25.2.2006

Nationwide Conference North

Northwich Victoria

Sale (4), Byrne (16), (65), (90), Brayson (55), Mayman (70), C. Williams (73), Gahgan (78)

Hednesford Town

(2) 8

(0) 0

Attendance

MoTM

Current Form

Next Match

855

Colin Hunter

D L L W W D D L L L

 

Hucknall Town (A) 7.3.06

The Pitmen are handed their heaviest defeat in over twenty years this afternoon as they are humiliated by title challengers Northwich Victoria on Hednesford's first-ever visit to the new Victoria Stadium

Monday night had seen the struggling Pitmen beaten by mid-table Moor Green to leave them three points adrift of safety going into today's tough-looking trip to Cheshire. Manager Steve Anthrobus made four changes to his side for today's trip north as Ross Adams returned to the side in place of the now-departed Leon Drysdale, Colin Hunter replaced Grant Beckett, Ian Wright took Lee Barrow's place at centre-back and Steve Brannan came in for Danny Heron, who had returned to parent club Mansfield Town. The Pitmen went for a 4-5-1 formation in a bid to flood the midfield area and stop the hosts from creating from deep with their talented and experienced forwards 

Steve Burr's Vics side had still not given up hope of catching league leaders Stafford Rangers despite a ropey run of recent form, sitting seven points behind Phil Robinson's side ahead of play today; Burr made one change to his side for today's crucial game from the one that had started the 4-1 win over Worksop Town on Tuesday night as veteran Jon McCarthy returned to the side in place of the similarly experienced Peter Handyside

Any game plan the Pitmen had at the start of the game went out of the window inside the first four minutes of the game as Northwich took the lead with their first attack of the game; a run from Michael Byrne down the left saw him beat Adams with his trickery and stand up a cross to the giant Mark Sale, whose downward header at the near post beat Gary Hateley and nestled in the corner of the net

Good play from Matt Garner in the seventh minute saw the full-back given time to make an unchallenged run into the Hednesford half before he lifted a long-range effort high over Hateley's crossbar

The Pitmen's first foray into the Vics half came two minutes later as Brannan won the ball from Kieran Charnock in midfield and sent Leon McSweeney away down the left; the Irishman waited for Anthony Maguire to join him inside the Northwich penalty area and squared the ball to the recently-returned winger, whose shot from sixteen yards out was blocked by the covering McCarthy

Northwich went close to doubling their lead in the fourteenth minute as Sale rose highest to meet a chipped cross from Danny Mayman but glanced his effort a couple of feet wide of Hateley's near post

The hosts did grab their second goal of the afternoon in the sixteenth minute as Paul Brayson picked up a loose pass from Brannan and struck a firm shot at goal from twenty-five yards out that Hateley did well to parry away from goal, only to push the ball straight into the path of Byrne who slotted home the rebound from six yards out

This seemed to perk the Pitmen up and they enjoyed the better of the next ten minutes of the game as the visitors looked to get themselves back into the contention. Mark Briggs played a free-kick into the Northwich penalty area on nineteen minutes that was met by Wright, but his header lacked power and was held by Vics goalkeeper Kris Rogers on his goal line

Anthrobus drew gasps from the travelling supporters on twenty-one minutes as he elected to make a ridiculously early substitution, taking off Brannan and replacing him with Ross Dyer and making the formation a more familiar 4-4-2 one for the men clad in a smart new all-red third kit, brought in especially for today's game to avoid a kit clash with the green and white Northwich home shirts

Maguire's thrusting run down the right on twenty-four minutes saw the winger skip past Garner's attempted sliding tackle and crossed from the byeline, only for Steve Payne to divert the ball behind for a Hednesford corner ahead of the incoming McSweeney

Dyer's first involvement three minutes later saw the youngster drift past Charnock and into a pocket of space just in front of the Northwich defence. His shot from just outside the penalty area was wild, however, and the ball sailed over Rogers' crossbar and onto the hard standing behind the Northwich goal

A quick break from the hosts on thirty-one minutes saw Hateley deny Jonny Allan another goal to add to his collection this term as he got to Byrne's slide-rule pass ahead of the Northwich striker and hack the ball into the impressive main stand at the Victoria Stadium

On thirty-five minutes, the Pitmen worked the ball patiently from left to right through Hunter, Briggs and Dyer to find Maguire, who did well to get goal side of Garner momentarily before his move into the penalty area was halted by a non-nonsense tackle from Payne

With five minutes of the first half remaining, Tom Marshall's deep free-kick from just inside the Northwich half was flicked on by Wright to McSweeney, whose first-time effort was blocked by McCarthy before the former Port Vale man cleared his lines

Northwich could have added a third goal to their tally two minutes before the break as Allan dragged his low shot just wide of the target after more excellent approach play from the ever-dangerous Byrne, cutting in from the left-wing once more

The Pitmen had done well to limit their hosts to only two goals after a horrendous start to the game, stabilising as the half had gone on and had created several half-chances of their own. However, nothing could prepare the away side for the horrors of what was to come in the second half as they capitulated in spectacular style

Two minutes after the restart, a good move from the Pitmen saw the ball worked to Hunter, who cut inside from the left-hand side of the penalty area and drove in a shot at goal that Rogers pushed over the crossbar for a Hednesford corner kick

On fifty-two minutes, a late offside flag denied Allan a great chance to stretch the home side's lead as he scampered in behind a static Hednesford defence to reach a pass from Mayman but was denied by the assistant's flag on the main stand side

The Vics did add a third goal to their tally three minutes later as another fine through ball from Byrne caught the Pitmen out, with Brayson running in behind the ball-watching visiting defence before slotting past the advancing Hateley and into the far corner of the net from twelve yards out

This gave the hosts a comfortable cushion, allowing them to express themselves on the ball against a Hednesford side that was now struggling to pick up their markers and allowed Northwich more time and space on the ball. On fifty-nine minutes, Byrne seized upon a loose pass from Adams and played the ball into the feet of Allan, who laid the ball off to Mayman on the edge of the Hednesford penalty area. The midfielder's shot took a deflection off the boot of Marshall and looped over Hateley's crossbar for a Northwich corner kick

Northwich added a fourth goal on sixty-five minutes, with Byrne scoring his second goal of the afternoon as he ran onto another defence-splitting pass from Charnock before cheekily lobbing the ball over the head of the onrushing Hateley and into the net from the edge of the Hednesford penalty area

The visitors were chasing shadows and nearly conceded another goal straight from the restart as Michael Carr won the ball from Maguire and fed Brayson, who neatly turned past Wright before striking a low shot into the side-netting

 

On seventy minutes, the Vics further extended their lead as poor defending from the Pitmen saw the ball fall to Mayman, who jinked his way past both Wright and Richard Teesdale before firing past a horribly exposed Hateley

In a bid to stem the tide of Northwich goals, Anthrobus made a double change on seventy-one minutes as Lee Williams returned to the side after his injury lay-off to replace Briggs and Hunter was taken off in place of debutant Danny Bragoli, the latest in the long line of talented youngsters to force their way into the first team this season

 

The hosts continued to attack in waves, however, and scored a sixth goal of the afternoon on seventy-three minutes; substitute Chris Gahgan was allowed time and space to cross from the right, finding fellow substitute Chris Williams with all the time and space he could have wanted to turn the ball home from close-range

McSweeney's dipping effort that went wide of goal fifteen minutes from the end was a rare moment for the Hednesford supporters to witness at the other end as they watched the events unfold in front of them

Three minutes later, Northwich bagged a seventh goal of the afternoon as the irrepressible Byrne got the better of the hapless Adams for the umpteenth time in the game and crossed for Gahgan, who was also allowed too much time to control the ball and turn it past Hateley from close-range

With ten minutes of the game remaining, Bragoli was involved for the first time since coming on as he made a quick break down the right-wing and picked Dyer out with a pinpoint cross that was met by the teenager, only to see his header at goal well saved by Rogers down by his post

On eighty-six minutes, Allan headed Carr's cross down into the path of Chris Williams, only for the substitute to cut across the ball with his volley and curl his effort wide of the target

Just when you hoped that the punishment was over for the dreadful visitors, Northwich grabbed an eighth goal with the very last kick of the game in added time - Gahgan turned provider for Byrne and he broke down the right and pulled the ball back to the winger, with the Vics' man of the match completing his well-deserved hat-trick as he fired home from the edge of the penalty area to put the cherry on top of a fine Northwich display

For the Pitmen, this humiliation could not have come at a worse time as a third defeat in a row drops them to the foot of the table and now five points adrift of safety. Saturday sees the Pitmen return to Keys Park in dire need of a result against fellow strugglers Leigh RMI, who are the team currently occupying that final spot of safety above the Pitmen in the table

Northwich Victoria: Rogers, McCarthy (Gahgan 71), Garner, Payne, Carr (Elliott 75), Charnock, Mayman, Sale (C. Williams 67), Allan, Brayson, Byrne      Subs Unused: Battersby, Connett

Hednesford Town: Hateley, Adams, T. Marshall, Platt, Teesdale, Wright ©, Brannan (Dyer 21), Briggs (L. Williams 71), Maguire, McSweeney, Hunter (Bragoli 71)      Subs Unused: Anthrobus, Ransome