26.12.2002

Dr. Martens Southern Premier League

Hednesford Town

Moor Green

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Attendance

MotM

Current Form

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642

Michael Bingham

 

W D W D L D L W W D

Havant & Waterlooville (A) 28.12.02

 

There was very little in the way of any Christmas cheer from either side on this Boxing Day local derby, as Hednesford and Moor Green played out a turgid goalless draw that does little for either side's ambitions of climbing the league table

 

The Pitmen returned from their festive celebrations off the back of a reasonable run of form, having won their last two league games without conceding a goal to move them up into seventh place in the table. Manager Ian Painter was on the lookout for new recruits, with his limited options for today highlighting the need for new faces in the squad. Skipper Les Robinson was missing after limping off in the win over Hastings five days ago and was replaced by Wayne Simpson at centre-back. This meant a return to the starting line-up for Derek Rae, with the Scotsman making his first start fo the Pitmen in over two months. Kevin Francis also returned to the side in place of Paul Kiely, whose disappointing loan spell from Ilkeston had ended last week. Paul Ware was serving the final game of his three-match suspension, meaning it was another makeshift midfield involving defender Darren Simkin for the hosts

 

Bob Faulkner's Moors continued to defy the sceptics with their small budget, getting the best out of his players as the Moors sat in mid-table ahead of this afternoon's local clash. Faulkner's team was a very typical Moors team in his own image, taking in older professionals deemed finished by other clubs and merging them well with young, local talent. This was best exemplified by his strike partnership for the game, with old stager John Gayle - formerly of Birmingham City and Wimbledon, linking up well with the exciting, prolific young Nathan Lamey

 

In front of a decent holiday crowd, the Moors were quickest out of the blocks with two good chances in the first ten minutes of the game; Lamey's pace saw him get away from Simpson in the sixth minute, but with Simpson pushing him wide of goal, Lamey's shot from an angle was easily saved by Michael Bingham

 

Lamey turned provider three minutes later, playing a clever pass into the path of Gayle, whose scuffed effort bobbled straight into the arms of Bingham from the edge of the Hednesford penalty area

 

 Chris Brindley and Gayle - two wily old ex-pros - came to blows for the first of a number of occasions in the game on twelve minutes, with both players requiring treatment after colliding just outside the Hednesford box

 

 Excellent wing play from Martin Myers on sixteen minutes saw him get the better of Stuart Ryder before clipping the ball into the path of Gayle, whose shot took a deflection off the leg of Simpson to force it away from goal and hand Moor Green a corner kick

 

The Pitmen had thus far been limited to speculative efforts from range, with Rae firing well, well wide of goal on eighteen minutes after the Moors defence had backed off the midfielder

 

 A set-piece looked to be the best option for a goal for the hosts, as Simkin headed into the side-netting on twenty-one minutes after Bryan Small's corner was returned to him by the Moors defence, allowing the ex-Villa man to send over a second cross to the far post

 

Bingham made an outstanding save to keep his side level on twenty-six minutes, stretching at full length to tip a Lamey effort over the crossbar after the former Wolves man had unleashed what looked to be a goalbound shot from just inside the Hednesford penalty area. Even Lamey had to applaud the athleticism of the former Mansfield keeper for that one

 

 The Pitmen started to get more of a foothold in the game, with the unwieldy pair of Rae and Simkin doing well against the likes of Jai Stanley in the Moors midfield to break up the away side's attacks. However, a whistle-happy referee was not helping matters for either side, with Mr Evans constantly pulling up any form of physical contact and interfering with the flow of the game

 

Moor Green skipper Chris Gillard headed well wide from a Craig Woodley cross on thirty-one minutes, rising highest to meet Woodley's inswinging ball but glancing his effort well wide of Bingham's far post

 

Three minutes later, the subdued Steve Piearce came alive for the first time in the game, reacting quickest to a through ball from Small to bring the ball under control. However, with no options up alongside him, Piearce was caught in two minds as to what to do and allowed Richard Robinson to recover and regain possession for the Moors

 

Five minutes before the break, Brindley wasted the Pitmen's best chance of the game so far as he somehow headed over Adam Rachel's crossbar from close range after Small's free-kick found the stand-in Hednesford captain in the six-yard box. A chance you would normally bet your house on Brindley finishing with his recent goal record from similar positions

 

With the floodlights fired into action at half-time, both sides were presented with a drizzly and dank Keys Park in the second period. This seemed to mirror the football on the pitch, as neither side offered much in the way of inspiring football in the second half

 

 As the pitch became slick, passes started to go astray from both sides, with chances at a premium at both ends. Small's excellent ball forwards on fifty-six minutes found Piearce once again, only for the striker to mis-control his touch and allow the ball to drift over the bye-line

 

The hosts turned to their tiresome plan B of hoofing the ball up to Francis from the hour point onwards, with Francis only having meagre success in winning balls against a well-drilled Moors defence. This tactic had come under much scrutiny from supporters due to its very limited impact, and once again it proved to offer little in the way of an attacking threat

 

Rae tried to use the wet turf to his advantage on sixty-three minutes, driving a low shot just wide of goal after getting himself into a similar position that he did to score the only goal of the game against Hastings last week

 

Charie had offered very little in an attacking role against a more experienced team and was taken off on sixty-four minutes in favour of another youngster, Anthony Maguire

 

Bingham continued to stay solid between the sticks for the Pitmen as he looked for a third successive clean sheet, turning away a Lamey shot on seventy minutes as he did well to narrow the angle and limit Lamey's sight of goal after the striker had broken into the Hednesford penalty area

 

With fifteen minutes remaining, the game was still there to be won for either side, prompting Painter to make an attacking change by bringing on Graham Lancashire for Small

 

Danny Scheppel - on as a substitute for Moor Green - created an excellent opening for Gayle on eighty minutes, as his wind-assisted cross found the veteran striker lurking at the far post. However, Bingham was once again on top of his game to smother Gayle's header at his near post and turn it behind for a corner

 

The Pitmen had been desperately disappointing in the attacking third for the most of the second half, with a late flurry of corner kicks failing to create a clear-cut opening as Rachel and his defence dealt with the threat with ease as Moor Green claimed a well-earned point to take back to Birmingham

 

 One point gained, unbeaten home record intact, and no goals conceded now in three games - on the face of it, that's not a bad return from the last few weeks. However, there is a concern that the Pitmen are struggling to create enough clear cut chances due to a lack of creativity from the midfield area, something likely to happen when you lose creative influences such as Stewart Airdrie and Carl Adams in quick succession. The Pitmen make a long trip to Hampshire in forty-eight hours time to play another side mired in mid-table, Havant & Waterlooville

 

Hednesford Town: Bingham, Williams, Ryder, Simpson, Brindley ©, Simkin, Charie (Maguire 64), Rae, Piearce, Francis, Small (Lancashire 75)     Subs Unused: Lake, Jenkins

 

Moor Green: Rachel, Hughes, Robinson, Gillard ©, G. Stanley, J. Stanley (Peer 76), Woodley (Scheppel 69), Lamey, Gayle, Martin (Blake 83), Myers      Subs Unused: Foulds, DeBont 

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