26.9.2016

Evo-Stik Northern Premier League

Hednesford Town

Glover (58)

Mickleover Sports

(0) 1

(0) 0

Attendance

MoTM

Current Form

Next Match

358

Gurjit Singh

W L D D W L W D D W

Buxton (H) 1.10.16

Danny Glover's second-half goal was enough to give the Pitmen all three points at Keys Park this evening, as Liam McDonald's side completely dominate their clash with Mickleover Sports but only have a solitary goal to show for their efforts

Saturday's well-earned draw at Nantwich Town had left the Pitmen three points off a share of the top spot, due to defeats for each of the top three. There was only one change to the side that started at the Weaver Stadium, with Joel Logan coming back into the team at the expense of Ashley Sammons. Lloyd Ransome was back amongst the substitutes after being replaced by youngster Reiss Wagstaff at Nantwich

Mickleover had made a pretty decent start to the season, spending much of the season so far in the top ten and defying the pre-season expectations of a likely struggle. Former Hednesford triallist Pablo Mills started against the Pitmen in the centre of Mickleover's defence, whilst the familiar face of veteran former Crystal Palace and Republic of Ireland striker Clinton Morrison was the standout name on Sports' teamsheet

The Pitmen got straight into their stride from the off, playing neat, intricate spells of football in midfield that Mickleover struggled to cope with. The in-form Gurjit Singh went close to adding to his five goals this term as he burst through the Sports defence in the third minute but saw his shot diverted away for a corner kick

Neat build-up play created an opening for Logan on fourteen minutes, with the winger fouled by Jake Bennett. A deep cross from Tom Thorley found Danny Glover, whose shot was well saved by Jake Eastwood. In the melee that followed, George Carline just failed to squeeze the rebound home as the loose ball bounced around the six-yard box before being cleared by the experienced John McGrath. Thorley seized upon the clearance and played the ball to Logan whose deep cross to the far post found Carline, who scooped his shot over the crossbar

Three minutes later, a deep corner kick from Thorley was headed back across the face of the Mickleover penalty area by Jimmy Mutton, only for all of the players in white to miss the ball as it skipped past the post and out of play

Logan tested the positioning of Eastwood on twenty minutes as he spun past a challenge from Ben Turner before unleashing a low shot that the Mickleover stopper held at his near post

The tricky Singh pulled another effort just wide of the Pitmen two minutes later as his run into the Mickleover penalty area saw the visitors afford the striker time and space to pick his shot

The away side, in their striking red and black shirts/blue shorts combo, finally had an effort of note midway through the first half as a run down the left flank from the talented Andy Dales saw him force Dan Crane into a save low down at his near post with a driven effort from an angle

Michael Williams' low cross to the near post on twenty-five minutes was diverted away from the foot of Glover by the burly figure of Mills to deny the striker a simple tap-in from a couple of yards out. The resultant Thorley corner almost caught Eastwood unawares as it dipped towards goal, prompting the keeper to tip the ball away from danger at his far post with the ball heading for the far corner of the net 

A superb run from Singh on twenty-eight minutes saw him shimmy his way through three Mickleover challenges before dragging his shot well wide of Eastwoods's goal from twenty yards out

Logan skipped past two Mickleover challenges down the right flank on thirty-three minutes and cross for Glover once more, only for a timely stop from McGrath at the near post to deflect the ball away from the goal

McGrath was involved at the other end of the pitch for Sports with ten minutes of the half remaining, heading tamely wide after Morrison's presence from a Dales free-kick had caused the Pitmen problem in defending the inswinging cross from the right

A great run from Cohen Bramall on forty minutes saw the young wing-back play a one-two with Thorley before skinning Bennett for pace down the flank and crossing for Carline, who showed a rare lack of judgement in the air as the ball flicked off his forehead and well wide of the target from eight yards out

Mickleover were forced into a change at the half-time interval as Bennett was replaced by Tom Burgin at right-back due to injury. It will probably have come as a relief to the full-back as he had struggled to contain the likes of Bramall and Singh during a tough first period

The second half continued in much the same way as the first, with the home side continuing to press and create chance after chance against a resolute Mickleover side. Mutton headed high over the crossbar and into the Heath Hayes terrace on forty-nine minutes after Thorley's second corner in a row had been played into the defender's path at the far post

Singh went closest of anyone to opening the scoring four minutes later as he hit the woodwork for the home side; Carline fed Bramall down the left wing with a reverse pass with the youngster's low cross deflected into the path of the striker, who was stood on the penalty spot. His sidefooted effort beat Eastwood but came back off the foot of the far post before the Mickleover keeper recovered to pounce on the loose ball

The Pitmen finally got the goal their efforts deserved on fifty-eight minutes after another bout of pressure in and around the Mickleover penalty area. It was perhaps a slightly fortuitous goal, however, as Logan and Williams linked up down the right-wing before the right-back crossed low into the penalty area. The ball appeared to hit the leg of Glover as he made a run into the penalty area, doing enough to deflect the ball beyond the reach fo Eastwood and hand the hosts the lead

The Pitmen sensed more goals and continued with their high line pressing as they went in search of more. Simeon Maye linked up well with Thorley in midfield to send Gover away on the hour mark, only for a last-ditch sliding challenge from Burgin to toe-poke the ball away from the striker, who was clean through on goal otherwise

Williams' run and cross was headed back across goal by Carline three minutes later, only for Logan to lash his effort high and wide of goal from fifteen yards out

Skipper Thorley - not known for his goalscoring instincts - went close to doubling the Pitmen's lead in the sixty-sixth minute as a quick break from the hosts saw Logan play Thorley through, only for his angled drive to skip past the far post by a matter of inches

 

The Pitmen made their first change of the evening on seventy minutes, as goalscorer Glover was given a rousing reception by the home fans as he was replaced up front by Tristian Dunkley

The visitors had looked impotent for much of the evening and continued to do so, with a Dales free-kick beaten away by Crane and cleared by the Hednesford defence on seventy-five minutes with what to proves Mickleover's best chance of a miserable evening from the away side

Man of the match Singh went close to grabbing a deserved goal with ten minutes remaining, curling a free-kick from twenty yards out just over the bar with a delightful clipped effort that had Eastwood scrambling across his goal

A minute later, the Pitmen made their second and final change of the evening as Sean Geddes made a late appearance from the bench as he replaced the hard-working Logan down the right flank

The tall, rangy Carline should have made it 2-0 to the Pitmen with four minutes of the game remaining as an inswinging Geddes free-kick from the right was headed onto the crossbar by the attacking midfielder before Mickleover cleared their lines

And yet, despite their total dominance of the ninety minutes, the Pitmen almost let it slip in the final minute of normal time as Mickleover went close to grabbing an unlikely leveller; a low cross from Burgin down the right saw Callum Flanagan and Morrison battle for the ball, with the former Premier League striker getting the better of his man and touching the ball past Crane and towards goal. Williams had spotted the danger and managed to get back in time to hack the ball off the line and spare his side's blushes

A late flurry of corner kicks from McGrath failed to break through the Hednesford rearguard, with the Pitmen good value for the win that extends their unbeaten run to four games and moves McDonald's men up into fifth position in the table and only a couple of points off top spot. It's another home game for the Pitmen to look forward to at the weekend as Buxton make the trip to Keys Park with Hednesford in a position to possibly go to the top of the table if results go their way both at home and elsewhere 

Hednesford Town: Crane, Williams, Bramall, Thorley ©Mutton, Flanagan, Logan (Geddes 81 ), Maye, Glover (Dunkley 70), Singh, Carline      Subs Unused: Ransome, Wright, Sammons

Mickleover Sports: Eastwood, Bennett (Burgin 45), Turner, McGrath, Mills, Broadhead, Dales (Belgrave 76), Grocott, Morrison, Baskerville (Litchfield 62), Schofield      Subs Unused: Lansdowne, Tolley