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Vanarama National League North

Hednesford Town

Johnson (58), Perry (61)

Nuneaton Town

Daniels (6), Byrne (33), Duffy (66), (penalty), (88) (penalty)

(0) 2

(2) 4



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Kyle Perry


Tamworth (A) 31.10.15

The Pitmen turn in by far and away their worst performance of the current season this afternoon, as they are taken apart by an impressive crisp, free-flowing Nuneaton side that picked holes in the home side's tactics and took full advantage of yet more staggering indecision and ill-discipline in defence

Last week's morale-boosting draw at Chorley had given an insight as to the potential of the Hednesford side, whilst offering more evidence of the shortcomings of a team in transition under Bernard McNally. The Keys Park supremo was able to call upon the services of Dan Crane once more after the experienced stopper had returned to Keys Park this week to replace the hapless Dave Parton. Ahmed Obeng was unavailable due to a personal commitment, meaning a start for Nathan Modest up front in place of the in-form striker. New signing Danico Johnson was named amongst the substitutes after his midweek switch from Coleshill Town

Nuneaton had dealt well with relegation from the Conference last season, with new manager Kevin Wilson bringing his positive passing game to Liberty Way with impressive results. Last weekend's win at Worcester City had moved 'Boro into fourth spot in the table, just a clutch of points behind early pacesetters Fylde and Solihull

It didn't take the visitors long to get into their stride, as they seized upon the ball from the off and stroked it about with purpose and pace. Hednesford's midfielders spent much of the opening exchanges chasing balls passed between them as Nuneaton looked to exploit the space in midfield

Nuneaton found immediate joy with this tactic, as they took the lead with the first meaningful attack of the game in the sixth minute. Callum Chettle played the ball into Cieron Kean, whose neat pass played the ball into the feet of Billy Daniels. With the Hednesford defence affording Daniels time and space, the Nuneaton new boy picked his spot and confidently stroked the ball beyond the reach of Crane and into the bottom left-hand corner of the net

Modest felt unfairly treated by the match officials on nine minutes, as Nuneaton's Aaron Williams appeared to manhandle the Hednesford striker at a corner kick. However, Modest's appeals fell on deaf ears and the game continued

Striker Williams had more impact at the other end of the pitch on fifteen minutes, heading just wide of the far post after Shane Byrne's cross was deflected into the path of the former Rushall man by Tyrone Williams

Kidderminster loanee Williams denied his namesake again a minute later, making a superb late block to deny the Nuneaton number eleven a goal after another cross from the left-wing

The Pitmen, thus far, had offered the square route of nothing so far, with the hosts struggling to put any meaningful passages of play together against confident opponents. Modest - playing upfront on is own against Jordan Keane and Jack Lane - was getting little change against the giant centre back pairing, with Adam Thomas well shackled by the Boro midfield

The closest the Pitmen came to anything resembling a chance fell to Tyrone Williams on the half-hour mark; a little chip over the top of the Nuneaton defence from Thomas found Williams, who allowed Jordan Smith in the 'Boro goal to claim the bouncing ball before he could turn the chance home

The Pitmen fell further behind three minutes later, however, as Nuneaton took advantage of more set-piece woes from the hosts to double their lead. A quickly taken corner from Chettle was headed back to him by Tyrone Williams, with Chettle quick to drive a low ball back into the Hednesford penalty area, allowing Byrne to sidefoot home from six yards out

Aaron Williams tried to outfox the officials with what can only be described as a comical dive in the Hednesford penalty area four minutes later, blatantly throwing himself to the ground after a clash with Ben Bailey

The Pitmen were relieved to be greeted with the half time whistle, after turning in a docile, disinterested performance that had left some fans questioning their commitment to the cause

McNally immediately made major changes to the shape and personnel of his team at half time, taking off the luckless Modest and the overrun Sean Williams and replacing them with the physical Kyle Perry and new boy Johnson

Initially, it looked to be a bit of a masterstroke from McNally, as the hosts made a flying start to the second half with their new formation up front. Tom Thorley and Thomas finally had the burly presence of Perry to search for, with the former Nuneaton man dragging Lane all over the pitch in search of time and space

Three minutes into the second half, a neat turn from Tyrone Williams saw the centre-back fire straight into the arms of Smith

Neat interplay involving Perry, Johnson and Thorley played Thomas in on goal on fifty-five minutes, but the winger was narrowly off target with a rising shot just over the crossbar

Two minutes later, the Pitmen gave themselves a lifeline through Johnson, who, with one of his first touches as a Hednesford player, scored his first goal for his new club. A long, searching ball over the top of the Nuneaton defence was well controlled by Johnson, who held Off Lane's challenge and slotted the ball past Smith from ten yards out

Incredibly, two minutes later, the Pitmen were level, with Perry also taking advantage of a long ball over the top and outmuscling Keane, before lifting the ball over Smith and into the net via the foot of the left-hand post. Game on

Well, it was game on for a brief period anyway, as more woeful decision making in the Hednesford defence with Nuneaton's next meaningful attack conceded a penalty kick. It was young Kennedy Digie who was at fault, tripping Rob Duffy in the area as the pair chased a deep ball to the far post, although on balance it looked a soft penalty to give. Duffy took the resultant kick and slotted past Crane to restore 'Boro's lead

Crane was called upon to keep the Pitmen in contention on sixty-eight minutes, making a smart save to deny Williams as Nuneaton found their first-half passing game once more after a suspect fifteen minutes

In an attempt to force the issue, the Pitmen took off the enterprising Andy Todd and replaced with the pacy Paul Ennis with fourteen minutes remaining

This was to be a critical decision against the Pitmen, as they were reduced to ten men when Tom Thorley came off worst as he challenged for a ball with Keane, and was forced to limp off after lengthy treatment

Perry showed a bit of fighting spirit as he went close to grabbing an unlikely equaliser for the Pitmen with nine minutes remaining, as Bailey's long throw was glanced just wide of Smith's post by the big man

It was all in vain for the poor Pitmen, however, as they conceded another ridiculous penalty kick with two minutes left. Phil Trainer - up against his former club - showed ill-discipline in fouling Duffy in the penalty area, and then arguing with the referee, resulting in a double yellow card and a subsequent red for Trainer. You perhaps expect more from such an experienced performer at this level when it comes to discipline

Duffy dusted himself down and confidently converted his second penalty kick of the afternoon to complete Hednesford's miserable ninety minutes

A thoroughly unenjoyable afternoon's showing from the Pitmen, then, with Nuneaton highlighting the glaring problems in the ranks at Keys Park at present. McNally faces another incredibly difficult local derby next weekend when Hednesford travel to Tamworth, who will be keen to profit from more poor defending from the Pitmen unless they can tighten up at the back in the next seven days

Hednesford Town: Crane, Digie, Regan, Bailey ©, T. Williams, Trainer ▆ ▆ (88), S. Williams (Perry 45), Thorley, Modest (Johnson 45), Thomas, Todd (Ennis 76)       Subs Unused: James, Ransome

Nuneaton Town: Smith, Clifton, C. Keane, Lane, Morgan, J. Keane, Chettle, Byrne, Duffy, Daniels (Dyer 82), Williams (Harewood 70)      Subs Unused: Reid, Smith, De La Paz

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