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Rushton (40)

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Hednesford Town

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Joe Fitzpatrick

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Sutton Coldfield Town (H) 7.8.18

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A Hednesford side missing a number of first-team players fall to their second successive defeat this afternoon at Newtown's Latham Park, with Newtown's winner shrouded in controversy


With players unavailable due to holidays and injuries, returning manager Rob Smith had a number of selection dilemmas ahead of kick-off. Callam Mendez-Jones captained a mainly triallist-led defence, with a triallist goalkeeper coming in after rumours had been circulating about James Wren's unsure future at the club


Welsh Premier League club Newtown were in the final stages of their pre-season preparations, with this being their final game before the start of the new season. Former Hednesford players Ben Bailey, Jay Denny, Callum Roberts and Nick Rushton were all named in the Robins' matchday squad by manager Chris Hughes, as well as recent triallist Steve Leslie


On the 3G pitch, Newtown were to have the first real opening of the game on six minutes, as Mickey Nelson gave the ball away in a crucial area and allowed Joe Kenton to fire just wide of the far post for the hosts


A mistake from Bailey gifted the Pitmen a great chance on eleven minutes, as his attempted clearance rebounded to Dan Cockerline. The lanky striker did well to feed Nelson, but the winger's first touch was poor as he failed to keep the ball under control and dragged his shot wide of goal


Nelson and Cockerline linked up once again four minutes later, with Nelson this time setting Cockerline away, only for the on-loan player to be denied a goal by last-ditch goalkeeping from Newtown keeper Dave Jones


A great move down the right created a great chance for Newtown on seventeen minutes, with Roberts slipping the ball in to Rushton, who in turn, crossed for Neil Mitchell, whose goalbound shot was deflected away from goal


A typically dangerous Bailey long throw from the left fell to the feet of Rushton on twenty-four minutes, but the striker lifted his effort high over the crossbar


Nelson continued to threaten with his pace and direct nature, but the winger continued to frustrate with his wayward finishing. On the half-hour mark, Nelson seized upon a loose ball before striking a bobbling shot well wide of the Newtown goal


The triallist keeper did well to deny Newtown on thirty-three minutes, turning Sam Litchfield's header away from goal at his far post to concede another corner kick


Rushton was denied by the triallist keeper once more on thirty-six minutes, with the number one making a fine save with his feet to turn the striker's shot away from goal from an acute angle


Two minutes later, the triallist keeper made another fine save with his feet to make a crucial stop to deny Kenton a certain goal from six yards out


With five minutes remaining in the half, Newtown took the lead in controversial circumstances. A free-kick on the halfway line to the hosts was taken quickly by Elliot Williams, with the ball still moving, and found Rushton, who was at least four yards offside. And yet, the play was not pulled back to allow the free-kick to be taken properly, nor was there an offside flag against Rushton, allowing the former Wrexham man to slot home unchallenged


Half-time saw the Pitmen make a change in midfield, with teenager Owen Turner coming on for triallist no. 7 


Good defending from makeshift centre-back Joe Fitzpatrick denied Newtown a second goal three minutes after the restart, turning Damien Allen's shot away from goal


Rushton almost added to his tally on fifty minutes, as he headed Ryan Sears' deep cross over the crossbar, under pressure from Fitzpatrick


Another smothering save from the triallist keeper denied Kenton on fifty-two minutes, saving well from the forward as he attempted to pull the trigger from the edge of the six-yard box


The Pitmen came back into the game after a difficult ten minutes of the second half, with Cockerline doing well down the left wing before laying the ball off to triallist no. 3. whose deep cross towards Nelson was turned away by Allen before the winger could reach the ball


Triallist no. 5 tried his luck for the Pitmen on fifty-seven minutes, picking up a pass from the hardworking Cockerline twenty-five yards out, but drove his shot well wide of goal


Rushton carved out a chance for himself on the hour mark, driving through the heart of the Hednesford defence before being denied a certain goal by an excellent saving tackle from Fitzpatrick


A deep corner kick on sixty-two minutes for the Pitmen saw Cockerline rise highest at the far post, heading the ball inches wide of the far post


Hednesford's triallist keeper made a comfortable save down low to his left on sixty-three minutes, denying Sears a chance to score after the left-back had out-paced the Hednesford defence down the wing to get to the ball


Tom Hill felt he should have been awarded a penalty on sixty-eight minutes, as he was felled in the Newtown penalty area by Kieron Mills-Evans, but the referee was unmoved and waved away the striker's protests. With the game continuing, the ball fell to Turner, whose curling shot was held by Hughes


A mistake from triallist no. 1 almost gifted Rushton a second goal for Newtown on seventy minutes, but redeemed himself with a brave stop at the feet of the striker to smuggle the ball off him


Cockerline continued to impress with his hold-up play against the Newtown defenders, crafting an opening for himself on a minute later after doing well to open up a pocket of space on the edge of the penalty area, but his effort lacked direction and flew well wide


Nelson was replaced by triallist no. 14 on seventy-one minutes in their second change of the afternoon for the threadbare visitors


With thirteen minutes remaining, Jermain Hollis was replaced by Nathan Fox, requiring a re-jig in the Hednesford ranks to allow the left-back to take his position in the team


The tall presence of Cockerline saw the striker reach Hill's cross above the Newtown defence on eighty minutes, but his effort drifted just over the crossbar


A mistake from Fox allowed Allen the freedom of the pitch to run in behind the Hednesford defence on eighty-five minutes, with the midfielder's cross somehow headed wide of the empty net by Craig Williams at the far post

An understandably disjointed performance from the away side on the 3G pitch, against a side far more advanced in their pre-season preparations and without the crippling unavailability of players in defensive positions. Smith and Larry Chambers will be hopeful fo welcoming back a number of first-team players when they play host to Sutton Coldfield Town at Keys Park on Tuesday night in their final home pre-season friendly

Hednesford Town: Triallist no. 1, Mendez-Jones (Francis 83), Triallist no. 3, Triallist no. 4, Triallist no. 5, Fitzpatrick, Triallist no. 7 (Turner 45), Hollis (Fox 77), Cockerline, Hill, Nelson (Triallist no. 14 - 71).  Subs Unused: Triallist no. 12, Galinski, Veiga

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