1.1.2004

Dr. Martens Southern Premier League

Hednesford Town

Danks (3), (8), (71), Anthrobus (64)

Moor Green

Elmes (24), Doyle (31), (33) (penalty), Davis (61)

(2) 4

(3) 4

 

Attendance

MotM

Current Form

Next Match

536

Mark Danks

W W L L D W L D D D

 

Bath City (A) 3.1.04

Hednesford continue to frustrate their supporters and manager as the mid-table Pitmen rescue a point at home to struggling Moor Green this afternoon at Keys Park in the first game of 2004, despite being 2-0 up after eight minutes and 3-2 down just after the half hour mark

Manager Barry Powell was without the suspended Darren Simkin after the defender had accumulated five yellow cards for the season and served a one-match ban today. This saw Alex Gibson return to the side at right-back having missed the Boxing Day game against his former side Stafford Rangers. Skipper Steve Palmer returned to the side after he had served a one match suspension against Stafford, replacing new boy Craig Dean in midfield and taking the captaincy back off Simkin in the process. Lee Barrow and Scott Goodwin made their second home debuts for the club, having returned to Keys Park over the festive season to make their debut against Rangers

Bob Faulkner's Moors had struggled for the duration of the season, sitting in a precarious twentieth position in the table ahead of today's New Year's Day local derby. Faulkner had recently brought in former Hednesford favourite Neil Davis from league rivals Newport County to partner ex-Halesowen and Hereford man Rob Elmes up front in an experienced and prolific-looking attack to compliment the older, wiser heads in the squad such as former Queens Park Rangers striker Dennis Bailey, former Walsall midfielder Dean Peer and player\assistant manager John Frain. There was also a start for former Hednesford loanee Phil Trainer, who had joined the Moors in the summer after being released by Crewe Alexandra

It was another miserable afternoon in South Staffordshire, as the wet weather witnessed on Boxing Day at Stafford had dissipated in favour of freezing cold conditions. The Keys Park pitch was hard and bobbly and only just passed a pitch inspection at lunchtime in order for the game to be played

The freezing weather was soon a forgotten element to the Hednesford supporters, as their side made a flying start to proceedings through top scorer Mark Danks. In the third minute and with their first meaningful attack, Les Hines delivered a superb inswinging corner kick that dropped in the Moor Green six-yard box; the Moors defence made a hash of clearing their lines, allowing Danks to pounce and do enough to squeeze the ball over the line in a goalmouth melee. Not a pretty goal by any means, but a crucial opener all the same from the hosts

The Moors were on the back foot from the off and almost presented the Pitmen with another goal in the fifth minute as Richard Robinson lost possession to Danny McGhee, whose low cross was turned behind by former Aston Villa keeper Adam Rachel under pressure from Danks

Three minutes later, the Pitmen had their second of the afternoon through Danks once more and things looked to be on the turn for the hosts after three games without a win; McGhee was involved again, picking up Carl Palmer's pass out wide before drifting inside and picking out Danks in the inside left position. The youngster showed great composure to clip the ball past the onrushing Rachel with a first-time touch that did enough to divert the ball into the far corner of the net

 

A great start from the Pitmen which could have got even better for them in the thirteenth minute as Goodwin picked up a Barrow pass and fed Carl Palmer, who had made a surge in behind the Moor Green defence. However, Palmer lacked composure and lashed his first time shot wide of goal when he probably should have taken a touch before deciding got his options

A nice turn and pass from Steve Palmer played namesake Carl into acres of space in the nineteenth minute, only for the ginger-haired midfield man to lift his shot from twenty-five yards out high over the crossbar and into the car park behind the goal

However, the Pitmen were already showing signs of their old, inconsistent habits creeping into the play - sitting back, allowing the wounded opposition to have more of the ball and grow in confidence, rather than stay on the front foot. Moor Green started to come back into the game as Peter Faulds started  pulling the strings in midfield to create openings for the men in front of him. On twenty-two minutes, a corner kick from Faulds was glanced narrowly wide at the far post by Daire Doyle, who had out-muscled Hines to get to the ball

Doyle turned provider two minutes later as Moors got themselves back into the game courtesy of some slack defending from the hosts; Doyle was afforded far too much time and space on the right flank to send over a deep cross and pick out Elmes, who once again proved to be a thorn in the Pitmen's side with a well-placed header beyond Young

The visitors had their tails up and started to dictate the play against a suddenly nervous and anxious Hednesford side. Doyle played Trainer in down the inside left position on twenty-six minutes with the winger cutting the ball back into the path of Davis, only for the striker to miscue and slice his shot well, well wide of goal in uncharacteristic manner

The Moors were back on level terms on thirty-one minutes, as Doyle pounced on a loose ball in the Hednesford penalty area from a Trainer cross and turned the ball past Young from six yards out after the Pitmen's defence had been caught ball watching

Things got even worse for the hosts two minutes later as their two goal lead was completely wiped out as the Moors took the lead for the first time in the game; a long, rangy pass forwards from Ben Petty saw Davis and former Hednesford team-mate Barrow compete for the ball as they raced into the Pitmen's penalty area, culminating in Davis nipping in ahead of Barrow and the centre-back bringing the striker down. The referee Mr. Cooke had no doubt in his mind and awarded the Moors a penalty kick for Barrow's foul on Davis. Doyle stepped up and sent Young the wrong way from the resultant spot-kick to put the league strugglers ahead

This was too much for some supporters at this point, who had witnessed a spectacular collapse from their side inside thirty-three minutes and called for Powell to make drastic changes to his side or resign if he did not have the capability to do so

Brindley attempted to bundle a McGhee cross home on thirty-seven minutes, but was twice denied by fine last-ditch defending from the Moors as he took a swipe at the loose, bouncing ball inside the away side's penalty area

Three minutes later, the in-form Danks did well to escape the attentions of Robinson and dart into the penalty area, but elected to shoot from a tight angle rather than pass to Anthrobus and only succeeded in lashing his low shot behind

Half-time was met with a chorus of boos from the frustrated home supporters, leaving Powell with much to do at half-time to inspire a side that had been so good in the opening quarter of the game but utterly hopeless in the second to leave them with much to do in the second half

The Pitmen did start the second half with an amount of purpose, pushing Moor Green back into their own half and enjoying the lion's share of possession in the first ten minutes of the half. Peer had to be alert to the danger posed by McGhee on forty-nine minutes as he slid in to turn the ball behind and deny the youngster a clear run at goal from Gibson's through-ball

There minutes later, Carl Palmer's clever lob into the penalty area found Anthrobus goal side of Guy Sanders, only for the striker to be pulled up for a marginal offside decision against him on the main stand side before he could fire past Rachel

Rachel made a fine save to keep his side in front on fifty-five minutes, tipping a cross-cum-shot from Hines over the bar as it looked as though the ball was drifting just under the woodwork at the far post

Despite this bright start, it was Davis that was to punish his former club once more on sixty-one minutes with a fourth goal for Moor Green - Davis's second goal in six weeks against his former club at Keys Park, having scored the winner for previous club Newport County back in November. A quick break from the Moors caught the Pitmen out positionally as Trainer's pace saw him latch onto a pass from Faulds before playing the ball into the feet of Davis; his initial shot was saved by Young, but such was the time and space afforded the prolific striker by some dreadful Hednesford defending, Davis had enough time to compose himself and turn the rebound home form eight yards out

Some fans had seen enough and were already heading for the exits at 4-2 - however, if they had chosen to forefeet the remainder of the game, they will have missed a stirring comeback from the hosts as Powell's side came roaring back into contention. Three minutes after conceding to Davis, they reduced the deficit as McGhee's fine run and cross was headed home by Anthrobus, whose looping header did enough to beat Rachel at his far post and nestle into the corner of the net

Sensing a comeback, Powell brought on more firepower on sixty-seven minutes with the introduction of former Moors striker Nathan Lamey in place of Goodwin, who had proven to be a passenger for much of the game in a disappointing performance

This added zing and urgency to the Pitmen's attack, with Lamey hunting down his former team-mates and making a nuisance of himself with his pace ad harrying. He supplied Carl Palmer with a great chance to equalise on sixty-nine minutes as he squared the ball to the midfielder on the edge of the Moor Green penalty area, only for Palmer to lift his shot into the crowd behind the goal

The Pitmen got themselves back on level terms two minutes later as a darting run from Danks, running onto a pass from Steve Palmer, was halted illegally by Robinson just inside the Moors penalty area. Once again, Mr. Cooke had no hesitation in awarding the penalty, which Danks dusted himself down to take and fired confidently past Rachel to complete his hat-trick and level the game once more

The game had a cup-tie feel out it in the final fifteen minutes, as chance were squandered at both ends. Dean came on for the tiring Gibson on seventy-four minutes to make his home debut at right-back, with Steve Evans also coming on with eleven minutes remaining to replace McGhee down the wing

Elmes tested Young on eighty minutes with a low drive that the Hednesford keeper turned around the post, followed two minutes later by a snap-shot from Davis that skirted the side-netting as it flew wide of goal

The Pitmen were growing reliant on set-pieces for their chances in the closing stages of the game as Hines took three successive corner kicks to no real effect, followed by a free-kick on the right in the eighty-seventh minute that was headed over by Anthrobus, under pressure from Sanders

 

In the second minute of added time, a quick Moor Green break was broken up well by Carl Palmer before setting Lamey on his way down the right flank. The Moors were short of numbers after committing so many men forwards and were thankful that Lamey lost his footing at the crucial moment and scuffed his pass towards Danks - standing with the goal gaping in front of him - which allowed Robinson to get back and hack the ball clear

To the neutral, this will have been a fine game of football to watch but in reality a high-scoring draw does nothing for either club's current league placing or ambitions for making the top thirteen at the end of the season. Once again, the Pitmen display worrying signs of Jekyll and Hyde characteristics, which we have seen much of in recent games as they continue to look very good in some areas and very poor in others. There is only two days break between the games in this busy time of year as they travel to an unhappy hunting ground on Saturday to face Bath City at Twerton Park, the stage of one of the Pitmen's poorest performances of last season when they were trounced 4-1 by the Romans

Hednesford Town: Young, Gibson (Dean 74), Hines, McGhee (S. Evans 79), Brindley, BarrowC. Palmer, S. Palmer ©Anthrobus, Danks, Goodwin (Lamey 67)    Subs Unused: Dodd, P. Evans

Moor Green: Rachel, Robinson, Peer, Colins, Sanders ©, Petty (Martin 74), Faulds (Bailey 84), Davis, Elmes, Doyle, Trainer      Subs Unused: Haarhoff, Frain, Harris

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