Dr. Martens Southern Premier League 

Newport County

Lloyd (53) (penalty)

Hednesford Town

Simkin (70)

(0) 1

(0) 1




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Steve Evans


Weston-Super-Mare (H) 24.4.04

The Pitmen pick up a hard-earned point in South Wales this evening after a battling display against mid-table dwelling Newport County, although it may come at a cost for Hednesford skipper Steve Palmer ahead of the F.A. Trophy Final next month after the midfielder was sent off in the second half and faces missing out on the Villa Park spectacle due to suspension

Manager Barry Powell - a relieved man after watching his side end their winless league run at the weekend courtesy of a 4-1 win at home to Chippenham Town - was forced into two changes to his side as both Ryan Young and Chris Brindley were ruled out due to the injuries they sustained in Saturday's game. Paul Evans made his first ever start for the club in goal, whilst Ross Adams returned to the team at right-back in a move that saw Darren Simkin move to centre-back alongside Stuart Ryder

Newport had moved up into eighth place in the Dr. Martens League table at the weekend after winning 1-0 at home to Cambridge City. Manager Peter Nicholas made two changes to the side that had started at the weekend with John Phillips and Sam Bowen coming back into the side at the expense of Sam O'Sullivan and the injured Lee Phillips, who had picked up ligament damage late on in Saturday's game and had been ruled out for the remainder of the season

Incessant rain in South Wales over the duration of the day had left the Syptty Park pitch heavy and slick at kick-off time, with both sides struggling in the early stages of the game to get to grips with the challenging surface. Hednesford's rookie keeper Evans was called upon in the very first minute of the game to hold an Andrew Mumford long-range effort with ease as the midfielder struck an effort at goal from just inside the Hednesford half

Mark Danks linked up with Carl Palmer to create the Pitmen's first opening of the evening two minutes later as he played the midfield man in down the left hand side of the Newport penalty area, only for Exiles keeper Duncan Roberts to deflect Palmer's shot away from goal for a Hednesford corner kick

Les Hines sent over a fine free-kick into the Newport penalty area in the tenth minute of the game that was turned back into the danger zone by Simkin, who headed back into the six yard box from the far post but failed to find anyone in blue as the ball drifted away from goal before being cleared by Gary Lloyd

Bowen's jinking run took him past Simkin on sixteen minutes saw him beat the Hednesford centre-back and slip the ball into the path of Gethyn Jones, whose shot lacked any real direction and drifted wide of goal from eighteen yards out

Eckhardt headed wide of Newport on twenty minutes from a Mumford cross, followed a minute later by a wayward header from Steve Anthrobus from a drifting Gray cross


Newport went closest to opening the scoring five minutes later as Bowen's cross-cum-shot from the right took nick off the leg of Ryder and hit the base of the far post as the centre-back looked to cut out the striker's effort at goal

Lloyd was alert to the dangerous Steve Evans on the half-hour mark as he managed to cut out the winger's deep cross from the left wing before it drifted over the head of Roberts and into the far corner of the net

Good interplay between Mumford and John Phillips on thirty-four minutes saw them play a neat one-two around Carl Palmer and set Gareth Phillips away down the left wing. Phillips did well to get the better of Adams and drifted into the Hednesford penalty area. Rather than square the ball to unmarked Bowen, Phillips elected to shoot from an acute angle and drilled his shot high over the crossbar without testing Evans in the Hednesford goal

With forty minutes on the clock, Anthrobus brought down a long ball from Evans and turned it into the path Gray. He managed to get past Lloyd with a mazy run and a small amount of luck as the ball rebounded into his path off the leg of the Newport full-back before driving his shot wide of the far post. Again, another example of a player not looking up as Danks was free just outside the Newport six yard box to tap the ball home unmarked


With half time looming, John Phillips broke the Hednesford offside trap as he was played through on goal by Mumford, only for a recovering challenge from Ryder to scupper his attempts to get a clean shot away from goal at the crucial moment

The visitors could be pleased with their application during a competitive game that had ultimately lacked quality in front of goal at either end with both sides struggling to create many clear-cut chances. The Pitmen started the second half assertively as Hines, Anthrobus and Danks combined to tee up Carl Palmer, whose first-time effort was smothered by Roberts in the Newport goal

The lively Steve Evans went on a mazy run past three players on fifty minutes before being halted inside the Newport penalty area by a sliding challenge from former Cardiff City man Eckhardt, who was having another fine game against the Pitmen

The hosts took the lead three minutes later with their first foray into Hednesford territory in the second half; Gethyn Jones's long-range shot struck the hand of Steve Palmer just inside his own box, prompting the referee to point to the spot. Despite the Hednesford skipper's protests, he was shown a straight red card for what was peceived as a blatant attempt to stop a scoring chance. A little harsh on second viewing, but a decision that may have massive ramifications for the Hednesford captain as he is now potentially out of the F.A. Trophy Final dependent on how many games he plays between now and the end of the season. Lloyd stepped up to take the spot-kick and drilled his shot straight down the centre of the goal past the dive of Evans

Down to ten men, in the relegation zone, losing 1-0 - surely there was no way back for the Pitmen? Powell reacted to this turn of events by replacing the ineffective Danks for Steve Piearce on fifty-eight minutes to add more craft to his forward line. This saw a reshuffle in personnel that saw Gray drop to a more central role and Anthrobus utilised as a simple target man as the Pitmen reverted to a more direct style of play

Steve Evans broke through a crowd of players on sixty-two minutes to latch onto a Carl Palmer pass, but saw his low drive saved by Roberts down to his left hand side. Evans was having a fine game for the Pitmen and looked their most likely outlet to get back into the game despite their numerical disadvantage and had a further chance two minutes later when he turned well to take Gray's pass on and drove a shot straight into the arms of Roberts

A drifting cross from Mumford found Bowen lurking at the far post on sixty-six minutes, only for the striker to get his angles all wrong and lashed his half-volley high over the crossbar and bobbling down the athletics track surrounding the pitch

The Pitmen got themselves back into the game with twenty minutes to go with a rare goal for Simkin; a long throw from Hines was not dealt with by the Newport defence, allowing Simkin to nip in and fire home at the near post to level matters once more

Suddenly, the Pitmen sensed an likely win despite being a man light and Powell threw on Anthony Maguire with fifteen minutes remaining in place of Gray to add more youth and pace to his side

Anthrobus headed weakly wide of the target with eleven minutes remaining from a Hines cross, before Ryder had a glorious chance to win it for the visitors on eighty-three minutes; Hines was once again the provider with a fine free-kick from the left that found the centre-back, whose goalbound header was cleared off the line by Nathan Davies. Close from the visitors

Newport's extra man started to show in the final minutes of the game as they pushed the Pitmen back into their own third as they swarmed the Hednesford penalty area in search of a winner. Successive corner kicks from Mumford were dealt with by Ryder and Anthrobus, before a neat passage of play saw substitute O'Sullivan play a fine pass through the channel to John Phillips, whose shot ended up rippling the side-netting as it flashed wide

Another well-worked piece of play three minutes later saw Gethyn Jones play John Phillips clear of the Hednesford defence, only for a late offside flag to pull the play back before the striker could get his shot away


In the first minute of stoppage time, Paul Evans earned his side the point they were hanging on to as he made a fine save to turn Mumford's strike around the post for a Newport corner which was subsequently hacked clear by Simkin, under pressure by Eckhardt


The Pitmen had shown great character in getting themselves back into the game in the second period; the last two games had shown that Powell's side still had plenty of ability within it's ranks and looks likely to pay the price for a dreadful run of form from January to March that will ultimately define their season. Saturday sees the Pitmen return to Keys Park to face another side fighting for their place in the Conference set-up in the form of Weston-Super-Mare

Newport County: Roberts, T. Evans, Lloyd, Davies, Eckhardt ©, D. Jones, G. Jones (S. Williams 78), Mumford, Bowen (O'Sullivan 86), J. Phillips (Stevenson 78), G. Phillips       Subs Unused: Stevenson, Stone


Hednesford Town: P. Evans, Adams, Hines, S. Evans, Simkin, Ryder, C. Palmer, S. Palmer ©  (52), Anthrobus, Danks (Piearce 58), Gray (Maguire 75)      Subs Unused: Dean, Dodd, King