Evo-Stik Northern Premier League

Hednesford Town

Mbunga (51), (68)

Matlock Town

(0) 2

(0) 0



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Jim Mutton


Witton Albion (H) 7.10.17

The Pitmen make it two wins in a row for the first time this season, after confidently dispatching of Matlock Town this evening at Keys Park to move themselves up into fourteenth place in the Evo-Stik League Premier table


Saturday's win over Ashton had given Rob Smith's side a much-needed shot in the arm after a poor run of form in September. Smith stuck with the same side that had earned all three points at Hurst Cross at kick off, bringing Tamworth loanee Jed Davies back into the squad amongst the substitutes after he recovered from an injury sustained against Mickleover Sports


Matlock - who beat the Pitmen at Causeway Lane during the first week of the season - had failed to build on their bright start to the season and lay just above the Pitmen in the table at the start of proceedings. The Gladiators had been boosted ahead of Saturday's 5-0 win over Sutton Coldfield Town, with the return of veteran keeper Phil Barnes after he changed his mind on retirement. Craig Hopkins and Glenn Kirkwood had also been busy bringing new faces in midfield, with Nathan Whitehouse joining from Spalding United and Adam Etches coming in on loan from Stockport County


Both sides seemed to adopt the same mentality during a distinctly average first half, with the ball spending much of it's time in the air as both defences pumped the ball forwards at the first attempt to do so


It was in the twelfth minute that the Pitmen had their first clear sight of goal from a Tom Thorley corner kick, as Ben Bailey's mishit shot rolled into the path of Reece King, who got his communication all wrong with Danny Glover as both players took a swipe at the loose ball and got in each other's way


James Wren was his usual dominant best in the air, particularly at corner kicks, as he confidently claimed most balls thrown into the Pitmen's six-yard box by Matlock in the opening twenty minutes


Matlock's Louis Rose wasted a good chance for the visitors on eighteen minutes, pulling his shot well wide of goal when set up in a decent position just outside the penalty area


Former Alfreton man Ted Cribley somehow failed to give Matlock the lead in the twenty-fourth minute, as Rose's deep cross just required a touch at the far post from the midfielder to give the visitors the lead. Somehow, possibly because he was put off by the frame of Wren, Cribley only succeeded in turning the ball wide from a couple of yards out


A great run from Edji Mbunga almost brought the youngster his first Hednesford goal on thirty-three minutes as he got in behind the Matlock defence down the right. Barnes was on hand to make a good save down to his right, turning Mbunga's rising shot away from goal

The Pitmen were wasteful from set-pieces throughout the first half, with James Lawrie particularly at fault with a series of weak free kicks and corners that failed to take advantage of the situation

Half-time allowed Smith and Larry Chambers to get in amongst his players after witnessing a limp display from the hosts during the first forty-five minutes. The managerial pair made a slight change to the formation at the break that allowed the Pitmen more freedom down the wings


Alex Melbourne had shown plenty of heart and desire throughout the first half to get up and down the right wing, with another good run from the utility man on forty-eight minutes seeing him clip a cross onto the roof of the net from a good position on the touchline


The Pitmen had started to turn the screw at the start of the second half, and were rewarded for a more committed approach with the opening goal on fifty-one minutes; a long throw from Ben Bailey on the right was knocked on by Glover to Mbunga, who showed great composure to control the ball, steady himself and fire into the roof of the net


The goal lifted Hednesford's spirits, with Matlock now firmly on the back foot as the hosts streamed forwards in search of more goals. Lawrie should have out the game to bed for the hosts on fifty-eight minutes as Glover's superb cross picked out the midfielder, but his weak shot was cleared off the line


Mbunga was guilty of a shocking miss two minutes later as Lawrie's deep cross handed the chance on a plate to the youngster, who somehow managed to head the ball in the wrong direction, rather than bury it in the net from close range


Bailey almost surprised many in the ground with a barnstorming effort on the hour mark, as his long throw was played back to him. Bailey unleashed a powerful low drive from the edge of the penalty area, which required Barnes to turn the ball around the post for a Hednesford corner kick


Lawrie's game ended in the sixty-third minute, as he was replaced by Joe Fitzpatrick in midfield with the attacking player hobbling off. This saw the Pitmen reverting to a flat four man midfield and another slight tweak in formation from the hosts


Wren was equal to Cribley's low drive on sixty-five minutes before King headed narrowly wide from another long throw from Bailey out on the right-hand side


Mbunga got his name on the scoresheet for the second time in the evening on sixty-eight minutes as Thorley's inswinging corner was turned goalwards by the excellent Mutton, leaving Mbunga to turn the ball home from close range after Matlock had failed to clear their lines


There was a warning from Matlock that the game was not quite over yet in the seventy-seventh minute, as substitute Tyrell Waite clipped the outside of the post with a curling effort from long range that had Wren beaten


With four minutes remaining the Pitmen were forced into another change as full-back Tyler Weir was forced off with injury, with new boy Richard Platt coming on in his place


Rhys Sharpe lifted a good chance high over the Hednesford end in the final minute to sum up Matlock's evening, with the Pitmen holding out for a morale-boosting win that lifts them up a couple of places in the table. Another tough test follows on Saturday as high-flying Witton Albion visiting Keys Park as Smith's men go looking for a third win on the trot to further heighten expectations around these parts

Hednesford Town: Wren, Melbourne, Weir (Platt 86), Bailey, Mutton, Oji, King, Thorley ©, Glover, Mbunga, Lawrie (Fitzpatrick 63)      Subs Unused: Steele, Davies, Veiga


Matlock Town: Barnes, De Girolamo, Green (Whitehead 72), Doyle-Charles, Yates, Wiley, Rose, Williams, Blake (Sharpe 55), Etches (Waite 55), Cribley     Subs Unused: Flint