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Pitching In Southern Premier League Central

Hednesford Town

Glover (25)

Nuneaton Borough

Beswick (53), (59) (penalty)

(1) 1

(0) 2



Current Form

Next Match


Luke Redfern



Bedford Town (A) 7.1.23

The move into 2023 failed to bring the disconsolate Pitmen any New Year's cheer as Danny Glover's return to the RACE Stadium ends in a tight defeat to second-placed Nuneaton Borough this Bank Holiday Monday afternoon

Having digested his side's awful performance against Rushall Olympic on Boxing Day, new Hednesford manager Glover elected to ring the changes for today's first game of the New Year, making no fewer than four changes to his starting XI for today's return home; out went Zac Hartley, Tom Thorley, Keith Lowe and Adam Livingstone, replaced by Luke Redfern, Kemy Agustien, James McQuilkin and Glover himself respectively. This also saw a shift in formation for the hosts, with Glover playing up top alongside both Niah Payne and Leroy Lita to add more to the Pitmen's flagging attack. There was the positive sight of both Chris Clements and Riley O'Sullivan both being amongst the substitutes, with both players having shaken off their long-term injuries sufficiently to join the bench

Nuneaton - closing down leaders Tamworth in the table as the two local rivals move into the New Year looking to win the race for the Southern Premier League Central title - had beaten Mickleover 4-2 at Liberty Way on Boxing Day to remain three points adrift of the Lambs going into today's round of games. Manager Jimmy Ginnelly chose to stick with the same XI that had beaten Mickleover for today's A5 derby, including former Hednesford loanee Tony Breeden and former triallist Luke Benbow in his starting XI

An excellent Bank Holiday crowd of 738 greeted both sides on a chilly but bright Monday afternoon, with both sets of fans in good voice as they looked to get behind their sides. The in-form visitors started with purpose, with a deep free-kick from Ryan Beswick in the second minute finding skipper Scott McManus, whose header back across goal was hacked clear by Lewis Ison from inside his own six-yard box

Ex-Nuneaton man Leroy Lita had the Pitmen's first sight at goal a minute later as Payne picked the ball up out on the left and slipped it to McQuilkin, whose outswinging cross was volleyed narrowly wide of Breeden's right-hand post by the veteran from twelve yards out

Kane Richards - a summer signing from league rivals Basford - was proving to be a tough character for the Pitmen to track in the opening exchanges as he made a break down the left in the sixth minute to race onto a through ball from Prince Mancinelli, but got his angles all wrong and sliced his effort well wide with Aaron Clayton bearing down on him

Beswick and McManus combined once more from a free-kick in the eleventh minute as Charlie Dowd had won a free-kick for the visitors to the left-hand side of the Hednesford penalty area off Agustien. McManus met the ball well at the far post but could not steer the ball towards goal and saw Luke Redfern clear the danger before Luke Benbow could react

More wasteful finishing from Richards two minutes later saw the former Derby County youngster pick the ball up just outside the Hednesford penalty area before drilling a low shot in at goal that skipped just wide of Clayton's right-hand post

The lively Benbow - scorer of two goals in the win over Hitchin last week - forced an error out of Clayton a minute later as he chased the ball down and forced the young goalkeeper into a hurried clearance that dropped straight to Richards, whose rebounded effort was pushed away by the recovering stopper for a Nuneaton corner kick

The Pitmen had looked fairly assured with the ball at their feet despite not carving out many chances in the opening exchanges, with McQuilkin looking lively and inventive and looking for the ever-willing Payne down the left flank on several occasions. Neat build-up play on nineteen minutes saw Harvey Portman work the ball out to Payne, whose clever feet took him past Aaron Forde and into the penalty area, only for his attempted low cross into the path of Lita to be cut out by McManus for a Hednesford corner kick

From the resultant Kyle Bennett corner, the ball was flicked on by Glover to Ison at the far post, who was crowded out before he could bring the ball under his control and get the shot away

The Pitmen got their noses in front and gave their long-suffering fans something to celebrate on twenty-five minutes as a neat spell of play conjured up the game's opening goal for the returning Glover; Bennett and Lita combined down the right, with Lita stealing half a yard on Lathaniel Rowe-Turner and sending over a delightful low cross for Glover, who showed he had lost none of his old poaching skills to turn the ball past Breeden from close-range

Back came Nuneaton through Benbow, whose run and attempted shot on thirty-two minutes was blocked and cleared by the impressive Redfern, having his best game for the club since his loan move from Stoke City in October

The Pitmen, however, looked fairly comfortable despite the ever-present threat of the Nuneaton attack and continued to press in search of a second goal. Glover's excellent close control just outside the penalty area on thirty-four minutes saw him turn past Dowd and look to play Payne through on goal, only for the on-loan Spennymoor man to get caught on his heels and could not quite reach the through ball played to him

Lita took the ball deep into Nuneaton territory once more three minutes later as he took Ison's pass into space down the right before pulling the ball back to Bennett, who was guilty of taking a touch too many in trying to carve open space in front of him and allowed McManus to take the ball from him

Back-to-back corners for the visitors failed to make the breakthrough on thirty-eight minutes, despite McManus getting a flick onto Beswick's cross at the near post, with the ball drifting harmlessly out of play on the far side of the pith

At the other end, former Walsall man Isaiah Osbourne had to be alert to the danger as he hacked clear from inside his own penalty area as Ison threatened from an inswinging Todd Parker corner that dropped to him at the far post

Three minutes before half-time, former Premier League player Agustien picked up the game's one and only yellow card as he was cautioned by referee Mr Lunn for bringing the sprightly Benbow down and stopping the former Solihull Moors man from breaking quickly

The Pitmen had given as good as they had got in what had been an encouraging first-half display from the home team, who had shown plenty of spirit and enterprise going forward and had probably shaded the first forty-five minutes. However, Nuneaton were second in the table for a reason and the home supporters will have been fully aware of the threat that their experienced visitors posed in the second period

As expected, Nuneaton came out for the second half in aggressive fashion, pushing the Pitmen back into their own half and looking to force home an early equaliser. An early corner kick from Dowd was floated across the Hednesford penalty area and into the path of Benbow, whose strike took a nick off Redfern and dropped just over the crossbar


Lita nearly picked the pocket of McManus three minutes later as the defender had some trouble clearing his lines against the free-running striker, seeing his rushed clearance bounce away for a gift of a corner for the Pitmen that was ultimately wasted by a poor delivery from Bennett to the near post 


Young stopper Clayton was guilty of a moment of indecision that was to cost the Pitmen dearly on fifty-three minutes as he failed to read the bounce of the ball effectively as Dowd's cross was deflected up into the air by Redfern, with Clayton only making a meagre contact on the ball ahead of Richards and tamely pushing it into the path of the experienced Beswick, who pounced to slam the ball home on the half-volley from close-range to grab an equaliser for Nuneaton

Clayton's nightmare afternoon got even worse just before the hour mark as he handed the visitors a chance to take the lead from the penalty spot; neat play from the visitors saw Dowd play Richards through on goal with a long, raking ball in behind the flagging Hednesford back line. Clayton attempted to take the ball off the former Basford man but could only bring him down as he took the ball around the stopper. Mr Lunn immediately pointed to the spot, allowing penalty expert Beswick to fire home from twelve yards out with a confident spot-kick that sent Clayton the wrong way and hand Nuneaton the lead

The experience of the away side was to prove crucial for them in the final thirty minutes of the game, although the Pitmen were to have plenty of opportunities to draw level once more. Glover was denied by Breeden at his near post on sixty-three minutes after Agustien's cleverly-taken free-kick found the Hednesford player/manager in space in behind the Boro defence, although Glover's angled shot was at a nice height for Breeden to parry away

Midway through the second half, Benbow tried his luck with a powerfully-hit snapshot from just side the Hednesford penalty area that was turned away by Redfern for a corner kick

The Pitmen elected to make their first change of the afternoon on sixty-seven minutes as they looked to get themselves back into the game with the introduction of on-loan Tom Hewlett in place of the hard-running Payne down the left flank

Agustien - making his first start of the Pitmen since arriving from Kettering Town at the start of December - required a spell of treatment inside his own half on seventy-one minutes after coming off worst in a tussle with Osbourne

Bennett was guilty of more over-indulgent play down the right for the Pitmen on seventy-three minutes as he chose to take too many touches in trying to get past Rowe-Turner before over-hitting his rushed cross high over the crossbar, much to the displeasure of a frustrated Heath Hayes terrace who let the player know what they thought of the move

With fourteen minutes remaining, O'Sullivan finally made his return to action after over three months on the sidelines as he replaced Glover up front to add his height and physicality to proceedings

A minute later, ex-Stourbridge midfielder Dowd was the first player withdrawn by the visitors as he was replaced by the more defensively-minded Cameron McWilliams

Agustien was starting to struggle with a lack of match fitness and struck a tired-looking shot high over the crossbar after neat play from the Pitmen on seventy-nine minutes saw Parker lay the ball off to his midfield colleague to shank his effort into the home supporters behind the goal

O'Sullivan's nuisance value was to prove a valuable asset for the hosts late on, with the former Coventry United man curling a shot over the crossbar from the edge of the penalty area with nine minutes remaining after Nuneaton had struggled to clear their lines from Hewlett's initial cross from the left

Nuneaton's second change of the afternoon came on eighty-two minutes as young midfielder Max Brogan - recently signed by Boro from local rivals Barwell - came on in place of Richards

With four minutes remaining, Hewlett turned provider for O'Sullivan as he played in a delightful low cross with pace from the left that found the outstretched boot of his fellow substitute, only for the ball to come at O'Sullivan a little too quickly and give him no time to react and steer the ball into the net from close-range, instead turned the ball back into the six-yard box where Nuneaton were able to clear through Osbourne

With two minutes remaining, Benbow was afforded the applause of the away support as he was brought off for what remained of the game, replaced by the returning Jaden Charles

Some last-ditch defending from Osbourne denied O'Sullivan a great chance in the first of five minutes of added time after Lita had forced the ball through to the striker on the edge of the penalty area, only for the experienced Osbourne to stick out a long leg and divert the substitute's shot away for a corner kick 

Three defeats out of four and no wins in that spell leaves the Pitmen rooted to the foot of the table once more, as word of a late AFC Rushden & Diamonds winner against St. Ives Town moved the Northants side above Glover's side and leave them a whopping eleven points behind Kings Langley in eighteenth place. Glover will be acutely aware of the grave situation he has inherited and has now seen his side lose both of his games in charge, albeit in wildly differing circumstances. His side hit the road once more on Saturday when they travel down to Bedford Town, who sit fifteenth in the league table currently


Hednesford Town: Clayton, Ison ©, Portman, Agustien , Redfern, McQuilkin, Bennett, Parker, Lita, Glover (O'Sullivan 76), Payne (Hewlett 67)      Subs Unused: Clements, Derricott, Williams

Nuneaton Borough: Breeden, Forde, Beswick, Waite, McManus ©, Benbow (Charles 88), Dowd (McWilliams 77), Richards (Brogan 82), Mancinelli, Rowe-Turner, Osbourne       Subs Unused: James, Cox


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