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F.A. Trophy 3rd Qualifying Round Replay

Moor Green

Trainer (60), (68)

Hednesford Town

Brannan (52), (77), T. Marshall (71), Dyer (90)

(0) 2

(0) 4



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Steve Brannan



Solihull Borough (A) 17.12.05

A young and inexperienced Pitmen side turned in a timely performance this evening to beat league rivals Moor Green and move into the first round of this season's F.A. Trophy in tonight's third qualifying round replay

Saturday's demoralising defeat at home to basement side Vauxhall Motors prompted caretaker manager Steve Anthrobus into making three changes to his side for tonight's replay as Steve Brannan came back into the side ahead of Danny Scheppel, Ross Dyer made his full debut up front as he replaced Paul McMahon and Grant Beckett deputised for the injured Colin Hunter on the left-wing. There was also a tweak to the formation as Ross Adams played as a third centre-back in a 3-5-2 formation for the visitors

Moors had suffered a defeat of their own at the weekend as they crashed to a 2-1 loss at home to Hyde United, leaving Bob Faulkner's inconsistent side just above the Pitmen in the league table in sixteenth place. Faulkner also made two changes to his side as he freshened his XI up with Darren Middleton and former Hednesford favourite Neil Davis coming back into the side in place of Dave Morrison and Dave Bridgwater respectively

In front of a dreadfully poor attendance of under 200 people, this pre-Christmas replay no-one really wanted started slowly, as both sides took their time in settling into the game. With so many young and inexperienced players in their ranks, the Pitmen were nervy and disjointed in the opening ten minutes and almost fell behind to a Moor Green attack in the ninth minute; midfield man Ben Petty picked up a loose pass from Rob Heath and took the ball towards the Hednesford penalty area before driving his shot through a crowd of players and wide of Adam Jenkins' left-hand post

Davis saw his first sight at goal snuffed out by Ian Wright in the thirteenth minute as a quick break from the Moors saw ex-Hednesford loanee Phil Trainer play Davis in down the left-hand channel. Ian Wright spotted the danger and stepped across to block Davis's route to goal and turn the ball behind for a Moors corner kick

In the sixteenth minute, another long-range shot from the hosts, this time from Sean Dowdall, saw Jenkins called into action for the first time in the evening as he pushed the ball away from goal

The Pitmen's first opportunity of the game came in the nineteenth minute as Tom Marshall's long ball forwards was flicked on by Andy Bell and into the path of Dyer, whose forceful run into the Moor Green penalty area was eventually halted by former Bedworth centre-back as he shaped to shoot

A good run from Chris Nurse down the left wing midway through the first half saw him go beyond the run of Trainer to latch onto a through ball from the winger, crossing well into the near post where Jenkins did well to turn the ball away from former team-mate Davis

The Pitmen were finally warming to the task and had ten good minutes in the first half where they could have taken the lead; Beckett and Branch linked up well on twenty-four minutes to cross for Bell, whose off-balance header drifted wide of Daniel Crane's right-hand post from ten yards out

Lee Williams spotted Dyer's early run into the penalty area two minutes later as he quickly took a free-kick into the path of the youngster, who got to the byeline and pulled the ball back into the path of Brannan, only for his fellow youth team graduate to fire over the crossbar

On twenty-eight minutes, Branch's chipped ball forwards saw Bell chase it down ahead of Richard Scott, turning past the full-back and squaring the ball to Beckett, whose first-time shot was a matter of inches wide of Crane's left-hand post

The Moors came back strongly and finished the first half on top after the Pitmen had enjoyed their spell of pressure, with Jenkins keeping his side in contention as the half progressed. Petty struck another twenty-yard effort straight into the arms of the stopper on thirty-three minutes, followed two minutes later by Davis's weekly-struck snapshot that bounced straight through to the goalkeeper

With eight minutes of the first-half remaining, Gary McPhee - goalscorer in the first game last Tuesday - found a pocket of space in behind Adams as Trauner played him into the box. The striker took a touch and chipped the ball to the far post, where Davis arrived late to turn the ball goalwards but was denied by Tom Marshall's presence of mind to track back and hack the ball clear

Good play from Brannan on forty-one minutes saw him escape the attentions of Sanders down the Hednesford right, jinking his way into the box before driving a shot over Crane's crossbar from a tight angle

The Moors ramped up the pressure on the Hednesford defence in the final minute of the half, winning four successive corner kicks to test the resolve of Jenkins and the defenders in front of him

There had been plenty of openings at both ends of the pitch during the first half, but neither side had been confident enough to take any thus far. This was to change dramatically in the second period as the small crowd witnessed a thriller of a forty-five minutes and six goals shared between the local rivals

Just four minutes into the second half, Davis got on the end of an inswinging free-kick from Petty to meet the ball ahead of Wright but glanced his header from eight yards out just over the crossbar

The Pitmen got their noses in front on fifty-two minutes with their first foray into Moor Green territory in the second half as Dyer made a run down the left to latch onto a Williams cross-field pass, leaving Scott in his wake before showing impressive maturity to take a touch and look up, pulling the ball back into the path of Brannan who drilled his shot beyond Crane from ten yards out and found the bottom corner of the net. The players ran over to Anthrobus and the Hednesford bench to celebrate with their caretaker manager, justifying his faith in the teenagers on display for the men in green

Back came the Moors after the shock of conceding the game's opening goal and McPhee's clever turn left Marshall in his wake on fifty-five minutes as he entered the penalty area, but pulled his shot wide of Jenkins' near post

Two minutes later, Petty's corner kick was flicked on at the near post by Sanders and into the path of Davis, who could not react quickly enough to the ball and turned his shot wide of the target

The hosts' pressure finally told on the hour mark as another Petty corner kick was not dealt with by a ball-watching Hednesford defence, allowing the unmarked Trainer to turn the loose ball home at the far post to level the tie once more

The game was flip-flopping from end to end at this point and you had no indication as to which way the tie was going to go at this point, with both sides having spells of possession and chances before allowing the opposition to do the same. On sixty-three minutes, Trainer held off Brannan and crossed for McPhee, who got underneath the ball and headed tamely over the crossbar when he perhaps should have made Jenkins work

The hosts took the lead for the first time in the game on sixty-eight minutes as Trainer grabbed another goal against his former club in what was an almost carbon copy of his first goal; once again, the Pitmen switched off at a Petty corner kick and allowed Sanders to flick the ball into the path of Trainer at the far post, who again obliged with a sidefooted finish past Jenkins from close range

However, the Pitmen rolled their sleeves up once more and got themselves back on level terms again just three minutes later as Bell was brought down by Sanders to earn the away side a free-kick just outside the Moor Green penalty area. Williams sent over one of his trademark set-piece deliveries, swinging the ball into the back post where Marshall rose above everyone to head firmly past Crane from close-range for his first-ever Hednesford goal. Once again, the team ran across to the bench to celebrate with Anthrobus and his substitutes

The momentum swung back towards the Pitmen once more and Williams saw Crane pull off a wonderful save on seventy-three minutes to turn his free-kick over the crossbar from twenty-five yards out. From the resultant corner kick, also taken by Williams, Brannan made a late run into the six-yard box but headed over the crossbar

Brannan was to put the Pitmen ahead once more, however, as he grabbed his second goal of the evening to make it 3-2 on seventy-seven minutes. Williams delivered another fine corner kick that was partially cleared by the Moors defence to Brannan, who was lurking on the edge of the penalty area. He headed the ball back into the danger zone and caught Crane off guard with a looping effort that deceived the on-loan stopper and dipped into the net - an unorthodox goal, but a crucial one all the same

The hosts looked for an immediate response through substitute Morrison, who took a pass from fellow substitute Bridgwater into the Hednesford penalty area and past Wright on seventy-nine minutes, but Jenkins fielded his weak shot at his near post

Davis showed his well-renowned poaching instincts on eighty-two minutes as he picked the pocket of a dawdling Adams just outside the penalty area, but saw his low shot skip off the hard turf and wide of the post

Two minutes later, the Pitmen made their one and only change of the game as Scheppel came on in place of man of the match Brannan, who was given warm applause by the small band of loyal Hednesford supporters tucked away behind Crane's goal

With Moor Green now committing more men forwards, the Pitmen had space to run into behind and Brannan went close to a hat-trick on eighty-five minutes as he picked up a long ball forwards from Adams that was flicked on by Bell, but the youngster got a little too greedy as he entered the penalty area and blazed his shot over the crossbar when Bell was screaming for the lay-off ten yards way

Three successive Petty corners cranked up the pressure on the Hednesford defence as the minutes ticked by and the Pitmen held on to their slender lead; Wright made a timely block to deny Davis once more on eighty-eight minutes after Trainer had once again picked the striker out with an accurate cross from the left

The away side finally put the tie to bed with a breakaway fourth goal in the first minute of added time as Dyer scored his maiden Hednesford goal, running onto a through ball from Williams before outmuscling the floundering Sanders and sliding the ball beyond the reach of the onrushing Crane and into the far corner of the net

It had been the perfect response to Saturday's defeat and poor performance from the Pitmen, with the young guns of Marshall, Brannan and Dyer, in particular, earning much praise for their mature and exciting performances, all capping it with appearances on the scoresheet. In an odd twist of fate, the Pitmen will return to the very same ground on Saturday afternoon as they face Moor Green's landlords Solihull Borough in the first round proper of the F.A. Trophy, in what will be the fourth time that Hednesford have played at the ground this calendar year

Moor Green: Crane, Scott (English 78), Nurse, Collins ©, Sanders, Dowdall (Morrison 65), Petty, Middleton (Bridgwater 74), Davis, McPhee, Trainer      Subs Unused: Penny, Coates

Hednesford Town: Jenkins, Adams, Branch, Williams ©, Wright, T. Marshall, Brannan (Scheppel 84), Heath, Dyer, Bell, Beckett     Subs Unused: Anthrobus, Whittle

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