned towards goal by Craig Westcarr and into the path of Jamie Jackson. The striker took two touches to force him wide, before lashing his shot from a tight angle well wide of goal


An accurate kick from Bursik found Curley upfield on twenty minutes, with the right wing-back sending over a great cross onto the head of Archer, whose downward header was saved by Durrant


Another raking pass from Curley a minute later almost played Sweeney in on goal, with the striker beating Durrant to the ball before coming inside and firing in a shot at goal that was cleared off the goal line by Yates


Matlock were forced into an early double change as their injury issues continued to hinder them. Wood came on for Green on twenty-eight minutes, closely followed by Whitehead's early introduction at the expense of Marshall


The hosts were struggling to cope with the pace and trickery of Sweeney, and so it proved once more on thirty-five minutes with the award of a second penalty kick for the Pitmen for another foul on the striker, this time by Lee Beevers as he halted Sweeney's run illegally in the box. Sweeney stepped up and once again delivered from the spot to double his, and the Pitmen's, goal tally for the afternoon

The chances continued to come for the visitors as they looked to quickly wrap up the game as a contest. Reece King's flick-on found Sweeney in behind the Matlock defence on thirty-eight minutes, but his cross-cum-shot was blocked by the Matlock defence. From the resultant corner kick, Sam Griffiths headed over the crossbar from a Fitzpatrick's ball in


That oh-so-familiar indiscipline that has blighted the season so far was to rear it's ugly head again for the Pitmen, unfortunately, as they allowed the hosts a way back into a game they had absolutely dominated to this point on forty-two minutes. King was the guilty party, making a needless and rash challenge on Vince as the two jostled for the ball on the left-hand bye-line. A needless award from the visitors, that saw Westcarr send Bursik the wrong way from the spot to reduce arrears before half-time


The visitors restored their two-goal advantage with the first real opening of the second period, as Sweeney completed a memorable hat-trick in only his fourth start for the club; Fitzpatrick's deep free-kick to the far post was headed back across goal by Galinksi, finding Sweeney lurking at the far post. The youngster took a touch before firing low past Durrant at his near post and into the corner of the net to make it 3-1


However, this was to be the end of the game for Galinski, who after a few moments of treatment and an attempt to soldier on, was forced off his an injury on fifty-one minutes and was replaced by Cockerline. This saw a reshuffle in the side with the Pitmen playing a flat back four as Mendez-Jones moved to centre-back and Matt Curley dropped back to right-back


The change in formation was to prove the Pitmen's undoing, as they failed to adapt to their new set-up and allowed the hosts to get themselves back into the game. A great run from Lemon saw him send over a cross on fifty-three minutes that Mendez-Jones did well turn behind at the near post, under pressure from Westcarr. From the resultant corner, left-back Bradley Beatson's downward header flashed just wide of goal, under pressure from Fox


Back came the Pitmen, looking to wrap things up for the afternoon. Sweeney and Fitzpatrick's quick thinking saw Sweeney play the ball into the path of the midfielder as he quickly took a free-kick, with Fitzpatrick's low cross somehow failing to find either Archer or Cockerline in the six-yard box


Matlock reduced the deficit on sixty-one minutes after the Pitmen had gifted the hosts a free-kick in a dangerous position. Bursik did well to keep out Westcarr's set-piece, but only succeeded in parrying the ball straight into the path of Jackson, who finished from close range despite Curley's best attempts to keep the ball out


Matlock sensed a leveller and pushed the Pitmen back into their own third for a sustained spell. Curley did well to head Craig King's cross out of the danger zone. On sixty-nine minutes, a quick break down the right from Jackson saw the former Worksop man outpace Griffiths and send over a great cross for Westcarr, who turned the ball home at the far post to level matters


Cockerline created an opening for the Pitmen with fifteen minutes remaining, turning well inside the Matlock penalty area and sending over a great cross from the right, but failing to find a player in a red shirt willing to gamble on a run into the six-yard box to turn the ball home


With thirteen minutes remaining, the disappointing Archer - who had offered little to the side in a poor second half all round - was brought off in favour of Michael Howard


The Pitmen's final change came with eight minutes remaining, as Craddock made his long-awaited return to action as he replaced Coyle in the centre of midfield


Fox almost gifted Matlock a winning goal with four minutes remaining, as his backpass to Bursik fell short, allowing substitute Whitehead in on goal. Bursik was alert to the danger and did well to smother the shot with his feet. The ball rebounded to Westcarr, whose goalbound shot from twenty yards out was well-saved once again by the England keeper


Howard wasted his one and only chance to make an impact in the final minute, weakly heading Fox's left-wing cross down into the path of Sweeney, who could not react quickly enough to divert the ball over the crossbar


So, the Pitmen finally break their win-lose cycle for the season, although they had put themselves in a great position to take all three points on two occasions in the game, only to throw away a commanding lead each time. They will look to getting back to winning ways again on Tuesday night, as they face Matlock's local rivals Buxton at Keys Park looking to move closer to the play-off places once more


Matlock Town: Durrant, Lemon, Beatson, Vince, Beevers, Yates ©, Green (Wood 28), King, Westcarr, Marshall  (Whitehead 33), Jackson   Subs Unused: Chappell, Hall, Pierrepont


Hednesford Town: Bursik, Mendez-Jones, Fox, Fitzpatrick , Galinski ©  (Cockerline 51), Griffiths, Curley, King, Sweeney , Coyle (Craddock 82), Archer (Howard 77)    Subs Unused: Grimshaw, Veiga


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