24.3.2008

UniBond Northern Premier League

Hednesford Town

Sheppard (45) (penalty), Maguire (50), Davies (65)

Matlock Town

Barraclough (39) (penalty)

(1) 3

(1) 1

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351

Chad Sheppard

L W L W W L W L L W

Stamford (A) 29.3.08

Hednesford got back to winning ways this Easter Bank Holiday afternoon with a well-earned win over fellow mid-table side Matlock Town to end their recent run of back-to-back defeats

 

In the seventy-two hours since the Pitmen's defeat at Leek Town, manager Phil Starbuck had been busy making changes by bringing in Daniel McLeod from local side Brereton to play at right-back today with Liam McDonald moving to the bench. The second of three changes came up front as Rory May was dropped from the squad altogether and Alan Nagington returning to the side. Reece Styche's rehabilitation continued as he was rested and moved to the bench, with Anthony Maguire coming back into the side down the left flank

Matlock arrived at Keys Park off the back of a morale-boosting win over their local rivals Buxton at Causeway Lane at the weekend, although the win had come at a price as midfielder Stef Frost had suffered a serious leg break early on in the game. Frost was replaced by Bradley Wiggins-Thomas in the only change to the Gladiators side for today's game

The Pitmen started brightly at a baltic Keys Park, forcing Matlock back in the early stages with several corners and free-kicks. Maguire was in the thick of the action, trying his luck with a long-range effort in the fourth minute that drifted wide of goal after his corner kick was headed back to him by the away side

With a gusty wind swirling around the ground, the Pitmen adopted a direct route to their game with Ross Dyer dipping a shot over the crossbar in the eighth minute after being played through by Nagington's long ball through to him

Wayne Dyer did well to intercept a pass from Matlock skipper James Lukic and play Maguire into space down the left on thirteen minutes, with Maguire's cross turned past his own post by Cameron Fearon as he came under pressure from Ross Dyer

The Pitmen produced one decent moment of attacking football in the eighteenth minute of the game as Ross Dyer linked up well with Rob Davies and Wayne Dyer to line up Chad Sheppard on the edge of the area. The former Birmingham City midfielder got hold of the shot but failed to test Andy Richmond in the Matlock goal as he drilled his shot wide of goal

McLeod's first meaningful contribution midway through the first half saw him lift a ball over the heads of the Matlock defenders and into the path of Nagington, who took a couple of touches before firing tamely into the hands of Richmond

The visitors had shown very little in the way of attacking intent thus far but still had one of the league's top scorers in the form of Simon Barraclough up top creating problems for the Hednesford defence. His presence of mind on twenty-six minutes saw him win the ball from Tom Marshall in a dangerous position, but with no one in green up to support him he had to shoot on sight and fired well wide of goal

Dyer and Nagington linked up once more to set Maguire on his way down the left on thirty-one minutes; the winger took the ball to the byeline and pulled it back into the path of Wayne Dyer, whose shot was blocked by Lukic and took the sting off the shot before it rolled into the hands of Richmond

Barraclough tested Paul Evans' reflexes three minutes later with a low drive from the edge of the area after he had ghosted inside two Hednesford players from the right-wing and got his shot away

After watching two good efforts rattle the woodwork on Saturday, there was more frustration for the Pitmen on thirty-eight minutes as was Sheppard again involved, firing in a shot from twenty yards out that bounced off the crossbar and back into play

Despite all the good chances falling their way, the Pitmen found themselves a goal down a minute later. Ross Adams and Wiggins-Thomas tangled just inside the Hednesford penalty area as they challenged for a bouncing ball, with Adams hauling the Matlock man down to give the referee little choice but to award a penalty. Barraclough fired the ball straight down the centre of the goal to give the visitors an unexpected lead

The Pitmen rallied after falling behind and Ross Dyer's flick header missed the target by a narrow margin from a Sheppard free-kick just sixty seconds after Matlock's opener

In the final minute of the half the Pitmen got their deserved equaliser, which was also to come from the penalty spot. Ross Dyer played the ball into Nagington, who was hauled down illegally by Fearon in the box. Sheppard wrestled the ball from Wayne Dyer to take the spot-kick, sending Richmond the wrong way and levelling matters once more

The momentum Hednesford had built up at the end continued into the second half, with the first attack of the second period conjuring up a goal for the Pitmen on fifty minutes. Davies got everything behind a shot from out on the right, which Richmond could only parry into the path of the onrushing Maguire, who had the task of following the ball into the empty net

There was a loud shout for a second spot-kick for the hosts five minutes later, when Richmond appeared to rough-house Nagington away from the ball as they chased it out of play. The referee, however, was unimpressed and only awarded the Pitmen a throw-in

The Pitmen were very much in charge of the game at this point, using the gusty conditions to their advantage by attempting to play over the top of the Matlock defence. A long, raking ball from Adams was well controlled by Ross Dyer on fifty-four minutes, who stepped inside of a challenge from Nathan Benger but attempted an audacious shot from an angle rather than play Nagington through on goal

 

On sixty-five minutes, another long ball over the top was partially cleared by the Matlock defence, only for the swirling wind to send the ball back towards the Matlock penalty area, where Ross Dyer was lurking. His close control set up Davies, who nutmegged Richmond with a low driven shot to score number three of the afternoon for the Pitmen

The home side were now in full control of the game and they could have extended their lead further on seventy-one minutes. Once again Ross Dyer was involved, causing havoc down the right with a storming run before cutting back to Wayne Dyer, whose rising shot cleared the crossbar

The Pitmen's first substitution of the afternoon came with fifteen minutes of the game remaining as Mario Pedro came on in place of Maguire, who was starting to tire after his recent return to action

Two minutes later, Evans made a great save to deny Matlock substitute Daniel Williams and keep the Pitmen two goals to the good, tipping the striker's shot around the post for a corner kick to the Gladiators

Styche was given a late runout by Starbuck on seventy-eight minutes as he replaced Sheppard, which saw Ross Dyer drop into a deeper role and allow Styche

 

Another Matlock substitute, Ben Kistell, tried his luck on eighty-three minutes with a looping effort from the edge of the penalty area that just missed the far post with Evans left flat-footed

Marshall's flick-on from a Pedro free-kick whistled past the far post with four minutes remaining as both Ross Dyer and Adams lurking at the far post with intent

The game was to end on a sour note for young Styche, as an aggressive challenge on him by Ryan Laight on the touchline left him in agony in the first minute of added time. Styche was stretchered off and taken to hospital, with what was to turn out to be a broken fibia putting an end to Styche's game and season - his second serious injury of the season. McDonald came on to see out the final seconds in his place

Styche's injury had taken the gloss off what had been a dominant Hednesford display and a good win to end their recent run of poor form. Struggling Stamford host the Pitmen this coming weekend, requiring a win over their visitors to avoid being dragged into a late battle against relegation

Hednesford Town: Evans, McLeod, Adams, Sheppard (Styche 78 (McDonald 90)), Marshall ©, B. Brown, Davies, W. Dyer, R. Dyer, Nagington, Maguire (Pedro 75)     Subs Unused: None

Matlock Town: Richmond, Fearon, Davis, Benger, Laight, Lukic ©, Wiggins-Thomas, Thorpe (Circuit 67), Taylor (Williams 67), Barraclough, Kistell       Sub Unused: P. Brown

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