F.A. Cup 2nd Qualifying Round

Hednesford Town

Anthrobus (58), Bell (71)

Moor Green

(0) 2

(0) 0



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Steve Anthrobus



Stafford Rangers (H) 1.10.05

The Pitmen safely navigate their way through to the third qualifying round of the F.A. Cup this afternoon as two second-half goals were enough to see off the challenge of near-neighbours Moor Green at Keys Park

Last weekend's 0-0 draw at Leigh RMI had done little for either side's league position, with the Pitmen taking a break from league duty today sitting in thirteenth place in the table. Player/manager Chris Brindley made one change to the side that had started last week's game at Hilton Park as Grant Beckett came back into the side in midfield, replacing the out-of-sorts Jamie Barrett 

Bob Faulkner's Moors - sitting down in seventeenth place in the Conference North table and a couple of points adrift of the Pitmen - arrived at Keys Park after grinding out a 1-1 draw against another one of their local rivals, Worcester City, at Damson Park last Saturday. Faulkner made one change of his own to the Moors side for today's cup tie as Dave Bridgwater came in for Phil Midworth

The Keys Park crowd for today's game was perhaps a little disappointing for a local derby, with under 500 fans attending the tie. The men in white made an assertive start to the afternoon as Steve Anthribus headed an early Ross Adams cross down into the path of the returning Heath, but the midfield man lashed his effort high over the crossbar

Lee Williams - playing in an unfamiliar right-sided position to accommodate Beckett's inclusion - sent over one of his trademark deep corner kicks into the Moors penalty area in the seventh minute and found the head of skipper Lee Barrow, whose downward header was smothered at the feet of Paul McMahon by visiting goalkeeper James Coates

In the eleventh minute, the Pitmen made a move down the left through Mark Branch and Colin Hunter, with the former Harrogate winger sending McMahon away inside the Moor Green penalty area. The in-form striker tried his luck with a low shot across goal that was well held by Coates inside his six-yard box

Former Hednesford loanee Phil Trainer made a rare foray into opposition territory for Moor Green on fourteen minutes as his run down the left wing saw him skip past Adams and cross to the near post, where Tommy Whittle made a save ahead of Bridgwater

The hosts looked the more likely to notch in the opening quarter of the game but were once again finding clear-cut chances difficult to come by. Good hold-up play from Anthrobus in the eighteenth minute saw him control the ball ahead of the experienced Dave Morrison and slip the ball into the path of Beckett, whose first-time shot was high, wide and not at all handsome from fully twenty-five yards out

Good play from McMahon midway through the first half saw the Pitmen's top scorer escape the attentions of Guy Sanders momentarily as he made a run down the right before laying the ball off to Williams, whose outswinging cross was missed by Coates and seemed to catch Hunter a little by surprise as he headed high over the crossbar

The Moors best chance of the game so far came in the twenty-fifth minute as a quick break down the left saw Richard Scott play the ball on to recent signing Gary McPhee, whose low cross was turned goalwards by Darren Middleton, forcing Whittle into a flying save to turn the ball away for a Moor Green corner kick

There was some rough stuff being handed out to Anthrobus by the Moors defence throughout the first period, as the big man looked to hold the ball up and deny the likes of Sanders and Ben Petty the chance to get a tackle in. One such challenge on the veteran striker on the half-hour mark by Sanders won the Pitmen a free-kick in a dangerous position, which Williams took and curled inches over Coates's crossbar

Five minutes later, Beckett's lob over the top of the Moors defence caught the visitors ball watching, allowing McMahon to pick up the bouncing ball but strike a bobbling shot well wide of the far post and into the Hednesford fans gathered in the Hednesford end stand

With five minutes of the first half remaining, Coates' long goal kick forwards was flicked on by Middleton and into the path of McPhee, who struck a firm shot at goal but found Richard Teesdale in the way as he came across to block the shot and turn it behind for a corner kick

The final action of a fairly tame first period came with two minutes left as Hunter made a run across the face of the Moor Green penalty area as he came inside from the left-wing, but got his angles all wrong and lifted his shot high and wide of goal when a pass out to Heath may have been a better option

Neither team had looked particularly fluid going forwards, with the Pitmen a little out of ideas so far in the final third whilst Moor Green seemed content to sit back and soak up what little pressure there had been; you felt that they would be happy to take the replay at Damson Park on Tuesday night at this point if on offer

The hosts made a bright start to the second half as they looked to finish the tie as a contest on their own patch inside the ninety minutes today, with the tricky Hunter beating Junior English with some crafty wing play on fifty-one minutes and crossing for Anthrobus, who sidefooted his shot from ten yards out over the crossbar

The visitors responded with a break down the left wing three minutes later and a slide-rule pass from Morrison that played Bridgwater through on goal. The Hednesford defence claimed that the former Telford United man was offside when he received the ball, but referee Mr Barratt allowed play to continue and the striker dragged his shot across goal wide of the far post. A good chance from close-range missed by the Moors

The hosts appeared to have changed their tactics slightly at the break, with Adams and Branch allowed more licence to roam forwards at the start of the second half to support the wide men of Williams and Hunter. Good play from Branch on fifty-six minutes saw him make a run deep into the Moors Green half and stand up a cross to the far post, where Coates stretched to claim the ball ahead of Anthrobus

Two minutes later, Hednesford finally broke the deadlock as Anthrobus justified his selection with his first goal of the season; Williams' corner from the left was not cleared by the Moor Green defence and dropped to McMahon, whose snap-shot was well saved by Coates at close-range. The ball ran kindly to Anthrobus, who had the simple task of turning the loose ball home from a couple of yards out

The hosts took the opportunity to make a double change on sixty-one minutes as Andy Bell returned to the team up front, replacing McMahon, and Steve Brannan came on in the centre of midfield to replace Beckett, who can be pleased with his return to the side

Brannan was involved almost straightaway for the Pitmen as he made a run from the centre circle to the edge of the Moor Green penalty area on sixty-four minutes before taking a touch too many and allowing Sanders to clear the danger before Brannan could plot his next move

Three minutes later, Middleton broke clear of the Hednesford defence as he latched onto a long, raking pass from Scott but was pulled back by an offside flag against him on the Wimblebury side of the ground

The Pitmen sealed their passage into the third qualifying round on seventy-one minutes as Bell grabbed his second goal of the season; it was the hosts that were to catch the Moors on the counter-attack on this occasion as Heath cleared a Trainer corner kick and found Bell, who was still in his own half as he picked the ball up. The striker made a run deep into the Moor Green box as the visiting defence desperately looked to get themselves back in numbers, but could not stop the striker from taking the ball around Coates and slotting into the empty net for 2-0

The away side reacted to going two goals down by bringing former Hednesford favourite Neil Davis onto the pitch as he replaced Bridgwater up front in a bid to try and find a way back into the game for the Moors

With fifteen minutes remaining, Brannan could have added a third for the Pitmen as was allowed time and space to carry the ball fully thirty yards into the Moor Gren penalty area before attempting a cheeky chip over the head of Coates that the former Burton Albion goalkeeper managed to get back to and tip over the crossbar

The Pitmen's second half policy of having the full-backs pushing forwards seemed to return to a more defensively-minded one in the final ten minutes of the game as they looked to close down the tie and not allow their visitors to build up any late momentum

Davis's one and only sight at goal came with eight minutes of the game remaining as he was played through on goal down the right-hand side of the penalty area by Morrison, but dragged his low angled shot well wide of goal

Whittle - growing into his role between the sticks after a shaky first few games for the Pitmen - made a good stop to deny Middleton on eighty-five minutes as he held the former Aston Villa man's rising shot from twenty yards out

With time running out, the Pitmen gave young striker Craig Marshall more valuable minutes of match experience as he came on in place of Anthrobus, who was given a warm ovation for his afternoon's efforts from the main stand as he came off the pitch

With two minutes remaining, Barrow's long punt forwards sailed over the head of Sanders and was picked up by Bell, who was alive to the ball and got in behind the defender. Petty came across and forced the substitute wide of goal, which limited his angle of approach and saw him fire wide of the target

It is the Pitmen who progress then to the third qualifying round after a routine victory, showing signs of growing maturity within their ranks as they continue to adapt to step two football. Successive clean sheets is another major bonus, one they will be looking to extend to three next Saturday when the old enemy of Stafford Rangers make their first trip across the Chase since December 2003, with Phil Robinson's side in fine form and sitting fourth in the Conference North table

Hednesford Town: Whittle, Adams, Branch, Barrow ©, Teesdale, Williams, Beckett (Brannan 61), Heath, Anthrobus (C. Marshall 85), McMahon (Bell 61), Hunter    Subs Unused: T. Marshall, Brindley

Moor Green: Coates, English (Faulds 65), Scott, Collins, Sanders, Petty, Morrison, Middleton, McPhee (Grandison 65), Bridgwater (Davis 73), Trainer      Subs Unused: Snape, Dowdall