20.11.2012

Evo-Stik Northern Premier League

Matlock Town

McDonald (54), Leesley (90)

Hednesford Town

Bailey (14), Francis (40), Rey (59)

(0) 2

(2) 3

Attendance

MoTM

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Ben Bailey

L D W W W W W W D W

Solihull Moors (H) 24.11.12

The Pitmen got back to winning ways this evening, putting to bed the disappointment of throwing two points away at Stocksbridge at the weekend by edging out Matlock Town

Having used a handful of players in pretty much every game this term, manager Rob Smith opted to rotate players for this midweek encounter. He also took the opportunity to make a major change to the side's normal formation, with Francino Francis coming back into the side as a third centre back alongside Sam Barnes and Ben Bailey - he replaced captain Dave MacPherson, who dropped to the bench. Alex Melbourne replaced Nathan Woolfe, who limped out of Saturday's game, in midfield, whilst Sean O'Connor came in in place of Neil Harvey, who got a well-earned rest after a run of games

A storming start from the Pitmen, looking comfortable in their new formation, almost bore fruit within the first two minutes, as neat, incisive play saw the ball laid into the path of Aaron Rey, whose shot from the edge of the penalty area was narrowly wide of goal

Top scorer Elliott Durrell inadvertently tested Matlock keeper Jon Kennedy's reflexes with four minutes gone, as his deep cross drifted towards goal and required a touch over the bar by Kennedy

Six minutes later, new skipper Darren Campion tried his luck with a rising long-range shot that clipped the top of  the crossbar after he was allowed space to run into

The away side's pressure saw them force a handful of set-pieces in the opening exchanges and from a corner kick, they snatched the lead on thirteen minutes.  Durrell's fine delivery into the near post found Bailey, who stooped to divert the ball past Kennedy with a clever diving header

Buoyed by the goal, Hednesford continued to press but found Matlock's defence to be resolute and stubborn under severe pressure. O'Connor and Rey linked up on numerous occasions, with the big man shooting goalwards from Rey's cross midway through the half, only to be denied by a great smothering block from Matlock skipper James Lukic

You felt that a goal for the Pitmen was imminent, and a second goal duly arrived just before half time. Another great delivery from Durrell at a corner saw the Matlock defence panic and only partially clear the ball. The ball fell to Francis, who unleashed a quite superb overhead kick from six yards out that nestled into the corner of the net

It could have been three before half time, as Durrell's skill saw him get away from the Matlock defence and in on goal. Matlock substitute Laurence Gaughan saved his team's blushes with a well-timed last-ditch tackle that denied the midfielder yet another goal in this prolific season

In added time the over-worked Kennedy was forced into another good save, this time to deny the slippery Rey as the striker fired goalwards with a low shot to the keeper's left

Dan Crane had probably never had an easier forty-five minutes in goal for the Pitmen during a dominant first half, but a more attacking approach from the hosts saw them fight back in the early stages of the second period. Nine minutes after the restart, loanee Massiah MacDonald got Matlock back into the game as Joe Leesley played the striker in on goal, with MacDonald's shot taking a nick off John Disney before beating Crane

Just as Matlock sensed a comeback, the Pitmen restored their two-goal cushion with a real goal of the season contender from the in-form Rey. Osbourne's long throw was aimed at Bailey, who managed to lift the ball over the onrushing Kennedy as the keeper looked to smother the ball. Rey timed his leap to perfection, executing a quite breathtaking scissor kick that looped over the Matlock defenders and into the top corner of the net

Despite falling two goals behind once more, Matlock continued to plug away in search of another unlikely comeback. A nervy header back to Crane from Francis looked to be a little short on sixty-four minutes, as MacDonald loomed large in search of any scraps

Rey's contribution to the game came to an end on sixty-six minutes, as the striker went off to a standing ovation from the excellent away support - he was replaced by Michael Lennon up front

Crane was alert to the danger on sixty-eight minutes, making a smart stop to deny MacDonald a second goal of the game as the striker headed Lukic's ball goalwards

Lukic himself wasted a great chance to reduce the deficit on seventy-four minutes, heading Micky Harcourt's free-kick wide of goal with a free header from six yards out

Durrell and O'Connor were given well-earned rests with eleven minutes remaining, as Harvey and Luke Bottomer were introduced in their places for the final few minutes

Harvey almost made an instant impact, wriggling his way to goal before chipping a shot just over Kennedy's crossbar

Matlock ensured that added time was a nervous period for the Pitmen, as Leesley made it 3-2 in the final minute; MacDonald found space to play Leesley in, with the striker firing under Crane to reduce arrears

Any further goals would have been tough on the Pitmen, who had played superbly to earn all three points, thus extending their unbeaten league run to eight games. They take a break from league duties on Saturday when Solihull Moors visit Keys Park in the first round of the F.A. Trophy

Matlock Town: Kennedy, Harcourt, Roe, Foster, Yates, Lukic ©, Leesley, Ashmore, McDonald, McMahon, Davies      Subs Unused: Gaughan, Griffiths-Junior, Grayson, Wilkin, Buxton

Hednesford Town: Crane, Disney, Campion ©, Bailey, Barnes, Francis, Osborne, Durrell (Bottomer 79), O’Connor (Harvey 79), Rey (Lennon 66), Melbourne      Subs Unused: MacPherson, Morris

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