F.A. Trophy 1st Round

Hednesford Town

Durrell (24), Dyer (50), (60)

Nantwich Town

Whittaker (27), Gomes (52) (OG)

(1) 3

(1) 2



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Ross Dyer


Prescot Cables (H) 20.12.08

Hednesford marched into the second round of this year's F.A. Trophy having been given a severe test by fellow UniBond Premier League side Nantwich Town this evening in this rearranged tie


Manager Dean Edwards made three personnel changes to his side following their 2-2 draw against fellow high-flyers Guiseley last Saturday, with Sean Platt returning to the line-up, Sam Hall moving into midfield at the expense of Mark Briggs and Anthony Maguire restored to the left-back slot in place of Adam Burley, who dropped to the bench

Nantwich had safely navigated the final qualifying round with a 1-0 win over Warrington Town last month to set up today's all-step three clash. Manager Steve Davis made two changes to the side that had beaten Bradford (Park Avenue) in league action last Saturday as Dave Walker came in for Liam Shotton, prompting a positional change for ex-Pitman Dave Whittaker, whilst Crewe loanee Ashley Westwood replaced Mark Beeston in midfield

The Pitmen made their usual flying start, as has become the norm at Keys Park this term. Ross Draper's strength saw him beat his man down the wing before he squared the ball to Ross Dyer. His subsequent pass to Maguire saw the wing-back fire in a goal-bound shot that was deflected to Tom Marshall, whose cross found Tyrone Barnett, who just failed to get his head on the ball in

The same combination combined eight minutes later, with Marshall again sending over a deep cross towards Barnett, with the striker stretching to head narrowly over the bar

There had been very little of Nantwich in the opening period, despite the presence of the burly Walker and the tricky Michael Lennon, who had eleven goals already this season after making the step up from Kidsgrove Athletic in the summer

Dyer was next to try his luck for the home side, latching onto a ball from Elliott Durrell before firing just wide of the far post midway through the first half

The Pitmen's early pressure paid off two minutes later; Maguire made a run down the left, before sending over a great cross that found the diminutive Durrell, who, despite his lack of height, sprung superbly to head home at the far post

Despite a lack of chances for the away side, they did equalise almost immediately; Westwood crossed from the left-hand side, finding Whittaker unmarked at close range. His header was too much for Stuart Brock to bring Nantwich level

Nantwich were a team revitalised following the leveller, and Brock had to deal with efforts from Walker and Lennon as the visitors stepped up a gear. Whittaker was on hand to test Brock's reflexes with a close-range header on forty minutes as he glanced an inswinging cross from Peter Heler straight at the experienced stopper

Brock made his best stop towards the end of the first half, denying Walker with a superb diving save to smother the ball at Walker's feet after the former Stafford man had been put in behind the Hednesford defence

The Pitmen were struggling to get a stranglehold back on the game, with Barnett heading over from a Draper cross during a rare foray into Nantwich territory. At the other end, Brock saved well to deny Westwood with a smart save

Edwards would not have been impressed with the way his side had wilted towards the end of the first period, and some harsh words at the break resulted in the Pitmen returning to the pitch in a more positive frame of mind. In the first minute of the second half, Durrell fired in a powerful effort that Nantwich keeper Lee Jones turned away for a corner

Their new-found confidence paid dividends five minutes later, as they re-took the lead. Hall's shot from the edge of the area was well saved by Jones, but he could only parry the ball into the patch of Dyer, who confidently hammered the rebound into the net

However, once again the hosts failed to hang on to their lead, with Decio Gomes capping one of his poorest performances for the Pitmen with a nightmare own goal to level matters once more. A cross from Nantwich's Ashley Carter deflected off the Portuguese defender's head, diverting the ball over the despairing Brock and into the net

Dyer was having a superb game for the Pitmen, despite the early Christmas gifts being handed out at the other end, as he continued to probe and cause problems for the Nantwich defence. He duly grabbed the home side's third goal of the evening on the hour mark, firing home from the edge of the area despite the attentions of two Nantwich defenders

It was perhaps inevitable that the away side would dominate the final quarter as they searched for another equaliser. Brock was again called upon to make a couple of fine stops for the Pitmen to keep them in front, saving well from Walker again after the forward had stolen in to head towards goal. He also denied Lennon as he threatened to pull the trigger in the final ten minutes

The Pitmen were marooned in their own half for much of the final ten minutes but did have a late chance in the form of Barnett's great opportunity from a Durrell cross that he failed to divert past Jones

As Nantwich pressed in added time, Westwood was cautioned for an over-zealous challenge in midfield on Sheppard which was his second of the game, thus seeing the young loanee sent off

An excellent win for the Pitmen against a side that impressed again on their second visit to Keys Park this season, but the home side's extra quality up front was once again the telling factor. Hednesford can now look forward to a meeting with old Vauxhall Conference and Southern Premier League rivals Welling United - now plying their trade in Blue Square South -  in the next round at Keys Park, early in the New Year

Hednesford Town: Brock, Hall, Maguire (Burley 67), Gomes, Harvey, Marshall, Hall, Durrell, Barnett, Dyer, Draper © (Sheppard 88)      Sub Unused: Briggs, Harbutt

Nantwich Town: Jones, Jarrett (Smith 66), Tickle, Tinson, Whittaker, O'Loughlin, Parkinson, Carter, Westwood   (90), Walker, Lennon (Jack 75), Heler      Sub Unused: Beeston, Roberts, Francis