UniBond Northern Premier League

Hednesford Town

Briscoe (6), Dyer (34) 

Nantwich Town

(2) 2

(0) 0



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Decio Gomes


Bradford (Park Avenue) (H) 23.8.08

The Pitmen made a fine start to their home campaign for the new season, with a hard-fought performance over newly-promoted Nantwich Town this evening at Keys Park


Hednesford manager Dean Edwards - frustrated at his team's inability to kill off Ossett Town on Saturday - made one change to the side, with Adam Connolly dropping to the bench to allow skipper Ross Draper to return after his one-match ban

Newly promoted Nantwich were making their step three debut this evening after Saturday's season opener at home to Boston United was called off due to the pitch at their new Weaver Stadium home not being ready in time to host the game. Manager Steve Davis had spent the summer recruiting sufficient quality to his ranks as the Dabbers looked to consolidate their position in the UniBond Premier League; ex-Stafford Rangers man Robin Gibson had been joined at the club by former Vauxhall Motors man Peter Heler and prolific Kidsgrove Athletic striker Michael Lennon, whilst former Hednesford midfielder Rob Hawthorne was amongst the substitutes after his summer switch from Leek Town 

Nantwich started well, knocking the ball around and playing through Gibson at every opportunity. However, it was the home side who took the lead with their first attack of the game on six minutes. Ross Dyer's typically marauding run down the wing saw him cut in and lay the ball to Louie Briscoe, who drove a low shot past Lee Jones in the Nantwich goal to score his second goal of the season

Despite only just being promoted, and this being their first game of the season, Nantwich looked comfortable in their new surroundings, and they responded with a Heler header from a Gibson ball that was cleared away from goal by Danny Harvey

Although Nantwich were seeing plenty of the ball, it was the Pitmen who were offering the threat in front of goal. Tyrone Barnett could have extended the lead on ten minutes but fired Dyer's cross wide of goal

Stuart Brock, a virtual spectator on Saturday, made a smart save a minute later to deny Parkinson after he hit a great shot from the edge of the area

The home side continued to tot up the chance in the  'shots for' column, having yet another goal disallowed midway through the first half. Ross Dyer managed to force the ball home but was pulled up by the referee for a previous foul on Jones

Brock denied Gibson with a save low down to his left after the little forward picked up a loose ball. Otherwise, he was being well marshalled by the very impressive Decio Gomes, who once again looked a far better class of defender than UniBond Premier level

The Pitmen's pressure eventually told on thirty-four minutes, with last season's top scorer Dyer grabbing his first goal of the new campaign. Briscoe played an incisive ball into the path of the onrushing Dyer, who controlled the ball well and fired past Jones from just inside the area 

Barnett could have added a third just moments later, hitting a great shot that crashed against the crossbar and back into play; Anthony Maguire's follow-up was deflected behind for a corner kick

The second half was played in much the same vein as the first; Nantwich having plenty of the ball, but the Pitmen creating the better chances. Early on in the half, and the hardworking Maguire fired in a shot that was only just off target after being set up by Barnett

On came Connolly for the quiet Mark Briggs as Hednesford looked to finish the game off during the opening exchanges of the second period

Gibson continued to produce all that was good of Nantwich's play, setting Lennon away on the hour mark, but the prolific former Kidsgrove man was denied by a brilliant sliding tackle from Gomes as he shaped to shoot just inside the penalty area

Dyer was continuing to cause problems with his powerful style of play. On seventy minutes, he was forced wide by a Nantwich defender, but the youngster still managed to get his shot in that Jones managed to turn away for a corner

Briscoe was constantly involved for the hosts, with his quick feet and combative style a hit with fans and team-mates alike. He hit a free-kick straight at Jones with twelve minutes left after being set up by Maguire, with the keeper seeing the ball over the bar for a corner

From the flag kick, two Hednesford players could have scored in the scramble that followed. Harvey's header was cleared away by Dave Tickle, but only succeeded in playing the ball to Draper, who saw his drive saved by Jones

Nantwich showed enough to convince the masses that they will do well at this level this term, playing some neat, positive football that will serve them well this term as they look to consolidate at step three. For the Pitmen, it is the ideal boost ahead of the visit of free-scoring newcomers Bradford (Park Avenue) on Saturday to Keys Park in the second of their home double header

Hednesford Town: Brock, Platt, Maguire, Gomes, Harvey, Marshall, Briggs (Connolly 60), Briscoe, Barnett, Dyer, Draper ©       Subs Unused: Junior, Stamps, Durrell, Morris

Nantwich Town: Jones, Taylor, Tickle, Tinson, O'Loughlin, Parkinson, Carter, Blackhurst, Gibson (Walker 75), Lennon (Beasley 63), Heler (Shotton 75)       Subs Unused: Smith, Hawthorne

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