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Evo-Stik Northern Premier League

Hednesford Town

Bailey (1), Durrell (32), Barnes (66)

Nantwich Town

(2) 3

(0) 0



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Jamey Osborne


Ashton United (A) 9.2.13

Rob Smith's Pitmen returned from their enforced break in good form this afternoon, keeping pace with league leaders North Ferriby United courtesy of a comfortable win over mid-table Nantwich Town

Francino Francis' suspension for his red card against Rushall finally came into play, having been carried over for two weeks due to the bad weather. This saw Sam Barnes come in in his place at centre back. Michael Lennon was named alongside Aaron Rey up front against his former side, with Neil Harvey only fit enough to line up amongst the substitutes. U21 midfielder Asa Wright was also given a chance by Smith, making up a strong-looking bench

Any rustiness that existed certainly did not show for the home side, as they swept into the lead with the first attack of the game after forty-eight seconds. Ben Bailey gambled with a run across his marker, getting enough on a long Jamey Osborne throw to loop a header over Jon Brain in the Nantwich goal to score his fourth goal of the season

Aaron Rey looked to strike a quickfire second goal four minutes later, as he jinked his way into the penalty area before lifting a shot high over the crossbar

Former Nantwich man Dave MacPherson forced Brain into a superb stop sixty seconds later, as his low drive from long range was turned away by the fingertips of the former Walsall stopper

Brain made a simple stop to deny Nathan Woolfe from a free kick on nine minutes, before Rey should have done better with a header seven minutes later, somehow heading wide from a great position

Osborne's aggressive approach to the game saw him rightly booked on twenty-one minutes, as he crudely brought down Dabbers debutant Paris Bateman as he looked to clear the ball

Lennon - desperate to grab a goal against his former employers - tried to create a chance from nothing midway through the half, receiving a ball from Woolfe tight to the goal line. He twisted and turned and created half a yard for himself, but fired into the side netting from an acute angle

MacPherson followed his midfield colleague into the book on twenty-six minutes, as he appeared to kick Sean Cooke as he tried to win the ball in the centre circle

Hednesford doubled their advantage just after the half-hour mark with another Osborne long throw causing havoc at the back for Nantwich. The midfielder's throw was only partially cleared, falling kindly to Durrell, who was lurking on the edge of the box. The playmaker stroked his shot low past Brain's dive, finding the right-hand corner of the net to register hiss twenty-first goal of the season

The Pitmen should have been going into the half time break three goals to the good, as Lennon squandered a glorious chance to score on forty-two minutes. A back pass from Darren Moss was seized upon by Lennon, who took the ball around the onrushing Brain. With the goal gaping, Lennon elected to turn back on his favoured right foot, rather than shoot with his left. This indecision allowed Batemen to track back and slide in on the striker and clear the ball

Hednesford continued their pursuit of goals in the early stages of the second half, as Durrell curled an effort inches over the crossbar four minutes after the restart

Nantwich finally offered a threat of their own from a corner kick on fifty-three minutes, as former Stafford Rangers striker Si Everall crashed a shot off the outside of the post after the Pitmen had failed to clear the ball

Three minutes later, Moss somehow failed to hit the target as he headed Cooke's cross over the bar as he ran in unchallenged

Back came the Pitmen, with Brain making another fine stop to claw Lennon's low shot behind for a Hednesford corner

Dan Crane's afternoon had been one of the quietest he had probably had in a Hednesford shirt, but the big stopper was alert to make a superb stop to turn Joe Guest's goalbound shot away from goal

The Pitmen made absolutely sure of the three points with a third goal on sixty-six minutes. Durrell's pinpoint accuracy from a free-kick saw him curl a delightful ball into the far post, where Sam Barnes did enough to bundle the ball over the line for his first Hednesford goal

Lennon's game was brought to a premature end on seventy-six minutes, as he was injured in a clash out on the touchline. Sean O'Connor replaced the hardworking forward, who went off to a standing ovation

The big man O'Connor almost made an immediate impact, as he forced Brain into an instinctive save with a prodded shot towards goal from six yards out

Man of the match Osborne was also tried his luck as he searched for a fourth goal of the season, but he fired wide with a wayward shot

Wright was given a late debut in place of the industrious MacPherson with eleven minutes remaining, with Sam Craven also given a late run as he replaced Durrell

In the final minute, Rey failed to follow up his good approach play with a finish to match, as he fired over the bar after an excellent run into the box

News of a North Ferriby win at home to Grantham filtered through at the final whistle, meaning it's as you were at the top of the table after this weekend's set of results. Ashton United will offer a competitive threat for the Pitmen next week as they visit Manchester, whilst Ferriby make a trip to fourth-placed Witton Albion

Hednesford Town: Crane, Melbourne, Campion ©, Bailey, Barnes, MacPherson  (Wright 78), Osborne , Durrell (Craven 89), Rey, Lennon (O’Connor 76), Woolfe      Subs Not Used: Harvey, Disney

Nantwich Town: Brain, Bateman, Guest, Hughes, Moss ©, Dicker, Cooke, Maguire, Everall (Hudson 75), Lane (Beesley 70), Campbell       Subs Unused: Wilson, Hassell, Wain

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