Evo-Stik Northern Premier League

Hednesford Town

Matlock Town

McManus (62), Dinanga (88)

(0) 0

(0) 2



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Joe Ballinger


Marine (A) 15.4.17

The Pitmen's heavy recent schedule catches up with them once more this afternoon as Matlock Town ease to victory over a weary and much-changed Hednesford side playing in it's fourth game in seven days

Manager Gary Birch made wholesale changes from the side that had been beaten by Halesowen Town just three days ago as Lloyd Ransome, Louis Danquah, Desean Martin, Dan Brenan, David McDermott, Danny Glover and George Washbourne all returned to the side at the expense of Dan Crane, Lewis Wright, Darren Campion, Blake Thompson, Bradley Peace-McDonald, George Cater and Jordan Nadat in no less than seven changes to the starting XI for this afternoon's game

Matlock arrived at Keys Park off the back of a heavy reverse at home to title-chasers Spennymoor Town on Tuesday night, having beaten Rushall Olympic at the weekend to keep their play-offs alive. Management duo Craig Hopkins and Glenn Kirkwood shuffled their pack with two changes of his own as Marc Newsham and Niall McManus came back into the side in place of Adam Yates and Nico De Girolamo

On an overcast April afternoon, the visitors made the better start to the game and came close to opening the scoring in the third minute as Ted Cribley's angled drive from the left-hand corner of the Hednesford penalty area drifted wide of Ransome's far post

However, with their next attack, the away side did take the lead through their on-loan Burton Albion striker Marcus Dinanga; Cribley's run into the Pitmen's penalty area was halted illegally by Gavin Hurren, who was outdone by the midfielder's pace and trickery and brought the player down. Dinanga - an early scorer in the reverse fixture in November - stepped up to take the resultant spot-kick but was denied by the legs of Ransome, who did enough to divert the striker's shot away from goal

This let-off seemed to galvanise the home side, as they enjoyed what was to be their best spell of the game in the next ten minutes. Glover turned a shot high over the crossbar in the ninth minute after good play from skipper Tom Thorley, followed three minutes later by a wayward header from Joe Ballinger from McDermott's deep cross

McDermott himself went close for the Pitmen on sixteen minutes as he nipped inside from the right flank and fired just wide of goal with a bobbling low effort from eighteen yards out

Matlock responded with an off-target header from McManus on eighteen minutes following a Cribley cross, before neat play from Dinanga midway through the first half saw him skip past Brenan and fire weakly into the hands of Ransome

An incisive pass from Washbourne on twenty-five minutes played McDermott through on goal, only for the winger to take a touch too many and tamely poke his shot wide of goal from a good position just inside the Matlock penalty area

Veteran Matlock stopper Phil Barnes made a good stop to deny Glover on the half-hour mark, before a fine pass from McDermott three minutes later played Tony Clarke in behind the Matlock defence with only Barnes to beat. Once again, however, Clarke proved to lack the composure at step three as he dragged his shot wide of goal with only Barnes to beat

Washbourne drove a powerfully-struck effort just over the crossbar for the Pitmen with eight minutes of the half remaining as he was afforded time and space to cut in from the left-wing by the Matlock defence

Matlock skipper Yates went even closer for the Blues on forty-one minutes as the Pitmen failed to clear the lines effectively from a Joe Doyle-Charles cross which dropped to Yates, whose first-time volley narrowly cleared Ransome's crossbar

In the last minute of the half, the Pitmen produced some neat approach play around the edge of the Matlock penalty are to play Clarke in once more. The striker's rising shot was deflected away from goal by Yates for a Hednesford corner kick, which was wasted by the hosts

It had been a fairly even first period overall, with both sides struggling for quality in the final third. Clarke had once again been wasteful in front of goal despite being handed plenty of opportunities, irking the home supporters who will have felt he should have taken one of the chances handed to him

The visitors started the second half in a positive manner as Dinanga's pace saw him get away from Brenan on forty-eight minutes but drilled his effort wide of Ransome's right-hand post

Two minutes later, midfielder Andrew Wright found a pocket of space just inside the Hednesford penalty area but tamely struck his shot straight at Ransome

On fifty-two minutes, the unusually quiet Newsham tried his luck from a free-kick, lifting his effort over the Hednesford wall but straight into the grateful arms of Ransome

A deep cross from Hurren on fifty-five minutes drifted over the head of everyone and into the path of McDermott, who got his laces underneath the ball and lifted his shot over the crossbar from twelve yards out

This was to be Hurren's final involvement in the game as he was replaced before the game restarted, with youngster George Cater coming on to play down the right in place of the former Kidderminster man

The visitors' extra fitness started to tell from the hour mark onwards as they started to play more and more inside the Pitmen's third of the pitch. Newsham chipped the ball into the path of Dinanga on sixty-one minutes but was denied a shot at goal by a timely block from the excellent Ballinger

A minute later, Matlock's growing pressure finally told as they grabbed the lead through McManus; the Pitmen's defence failed to clear their lines after a goalmouth scramble, with McManus turning the loose ball home from close range to open the scoring

Wright drove another effort just wide of goal on sixty-six minutes for the away side before the Pitmen made their second substitution of the afternoon two minutes later with the introduction of Jordan Nadat for McDermott, who was struggling to get any change out of full-back Jacob Green

A good run from Cribley on seventy-one minutes saw him get past Danquah and cross for Newsham, only for an offside flag to deny the former Rotherham United striker a simple tap-in at the far post

Three minutes later, a towering header from Yates saw his downward header hacked away from danger by Ballinger as he got to the ball ahead of Dinanga

Another marginal offside flag denied Dinanga a run on goal on seventy-seven minutes as a fine threaded ball from McManus found the young striker in behind the Pitmen's backline, only for the assistant on the Wimblebury side to pull the Burton loanee back

With ten minutes remaining, the ineffective Martin was replaced by Jordan Fitzpatrick in the centre of midfield as Birch made his third and final change of the afternoon

Brenan headed over the crossbar from a Washbourne free-kick two minutes later with the Pitmen's best chance of the half before Ransome did well to punch away an inswinging Cribley cross from underneath his crossbar, under pressure from Newsham

The Pitmen tried to force the game into the Matlock half in the final five minutes as they pumped long, searching balls into the danger zone for the likes of Glover and Nadat to chase

On eighty-five minutes, Clarke and Glover combined to play Nadat in through the inside-left position, only for the substitute to drag his first-time shot well wide of the far post

With the Pitmen committing more and more men forwards, gaps were appearing at the back which was to be exploited by the Gladiators with two minutes remaining; a quick break down the left flank saw Cribley cross for Dinanga, who headed unmarked past Ransome at the far post to put the game beyond the tiring hosts

Having played so much football in the past week, the Pitmen simply had nothing left in the tank to enable them to get back into the game as Matlock aw out the remaining minutes with ease to record an easy win. The bruised and battered Pitmen finally get a welcome week off to recover from their recent run of games before making the trip up to Liverpool next weekend to face fellow mid-table dwellers Marine


Hednesford Town: Ransome, Hurren (Cater 55), Danquah, Martin (Fitzpatrick 80), Brenan, Ballinger, McDermott (Nadat 68), Thorley ©, Glover, Clarke, Washbourne       Subs Unused: Crane, Campion


Matlock Town: Barnes, Marsden, Green, Doyle-Charles, Yates ©, Wiley, McManus, Wright (Williams 58), Newsham (Sharpe 65), Dinanga, Cribley       Subs Unused: Taylor, Yates, De Girolamo