Nationwide Conference North

Moor Green

Midworth (31)

Hednesford Town

Williams (73), Collins (78) (OG)

(1) 1

(0) 2



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Rob Heath



Vauxhall Motors (H) 22.10.05

The Pitmen recorded their first league win in five attempts this evening as they leave it late to beat local rivals Moor Green at Damson Park to leapfrog their hosts in the league table

Saturday had seen Hednesford return from Workington empty-handed after being handed a 2-0 defeat by the Reds at Borough Park. Player/manager Chris Brindley made just the one change to his goal-shy side as he chose to bring youngster Steve Brannan into the side in place of Grant Beckett, with Brannan playing on the right-hand side of midfield which allowed Lee Williams to play alongside Rob Heath in the centre of the park

The Moors - beaten 2-0 by the Pitmen in the F.A. Cup 2nd Qualifying Round last month - were sitting just above their visitors in the league table ahead of tonight's game following a 4-0 reverse against Nuneaton Borough at the weekend. Manager Bob Faulkner made five changes to his side for tonight's derby clash; goalkeeper Dan Crane made his debut for the Moors after joining on loan from Burton Albion, joining Phil Midworth, Ben Petty, Lee Collins and Chris Nurse in the XI as they replaced James Coates, Junior English, John Snape, Guy Sanders and Phil Trainer respectively

On a cool night in Solihull and in front of a disappointing crowd, the Pitmen set their stall out early on as they looked to dominate the midfield area early on in the game; Williams and Rob Heath both left their mark on Dave Morrison as they gave the midfield man no time on the ball, with Heath spoken to early on by the referee for his sixth-minute tackle on the Moors player

In the tenth minute, the hosts created their first opening of the evening as Darren Middleton's pass inside of Ross Adams found Nurse, who looked for a little too much time to decide his next option and allowed Adams to get back and block his shot

In the fifteenth minute, the Pitmen had the ball in the net for the first time in the game as Steve Anthorbus controlled a long ball forwards from Lee Barrow and laid it off to Heath, whose wonderful pass split the Moor Green defence and found Andy Bell, who slotted home past Crane from twelve yards out. The goal was ruled out, however, as Bell had strayed into an offside position in the build-up

Four minutes later, the excellent Heath splayed another fine pass out to the left wing to find Colin Hunter in acres of space to run at Phil Midworth; the former Harrogate man jinked his way into the penalty area and attempted a cheeky chip over the head of debutant Crane, who pushed the ball away for a corner kick

Midway through the half, Williams chipped a free-kick into the Moors penalty area from out wide on the left, which Anthrobus headed downwards into the six-yard box towards Bell. Lee Collins partially cleared the ball back out to Williams, whose angled drive from a tight angle sailed over the crossbar

The Moors were struggling to get themselves into the game, relying on the quality of Midleton and recent signing Gary Phee to open up the stubborn Hednesford defence. On twenty-six minutes, McPhee's quick turn saw him get past Richard Teesdale as he raced onto a pass from Petty but scuffed his effort from eighteen yards out well wide of Tommy Whittle's near post

On the half-hour mark, Adams made progress down the right after Williams had played the ball out to him on the flank. The former West Brom youngster sent over a measured cross to the far post and picked out Heath, who got underneath the ball and headed it over the crossbar from eight yards out

A minute later, the hosts took the lead against the run of play and with a freak of a goal through full-back Midworth; picking up the ball out on the right flank and thirty yards from goal, Midworth sent over a harmless-looking cross towards the far post that caught Whittle out, drifting over the head of the Hednesford stopper and ending up dropping just under the crossbar and nestling in the far corner of the net. Following Whittle's error leading to Workington's second goal on Saturday, more question marks will be asked of the stopper after what appeared to be more poor decision-making and positioning

Back came the Pitmen and Crane made another save from Hunter to deny the visitors an immediate reply on thirty-four minutes, pushing the winger's low driven shot from the edge of the penalty area around the post and behind for a Hednesford corner kick

In the thirty-eighth minute, Anthrobus headed over from a Williams corner kick after making a late run into the six-yard box to meet the midfielder's deep, inswinging cross from the right

Three minutes before half-time, Mark Branch linked up well with Hunter down the right after Branch's throw-in was returned to him by his team-mate; his low cross into the penalty area was controlled well by Bell but lashed his shot on the turn over the crossbar from ten yards out

The Pitmen had arguably shaded the first half in terms of play and chances but had been made to pay for one moment of good fortune from the visitors in getting them in front through Midworth's freak goal. The Moors goalscorer was replaced by Junior English at the half-time break, presumably as a result of injury

Six minutes after the restart, Hunter went agonisingly close to levelling matters once more for the Pitmen as he made a flying run down the left and got past both English and Petty before trying his luck with a well-struck shot across Crane's goal that came back off the crossbar

The visitors continued to press their hosts during the early stages of the second half, with Anthrobus chesting down an Adams cross into the path of Heath on fifty-five minutes, only for the former Stoke City man to fire well wide with his half-volley from eighteen yards out

On fifty-nine minutes, the Pitmen made what was to be their only substitution of the evening as Paul McMahon came on up front in place of Anthrobus, who had struggled to make any headway for the visitors

On the hour mark, Teesdale headed wide as he glanced his effort wide of the near post after Branch's long throw into the box, level with the Moors penalty area, had found his defensive colleague

Moors skipper Collins denied Bell a tap-in for the Pitmen on sixty-three minutes as he somehow managed to make a goal-line clearance to head Branch's cross away from danger as Bell looked to stab the ball home from a yard out

The Moors had struggled to make any headway in the Hednesford third of the pitch so far in the second half, with Faulkner electing to bring on former Hednesford favourite Neil Davis up front on sixty-seven minutes as he replaced Middleton

Within a minute of coming on, Davis snatched at a chance to put his side two goals clear as Morrison stood up a cross from the left-wing that was met by Davis, whose shot was blocked at the far post by Branch, diverting the ball behind for a corner kick

Man of the match Heath played another one of his delightful through balls into the path of Hunter on sixty-nine minutes, finding the winger running in behind the hesitant English. He took a touch on the edge of the Moors penalty area but pulled his shot wide of Crane's left-hand post

The Pitmen finally pulled themselves level on seventy-three minutes - and what a goal it was that did so, with Williams equalising in spectacular circumstances. Picking the ball up out on the right-wing, Williams cut inside before unleashing a dipping, swerving shot from twenty-five yards out that beat Crane all ends up as it flew across him and into the far top corner of the net. A goal of the season contender from the midfielder and a fine way to get his side back on level terms

This acted as a real impetus for the visitors, who camped inside the Moors half in search of a winner. A period of intense pressure saw the Pitmen win three corners in succession, one of which Crane had to claw from underneath his crossbar to deny Williams scoring direct from one before the away side got their noses in front with twelve minutes to go

Adams played Brannan into space down the right-wing and beyond the reach of Richard Scott; the youngster took two touches and crossed low into the Moors six-yard box, looking for Bell at the near post. Collins had tracked the run of the Hednesford striker and arrived first, but inadvertently turned the ball into his own net from close-range as he attempted to turn the ball away from goal

Sean Dowdall came on for the ineffective McPhee for the hosts on eighty minutes and linked up well with Davis just two minutes after making his entrance as the pair exchanged passes just inside the Hednesford penalty area, but dragged his low shot wide of goal

A corner kick from Morrison with five minutes remaining was met by a full-blooded header from Collins, only for his effort from eight yards out to clear the crossbar by a matter of inches

The Moors were now very much on top in the final stages of the game as they looked to rescue a point from the game, with striker Dave Bridgwater tamely shooting into the arms of Whittle with the hosts' last chance of the game in the ninetieth minute after a cross from English caused the Hednesford defence problems in clearing their lines

The Pitmen held on in added time to record their first league victory since Redditch United back at the start of September, leap-frogging their hosts in the process as they move up to the relative safety of fifteenth in the Conference North table. There is another break from the bread and butter of league football for Brindley's side at the weekend as they play host to Vauxhall Motors in the final qualifying round of the F.A. Cup, which will be a first-ever meeting between the two sides

Moor Green: Crane, Midworth (English 45), Scott, Collins ©, Penny, Petty, Morrison, Middleton (Davis 67), McPhee (Dowdall 80), Bridgwater, Nurse       Subs Unused: Faulds, Snape

Hednesford Town: Whittle, Adams, Branch, Barrow ©, Teesdale, Williams, Brannan, Heath, Anthrobus (McMahon 59), Bell, Hunter    Subs Unused: Brindley, Beckett, T. Marshall