Evo-Stik Northern Premier League

Hednesford Town

Durrell (64) (penalty), Melbourne (82)

Matlock Town 

McMahon (68), (90) (penalty)

(0) 2

(0) 2



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Kris Taylor


North Ferriby United (H) 16.3.13

A late penalty from Matlock substitute Lewis McMahon put a dent in Hednesford's title hopes this afternoon, rescuing a point for ten-man Matlock in a game that the Pitmen could ill-afford to drop points in

Off the back of Tuesday night's excellent win over AFC Fylde, manager Rob Smith made only one change to the side that had beaten the in-form Coasters, with Alex Melbourne returning to the side in place of John Disney after serving a two-match suspension. After signing for the Pitmen in midweek on loan from AFC Telford, the experienced and adaptable Kris Taylor had to be content with a place on the bench

Matlock came into this afternoon's game in a lower mid-table position, but Mark Atkins' side are an experienced and difficult team to play against at any time, and so it proved once more for the Pitmen, who were unconvincing in the main against the Gladiators

Looking to pick up where they left off on Tuesday night, the Pitmen started brightly, as Neil Harvey threatened inside the first three minutes. His mazy run was finally checked by Matlock defender Adam Yates as the big striker sized up his shot

A minute later, it was Jamey Osborne's turn to run at the Matlock defence, jinking inside before trying his luck with a swerving shot that was deflected away from goal by Micky Harcourt. In attempting to get to Osborne's ball, Harvey had injured himself stretching for the cross-shot and received treatment before limping back to the bench

Hednesford finally took the resultant corner kick, with Durrell zipping a cross in to Aaron Rey. The striker laid the ball back into the path of Francino Francis, who got his foot under the ball and lifted it high over the crossbar from eighteen yards out

The chances continued to fall the Pitmen's way, with Rey setting up Osbourne on the edge of the box on ten minutes, only for the midfielder to fire well wide. This was followed by another opportunity for Francis, who headed Dave MacPherson's cross straight at Jon Kennedy in the Matlock goal

The slippery Rey wriggled away from a half-hearted Matlock challenge on nineteen minutes and tried his luck with a curling shot that had Kennedy scrambling across his goal, but watched as his shot dropped a yard or so wide of the far post

After soaking up the early pressure from Hednesford, Matlock started to offer a threat going forward for the first time in the afternoon. Gareth Davies fired a shot in on goal on twenty-four minutes, which had the sting took out of it via a deflection off a Hednesford defender, allowing Crane to make a simple save

Three minutes later, Ben Bailey made a hash of his attempted clearance as he slashed wildly at the ball. Joe Leesley seized upon Bailey's error, but got far too much on his shot and failed to test Crane with a rising shot

Matlock went closest to opening the scoring a minute later, as a flowing move down the right-hand side saw Laurence Gaughan play in James Ashmore, whose shot from an angle hit the stanchion at the back of the goal frame

 The Pitmen were becoming frustrated with a lack of chances as half time approached, with Osborne picking up a regulation booking for a crude challenge on Davies as the duo challenged for the ball in midfield

Following the half time pep talks, Matlock started the second half with purpose, creating early openings through Brad Grayson and skipper James Lukic. Grayson tested Crane with a low drive, followed a minute later by a header from Lukic that was well wide of goal

Hednesford skipper Darren Campion was first to try his luck for the Pitmen on fifty-two minutes, lashing in a shot from the inside left position that was deflected behind for a corner kick. Durrell's kick was met by Francis, who headed straight at Kennedy

Crane had to be alert a minute later to deny Grayson, who broke through and attempted to sidefoot past the Hednesford number one. Crane, who is in fine form at present, did enough to turn the ball away from goal with his legs

Smith had seen enough from his misfiring side, and made a double substitution on fifty-six minutes; Nathan Woolfe replaced Kyle Patterson, whilst Taylor came on in place of MacPherson

This move galvanised the hosts, with Taylor playing a pivotal role in the Pitmen's improvement. A good move involving Taylor and Durrell played Osborne in, but his shot was narrowly off-target

Two minutes later, Osborne again himself into a goalscoring position, but his shot was well saved by Kennedy

The game exploded into life on sixty-four minutes, as Woolfe's ball in from the right-hand side fell to Rey. He attempted to turn Lukic, who only succeeded in bundling the Hednesford striker to the floor in a clumsy challenge a yard or so inside the penalty area. The referee deemed the challenge worthy of a red card, and dismissed the long-serving Gladiators captain and awarded the Pitmen a penaltyDurrell has scored every penalty he had taken this term and converted his latest spot-kick with aplomb to give the hosts the lead

Matlock immediately made a tactical change to cover for the loss of Lukic, with McMahon coming on in place of Grayson. It was to prove a masterstroke, as McMahon pulled the away side level just moments after coming on

Leesley did well to win the ball in midfield, before playing the ball into space behind the Hednesford defence. McMahon broke clear and composed himself sufficiently to lob the advancing Crane from the left-hand corner of the penalty area and into the empty net

Hednesford went back to the drawing board and made a further change on seventy-five minutes, with Michael Lennon replacing Rey up front

Lennon was within a whisker of getting on the end of a Woolfe cross on seventy-nine minutes, but he and Harvey were inches away from connecting with the winger's left-wing cross

One man who was standing out in the frustration was Taylor, who impressed instantly with his positional play and calmness on the ball, on top of his ability to pick the right pass at the right time

One such ball was a superb raking pass down the right wing for Woolfe to chase down. His cross was headed firmly goalwards by Harvey, but he lacked power and only succeeded in heading straight at Kennedy

Another brilliant Taylor ball set the Pitmen up for their second goal on eighty-two minutes; a quite brilliant angled cross dropped perfectly at the feet of Melbourne, who had cut in on the right-wing. He played a swift one-two with Durrell, before firing across Kennedy and into the far corner of the net

The relief around Keys Park was visible, as many assumed that the Pitmen would see out the remaining minutes against the ten men of Matlock. However, credit has to be given to the away side as they refused to roll over and settle for the result

Yates went close to an equaliser on eighty-five minutes as he headed a free-kick narrowly over the bar, before Francis gifted Matlock a chance of a leveller in the first minute of added time, pushing McMahon over as they went up for a high ball. The resultant penalty from McMahon was dispatched confidently to level the scores with only seconds left

There was still enough time for the Pitmen to go agonisingly close to winning the game as Taylor picked up a loose ball on the edge of the area and rocketed a shot inches over the crossbar

A disappointing end to a game that the Pitmen really should have won, with Matlock proving dogged opposition. With North Ferriby winning at home to Stocksbridge, the gap at the top extends to six points once more. Next week's clash of first and second at Keys Park could well be a title decider, even at this point in the season

Hednesford Town: Crane, Melbourne, Campion ©, Bailey, Francis, MacPherson, (Taylor 55), Osborne , Durrell, Harvey, Rey (Lennon 75), Patterson (Woolfe 55)       Subs Unused: Disney, Barnes

Matlock Town: Kennedy, Harcourt, Featherstone , Foster, Yates, Lukic ©  (64), Grayson (McMahon 67), Ashmore, Gaughan, Davies , Leesley ▆ (White 90)       Subs Unused: Algar, Travis, Dennis

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