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15.7.2023

Pre-Season Friendly

Hednesford Town

Triallist 3 (53)

Nuneaton Borough

Tomlinson (30)

(0) 1

(1) 1

Attendance

MoTM

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524

Mikey Nelson

W L D

 

AFC Wulfrunians (A) 19.7.23

The Pitmen's pre-season programme with another impressive team display from Danny Glover's men as they come from behind to earn themselves a draw against Southern Premier League Central Nuneaton Borough at Keys Park

Having put in a fine shift in Tuesday's narrow defeat against Rushall Olympic, the Pitmen looked to test themselves against higher league opposition once more this afternoon, with Glover able to call upon the services of Lewis Wright and Sam Griffiths after the pair had missed the midweek game due to holidays. There was a chance for two of Tuesday night's impressive triallists to stake a claim once more as they were included in a much-changed XI that included the gaffer himself from the start

Nuneaton arrived at Keys Park off the back of a 4-1 home defeat at the hands of Hereford in midweek, with manager Jimmy Ginnelly's preparations also hit by overnight news of striker Luke Benbow's return to Stourbridge. Despite this, Boro still named a strong starting XI for today's game as they looked to get back to winning ways against the step four Pitmen

Buoyed by yet another fine Keys Park crowd of over 500, the Pitmen started brightly and forced the game's first corner in the second minute, with a low ball into the box by Tom Thorley cleared by Victor Nirennold

The experienced Scott McManus picked up a loose ball and floated in a dangerous-looking cross for Nuneraton two minutes later that forced the Hednesford to clear their lines at the far post

A mazy run from triallist 1 looked to open up the Nuneaton defence in the seventh minute, with the mystery player beating Nathaniel Rowe-Turner for pace down the right and cutting the ball back into a crowded penalty area from the byeline, only to find the boot of Connor Furlong rather than the incoming Glover

Furlong turned creator for Connor Tomlinson at the other end of the pitch three minutes later as his deep cross was met by the head of the midfielder, who beat Griffiths to the ball but headed wide of the post from eight yards out

The Pitmen were living a little dangerously after a slow start to the game and were thankful that a deflected cross off Sam Paddock came back off the base of the post and away from danger a minute later before Nuneaton could take advantage of the bouncing ball

Boro were guilty of trying to walk the ball into the net on sixteen minutes as they created several good openings in and around the Hednesford penalty areas but no-one in blue and white was willing to pull the trigger as the Pitmen held firm in front of Crane

Mikey Nelson was looking to make an impression on his return to Keys Park, using his pace to good effect a minute later as he raced down the right flank and left Nirennold in his wake, standing up a fine cross to the far post where triallist 2 was beaten to the ball by Liam Castle in the Nuneaton goal

On twenty minutes, a deep corner kick from the right-hand side from triallist 1 looked to pick out Griffiths at the far post, only for the Hednesford skipper to stretch and just fail to apply the finish as the cross drifted out of play on the far side

Desean Martin was the first player in white to really test the reflexes of Castle on twenty-eight minutes as he picked the ball up twenty-five yards from goal and drilled in a low shot back into the danger zone that was well held by the stopper

Nuneaton made their extra quality pay on the half-hour mark as they took the lead just as an intermittent shower came over the ground; the Pitmen managed to clear the ball as far as Tomlinson, who showed some neat footwork to work the ball onto his right foot and curl a tremendous shot into the far corner of the net from twenty yards out, giving Dan Crane no chance with it in the process

The home side were struggling to make any real impression in the final third of the pitch, much as they had struggled against Rushall on Tuesday night. Glover won an aerial battle with McManus to nod down Wright's cross into the path of triallist 2 on thirty-three minutes, only for the lanky Rowe-Turner to clear the danger before the striker could get his shot away

Jaden Charles went close to doubling Nuneaton's advantage on thirty-nine minutes as he got the better of Paddock to reach a looping cross from Kane Richards but headed over the crossbar with only Crane to beat

Good play involving triallist 1 and triallist 2 down the left on forty-three saw the left-back whip the ball into the Nuenaton box, once again asking Castle to come off his lien and claim the ball ahead of Nelson

In the final minute of the half, a deep cross from Richards following a corner kick out on the left was punched away confidently by Crane as he came through a crowd of players to reach the cross

 

It had been another fairly stoic display from the Pitmen defensively, holding the talented Nuneaton attack at bay and only conceding a fine individual goal from Tomlinson in the process. However, they had looked a little out of ideas in the final third as had been the case against Rushall, despite Nelson's direct running down the right. Glover and triallist 2 were taken off at the break as the Pitmen freshened thing up in attack, with Rivel Mardenborough and triallist 3 coming on to replace the duo

The quick and direct Mardenborough was quickly into the action as he had the first sighting at goal of the second half two minutes after the restart as he made a powerful run into the penalty area down the left, cutting inside but drilling his low shot just wide of Castle's right-hand post

The raft of Hednesford changes with two more introductions on fifty-one minutes as Harry Bower replaced triallist 1 on the left-hand side and Ryan Andrews came on in the centre of midfield in place of Martin

A bright start to the second half from the hosts saw them rewarded with an equalising goal on fifty-three minutes as a mix-up at the back from Nuneaton saw Mardenborough seize upon the ball on the right after two Boro defenders left the ball to each other, with the striker unselfishly laying the ball off the triallist 3 to turn the ball home from close-range, rather than shoot himself

Nuneaton very nearly regained the lead on fifty-nine minutes as the experienced Tyrell Waite picked the ball up twenty yards from goal and lifted his effort over the head of Crane but saw his dipping half-volley come back off the crossbar and into play

More good build-up play from the visitors on sixty-three minutes saw Charles played into space to the left-hand side of the Hednesford defence, only for the former Mansfield Town man to pull his low shot wide of Crane's right-hand post with the veteran stopper covering his goal

Midway through the second period, the Pitmen made two further changes to their personnel as Michael Williams come on for Wright at right-back and triallist 4 replaced Callam Mendez-Jones at centre-back

Crane was scrambled across his goal to see a low shot from Cain Noble go just wide of the target on sixty-six minutes as the former Chester midfielder struck a daisy-cutter at goal from twenty-five yards out

An excellent pass from Bower sent Mardenborough away behind the Nuneaton defence once more on seventy-one minutes, spotting the run of the striker and playing a delightful angled ball into the feet of his fellow substitute. Taking the ball on the run and with the angle narrowing, Mardenborough struck a powerful shot at goal that narrowly cleared Castle's crossbar

A disagreement between Crane and Waite saw the game halted for a moment on seventy-four minutes as referee Mr Scaife calmed the two sets of players down inside the Hednesford penalty area after the pair had squared up to each other

This was to price to be Crane's last involvement in the game as he was taken off by the home side as teenager Jack Richards was given more first-team action for the final fifteen minutes. Waite was also taken off by Nuneaton at this point as he was replaced by Leo Kelly

Four minutes later, Max Dixon was given another chance to impress up front as the former Lichfield City striker came on in place of the hard-working Nelson whilst triallist 5 replaced Paddock at left-back. The Pitmen's final change came with eleven minutes remaining as Thorley was replaced by Jack Sang

The substitutions continued to come thick and fast on both sides as Kane Richards came off for the away side on eighty minutes as he was replaced by Oliver Symanski

The game had been reduced to a walking pace at this point, with the substitutions heavily affecting the flow of the game. Bower - now on the right flank after Nelson's withdrawal - skipped past a couple of challenges on eighty-two minutes and looked to pick out triallist 3 in the six-yard box, only for McManus to cut out the danger with a no-nonsense clearance

More good play from Mardenborough two minutes later saw the striker link up with triallist 5 down the left as he made a beeline for the Nuneaton penalty area before being forced wide and winning a corner off Rowe-Turner for the hosts

Goalkscorer Tomlinson was taken off by Nuneaton with four minutes of the game remaining as he was replaced by former Coventry United centre-back Elwaid Elhaghany 

The Pitmen finished the game strongly as they looked to find a late winner by putting pressure on the Nuneaton defence. Sang did well down the left and pulled the ball back to Mardenborough, who was crowed out just inside the Nuneaton penalty area. Triallist 3 showed some neat footwork to keep the move above, forcing another corner kick out of Castle down at the base of his left-hand post

In the final minute of normal time, a free-kick in a dangerous position for the Pitmen was taken by triallist 5, whose looping ball into the Nuneaton penalty area was aimed at the head of triallist 3 but was cleared by Nirennold

 

Another step in the right direction for this Hednesford squad that is still, we forget, very much in its infancy with the way it has been put together swiftly in the last four weeks or so. Glover has the team well drilled, organised and playing as a team, although their attacking flair and finishing will require some work over the next few games if it is to be effective at the start of the league season in August. Tuesday night sees Glover's troops make the short journey across to Wolverhampton to face AFC Wulfrunians at Castlecroft
 

Hednesford Town: Crane (Richards 75), Wright (Williams 65), Paddock (Triallist 5 79), Thorley (Sang 79), Mendez-Jones (Triallist 4 65), Griffiths ©, Triallist 1 (Bower 51), Martin (Andrews 51), Glover (Triallist 3 45), Triallist 2 (Mardenborough 45), Nelson (Dixon 79)      Subs Unused: None

Nuneaton Borough: Castle, Charles, McManus ©, Rowe-Turner, Nirennold, Mancinelli, Tomlinson (Elhaghany 86), Richards (Szymanski 80), Noble (Coleman 88), Furlong, Waite (Kelly 75)      Subs Unused: Jezeph, Hayley

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