UniBond Northern Premier League

Hednesford Town

Franklin (87)

Prescot Cables

(0) 1

(0) 0



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Mario Pedro


Gedling Town (H) 16.9.06

Hednesford finally chalked up their first league win at Keys Park since March courtesy of a late winner from substitute Tom Franklin to defeat mid-table Prescot Cables this evening, moving the Pitmen into the top three of the UniBond Premier League in the process

Marlon Walters had sat out Saturday's draw at Guiseley as he served his one-match ban for his red card at Grantham Town and came straight back into the side for tonight's game in place of right-back Martin Ridley. Franklin returned to the squad as one of the three substitutes, replacing Tony Brown on the bench. The side was being managed by assistant manager John Ramshaw for tonight's clash in the absence of manager Phil Starbuck, who was making an ambassadorial trip to South Africa this week as part of his role with Christians In Sport

Prescot made their first-ever trip to Keys Park off the back of a fine 1-1 draw against the much-fancied Gateshead on Saturday, consolidating Cables' place in mid-table despite having one of the lowest budgets in the league. Manager Andy Gray made just the one change to his side for tonight's game as Dean Thurston replaced Thomas Moore up front

There was an impeccably observed one minute's silence before the game in honour of Hinckley United defender Matt Gadsby, who collapsed and died whilst playing for the Knitters at the weekend

On a cool and crisp September evening, Cables made much of the early running and midfielder Mark Duffy forced Ryan Young into a save in the third minute with a drilled effort that was pushed away by the Pitmen's number one

A superb slide-rule pass from the highly experienced former QPR and Swansea man Karl Connolly found Thurston in space behind the Hednesford defence two minutes later, with the striker striking a firm shot on the half-volley that skipped inches past Young's right-hand post

Good hold-up play by Darren Alexander saw him keep Karl Bell at arm's length in the eleventh minute and play Walters into space just outside the Prescot penalty area. Before the midfielder could shoot, however, he was crudely brought down by Anthony Bowden, who left the former Wolves man down holding his leg. After a spell of treatment from Don Drakeley, Walters carried on but looked laggy and off the pace as he struggled on

From the resultant free-kick twenty yards from goal, Marshall unleashed a powerful shot at goal but saw his effort tale a nick off the Prescot wall and sail harmlessly over the crossbar for a corner kick. Mario Pedro's subsequent corner was returned to him by Bell, with the winger coming inside and trying to catch Prescot goalkeeper Ryan McMahon out at his near post with a shot that McMahon claimed ahead of Marshall


Two minutes later, Dyer was the latest Hednesford player to require treatment after he clashed with McMahon totally accidentally inside the Cables penalty area. Both players received attention from their physios, with Dyer sporting a swollen ear as a result of the coming together

Bell was the next player in the wars in the sixteenth minute as he came off worst in a clash with Alexander and was taken off his a cut to his lead. This left Cables with only ten men on the pitch whilst he was off the pitch receiving treatment

The Pitmen failed to really take advantage of their temporary numerical advantage as Prescot closed ranks; Phil Hadland's cross in the twentieth minute was flicked across the face of goal by Chris White but away from anyone in white inside the six-yard box

Two minutes later, Good play from Pedro saw him drift past both Duffy and Lee Smith before clipping a cross into the danger zone, where Dyer's scuffed shot was diverted away from goal by skipper Eddie Taylor, who had dropped back into defence to cover for Bell

This move was made permanent on twenty-five minutes as Bell was forced to admit defeat in his bid to return to the pitch and was replaced by Carl Rendell

Alexander should have done better from a great position on twenty-nine minutes as Pedro's defence-slipping pass found the young striker in the Cables penalty area. However, Alexander took far too long to decide what to do with the ball and allowed Taylor to smuggle the ball away from him

Walters was still struggling with his earlier injury and lost the ball cheaply to Connolly on thirty-four minutes in midfield, with the veteran exchanging passes with Stephen Johnson before firing into the Heath Hayes terrace with a wild effort from long-range

Three minutes later, Iain Screaton's long throw from the left was brought under control by Dyer, who laid the ball off the White on the corner of the Prescot penalty area. The former Hucknall Town man attempted a curling shot beyond McMahon but also curled the ball around the far post

 With three minutes of a competitive first half remaining, Cables went closest of either side to taking the lead as Duffy's punt through found Connolly, who lifted his effort over the head of Young and onto the roof of the Hednesford net. The goal would ultimately not have counted as Connolly was adjudged to have been offside when he made his run in behind the Pitmen's defence

Many Hednesford supporters were surprised to see Walters re-emerge at the start of the second half as he had clearly been struggling towards the end of the first period

Prescot started the second half well as they had done in the first, with Duffy and Connolly linking up again on forty-nine minutes in a move that saw Duffy get past Ross Adams and cross for the forward, only for the 36-year-old to toe-poke his effort just wide of Young's near post as Danny Jellicoe put him under pressure

Walters was finally removed from the field of play on fifty-one minutes after gesturing to Ramshaw that he could no longer carry on and was replaced by Franklin in midfield

Alexander headed tamely into the arms of McMahon on fifty-five minutes after Dyer and Pedro linked up from a corner kick, before White's quickly-taken free-kick two minutes after was lashed wide by Dyer on the turn from twelve yards out 

Marshall was the first player to enter the book on sixty-four minutes as he was penalised for pulling Johnson back by his shirt as the striker tried to escape the attentions of the young left-back

Three minutes later, Marshall was again guilty of poor defending as his lazy pass across the face of his own penalty area was seized upon by Taylor, whose effort at goal was booked in a timely manner by the presence of Screaton to divert the ball away for a Prescot corner


A fine run from Franklin on seventy minutes saw the substitute beat three Prescot players and line up a shot on the edge of the Prescot penalty area, only to be dispossessed by Bowden at the last second as he wound up an effort on goal

Pedro was having a fine game out on the wing, taking on Smith at will and finding Prescot doubling up on him at times in a bid to stem the flow of Pedro's movement down the left. Another slalom-like run from Pedro on seventy-four minutes saw him cross for Dyer, but the youngster's shot was weak and was easily saved by McMahon at his near post

McMahon's long kick forwards on eighty minutes created a rare chance for Cables as the ball dropped to Duffy, who controlled the ball well and played Johnson into space behind Adams. The young winger's cross was cleared by Jellicoe, but only as far as substitute Moore, who see attempted sidefoot home lacked pace and was saved by Young

It was looking increasingly likely that the Pitmen would be held to their second draw of the week as Prescot manfully clung on to the point that they looked to have earned. Connolly dropped into a midfield role to add to the numbers in front of the Pitmen and stem the flow of chances in and around the Prescot penalty area

With five minutes remaining, Pedro's outswinging corner kick was headed straight up in the air by White and dropped into the Prescot six-yard box, with McMahon making a mess of his attempted punch away. The ball bobbled around and saw Alexander mis-kick from close-range before Smith cleared

The pressure continued on the Prescot goal and the Pitmen finally grabbed the all-important winning goal with three minutes remaining; one of Screaton's long throws caught the tired Prescot defence ball-watching, allowing Franklin to steal in and head home from close-range, scoring a timely first Hednesford goal in the process

Prescot could not muster a response in the four minutes of added time, with the Pitmen going close to adding a second goal through Hadland's mazy run down the right and shot into the side-netting as Cables were caught on the counter-attack inside the Pitmen's half

The relief around Keys Park was obvious at the final whistle as both players and fans celebrated the Pitmen's first home win of the new season and only their fourth at home this calendar year. This moves them up to third place in the table, albeit on a temporary basis until the remainder of the league plays in tomorrow night's round of games. Saturday sees the Pitmen take a break from league duty as they entertain Northern Counties East side Gedling Town in the first qualifying round of this season's F.A. Cup

Hednesford Town: Young, Adams, Marshall , White, Jellicoe ©, Screaton, Pedro, Walters (Franklin 51), Alexander, Dyer, Hadland       Subs Unused: Groves, Meakin-Richards

Prescot Cables: McMahon, Smith, O'Hara, Bowden, Bell (Rendell 25), Flynn, Duffy, Taylor ©, Connolly, Thurston (Moore 78), Johnson      Sub Unused: Jenson