Evo-Stik Northern Premier League

North Ferriby United

Wilson (48), (80)

Hednesford Town

Durrell (54) (penalty, (84) (penalty), Rey (88)

(0) 2

(0) 3



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Dan Crane


FC United of Manchester (H) 8.12.12

Another late, late show from the Pitmen saw them edge out league leaders North Ferriby in a Northern Premier League classic at Grange Lane this afternoon. The win sees Hednesford move to within three points of the Villagers, with two games in hand

Having taken all three points from Tuesday night's game at home to Ilkeston, the Pitmen continued to rotate the starting line-up for each game. In came Nathan Woolfe and Neil Harvey, replacing Sam Barnes and Sean O'Connor respectively. This move also saw the side revert to a more familiar 4-4-2 formation, with Alex Melbourne moving into a central midfield role

Ferriby have been the league's surprise package this term, shooting to the top of the table early on and staying there courtesy of a sixteen match unbeaten run, stretching back to August. Their lively start to the game was evidence to suggest how they had achieved this, as they played with zip and pace across the pitch

However, it was the away side that had the better of the opening chances, with Francino Francis firing over the crossbar after the ball dropped at his feet sixteen yards out

On six minutes, full back John Disney threw himself into the path of an excellent cross from Woolfe but headed narrowly wide of the far post

Back came the hosts, who enjoyed a prolonged spell of possession and carved out a number of good chances. On twelve minutes, Danny Clarke forced Dan Crane into the first of a number of excellent saves he was to make over the ninety minutes, heading at goal but watching the Hednesford stopper turn the ball away from close range

Two minutes later Crane made an even better stop to deny Alfreton loan striker Anthony Wilson a goal, palming the Ferriby man's header away from goal when it looked to be heading goalwards

Ferriby's swashbuckling approach to the game was creating chances on a regular basis for their forward players, with quick, tricky wingers supplying good crosses for big, willing strikers. Crane made another superb stop of sixteen minutes, turning Ryan Kendall's header away from goal for a corner kick

The same player went closest to opening the scoring a minute later, as the aerial onslaught on Hednesford's goal continued. Kendall's looping header from another fine cross came back off the crossbar, with Crane struggling to get a hand on it

Hednesford were limited to playing their game on the counter-attack, utilising Woolfe's pace down the left to break the burden on the defenders. On twenty-five minutes - after being fed by Woolfe - a superb cross from Darren Campion ended up drifting across the face of goal, with no-one in a red shirt willing to attack a tempting ball in

It was Aaron Rey who got the Pitmen's first shot in on goal on thirty-two minutes, driving a low shot in on goal that was easily fielded by Ferriby keeper Adam Nicklin

Jamey Osborne crafted a chance for himself out of nothing three minutes later, chasing down Dean Lisles in the corner and dispossessing him as the Ferriby man looked to clear. The midfielder tried his luck from an angle, but Nicklin had his near post covered and made a smart save

As half time approached, Harvey wasted a good chance to put the Pitmen into the lead, as he managed to turn on a sixpence from eighteen yards out, but put his shot well over the crossbar when he should have been testing Nicklin

A keenly competitive first half gave way to an absolute classic during the second half, as both sides went at each other in a full-blooded affair. It all started just three minutes after the restart, as Ferriby took the lead through Wilson. Campion allowed Clarke to easily dispossess him out on the left, with Clarke curling a shot goalwards; as Crane looked to turn the ball away, Wilson got enough on the ball to divert it past the Hednesford stopper from close range

It didn't take long for the Pitmen to get back on level terms, however, as they were awarded a penalty six minutes later. Harvey chased down a long ball into the penalty area, getting to it just before Nicklin. Harvey managed to clip the ball past the Ferriby keeper, who only succeeded in flattening the big striker with a high challenge. The only surprise was that the referee did not send Nicklin off for dangerous playElliott Durrell stepped up and confidently fired past Nicklin from the spot to level matters once again

The game swung from end to end in a breathtaking ten-minute spell, as the sides traded efforts in search of the lead. Crane made a quite brilliant double save on fifty-five minutes, keeping out shots from Wilson and Ryan Williams in quick succession

The Pitmen could have taken the lead on fifty-seven minutes, as Rey's rising shot was deflected onto the crossbar by a combination of a last-ditch defensive block and a touch from Nicklin

Crane and Nicklin were certainly earning their wages in a topsy-turvy game, as they continued to trade saves. On the hour mark, Crane was again on top form to deny Wilson, whose powerful header was turned over the bar for a corner kick to Ferriby

Rey's movement and quick feet had given Ferriby the runaround for much of the game, with the quick-footed striker bringing out the best in Nicklin again on sixty-seven minutes. This time, it was a more unorthodox save from the Ferriby keeper, as Rey's shot rebounded back to Harvey, whose follow-up shot hit Nicklin in the face

The combative MacPherson was introduced in favour of Woolfe with eighteen minutes remaining, adding bite to the Hednesford midfield

Chances continued to come at either end, as Clarke fired wide for Ferriby, followed by another chance for Rey on seventy-five minutes that Nicklin saved well low down. A minute later, Wilson again caused problems in the air but headed just wide of goal

It was Ferriby who grabbed the all-important third goal of the game with ten minutes remaining, setting the game up for its grandstand finish; a corner from Liam King found Wilson unmarked, with the big striker heading powerfully past Crane from close range. There was an immediate response from the Hednesford bench, with O'Connor replacing Melbourne

Once again, the Pitmen struck back almost immediately, with the referee awarding the visitors a second penalty on eighty-four minutes. A ball played in by Durrell towards Francis saw the big defender pushed over as he challenged for the ball, leaving Durrell to convert his second spot-kick of the afternoon to equalise yet again

Sam Barnes came on for the limping Harvey to shore up the defence and possibly see the game out, but only after the referee had sent Ferriby manager Billy Heath to the stand for his arguments regarding the award of the second Hednesford penalty

This seemed to give the Pitmen impetus in the final minutes and with two minutes remaining, they snatched a quite dramatic winner through Rey. A Hednesford cross was partially cleared out to the left-hand side. Francis picked the ball up and delivered an inch-perfect cross for Rey, who darted in at the near post and headed past Nicklin to spark wild celebrations from the travelling supporters

More dissent from Ferriby in the form of Wilson followed, with the striker dismissed in the final minute to join his manager in the stand

A great advert for step three football came to an end with the Pitmen moving closer to the leaders than had been since the third week of the season; if Smith's team can maintain this form ahead of the Christmas schedule, they will be in a more than useful position when the league table starts to take shape in January

North Ferriby United: Nicklin, Lisles, Peat, King, Anderson, Gray, Clarke, Bolder ©, Wilson  (90), Kendall, (Hunter 81), Williams (Fry 63)      Subs Unused: Muldoon, Foot, Pecora

Hednesford Town: Crane, Disney, Campion ©, Bailey, Francis, Melbourne (O’Connor 81), Osborne, Durrell, Harvey (Barnes 85), Rey, Woolfe (MacPherson 72)       Subs Unused: Craven, Lennon

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