Nationwide Conference North

Hednesford Town

Wright (78)

Moor Green

Middleton (35), McPhee (76)

(0) 1

(1) 2



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Anthony Maguire



Northwich Victoria (A) 25.2.06

Successive league defeats and no wins in four games leave the Pitmen staring down the barrel this evening as local rivals Moor Green boost their outside chances of a play-off place with all three points over their struggling hosts

Manager Steve Anthrobus had been busy in the short time that had elapsed since Saturday's heavy defeat at Kettering Town, with the Hednesford manager making two signings ahead of tonight's derby match; the popular Anthony Maguire returned to the club after a spell at Bromsgrove Rovers and was joined by on-loan Mansfield Town striker Danny Heron in arriving at the club. Both players went straight into the side for tonight's crucial game as Maguire replaced Steve Brannan and Heron came in for Ross Dyer. The third change to Saturday's XI came on the left flank as Grant Beckett was preferred to Colin Hunter. Paul McMahon was ruled out due to a back injury sustained towards the end of the Kettering game and was expected to miss the next clutch of key games for the club

Moors had beaten Lancaster City 3-1 at Damson Park on Saturday to remain in ninth place in the Conference North table, with long-serving manager Bob Faulkner made one change to his starting XI for tonight's short trip up to Keys Park as David Harrison came into the side in place of Andy Penny

With the temperature dropping on a chilly evening, the Pitmen started in a sprightly manner as they forced three successive corner kicks in the first couple of minutes of the game. Mark Briggs supplied the ammunition each time but the Moors defence, ably marshalled by goalkeeper Ashley Timms, cleared their lines

In the eighth minute, Heron's first involvement saw him hold the ball up with his back to goal before he slipped the ball into the path of Leon McSweeney, whose first-time effort sailed harmlessly over the crossbar from eighteen yards out

Moors responded through a long kick forwards from Timms on eleven minutes, finding the head of Darren Middleton who flicked the ball on towards Gary McPhee. Gary Hateley spotted the danger early on and managed to divert the bouncing ball away from the former Coventry City man with his leg

Two minutes later, Maguire produced one of his trademark slalom-like runs down the right as he left Ben Petty in his wake before crossing for McSweeney, whose weak header was easily held by Timms inside his six-yard box

Maguire had the Keys Park crowd on their feet once more in the seventeenth minute as he robbed Dave Bridgwater of the ball and went on a run down the right that saw him pull the ball back from the byeline, only for Phil Midworth to hack the ball clear before Heron could pounce

On twenty-three minutes, Dave Morrison's corner for the Moors was flicked on at the near post by Scott and into the path of Harrison, whose shot was blocked at the far post by the alert Sean Platt

Good play from Midworth three minutes later saw the right-back skip past Beckett's sliding challenge down the wing and crossed for McPhee, who was denied a clear opening by the quick-thinking of Hateley as he raced out of goal to head the ball away from the striker

Former Worcester City man Middleton - a thorn in previous Hednesford sides for the Dragons - headed another good chance over the crossbar just before the half-hour mark as he beat Lee Barrow to an outswinging free-kick from Peter Faulds but got underneath the ball and sent it high over Hateley's crossbar

Tom Marshall assumed responsibility for a free-kick that was won by Maguire on thirty-three minutes as the winger was felled by a challenge from Richard Scott, striking a clean ball through the Moor Green wall but slicing his effort wide of the post from twenty-five yards out

Ten minutes before the interval, the Moors grabbed the evening's opening goal as Morrison's deep corner found the head of Middleton once more, who was afforded too much time and space to head home at the far post from three yards out. Clearly, the Pitmen had failed to learn the lessons from Saturday's game, having conceded two almost identical goals to Kettering in their 4-0 defeat at Rockingham Road

Back came the Pitmen and Maguire's jinking run saw him get himself into the Moor Green penalty area on thirty-eight minutes but saw his low shot from an angle blocked by Bridgwater and cleared by the Moors midfielder

Three minutes later, a quick break from the visitors saw Middleton chest down a long ball from Petty into the path of Harrison, whose half-volley bounced twice before landing in the arms of Hateley

In first-half added time, another Moors corner kick from Morrison was headed up into the night sky by Barrow, forcing Hateley into coming out of his six-yard box to punch the ball away from the head of the lurking Middleton

It had been another frustrating half of football from the Pitmen, who had once again created enough good openings but had flattered to deceive in front of goal before conceding yet another soft goal from a set-piece. Anthrobus was clearly unhappy with his side's performance as he made a double change before the start of the second half, with veteran Ian Wright coming on for Leon Drysdale and Hunter replacing Beckett. This saw the hosts move to a 3-5-2 formation, with Tom Marshall and Barrow either side of Wright and Richard Teesdale deployed as a right-wing back

The Pitmen started the second half well and Platt's long-range effort was inches away from the target on fifty-seven minutes after Briggs had played his fellow midfielder through on goal

Briggs himself lifted a shot from the edge of the penalty area over the crossbar and into the fans gathered in the Heath Hayes terrace three minutes later as Hunter's cross was cleared to the former West Brom man by Scott's header

Moor Green responded on fifty-four minutes through McPhee, who got goal side of Barrow after a bustling run into the Hednesford penalty area but pulled his low shot wide of Hateley's right-hand post

Just before the hour mark, Heron headed Hunter's lofted cross from the left into the path of McSweeney, who was always leaning back and shanked his shot high over the crossbar from fifteen yards out

On sixty-one minutes, the Pitmen almost equalised in bizarre circumstances as Hateley's long kick forwards was caught in the gusty wind and almost caught Timms out, with the Moors goalkeeper galloping backwards to push the ball over the crossbar and deny Hateley a freak goal

Heron's Hednesford debut was brought to an end on sixty-three minutes, as the young striker was taken off in favour of fellow young gun Dyer after a tough introduction to step two football for the player

Another long-range effort from Platt a minute later once again failed to test Timms with a wayward shot from thirty yards out that drifted high over the crossbar

You felt that the Pitmen were building up a head of steam at this point and Marshall's header from a Hunter corner kick was hacked clear by the alert Petty on sixty-seven minutes as McSweeney looked to pick up any scraps

Sixty seconds later, Hunter linked up well with Platt to tee up Briggs on the edge of the Moor Green penalty area, only for the midfielder's shot to take a huge selection off Scott and loop wide of goal for a Hednesford corner kick

Bridgwater, Middleton and Morrison linked up well in midfield for the Moors on seventy-one minutes to play McPhee clear of a static Hednesford defence, only for an offside flag on the Wimblebury side to deny the Scotsman a shot at goal

Three minutes later, Hunter and Marshall played a quick one-two down the left to send McSweeney away and into the Moor Green penalty area. The striker took a touch but was forced onto his less-favoured right foot by Petty, leaving McSweeney to snatch his effort wide of the far post from an angle

It was to be the visitors who were to grab the second goal of the evening as they doubled their lead on seventy-six minutes; Morrison was the provider once more as his cross from the left found McPhee, who gleefully turned the ball home at the near post from close-range as he got goal side of Wright

The Pitmen reduced the deficit almost immediately as they struck back two minutes later through an unlikely scorer. Marshall's deep free-kick into the Moor Green penalty area saw Timms spot the danger early on and race out of goal to beat Dyer to the cross but only succeeded in slicing his attempted clearance off the back of the Hednesford substitute, sending the ball looping over the head of the goalkeeper and bouncing towards goal. Timms fell over as he looked to get back and claim the ball, allowing it to bounce off the base of the post and into the path of Wright, who poked the ball into the empty net from a yard out

The Pitmen laid siege on the Moor Green goal in the final ten minutes and had ample opportunities to level matters late on; Hunter made a powerful run into the penalty area from the left on eighty-two minutes but dragged his effort wide of goal from a good position as he gave Timms the eyes

Two minutes later, Marshall looked to turn a Briggs corner home at the far post but was penalised for pulling Bridgwater back as the pair scrapped for the bouncing ball inside the six-yard box

Dyer's electric pace saw him escape the attentions of Scott on eighty-six minutes, holding the ball up just inside the Moor Green penalty area before laying it back into the path of Platt, whose curling shot had a little too much curl on it as it grazed the post

With two minutes remaining, Wright saw his header from a Briggs free-kick blocked and subsequently cleared by Petty. Teesdale picked the ball up and sent it back into the box, where Marshall could not react quickly enough to a weak attempted punch from Timms in the direction of the defender

In added time, more corner kicks came and went for the Pitmen, as Moor Green held firm to record their first win over the Pitmen in the five games contested between the two sides this season. Three points lift the Moors one place up the table into eighth place, but a second successive defeat for a despondent Hednesford side sees them languishing in the bottom two and running out of games for them to record the points total most likely needed to remain a step two side next season. Saturday sees them make the daunting-looking first-ever trip to Northwich's new Victoria Stadium looking to turn the form book on its head as they face the title challengers on their own turf

Hednesford Town: Hateley, Drysdale (Wright 45), T. Marshall, Platt, Teesdale, Barrow ©, Maguire, Briggs, Heron (Dyer 63), McSweeney, Beckett (Hunter 45)      Subs Unused: Brannan, Ransome

Moor Green: Timms, Midworth (English 88), Petty, Scott, Bridgwater, Morrison, Faulds, Middleton (Dowdall 77), McPhee, Harrison    Subs Unused: Sanders, Nurse, Moore