UniBond Northern Premier League

Matlock Town

Hednesford Town

Whittaker (42)

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Ross Dyer


Ossett Town (A) 11.11.06

And so it continues, as the Pitmen's long unbeaten league run moves into its thirteenth game this afternoon as they beat Matlock Town at Causeway Lane this afternoon to keep the pressure on league leaders AFC Telford United whilst maintaining their unbeaten away record so far this season in the UniBond Premier League

Hednesford manager Phil Starbuck made two changes to the side from the one that had beaten Frickley Athletic at Keys Park last weekend; the in-form Mario Pedro was ruled out due to injury and was replaced by Gary Sucharewycz, who had joined the club in midweek from Nationwide Conference North side Alfreton Town. Chad Sheppard also missed out and was replaced by Tom Franklin in the centre of midfield. Starbuck also elected to trial a new 3-4-3 formation for today's game to combat Matlock's passing game by attempting to stifle the midfield area

Matlock returned home to Causeway Lane after a 1-1 draw at Radcliffe Borough last weekend, leaving the Gladiators sitting just four points outside of the play-off places. Joint managers Phil Brown and Gareth Williams made one change to his side for today's game as Kris Bowler returned to the side in midfield ahead of player/manager Williams

As expected, Matlock came flying out of the blocks, with Bowler at the centre of the action in the first fifteen minutes. Neat play from the winger in the sixth minute saw him skip past Iain Screaton down the right and fire in a cross that was cleared in a timely manner by debutant Sucharewycz


Two minutes later, the Pitmen broke quickly down the right through Ross Adams, whose incisive through ball found Darren Alexander in behind the Matlock defence, only for an offside flag to deny the young striker a chance at goal


Bowler combined with Ian Holmes to supply Steve Warne with a through ball in the twelfth minute that required on-loan Terry Henshaw to make a last-ditch despairing block to deny Warne a clear strike at goal from twelve yards out

The dangerous Bowler tried his luck with an audacious attempt from thirty yards out four minutes later as he dispossessed Alexander and looked to lob Ryan Young after spotting the Hednesford goalkeeper off his line. However, Adams was alert to the danger and managed to get himself back to head the ball away from goal

 Hednesford almost shot themselves in the foot on twenty minutes as Young's attempted clearance from a backpass fell straight into the path of Gary Webster, whose first-time volley was at a comfortable height for Young to grasp at the second attempt

Just a minute later, striker Simon Barraclough could have snatched the lead for the Gladiators as he picked the ball up on the corner of the Hednesford penalty area and tried his luck with a curling shot that flew just flew wide of Young's right-hand post

The Pitmen had looked a little short of ideas in the opening quarter of the game, struggling to create chances and looking ill-at-ease with the new formation. The closest they came to creating an opening was a wayward effort from Chris White, who struck a hopeful effort high over the crossbar and onto the cricket pitch behind Matlock goalkeeper Andy Richmond's goal on twenty-seven minutes

On the half-hour mark, the away side won their first corner kick of the game which Adams whipped into the near post where Tom Marshall headed into the six-yard box, only for Matlock to turn the ball behind for another corner, which came to nothing

This seemed to be the catalyst for a Hednesford period of dominance as they started to play higher up the pitch and push the hosts back into their own half. A superb run from Ross Dyer on thirty-five minutes saw him win the ball from Steve Circuit and go on a marauding twenty-yard run past three Matlock players before drilling his low shot from twenty yards out just wide of Richmond's left-hand post

Two minutes later, Screaton got on the end of a good Hednesford move on the edge of the Matlock penalty area but his cross-cum-shot was easily fielded by Richmond

 Tom Franklin almost connected with a cross from Dyer on forty minutes as the striker did well to escape the attention of Steve Taylor down the right and send over a low cross that Franklin just failed to reach at the far post


Three minutes before the half-time break, the Pitmen made the all-important breakthrough as their spell of pressure paid off; the excellent Dyer picked up a White pass inside the Matlock penalty area before turning and played a ball to Whittaker, who had the simple task of sidefooting home from six-yards out

It is a goal that will have changed both managers' half-time notes although the Pitmen had deserved the goal courtesy of their late flurry of chances towards the end of the first period

The second half started with a caution apiece for Franklin and Circuit after the pair had clashed in midfield and then got into a tussle about the other's challenge

Indeed, Franklin can count himself lucky not to have been shown a second yellow card on fifty-three minutes as he was given a stern warning by the referee for pulling full-back Ryan Davis back down the Matlock right as he broke forwards

Matlock saw plenty of the ball in the opening stages of the second half but struggled to turn it into meaningful chances; skipper James Lukic drove a low shot well wide on fifty-five minutes before Webster's free-kick from the left flank drifted well wide of goal two minutes later with no-one in blue willing to gamble at the far post

Barraclough was presented with the hosts' best chance of the second half so far on the hour mark as he got goal side of Sucharewycz down the right but dragged his shot across the face of Young's goal and wide of the far post

Two minutes later, Warne was denied by Young as he made a simple stop down to his right to claim the midfielder's weakly-hit shot from just outside the penalty area

Warne was shown a yellow card a minute later for lunging in on Franklin right in front of the benches, irking the Hednesford management team who felt that the challenge warranted a red card for the midfield man. From Adams' resultant free-kick, Dyer met the ball with a firm header but headed wide from ten yards out

Lukic denied Henshaw a shot at goal two minutes later as the full-back got on the end of some unselfish play from the excellent Alexander but saw his shot diverted away from goal by the Matlock skipper

Franklin was replaced on sixty-eight minutes by Chad Sheppard in midfield, most likely to avoid the player from being sent off as he continued to throw himself into challenges 

Dyer was denied a shot at goal by Circuit on seventy-one minutes by some last-ditch tackling from Circuit, clearing the ball for a throw-in after Dyer had been set clear by Whittaker's fine pass. Screaton's throw found Sheppard, whose well-delivered cross to the far post was a whisker away from being turned home by Dyer

With fifteen minutes of the game remaining, the Pitmen made their second change of the afternoon as winger Phil Hadland came on in for Alexander, who had run himself into the ground

Hadland was straight into the action, showing Taylor a clean pair of heels down the right on eighty minutes and forcing the full-back into bringing him down to earn a yellow card. Adams' resultant free-kick was played into the path of Sheppard, who shot over the crossbar with a twenty-yard effort

Despite pushing forwards in the remaining minutes, Matlock seemed to have run out of ideas as the attacks broke down on the edge of the Hednesford penalty area time and again as the all-red visitors held firm. Sucharewycz had enjoyed a fine debut alongside Marshall and hacked away a cross from Webster with three minutes remaining to deny Barraclough what would have been a tap-in at the far post

With two minutes remaining, Dyer could have put the result beyond doubt as he got in behind a retreating Matlock defence, only for his shot to take a nick off Davis's toe and drift wide of the far post

It had been an impressive away performance from the Pitmen, who had been good value for their three points with a controlled, disciplined display against a dangerous Matlock side that you would still expect to do well this term. Starbuck's side face a first-ever trip to Ossett Town next weekend looking to earn themselves a third win in a row and possibly usurp local rivals AFC Telford United at the top of the table if results were to go their way

Matlock Town: Richmond, Davis, Taylor ▆ (Riley 84), Circuit , McNicholas, Lukic ©, Webster, Warne , Holmes, Barraclough, Bowler (Williams 75)       Sub Unused: Brown

Hednesford Town: Young, Screaton, Henshaw, White ©, Marshall, Sucharewycz, Franklin ▆ (Sheppard 68), Whittaker, Dyer, Alexander (Hadland 75), Adams      Sub Unused: Meakin-Richards