17.4.2012

Evo-Stik Northern Premier League

Hednesford Town

North Ferriby United

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Elliott Durrell

W L W L L D L W W D

Worksop Town (H) 21.4.12

Hednesford's play-off hopes will once again be decided on the final day of the season, as the Pitmen left themselves needing a point from Saturday's home game against Worksop to finish in fifth position

Following Friday night's uplifting win over second-placed Northwich Victoria, manager Rob Smith made two changes to his side who were still looking for their first win at Keys Park in 2012. Sam Craven's season was finished prematurely due to an ankle injury sustained in the Northwich game, meaning an instant return for Jermaine Johnson in central defence. Elliott Durrell's goalscoring cameo on Friday also earned him a starting berth, coming in ahead of Ben Jevons in midfield

North Ferriby were looking to a top ten finish at the end of an up and down campaign for the Villagers, who were forced into a managerial change back in October when Billy Heath was appointed. A 2-1 win for the Pitmen in September was their first-ever win over Ferriby in five attempts

The hosts made a strong start to the game, as they looked to tap into the feel-good spirit that had been cultivated after wins over Chasetown and Northwich Victoria. Two successive corner kicks came to nothing inside the first five minutes, as both balls in from Chris Clements failed to clear the first man at the near post

Mark Beesley, much maligned by sections of the Hednesford crowd since joining the club in January, was presented with a glorious chance to silence the doubters on five minutes, as Clements' through ball put the striker in behind the Ferriby defence. Adam Nicklin in the Ferriby goal came out and narrowed the angle, forcing Beesley into a quick decision to shoot. The forward's lack of confidence was summed up by his shot, as he failed to test Nicklin with a wayward, scuffed effort that missed by a good few yards

Two minutes later, Ferriby responded in kind with a shot from range from Danny Clarke that was deflected narrowly wide of the post by Cheyenne Dunkley. The resultant corner from Nathan Peat found Lee Morris unmarked, with the forward heading straight at Dan Crane from close range

Durrell's return to the side saw the midfielder back to something like his former self, as he probed and pressed from his wide midfield position. On thirteen minutes, good work by Beesley set Durrell up with a long-range effort that was only just wide of goal

Six minutes later, Durrell went even closer to opening the scoring as Clements slipped the ball into the path of his fellow midfielder; Durrell's firm shot flew just over the crossbar with Nicklin struggling to get near to the shot

The lively front pairing on Morris and Gary Bradshaw ensured Ferriby were still offering a threat to Dunkley and Johnson, with both players firing shots wide of Crane's goal midway through the half

On the half-hour mark, Durrell wasted another good chance to give the Pitmen a precious lead, as he fired well over the bar after Jamey Osborne had headed the ball into his path

Nicklin came to Ferriby's rescue on thirty-two minutes, making a smart save to deny Nick Wellecomme low down to his left after neat build-up play involving Jay Denny, Clements and Chris Shaw

Just a minute later, Beesley again broke clear of the Ferriby back line, darting down the left wing to get on the end of Clements' ball. After steadying himself, Beesley looked to curl the ball past Nicklin and into the far corner of the net but failed to get enough swerve on the ball and missed by a foot or so

The game was swinging from end to end at this point, as Ferriby immediately launched the ball forwards. Wayne Brooksby forced Crane into a superb save after poking the ball towards goal from just a few yards out

Beesley's bad luck in front of goal was summed up with the final chance of a frenetic first half, as he rose highest to head Durrell's cross a yard wide of goal with Nicklin beaten at his near post

Despite just about edging the first half, Hednesford's confidence seemed to drain away after the break as they handed the initiative to the visitors. Within a few minutes of the restart, Brooksby hit a great rising shot from fully twenty-five yards out that cannoned off the angle of post and crossbar

A minute later, Bradshaw went close to grabbing yet another goal of his prolific career, as he got to Peat's cross and bundled the ball wide of the post from eight yards out

Frustrated with his team's lack of cutting edge during the opening stages of the second half, Smith made an attacking substitution on sixty-five minutes by putting on the pacy Andre Landell in place of Beesley, whose race was run

This made little in the way of a difference to the game, as the Pitmen continued to huff and puff through midfield, whilst Ferriby were content to pick their openings and play on the counter-attack as the hosts moved further forward in search of that all-important goal

On sixty-eight minutes, Ferriby got lucky in defence as a rare attack from the Pitmen saw a clearance from Nicklin hit Gregg Anderson and rebound back towards goal. Fortunately, the ball lacked pace and allowed Nicklin to recover and dive on the ball before it rolled into the net

A scrappy ten minutes then followed as the game took on a typical end-of-season feel. Both sides lacked any quality in the final third, as the game centred around the midfield areas of the pitch

Bradshaw went closest to earning Ferriby all three points as the game entered its final ten minutes, firing wide of goal with a snapshot from the edge of the area that had Crane scrambling across goal

Jevons was given a late run as a replacement for the disappointing Osborne, but neither side could find a way through in the final few minutes, thus sending the play-off race into the final day of the season. FC United of Manchester face troubled Northwich Victoria at home, looking to take advantage of any slip by the Pitmen at home to mid-table Worksop Town

Hednesford Town: Crane, Haynes (Jevons 83), Shaw , Dunkley , Johnson, Denny ©, Osborne , Clements, Wellecomme , Beesley (Landell 65), Durrell      Subs Unused: Blakeman, Campion, Ordish

North Ferriby United: Nicklin, Lisle, Peat, Clarke, Anderson, Foot ©, Brooksby, Fry, Morris, Bradshaw, Bolder      Subs Unused: Taylor, Belcher, Hunter, Denton