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Pitching In Southern Premier League Central

Hednesford Town

Rowley (62), Landell (70), Flanagan (79)

Nuneaton Borough

C. Baker (33), Rowley (90) (OG)

(0) 3

(1) 2



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Callam Mendez-Jones



Leiston (A) 25.9.21

The Pitmen return to winning ways this evening as they edge out local rivals Nuneaton Borough by the odd goal in five to move back into second place in the league table after a thrilling encounter at the PRG Stadium @ Keys Park

Saturday had seen the hosts claim a point courtesy of a late, late equaliser against Barwell to stretch their unbeaten league record for the season to six games. Manager Keenen Meakin-Richards made two changes to his XI for tonight's game as Todd Parker replaced Reece Flanagan in midfield and Sam Griffiths replacing the injured Josh Webb at left-back

Nuneaton had started the new season in mixed form and had struggled for any consistency from their highly-rated squad. Saturday had seen them slump to a 1-0 defeat at home to AFC Rushden & Diamonds, leaving Jimmy Ginnelly's side down in a lowly eighteenth position ahead of tonight's game. Ginnelly made one change of his own this evening as Ravi Shamsi was replaced by Tom Armitage

It had been an overcast day in Hednesford, with frequent showers throughout the day leaving the Keys Park pitch slick and the ball allowing to run quickly off the turf all evening. the visitors started much the better side as they pressed from the off, pushing the hosts back into their own third in the early skirmishes. An early corner kick in the third minute from Alex Tomkinson found the head of veteran striker Carl Baker, who headed over the crossbar from six yards out

A quick break from the visitors in the sixth minute saw them somehow fail to take the lead as the Pitmen's goal led a charmed life; Andy Wycherley made a save from Baker and turned the ball away, with a combination of Kyle Rowley, Wycherley and both the post and crossbar  somehow denying the 38-year-old the opening goal as he turned the rebound back towards goal

Baker was looking the Boro's best bet of a goal and got on the end of another flowing move from the men in yellow two minutes later, only for Wycherley to make a smothering save to deny the former Coventry City man a clear shot at goal

The Pitmen's first real sight at goal came in the eleventh minute as Parker took a corner kick quickly and played the ball into the path of fellow youngster Carter Lycett, whose low driven shot was just wide of Tony Breeden's near post

Hednesford skipper Courtney Richards was the first of several players to be shown a yellow card in the fourteenth minute of the game as he was booked for pulling back youngster Louis Baker to stop the midfielder from breaking quickly


The away side were looking bright and inventive in attack, with Tomkinson showing Callam Mendez-Jones a clean pair of heels as he got on the end of another fine quick passing move in the seventeenth minute, but overran the ball at the crucial moment and allowed the ball to run over the byeline

Boro felt that they had a good shout for a penalty kick as a surging run from Ryan Edmunds was halted by an aggressive challenge from Lewis Ison, who won the ball with a firm but fair challenge ten yards from goal as Edmunds lined up a shot

Ison made a superb block tackle on twenty-three minutes to deny Carl Baker once more as another clinical passing move from Nuneaton had set him up just inside the Hednesford penalty area

Carl Baker made a run directly through the centre of the Hednesford defence on twenty-seven minutes as he was allowed time and space to pick his spot, only to drag his shot wide of Wycherley's right-hand post

The Pitmen had been desperately disappointing so far in a performance that was mirroring Saturday's game where they had struggled to carve out any chance of note in the first forty-five minutes against Nunaton's local rivals Barwell. Reece Styche finally got a sight at goal a minute later as he stepped across a challenge from Callum Westwood but curled his shot across the face of Breeden's goal and just wide of the far post from the edge of the Nuneaton penalty area

Nuneaton's incessant pressure finally told on thirty-three minutes as Carl Baker finally gave his side a deserved lead. Picking the ball up wide on the right, the striker was allowed to slalom his way past four challenges before firing confidently past Wycherley from fifteen yards out. A dreadful piece of defending from the hosts but a well-taken goal from the veteran

Nuneaton defender Scott McManus was rightly shown the game's second yellow card three minutes later as the former FC United of Manchester man took a comedic tumble in the penalty area as he tried to win his side a penalty. Referee Mr Corbett was unimpressed with the veteran's actions and showed him a yellow card for simulation

More pressure on the overworked Hednesford defence saw Edmunds win a free-kick just outside the Pitmen's penalty area in thirty-eight minutes which was taken by Edmunds himself, only for Wycherley to make the save at his near post to claim the shot

With two minutes of the half remaining, the anonymous Chay Tilt did well to get past Westwood but was brought down by the full-back just to the left of the Boro penalty area. The same player took the resultant free-kick, but wasted his chance and drilled his shot straight into the Nuneaton wall

It had been a one-sided first period, with Nuneaton dominating both possession and chances and could be justifiably confident about the second half against a poor Hednesford side that had struggled to any chances of note

However, the second half was to prove a complete contrast to the first as the Pitmen came roaring back to take the initiative from the off. Andre Landell forced former Bromsgrove Sporting team-mate Gift Mussa into an illegal challenge on him just two minutes after the restart, resulting in a yellow card for the midfielder

Landell took a tumble in the Nuneaton penalty area under pressure from Westwood three minutes later, only for Mr Corbett to gesture to the Pitmen's top scorer to get back to his feet

Nuneaton's first foray into the Hednesford half on fifty-three minutes saw Louis Baker - the teenage son of striker Carl - trying his luck with a rising shot from long-range that Wycherley tracked backwards and tipped over the crossbar for a corner kick

Landell was booked for the hosts on fifty-five minutes for returning the favour on Mussa in midfield; this was to ultimately cost the striker later on in the game

Tilt did brilliantly down the right to open up the Nuneaton defence with a blistering run past two players before Armitage put the ball behind for a corner kick. Tilt came off worst in the challenge between the two players and received a lengthy bout of treatment before the corner was taken

Tilt attempted to play on manfully but had to admit defeat two minutes later as he was forced off as he was still feeling the after-effects of the tackle. He was replaced by Flanagan in midfield

The introduction of Flanagan was to prove a crucial turning point in the game as the Pitmen looked more solid and attack-minded with the former Walsall man on the pitch. On the hour mark, he played a part in working the ball into the feet of Richards, lurking just outside the Nuneaton penalty area, on the hour mark, only to lift his shot high over the crossbar

The hosts finally got themselves back on level terms two minutes later as Lycett delivered an inswinging corner from the left that was met by the head of Styche, who forced old adversary Breeden into a fine save down to his left. The ball dropped kindly for the incoming Rowley, who had the simple task of turning the ball home from a yard out to equalise for his first goal of the season

Back came the visitors and Edmunds won the ball from the dawdling Parker on sixty-five minutes before taking the ball into the Hednesford penalty area. Callam Mendez-Jones spotted the danger early and make a timely block to stop the forward from getting a clean shot at goal

Wycherley was the latest player to receive a lengthy bout of treatment from Eve Littler on sixty-eight minutes as he bravely punched the ball clear from a Nuneaton free-kick but landed heavily down by his left-hand post

The Pitmen turned the game on its head with twenty minutes remaining as they took the lead for the first time in the game; once again, a corner kick was to prove crucial for them as Flanagan's shot was deflected behind for a flag-kick. Once again, Lycett's ball in caused issues at it dropped at the near post, enabling Landell to scramble the ball over the line for his sixth goal of the season from close-range

Frustration got the better of Carl Baker two minutes later as he was booked for a crude late challenge on Rowley as the defender tried to shield the ball from him

He was followed into the book by Edmunds just a minute later as Boro started to lose their composure with the game starting to slip away from their once-strong position

Lycett was also booked in a late flurry of cautions on seventy-seven minutes for deliberately stopping Jordan Gough from taking a quick free-kick just inside the Nuneaton half

A minute later, the hosts put clear daylight between themselves and their opponents with a crucial third goal; Styche did brilliantly to make a run down the right flank and cut the ball back into the path of the incoming Flanagan, who slotted the ball past Breeden from close-range

A double substitution from the away side saw them add pace and urgency to their side on eighty minutes as Amer Awadh and William Edjenguele came on for Louis Baker and Edmunds

Landell's earlier yellow card was to come back and bite him with seven minutes remaining, as he was shown a second yellow card by Mr Corbett for a niggly foul in the centre circle

The Pitmen quickly countered the loss of Landell by bringing on loanee Niall Rooney for the tiring Styche up front in a bid to add some pace to the forward line in the closing minutes

Successive corners from the visitors tested the Pitmen's resolve with two minutes remaining as Wycherley punched the ball clear at the far post to deny Damien McCrory a free header

Nuneaton gave themselves a glimmer of hope in the second of five minutes of added time however as a cross from Awadh was turned into his own net by Rowley, who attempted to clear the ball at the near post but only succeeded in diverting the ball past Wycherley from six yards out

In a bid to run the clock down, the Pitmen made their final substitution of the night in the final minute of added time as teenager Joe Morley came on in place of Parker in midfield

The Pitmen held on the record a first league win over Nuneaton in over three decades and move back up into second place in the table, three points behind early pace-setters Peterborough Sports. With the injuries mounting up on the squad, they can perhaps be a little relieved that they now have ten days rest before they travel to Leiston a week on Saturday looking to continue their fine start to the league season with another unbeaten game

Hednesford Town: Wycherley, Mendez-Jones , Griffiths, Rowley, Ison, Richards © , Tilt (Flanagan 59), Parker (Morley 90), Styche ▆ (Rooney 84), Landell ▆  (83),  Lycett ▆      Subs Unused: Mario, J. Brown

Nuneaton Borough: Breeden, Westwood, Armitage, McCrory, McManus , Gough, L. Baker (Awadh 85), Mussa , Edmunds ▆ (Edjenguele 80), C. Baker © , Tomkinson       Subs Unused: Wakefield, Goddard, Noble

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