31.8.2009

Zamaretto Southern Premier League

Nuneaton Town

Armson (46), (88), Oddy (70) (penalty)

Hednesford Town

Barnett (63)

(1) 3

(0) 1

Attendance

MoTM

Current Form

Next Match

944

Carl Palmer

W D W L L L

Swindon Supermarine (H) 5.9.09

Despite a much-improved showing at Liberty way this afternoon, Hednesford went down to a third defeat in a row this Bank Holiday Monday afternoon, as local rivals Nuneaton pounced on yet more defensive errors to claim all three points

Manager Dean Edwards was forced into three changes to the side that had been narrowly beaten by Truro City on Saturday, with Scott Lycett in for Gabriel Emechete, Elliott Durrell winning his place back at the expense of Sam Aiston and Aaron Gibson coming in for the AWOL Theo Stair

Nuneaton - under the new guise of 'Town' after reforming from the ashes of Nuneaton Borough last year - had been promoted at the first time of asking from step four in the summer via the play-offs and had been strongly tipped to do well again in 2009-2010. Manager Kevin Wilkin had overseen a three-match unbeaten run since losing to Chippenham Town on the opening day of the season and made two changes to the side that had beaten Evesham United on Saturday as Neil Collett replaced veteran Darren Acton in goal and Gez Murphy replaced Justin Marsden in attack

 Having come in for criticism following their last two performances, the Pitmen started well, playing the ball to feet with purpose. Their first real chance of note fell to Tyrone Barnett on six minutes - his overhead kick was easily saved by young keeper Collett after Sean Platt's cross had dropped temptingly to the striker

Ben Bailey and Lycett had made an excellent start to the game, harrying the likes of Murphy and allowing the big striker no room to move or time to play the ball -  a tactic that drew criticism from several home supporters who felt that the Pitmen's aggressive approach was no in the spirit of the game

Tony Dinning was also in the thick of the action, so much so that on nineteen minutes, he received a yellow card after going in strongly on Robert Oddy in front of the benches. To compound it further, Dinning came off worse in the challenge and had to receive lengthy treatment off the pitch

Despite plenty of huff and puff, the next chance for either side came on twenty minutes, when Durrell, whose goalscoring cameo on Saturday had earned him his place back in the side, made a great late run through the Nuneaton defence but pulled his shot a couple of feet wide of the far post after getting on the end of Carl Palmer's through ball

Palmer himself went closest to breaking the deadlock against his former club on twenty-four minutes, darting through the gap to slot the ball past Collett, but an offside flag ruled out the Hednesford skipper's effort

Three minutes later, Dinning's injury became too much for him to continue and he was forced off the pitch after treatment from Gavin Blackwell. The similarly experienced Aiston replacing the midfield playmaker as a result

Nuneaton finally started to play their way into the game from this point, with former Stafford Rangers defender Stuart Pierpoint firing in a long-range shot that was blocked as it looked to be heading towards goal

On thirty-eight minutes, Kyle Storer was denied by Gavin Ward as the Hednesford number one made a great save low to his right to turn away Storer's twenty-five-yard shot

With half time approaching, Gibson went close to scoring for the Pitmen, although his effort was more likely a cross than a shot, rising over the angle of crossbar and post

After such an encouraging first half, there was hope amongst the Pitmen's away support that their recent poor form could be put behind them as they looked the press on for a win. However, this hope quickly turned to despair, as 'Boro' took the lead within a minute of the restart. Poor defending, an unfortunate feature of the current campaign so far for Hednesford, allowed Nuneaton's James Armson time and space to volley home past Ward - the teenager's fourth goal of the season already

Shaken by this, the Pitmen responded almost immediately, with Durrell testing Collett with a fierce long-range drive that the young keeper did well to collect

Armson was starting to cause real problems for the Hednesford defence, firing one shot just wide of goal after a smart turn and shot from the edge of the area. Lee Moore also went close with a close-range effort that was only inches away from making it 2-0

On came Justin Nisbett for Ross Dyer as the Pitmen looked to inject some pace into their game up front. Palmer, who seemed to be everywhere for Hednesford, headed wide of the post on the hour mark as the away side pressed for an equaliser

The leveller finally came after another period of pressure in the sixty-third minute. After Collett had turned Bailey's header over the bar for a corner, Barnett rose at the far post to meet Durrell's kick, planting a firm header into the net to grab his first goal of the season

Suddenly, the Pitmen had their tails up, and Durrell forced Collett into a fine save two minutes later after Barnett had laid the ball off into his path on the edge of the penalty area

Unfortunately, the cracks in the defensive line started to show again, as more Nuneaton pressure in the final twenty minutes finally told on the Pitmen's rearguard. On seventy minutes, a desperate lunge by Nick Amos on Paul Spacey a couple of yards inside the penalty area saw the referee award the home side a spot-kick. Oddy stepped up to fire past Ward and regain the lead for Nuneaton, much to the delight of the large crowd that had gathered at Liberty Way

Nuneaton were very much in the ascendancy by now, with Armson and co. forcing the Pitmen into several last-ditch challenges and none-too-pretty defending at times, with Bailey stubbornly sticking to his task of denying fellow teenager Armson another goal

The Pitmen had run out of steam in the final ten minutes, with only speculative shots from Barnett and Nisbett, followed by a blocked drive from Durrell to show for their efforts as heads dropped and mistakes crept into their game

The home side wrapped things up with two minutes remaining; the ball broke to Armson, who had had a fine game, leaving him to fire past the onrushing Ward and complete the scoring, grabbing his fifth goal in three games in the process

Edwards' troops will feel a little aggrieved at not getting anything from a game they certainly played their part in, especially in the first half. But a worrying trend of elementary mistakes in defence, coupled with a lack of leadership out on the park, is hampering the Pitmen's progress. With Dinning likely to be ruled out for a spell with a suspected rib injury, skipper Richard Walker's return cannot come soon enough for the Pitmen, who play host to struggling Swindon Supermarine at the weekend looking to get themselves back to winning ways

Nuneaton Town; Collett, Oddy, Forsdick, Armson, Pierpoint, Dean, Spacey, Storer, Dillon, Moore (Foster 70), Murphy (Marsden 80)      Subs Unused: Blenkinsopp, Matthews, Acton

Hednesford Town: Ward, Platt, Gibson, Amos , Bailey, Lycett, Durrell, Palmer ©, Barnett, Dyer (Nisbett 65) Dinning ▆ (Aiston 27 )      Sub Unused: Bandurak

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