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Vanarama National League North

Hednesford Town

Payne (18)

North Ferriby United

King (90) (penalty)

(1) 1

(0) 1



Current Form

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Kennedy Digie


Chorley (H) 20.2.16

The Pitmen end their two-match losing run with a point at home to title-chasing North Ferriby United this evening but were denied all three points by a late and controversial spot-kick for the Villagers as the visitors equalised with the final kick of the game

Having been beaten 2-0 against Gainsborough Trinity at the weekend, frustrated Hednesford manager Frank Sinclair made one change to his side for their third home game in a row as centre-back Ben Bailey returned to the side in place of the unfit Phil Trainer, claiming the captaincy back from Tom Thorley after the midfielder had stood in for Bailey at the weekend

Billy Heath's Ferriby side were continuing to plug away in their quest to keep pace with league leaders Solihull Moors, although their title hopes had been hit on Saturday with a 1-0 defeat at home to Harrogate Town. Heath made one change of his own for tonight's long journey down to Staffordshire as Sam Topliss came in for Ben Middleton at full-back

Looking for a reaction to their last two games - both home defeats without scoring - the hosts made a bright start on a chilly evening as winger Shelton Payne made a jinking run in from the left flank in the third minute but elected to shoot from long-range and lifted his shot high over goalkeeper Adam Nicklin's crossbar

North Ferriby's first sight at goal came from the talented Curtis Bateson two minutes later as neat play from the men in yellow saw Ash Palmer and Mark Gray sent Bateson away to the left-hand side of the Hednesford penalty area; Bateson took a touch but lashed his shot from just inside the box over Dan Crane's crossbar


In the ninth minute, Ferriby midfielder Danny Clarke was denied by Crane as he was played into space by Bateson's neat reverse pass, only for the Hednesford goalkeeper to block the shot and turn it away for a corner to the visitors

A free-kick from Russell Fry in the thirteenth minute was swung into the Hednesford penalty area from the left, finding Palmer unmarked just outside the six-yard box - his goalbound shot was blocked at the near post by on-loan Kidderminster Harriers man Kennedy Digie before the hosts could clear their lines through Thorley

Winger Adam Thomas went within a whisker of opening the scoring for the Pittman in the sixteenth minute, as an inswinging free-kick from Sean Williams was met at the far post with a looping header from Thomas, only for the youngster to be denied the evening's opening goal by Nicklin's fingertip save to turn the ball over the crossbar for a corner kick. Despite Nicklin clearly getting a touch to the ball referee Mr Cooke awarded the visitors a goal kick, much to the bemusement of most inside the ground

The Pitmen did take the lead, however, with their next attack in the eighteenth minute as Thomas was played into space down the right flank by Thorley, looking to pick out Glover with a cross to the near post that Nicklin looked to claim ahead of the striker. However, the stopper made a hash of the ball and could only divert it straight into the path of Payne, who fired home from twelve yards out with a firm left-footed shot to open the scoring

Despite taking the lead, the Pitmen continued to look susceptible at the back as Ferriby continued to press with their quick one and two touch play going forwards. Midway through the first half, Crane had to be alert once more to make a smart low save down to his left to make the save from Clarke after the striker had nipped in ahead of George Cleet to meet Bateson's cross from the left and sidefoot the ball towards goal from ten yards out

Digie headed high over the crossbar for the hosts on twenty-five minutes as a Williams corner kick drifted over the heads of everyone and found the young utility man unmarked at the far post

The game had started to become quite scrappy, particularly in midfield, with chances at a premium for the remainder of the first period. On thirty-two minutes, Bateson made a marauding run down the left flank and looked to cut the ball back to Wayne Brooksby, only for the former Guiseley man to slightly overrun the ball and allow it to drift behind him and away from danger

With eight minutes of the first half remaining, Jack Truelove and Payne linked up down the left wing as they doubled up on Topliss to work the ball past the right-back and into space for Payne. The goalscorer took the ball to the byeline and stood up a cross into the six-yard box that was a touch too high for Glover to head past Nicklin and the Ferriby stopper punched the ball clear

At the other end, giant striker Tom Denton headed tamely wide from a Fry free-kick out on the left on forty minutes, meeting the ball eight yards from goal but glancing wide of Crane's left-hand post as he was put under pressure by Digie

In the final minute of the half, Brooksby ran onto a fine through ball from Fry and took the ball around the dive of Crane, only for an offside flag against the striker to pull the game back and deny him a tap-in from six yards out

The Pitmen could be pleased with holding the lead going into the half-time break but had struggled to contain a lively Ferriby attack that has already scored nearly sixty goals this term; you certainly felt that the scoring was not over going into the second period, that's for sure

Fry tried his luck with an early free-kick for the visitors on forty-eight minutes after Cleet had brought Brooksby down just outside the penalty area, curling his shot over the Hednesford wall but just wide of Crane's right-hand post

Denton went within a whisker of levelling matters once more on fifty-two minutes as Bateson's run and low cross into the penalty area was a matter of inches away from being turned home by the striker as he stretched out a long leg to try and divert the ball home from a couple of yards out but just failed to connect with the cross

Former Derby County man Adam Bolder came on to add his quality to proceedings and immediately got into the action with a fine pass out to Bateson on fifty-five minutes; the winger left Jack Fitzwater behind with more skilful wing play and attempted a curling shot from the corner of the penalty area that Crane watched over his crossbar

Thomas supplied Glover with a ball to run onto on fifty-eight minutes as a lobbed ball over the top of the Ferriby defence from the winger found the striker running in behind the wall of yellow standing in his way. However, Glover was caught in two minds about whether to pass to Payne or shoot and allowed Palmer to make a smothering challenge to clear the danger

On the hour mark, Bateson was sent clear once more by Bolder's incisive pass through the channel between Fitzwater and Digie, finding the winger in space inside the penalty area. However, his shot lacked any power and was easily saved by Crane down to his right-hand side

The Pitmen elected to make their first change of the evening a minute later as forward Ahmed Obeng came on in place of Glover to add more flair and pace to the flagging Hednesford attack

An excellent overlapping run from Josh Wilde down the left for Ferriby on sixty-three minutes saw the number three given all the time in the world to control the ball and look to pick Brooksby out in the penalty area. However, his cross lacked any real direction and was hacked clear by the excellent Digie before it could reach the striker on the penalty spot

Bolder assumed free-kick responsibilities for the visitors in the second half and floated a curling effort from twenty-five yards out narrowly over Crane's crossbar two minutes later after Brooksby had been fouled by Cleet in full flight

Bateson was denied by a slice of luck from Digie two minutes later as the winger once again found time and space to get his shot away from the left-hand side of the penalty area, wrong-footing Crane with his low shot but seeing the Digie divert the shot just wide with his standing heel

For all of the Ferriby pressure on the over-worked Hednesford defence, the hosts very nearly grabbed a second goal on seventy-one minutes as Williams made an unchallenged run deep into the Ferriby half and tried his luck with a long-range effort that Nicklin saved on his goal line

Three minutes later, Fitzwater was presented with a golden opportunity to put the game out of Ferriby's reach as a brilliantly-struck Williams free-kick drifted over the heads of everyone in the six-yard box and into the path of the on-loan West Bromwich Albion youngster, who somehow failed to turn the ball home as he tamely diverted the ball wide of the post from four yards out. A poor miss and one that was to cost the home side later on in the game

Thorley - neat and tidy in midfield as always as he continued his return to form and fitness - played a delightful ball out of pain with thirteen minutes of play remaining. The winger took the ball ten yards into the Ferriby half before playing a quick one-two with Obeng and striking a low shot into the Hednesford fans standing on the Heath Hayes terrace

On seventy-nine minutes, Trainer came on in place of the out-of-sorts Thomas to add a layer of security to the base of midfield as the Pitmen looked to protect their slender lead and what would be three notable points against one of the league's best sides

Payne saw another well-struck effort deflected away from goal on eighty-two minutes, skipping past Topliss after receiving the ball from Williams inside the centre circle and making a run towards the Ferriby penalty area, only for his eventual shot to be turned behind by Fry

This was to prove to be Payne's final involvement in the game, as the goalscorer was taken off a minute later in favour of the diminutive Paul Ennis for the final minutes

Ferriby continued to press as the minutes ticked away, but the Pitmen stood firm through the impressive Digie and the returning Bailey. A Fry free-kick was pushed over the crossbar by Crane on eighty-seven minutes, handing the away side a corner kick that Clarke floated into the danger zone; the ball was met by the head of Denton, only for his looping header to drift wide of the far post

A minute later, patient play from the Villagers saw Emerton and Gray set up Bolder, whose rising shot from twenty-five yards out flew a foot or so over Crane's crossbar

In the final minute of the game, Bateson should have levelled for Ferriby as he got past Fitzwater and into a shooting position fifteen yards from goal, only to fire straight into the hands of Crane when he had the whole goal to aim at

The Pitmen had been guilty of wasting plenty of time in the last ten minutes as they looked to take the sting out of Ferriby's attacks, but this was to come back to haunt them as the visitors launched one last attack in the fourth minute of added time; Wilde's long throw fell to Denton, whose first-time effort was blocked by the arm of Digie, who appeared to have raised his arm to protect his face from the incoming shot. To the amazement of the crowd, Mr Cooke deemed Digie's actions to be deliberate handball and awarded the Villagers a penalty kick. The home players bitterly contested the decision but the referee had made up his mind, allowing Liam King to step up and fire home the resultant spot-kick straight down the middle and equalise for the visitors

There was only enough time for Hednesford to restart the game before the final whistle was blown, leaving the Hednesford players and officials to surround the referee as they made their way off the pitch demanding a justification for his late penalty award. Nevertheless, it is two points dropped for the home side once again in their bid to escape the drop zone, leaving them down in twenty-first place in the Vanarama National League North table but only a point behind both Corby Town and Brackley Town above them. Mid-table Chorley make the journey down from Lancashire on Saturday as the Pitmern bring to an end what will have been four home games in three weeks, with three points an absolute must before they embark on their longest trip of the season next Tuesday night with a trip to fellow strugglers Lowestoft Town

Hednesford Town: Crane, Fitzwater, Truelove, Bailey ©, Digie, Cleet, Thomas (Trainer 79), Thorley, Glover (Obeng 61), Williams, Payne (Ennis 83)       Subs Unused: Ransome, Peers

North Ferriby United: Nicklin, Topliss (Kendall 75), Wilde, King, Palmer, Gray, Clarke, Fry (Bolder 52), Denton, Brooksby (Emerton 57), Bateson      Subs Unused: Hotte, Middleton

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