UniBond Northern Premier League

Matlock Town

Warne (88)

Hednesford Town

Whittington (23)

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(1) 1



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Lee Whittington


Rushall Olympic (A) 13.10.07

A much-changed Hednesford's side continued their unbeaten run as they reaffirmed their place in the top half of the UniBond Premier League with a draw at Matlock, although they were denied all three points due to a late leveller from the hosts


Phil Starbuck's injury-ravaged squad had lost no fewer than four players from the fourteen that were named against Ossett Town on Saturday, requiring Starbuck to use his contacts to bring in striker Lee Whittington on a dual registration deal from Harrogate Town. He was joined in the starting XI by Steve Palmer and Dominic Heath as replacements for Alan Nagington, Chris Adam and Tom Ward, whilst Danny Blair replaced Sam Hall on the bench

Hosts Matlock sat just above the Pitmen in the league table after an inconsistent start to the season for the Gladiators. Management team Phil Brown and Gareth Williams made two changes to his side from their 3-0 defeat at the much-fancied Fleetwood Town on Saturday as Matty Caudwell came in for Steve Taylor and Dene Cropper replaced the unwell Steve Riley

It was the visitors who were first to fire in an opportunity of the evening as Linden Dovey was tackled en route to goal with the ball falling kindly to skipper Tom Marshall, whose first-time effort whistled past the post in the fourth minute


The recalled Heath tested Matlock keeper Andy Richmond's reflexes three minutes later as he cut inside from the left and unleashed a bouncing shot that was filed by the home side's number one

Marshall was involved again at the Matlock end of the pitch on eleven minutes as he lined up a free-kick just outside the penalty area and drive a low shot just wide of the post

It was all Hednesford in the opening quarter of the game with Mario Pedro threatening on fourteen minutes but miscontrolled the ball in front of goal and wasted a scoring chance as he had his pocket picked by Caudwell


A minute later Dovey did well to set up Palmer, whose shot from just inside the Matlock penalty area cleared the crossbar. At the other end, Rene Gilmartin was on hand to smother the ball at the feet of Steve Warne after the midfielder

You felt that a goal was coming and midfield man Ashley Woolliscroft almost delivered on twenty minutes as he sending a free-kick narrowly over the bar with a curling effort from the corner of the Matlock penalty area


Three minutes later, Whittington marked his Hednesford debut with a spectacular opening goal of the eveningRichmond raced out of his area to clear a through ball from Palmer but only succeeded in slicing his clearance straight into the path of  Whittington, standing forty yards out and to the left of the pitch. He lifted his shot over the head of the retreating Richmond and dropped into the empty net to give the Pitmen a well-deserved lead, despite the best attempts of Ryan Davis to keep the ball out of the net

The Pitmen's opener seemed to spring Matlock into action, with the hosts finally getting on the ball and started to create openings. Cropper was played into space by Caudwell on twenty-six minutes, only for his low drive to come back off the base of Gilmartin's left-hand post. Close from the hosts


Sixty seconds later, Warne played a fine ball over the top and into the path of Simon Barraclough, only for the striker to blaze his effort over the crossbar with only Gilmartin to beat


Caudwell supplied Barraclough with his next chance on thirty-three minutes as he played a fine angled pass into the path of the striker, only for Barraclough to scuff his effort wide of Gilmartin's goal, under pressure from Adams

With five minutes of the first-half remaining, a delightful cross from Ryan Laight just eluded the onrushing Cropper, who would have had a simple tap-in at the far post had he reached it

Dovey could have put the Pitmen out of sight within two minutes of the restart but a boot from skipper James Lukic denied him as he shaped to shoot from twelve yards. From the resultant Heath corner, Tom Marshall met the ball full-on but volleyed over the crossbar as he stood on the penalty spot

Marshall was required to make some alert defending on fifty-four minutes to head the ball away from goal after Laight's cross seemed to be dipping in at the far post with Barraclough lurking

The Pitmen made their first change of the evening three minutes later as Blair made a long-awaited return to action on the right flank after replacing the tiring Dovey

Heath made a late run into the Matlock penalty area on sixty-two minutes and got on the end of a pass from Palmer, only to pull his shot well wide of goal with an angled effort


Three minutes later, Pedro slipped past Caudwell's slack challenge and nipped into the penalty area, but wildly struck his shot well wide of goal and into the Hednesford fans gathered behind Richmond's goal

Palmer went agonisingly close to settling the game on seventy-four minutes, racing in on goal and prodding the ball past the onrushing Richmond as he got on the end of a flowing move through the centre of the pitch, but watched as the ball trickled wide of the post

Whittington should have clinched the points for his new club with twelve minutes remaining but weakly scuffed his first-time shot from fifteen yards out straight at Richmond

With ten minutes of the game remaining, the Pitmen looked to protect their slender lead by taking off striker Whittington and bringing on the more defensively-minded Tim Sanders

Marshall breathed a sigh of relief on eighty-three minutes as his clearing header whistled inches past his own post after Caudwell's cross was met by the big centre-back

Laight's run and cross threatened to drop over the head of Gilmartin and into the far corner of the net with five minutes left, only for the ball to drift onto the top of the Hednesford net

Matlock's late pressure finally told as the hosts grabbed an equaliser with two minutes to go. Woolliscroft's poor clearance fell to Matlock substitute Taylor, whose rebounded effort came back off the base of the post. The ball fell kindly to Warne, who had the simple task of tapping into the empty net


 The Pitmen will be smarting at conceding such a late equaliser but can be content at extending their recent unbeaten run with a hastily put together side. There is the small matter of a big local derby on Saturday as the Pitmen make the short journey to Rushall Olympic in the third qualifying round of the F.A. Cup 

Matlock Town: Richmond, Laight, Caudwell, Circuit, Davis, Lukic ©, Webster (S. Taylor 64), Warne, Cropper (Hall 59), Barraclough, Ashley      Sub Unused: Kirkwood


Hednesford Town: Gilmartin, Dyer, Adams, Woolliscroft, Marshall ©, Simms, Pedro, Palmer, Dovey (Blair 57), Heath, Whittington (Sanders 80)        Sub Unused: Brown