Dr. Martens Southern Premier League

Hednesford Town

Trainer (11), (77), Charie (18) 

Merthyr Tydfil

(2) 3

(0) 0



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Phil Trainer



Tiverton Town (A) 8.12.01

The Pitmen moved out of the bottom three in the league table this afternoon as they condemned fellow strugglers Merthyr Tydfil to defeat with a well-earned win at Keys Park

Defeat two weeks ago to another side in and around the bottom four in the form of Newport (Isle of Wight) had checked the Pitmen's recent progress after a fairly bright start to life under new manager Kenny Hibbitt; the Hednesford manager had once again used the time between the games well to bring the experienced Russell Dodd back to the club many years after he had last turned out for the Pitmen back in the Southern League days of the 1990s. He was one of two changes to the side that had started against Newport, with the fit-again Dean Craven returning to the team in place of Kevin Francis whilst Dodd was brought straight into the side in favour of Adam Shakespeare

Merthyr made the trip up to Keys Park off the back of a poor run of form themselves, leaving the Martyrs floundering a couple of places above basement side Salisbury City. John Lewis's side had lost their previous two league games but had made progress in the F.A. Trophy after defeating Ryman League Tonbridge Angels after a replay earlier in the month. Lewis made three changes to the side that had started their last game - a 3-2 defeat at home to Ilkeston Town - with Lee De Vulgt, Dean Philpott and Mark Brown coming in for Mark Williams, Mattie Davies and Grant Thomas

On-loan Phil Trainer was to be the tormenter in chief for the hosts as he set his stall out from the off to test the Merthyr defence with his pace and trickery. In the fourth minute, the winger danced past the challenge of Adrian Needs down the right and sent over a fine cross that Damien Charie scuffed wide of the far post with a flailing leg

Crewe man Trainer soon got his new side off the mark, however as he opened his Hednesford account in the tenth minute with a small amount of luck required. Jim Rollo pulled the player down on the edge of the Hednesford penalty area, earning the first booking of the afternoon in the process, allowing Trainer to take the resultant free-kick and fire past Neil Thomas in the Merthyr goal. Thomas attempted to punch the ball clear but made a mess of his connection and allowed the ball to drift past him and into the net

Stuart Lake was off-target with a long-range effort for the Pitmen in the fourteenth minute before another stroke of luck led to the Pitmen doubling their advantage in the eighteenth minute; Dodd took a free-kick just outside the Merthyr penalty area but completely fluffed the cross, only managing to play it into the path of Needs. However, Needs made a complete hash of the clearance and only bundled the ball into the path of Charie, who scored his first goal for the club with a well-taken first-time strike

Referee Mr. Flanaghan booked Andy Brownrigg for a studs-up challenge on Philpott on twenty-three minutes that irked the Merthyr Tydfil players and management, who felt that the former Hereford man should have been shown a red card

Four minutes later, Lake went close to putting the game beyond the Martyrs as he made a late run to the near post to glance a Richard Lucas corner kick just wide of the upright

Merthyr had been woeful going forwards thus far, with the front pair of Peter Knox and Brown left to scrap for long balls against the impressive Matt Gardiner and Wayne Simpson. Brown was denied a chance on thirty-nine minutes as he made a rare break into the Hednesford penalty area to get on the end of a pass from Andrew Mumford, only for the action was halted by a late offside flag on the main stand side against the striker

With a minute left in the first period, Merthyr had their best chance to get back into contention as Mumford - on loan from Swansea City - unleashed a fierce effort from fully twenty-five yards out that missed Mark Gayle's upright by a matter of inches

In added time, Needs' opportunistic effort from well over thirty yards out drifted over the head of Gayle but also ended up sailing over the crossbar and into the Merthyr fans gathered behind the goal

It hadn't been a pretty forty-five minutes of football from either side, but the Pitmen had looked the better of two inconsistent sides and taken full advantage of two defensive errors to put themselves in command at the break

Merthyr were more pressing in their approach at the start of the second half, having brought on Gavin Beddard for De Vulgt at half-time in a positional shake-up. Lake was alert to the danger as he managed to smuggle the ball away on fifty minutes as Knox's cross drifted towards goal and away from the clutches of Gayle before Lake's late intervention

Beddard missed the away side's best chance of the game three minutes later as he miskicked in front of goal with the net at his mercy following a run and cross from Danny Haines

More bookings followed as the game descended into a midfield battle as Gardiner was booked for a foul on Knox and was joined in the book by three further Merthyr players in quick succession

The Pitmen made their first change of the game on sixty-three minutes as the ineffective Craven - struggling for match fitness - was taken off in favour of Stewart Airdrie

A good run from Airdrie nearly led to a third goal for the Pitmen on sixty-six minutes, but the winger's low cross was turned over the crossbar by Graham Lancashire

Two minutes later, a free-kick from Trainer whistled past Neil Thomas in the Merthyr goal and just wide of the far post as the winger looked to catch the Wales semi-pro International off his guard

Good play from Dodd saw him play Trainer in behind the Merthyr defence on seventy minutes, only for a last-ditch tackle from Rollo to deny the winger a shot at goal as he stepped inside from the flank

Rollo was called upon again to make a timely challenge two minutes later to head a dangerous Airdrie cross over the crossbar from virtually on his goal line as the ball looked to be drifting towards goal


The hosts finally put the game beyond their opponents in the seventy-seventh minute as Airdrie did well to break past Needs and cross for Charie, whose comedy air-shot from eight yards fell kindly for Trainer to drive the rebound home

Francis was brought on by Hibbitt a couple of minutes later as Trainer was afforded generous applause by the Keys Park crowd following a fine individual display


Thomas kept his side from being handed a hammering in the latter stages of the game as he made a fine save to turn Lancashire's snap-shot away on eighty-two minutes before diving full-length to save from Airdrie two minutes later

With six minutes remaining, the returning Dodd was taken off by Hibbitt as he elected to young defender Adam Shakespeare a late run-out at right-back with the game run

Merthyr failed to muster up a response in the final minutes, allowing the Pitmen to run the clock down with ease to record a much-needed win over a fellow struggler. The defeat was all too much for Lewis, who offered his resignation straight after the game after seeing his side out-played and out-thought by a side with a similarly inconsistent record to leave them back in twenty-first place in the table. The Pitmen will look to take this win forward next weekend as they take a break from league duty to host UniBond League side Gateshead in the second round of the F.A. Trophy

Hednesford Town: Gayle, Dodd (Shakespeare 84), Lucas ©, Brownrigg , Gardiner , Simpson, Lake, Trainer (Francis 80), Lancashire, Charie, Craven (Airdrie 63)     Subs Unused: None

Merthyr Tydfil: Thomas, De Vulgt (Beddard 45), Needs , Rollo , Philpott, Mumford , Clarke , Jones (M. Williams 70), Brown (Davies 77), Knox, Haines      Subs Unused: None