Evo-Stik Northern Premier League

Hednesford Town

K. Wells (6), B. Wells (58)


Matlock Town


(1) 2

(0) 0



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Ben Bailey




South Shields (A) 6.4.19

 The Pitmen all but guaranteed themselves step three football for next season as they continue their current unbeaten run in the Evo-Stik Premier League with a win over fellow mid-table side Matlock at Keys Park this afternoon


Last week's two points dropped at Lancaster had left the Pitmen still requiring a handful of points to confirm their participation at step three for 2019-2020. Manager Nicky Eaden made two changes to the side that had started at the Giant Axe, having made three signings in midweek at the end of the transfer window. New boys Jake Weaver and Brad Wells came into the side as they replaced Kieran Preston and Nathan Fox, with fellow new signing Andre Wright joining the substitute's bench after his arrival at Keys Park


Matlock arrived in Staffordshire in mixed form, with Dave Frecklington's side having not won a game in four league games as their campaign continued to peter out going into the final month. A 1-1 draw in the local derby against Mickleover Sports was brought to life thanks to a spectacular goal from on-loan striker Jonny Margetts, who had recently joined the Gladiators on loan from Boston United. Frecklington had been busy in the final week of player registrations, bringing in long-standing target Alfreton Town midfielder Callum Chettle, but had been dealt a blow with the news that centre-back Chris Salt would miss the remainder of the season after the former Grantham man had injured his knee in the Mickleover game


It was a beautiful, bright spring day at Keys Park, with the ground bathed in sunshine for the Pitmen's penultimate home game of a challenging season. The Pitmen's direct, aggressive approach to the start of the game saw a long throw from Ben Bailey headed into the arms of Matlock keeper Ross Durrant by Reece King in the second minute


Kieran Wells had proved to be effective in grabbing early goals for the Pitmen since his arrival in January and the burly striker was on point once more with a sixth-minute opener; Dan Sweeney's persistence down the right won the Pitmen another throw-in, with Bailey's long, searching throw one again causing Matlock problems in their penalty area. Wells was quickest to the dipping throw, deftly flicking the ball past Durrant from close range with his head to find the net via a deflection off the far post


The in-form Sweeney picked up a loose clearance from Bradley Beatson in the seventh minute, holding off a challenge from Michael Williams before hitting a bobbled shot that was easily saved by Durrant


Matlock felt that they had a legitimate shout for a penalty kick on nineteen minutes, as the on-loan Margetts felt that he was impeded in the penalty area, only for the referee to allow the Pitmen to play on - much to the anger of the striker


Another marauding run from Sweeney - who had switched wings with Brad Wells by this point - saw the forward shimmy his way past a couple of Matlock challenges on twenty-four minutes before testing Durrant's reflexes with a low drive that the keeper did well to turn away from goal down to his left


The game entered a scrappy phase of play mid-half, with both midfields on top during the remainder of the first period. Danny Racchi and Reece King were impressive in their positions, breaking up play and launching attacks on a regular basis as the Pitmen remained on top


Another Sweeney run from the left caused more issues for the Matlock defence a couple of minutes before half-time, with the forward cutting inside once more and driving another shot at goal, only to be denied by a combination of a deflection and a clearance from Beatson


Half-time saw the Pitmen forced into a change, as Javan Vidal was forced off due to injury at right-back, meaning that Matt Curley was restored to the side after his return to the club a couple of weeks ago as Vidal's replacement


Matlock started the second half forcefully, with a cross from Chettle flicked away from goal by the excellent Bailey to prevent Williams from heading into the empty net


A powerful header forwards from Bailey on fifty-four minutes was close to playing Brad Wells in on goal, only for the debutant to be denied a clear run at goal by a last-gasp clearance from Beatson


Bailey's weapon of a long throw was to pay dividends once again for the hosts on fifty-eight minutes, as the skipper's throw from the right was flicked on by King at the near post; Kieran Wells flicked the ball on in turn to brother Brad, who did well to swivel on the ball and turn it past Durrant from close range to double Hednesford's advantage


The Gladiators had been toothless going forwards, with their best chance of the second half driven high and wide of Weaver's goal by Matlock substitute Greg Tempest on sixty-five minutes


Bailey's long throw nearly conjured up a third goal for the Pitmen on sixty-seven minutes, as his missile-like throw-in was headed onto the crossbar by Kieran Wells at the near post


The hosts made their second change of the afternoon a minute later with the introduction of new signing Wright, who came on in place of the hard-working Kieran Wells


Matlock's Lee Beevers received the one and only yellow card of the afternoon on seventy minutes for a foul on King, leading to an Alex-Ray Harvey free-kick that was eventually curled wide of goal by Charlie Gatter


A rare foray into the Hednesford penalty area from Matlock culminated in a deep cross from Chettle being headed away from goal by Curley, denying Williams a chance to head past Weaver from three yards out


Sweeney's eye for goal had been a little off for once, with the on-loan Solihull man again getting his angles wrong on eighty-five minutes as he drove forwards before firing well wide with a low drive


With two minutes remaining, Izak Reid was handed a home debut by Eaden with the midfielder replacing Sweeney for the remainder of the game down the left wing


A confident, well-deserved win for Hednesford this afternoon, lifting them up to the lofty sights of eleventh place in the table and now virtually safe with only four games to go. A tougher test follows next weekend for the Pitmen, as they head to title challengers South Shields for the first time ever looking to continue their fine recent form and put a dent in the Mariners' championship ambitions 


Hednesford Town: Weaver, Vidal (Curley 45), O'Hanlon, Harvey, Gatter, Bailey ©, Racchi, King, K. Wells (Wright 68), Sweeney (Reid 88), B. Wells        Subs Unused: Hallahan, Veiga, 


Matlock Town: Durrant, Beevers , Beatson, Hollingsworth, Wiley, Yates, Blake (Tempest 59), Chettle, Margetts, Williams, Morley (Marshall 59)       Subs Unused: Westcarr, Chapell, Taylor 


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