26.8.2002

Dr. Martens Southern Premier League

Moor Green

Hednesford Town

Brindley (78)

(0) 0

.

(0) 1

Attendance

MoTM

Current Form

Next Match

486

Chris Brindley

D W W W

Hastings United (A) 31.8.02

The Pitmen climbed to the lofty heights of second place in the league table tonight - for twenty-four hours at least - with a hard-fought victory over local rivals Moor Green at the Moorlands, extending their unbeaten run to four games and recording a third win in a row in the process

 

Manager Ian Painter decided to make one change to his starting XI for the first time this season after persevering with the same side for the first three games, with winger Stewart Airdrie replacing defender Stuart Ryder on the left-hand side of the pitch. This saw the Pitmen converting to a more logical 442 formation, hoping to keep the goals against count down that had seen them concede six goals in the first three games

 

Moor Green came into the game off the back of two defeats and a draw, leaving them floundering in eighteenth place in the table at the start of this evening's play. Manager Bob Faulkner could call upon the experienced forward pair of ex-Birmingham man John Gayle and former Aston Villa striker Darren Middleton, backed up with the exciting ex-Wolves youth team striker Nathan Lamey, who had scored plenty of goals for the Moors in the previous season

After seeing the goals flow in their first three games, the Pitmen found the going tough against a well-organised Moors defence, well marshalled by ex-Villa goalkeeper Adam Rachel. A neat passage of play involving Airdrie and Mark Jones saw Airdrie whip in a cross on eight minutes, but Kevin Francis could not get on the end of the ball and the cross drifted out of play

 

Moors midfielder Jai Stanley made a powerful run from the centre of midfield in the twelfth minute, dragging his long-range effort well wide of Mark Gayle's right-hand post

 

Lamey and Middleton did well to link up together on the edge of the Hednesford penalty area four minutes later, but Middleton was denied a clear shot on goal thanks to a sliding challenge from the in-form Chris Brindley

 

A Moor Green corner kick from Stanley on twenty-four minutes found the head of Peter Faulds, but the midfielder was off-target with his header as he rose highest at the far post to beat Simkin to the ball

 

Francis had the best chance for the Pitmen in a quiet opening half hour, heading narrowly over from Simkin's deep cross after twenty-seven minutes after he had beaten Richard Robinson to the ball

 

 Gayle kept Moor Green at bay with a fine double save on the half-hour mark, getting down to deny Middleton twice in quick succession after the striker had found space inside the penalty area to unleash a shot

 

A deep free-kick from Stanley found the head of Robinson on thirty-three minutes, but his goalbound header was deflected behind by Les Robinson. From the resultant corner, Gayle did well to claim the ball ahead of Lamey and Middleton at his far post

 

Carl Adams caused panic in the Moors defence just before the break with a free-kick that went all the way across the penalty area but was missed by everyone rushing in to meet the ball at the far post

 

 The second half, played under probably the dullest floodlights in the Dr. Martens League at the Moorlands, was little more entertaining. Winger Shaun Wray showed a little of what he can do on fifty minutes with a dazzling run down the right wing and cross that Robinson did well to turn back to Rachel, under pressure from Jones

 

Another piece of wing play from Wray on fifty-seven minutes saw him dance past Gary Hughes and sent over another dangerous cross that Francis headed well over the crossbar from ten yards out

 

Moor Green were limited to long-range efforts in the early stages of the second half, with Middleton lifting a shot high over the crossbar on the hour mark and Lamey trying to be too intricate with a dribble on the edge of the penalty area that was eventually halted by Brindley

 

Both sides had lacked a cutting edge since half-time, and as the game entered it's final twenty minutes, it looked more and more likely that neither side would break the deadlock in an evenly contested encounter

 

Airdrie's inclusion in the side had failed to have the desired effect, with the winger not having much of an impact down the left flank. He was withdrawn with seventeen minutes remaining, as Painter elected to protect the point on offer by bringing on the more defensively-minded Wayne Simpson

 

Francis got up highest to meet another excellent Wray cross sixteen minutes from time, but headed well over the bar as he met the cross a little off-balance at the far post

 

Wray's game was ended a minute later as he was replaced by teenager Ashley Williams, further adding to Painter's belief that a point gained was a good result by replacing a winger with a defender

 

 However, with the game seemingly petering out, the Pitmen snatched the lead with twelve minutes remaining. The outstanding Brindley was the man on the spot to give his side the lead, leaping to head in a cross from Adams at the far post with a towering header to claim his third goal of the season

 

The Pitmen made their third and final change of the game on eighty minutes as they looked to see the game out, with Steve Piearce coming on up front in place of Francis

 

Moor Green were stunned into action, with Middleton suddenly getting a clear run on goal on eight-two minutes. Brindley did brilliantly to deny Middleton a certain equaliser by sliding in at the crucial moment and nicking the ball off the striker as he shaped to shoot

 

A succession of corner kicks from the hosts came to nothing in the final minutes, as Brindley, Robinson and Simpson showed all of their years of experience to ward off the threat of the Moors as they pressed. Robinson's late header from a Stanley free-kick drifted wide of the far post in added time, representing the home side's best chance to get back into the game

 

Three wins in a row for the Pitmen puts them in an excellent position in the early running, showing all of the key features of a decent side at this level - a clutch of flair players, experience throughout the team and character when needed to earn the right result. A trip to the south coast is next up for Painter's men, who travel to Hastings United on Saturday looking to extend their unbeaten run to five games

 

Hednesford Town: Gayle, Simkin, Lucas ©, Robinson, Brindley, Adams, Wray (Williams 75), Rae, Francis (Piearce 80), Jones, Airdrie (Simpson 73)   Subs Unused: Ryder, Jenkins

 

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