11.9.2018

Evo-Stik Northern Premier League

Mickleover Sports

Jarman (34)

Hednesford Town

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Sam Griffiths

 

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Workington (H) 15.9.18

Hednesford's early season away success came to a grinding halt this evening, as Rob Smith's side suffered their first defeat on the road at the hands of Mickleover Sports at the Don Amott Arena

 

Smith's side returned to league action following Saturday's impressive 2-0 win over Tamworth in the F.A. Cup looking to get themselves back on track in the Evo-Stik Premier League, sitting tenth in the table before kick-off. Smith made three changes to his side ahead of the game, with Michael Howard, Charlie Gatter and Reece King all returning to the side in place of Lewis Archer, Josh Craddock and Callam Mendez-Jones. However, there was to be another enforced change to the side just before kick-off, with Jed Davies pulling up in the warm-up and was replaced by Mendez-Jones

 

Mickleover also came into the game off the back of a fine F.A. Cup victory at the weekend, beating Haughmond 6-0 at home to earn themselves a trip to Anstey Nomads in the second qualifying round. Player/manager John McGrath made one change to the side that were victorious at the weekend as they looked to improve on their eighteenth position in the league, with Mason Warren replacing Tyreece Robinson on the left

 

On a perfect pitch, Hednesford were to have the better of the opening exchanges as they went in search of a fourth successive away win. Neat link-up play down the right saw Joe Fitzpatrick play the ball to Matt Curley, whose low shot was easily saved by Mickleover keeper Lewis King

 

Mickleover replied with a low drive of their own in eight minutes, as Ollie Roberts tried his luck from twenty-five yards out but hit his shot straight at Jono Brown in the Hednesford goal

 

The Pitmen somehow failed to take the lead with an agonising triple miss on eighteen minutes; a long throw from Sam Griffiths was headed on by King and into the feet of Dan Cockerline, who laid the ball off to Michael Howard. Howard's sidefooted effort came back off the crossbar and back to King, whose subsequent curling effort came back off the far post. Finally, a breathless period of play ended with Cockerline chasing down a backpass to King and deflected the keeper's clearance into the side-netting. Three chances that Smith's side were left to regret later on in the game

 

A quick break down the right from Mickleover ended with Evan Garnett pulling his shot well, well wide of the far post as he struck a speculative shot at goal from long-range on twenty-two minutes

 

The visitors had enjoyed the better of proceedings in the first quarter of the game, but Mickleover started to take control of the game as the half progressed. After winning three corners in succession, Brown claimed a downward header from Garnett on thirty-one minutes following a McGrath corner

 

The hosts took the lead three minutes later, with the prolific Nathan Jarman on target for Sports with his fourth goal this week; Roberts clipped the ball into the path of Jarman, who was lurking on the edge of the penalty area. The striker's low shot lacked power but did enough to somehow dribble through the hands of Brown and into the corner of the net

 

The Pitmen mustered a response through skipper Stefan Galinski on forty-one minutes, heading a Fitzpatrick free-kick wide of goal after rising highest at the far post to meet the cross

 

After replacing Davies before the start of the game, Mendez-Jones himself was substituted shortly before half-time, as he was forced off due to a thigh strain and replaced by Sam Grimshaw

 

Half-time saw Smith and Larry Chambers make the very bold decision to make their final two changes of the game, with Matt Dodd coming on for Gatter and Archer replacing the disappointing Cockerline

 

Galinski had to be on his toes to snuff out a Mickleover chance on fifty-three minutes, sliding in at the critical moment to deny Garnett a clear shot on goal after the striker had broken clear of the Hednesford defence

 

The Pitmen had struggled to contain the hosts in the opening stages of the second half, with Jarman heading over the crossbar three minutes later following a long throw on the right-hand side

 

Mickleover had more joy down the right wing on fifty-eight minutes, with Curtis Burrows picking up a throw-in and driving past Nathan Fox before crossing for Jarman, whose header was well saved by Brown at his near post

 

Brown did brilliantly to keep his side in the game two minutes later, as a cross from the right once more by full-back Jake Scott found Roberts, who was denied a certain goal by a fine smothering save down at the base of his far post by the temporary Hednesford keeper, who returns to parent club Bromsgrove Sporting after the game

 

A flowing move through the centre from Mickleover opened up the retreating Hednesford defence on sixty-eight minutes, with Roberts lifting his shot over the crossbar from a great scoring position. A minute later, Garnett dragged his shot wide of goal with a low drive from the edge of the penalty area

 

The Pitmen had spent long spells of the half in their own half and had been limited to counter-attacks. One such break on seventy-two minutes saw them create a great chance to equalise, as Archer broke clear of the hosts' defence as he raced onto Dodd's through ball. The youngster found Howard in the middle, but the teenager was denied a certain goal by a last-ditch deflection from Scott, who turned the shot over the crossbar

 

From the resultant corner kick, Dodd's recycled cross found Howard on the penalty spot, with the on-loan forward going down under a challenge from Jarman. However, the Pitmen's night was summed up with the referee showing Howard a yellow card for simulation, rather than awarding them the penalty they expected

 

Mickleover tightened up their defence in the final stages of the game, making appropriate changes to see the game out with relative ease. The visitors had one final chance to take a point back with them in added time through Dodd, as Archer got on the end of Galinski's header and played Dodd in, but the substitute could not force the ball home from a tight angle as a combination of King and skipper Tom Burgin denied him at the death

 

So... it's back to the drawing board once more for Smith and Chambers, as the Pitmen's lack of consistency bites them yet again and denies them at least a point over a workmanlike and experienced Mickleover outfit, who played the visitors in a similar way that the likes of Scarborough and Gainsborough had previously - physically stronger, better game management and having a striker (Jarman) who converts the crucial chance when it comes along. Workington offer another tough challenge to Smith's inconsistent outfit at the weekend, as the Reds make the long trip down to Keys Park from Cumbria in the Evo-Stik Premier League

 

Mickleover Sports: King, Scott , Warren, McGrath, Turner, Burgin ©, Burrows, Roberts, Jarman, Garnett, Phillips    Subs Unused: Norcross, Belgrave, Marselia, Kozluk, Robinson

Hednesford Town: Brown, Curley, Fox, Gatter (Dodd 45), Galinski ©, Griffiths, Fitzpatrick, King, Cockerline (Archer 45), Mendez-Jones (Grimshaw 42), Howard     Subs Unused: Hollis

 

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