UniBond Northern Premier League

Radcliffe Borough

Hednesford Town

Dyer (20)

(0) 0

(1) 1



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Ryan Young


Matlock Town (H) 28.8.06

Manager Phil Starbuck summed it up after the game - first half pretty good, second half, not so good. The Pitmen chalked up win number two on their travels in just five days, as they climbed to seventh in the UniBond Premier League with a win on their first-ever trip to the InnTogether Stadium against Radcliffe Borough - their second win on their travels inside a week

Starbuck had been pleased with his side's battling qualities to record a 2-1 win at Grantham Town in midweek but had been less impressed with the lack of discipline from Steve Brannan and Marlon Walters in the pair getting sent off in the game. He kept faith in the pair for today's game in what was an unchanged side to the one that had started at the South Kesteven Stadium on Tuesday night

Radcliffe had been tipped in some quarters to do well in what was their fourth season at step three level, having finished just outside the relegation spots in 2005-2006. Manager Andy Johnston had strengthened his squad throughout the summer months and had seen his side start the campaign with defeat at Kendal followed by a 0-0 draw at home to Leek Town in midweek. Johnston made just the one change to his starting line-up for this afternoon's game as Tony Whealing replaced the injured Steve Hill in defence

 On a beautiful bright afternoon in Greater Manchester, it was so nearly a dream start for the away side as they pushed forward in the first minute and almost found the net with their first attack. Martin Ridley's cross from the right bobbled around in the Radcliffe six-yard box before falling to Dave Whittaker, whose shot came back off the post. The rebound fell to skipper Danny Jellicoe, whose follow-up shot bobbled straight into the Radcliffe goalkeeper Danny Hurst's arms when it looked easier to score from close-range

The Pitmen showed an aggressive streak to their early play with Marlon Walters winning the ball from Martyn Forrest in the sixth minute and playing the ball into the path of Whittaker, who held off a challenge from Radcliffe skipper Simon Kelly put lashed his shot from twelve yards out into the Hednesdford supporters gathered in the seated stand behind Hurst's goal

A long lump forwards from Ross Adams turned defence into attack for the away side in the thirteenth minute as Tom Franklin got on the end of the pass and skipped away from Whealing before crossing for Dyer, whose scuffed shot was easily fielded by Hurst

Radcliffe's first foray into the Hednesford half saw them win their first corner of the afternoon in the sixteenth minute, culminating in an off-target header from Ian Kearney at the near post as he glanced Forrest's cross from the right

Tom Franklin's run and shot almost opened the scoring a minute later as the midfielder made a mazy run into the Radcliffe penalty area but his effort was well off-target


 It was another Franklin run that opened Radcliffe up again on twenty minutes, running deep into opposition territory before threading the ball through to Dyer, who calmly beat Hurst with a low drive back across the goalkeeper and into the bottom right-hand corner of the net

Hurst kept his side in the game four minutes later as the rampant Pitmen went close to doubling their advantage; Walters won the ball in midfield and played Whittaker into space just inside the Radcliffe penalty area, only for the striker's low drive to be turned away by Hurst at his near post

Radcliffe striker Tony Evans had his first sight at goal in the afternoon on the half-hour mark as he got the better of Brannan after the pair had clashed on the edge of the Hednesford penalty area, but fired narrowly over the crossbar with a dipping effort that had Young scrambling across his goal

Jellicoe will feel that he should have done better from a Ridley free-kick on thirty-six minutes as he scuffed a low shot straight into the arms of Hurst from close-range after getting a run on the hesitant Radcliffe defence at the far post

Good play down the Radcliffe right from Lee Duffy saw him play Evans into a pocket of space behind Tom Groves three minutes later, with the midfielder studying himself before crossing to the far post, where Kieran Lungsden missed the ball by a matter of inches

With the first half drawing to a close, Walters and Scott Wilson clashed in the centre circle as they challenged for a fifty-fifty ball, with the Hednesford midfielder coming off worst in the tackle and required a lengthy bout of treatment. He came back on and struggled on for the remaining minutes of the first half but limped off at the break and was replaced by Darren Alexander for the start of the second period


 This change to the personnel appeared to disrupt the Pitmen's flow at the start of the second half as Radcliffe came back into the game early on. Young inexplicably dropped a cross from Andy Heald on fifty minutes at the feet of Evans, only for the midfielder to have very little time to react and hooked the rebound over the crossbar from close-range

 The Pitmen responded a minute later through Franklin, who collected a pass from Alexander as he made a dart into the penalty area, only to sidefoot his effort just wide of Hurst's left-hand post

There was a second change in quick succession for the visitors on fifty-three minutes as Mario Pedro came on to give the Pitmen guile down the wing as he replaced goalscorer Dyer

Young had been under-used thus far for the Pitmen, but the final quarter of the game saw the stopper earn his wages with a string of fine saves to frustrate the home side. His first fine stop came on fifty-eight minutes as he tipped a free-kick from Evans over the crossbar as it dipped over the Hednesford wall and towards the corner of the net

Jamie Miller came on for Radcliffe and made an immediate impact for the men in blue as he played Forrest in on goal with his first touch on sixty-four minutes, only for the midfielder to fire just wide of Young's post


 Two minutes later, a cross from Whealing was met by the boot of Heald, only for the Radcliffe man to volley high over the crossbar from a promising position ten yards out

Young denied Lungsden a clear shot at goal on sixty-nine minutes as he came out of his goal and narrowed down the angle for the striker to aim at, limiting Lungsden to a lob over the top of the Hednesford goal

A rare attack from the Pitmen with nineteen minutes remaining saw Franklin wriggle free of Wilson's attentions before advancing on the Radcliffe goal and firing in a low shot that brought out a fine save from Hurst

Young was called upon again to make another save from Lungsden on seventy-six minutes, catching the ball at the second time of asking after the striker lifted his shot towards goal from a Duffy pass to him

Alexander turned on a sixpence to latch onto a pass from Iain Screaton on eighty minutes, only to drill his rising shot wide of the post from eighteen yards out

Good play from Forrest three minutes later saw him make a run down the Hednesford right and leave Ridley on his backside, only for his cross to evade Evans by a matter of inches at the far post

Young kept his best save of the afternoon until last with three minutes remaining as he made a breathtaking save to tip away a shot from Wilson that was heading for the top corner of the net. A match-winning save if there ever was one

In an attempt to see out the final minutes and hold on to their slim advantage, Starbuck made his final change of the game with a couple of minutes left as Phil Hadland came on in place of the tiring Ridley down the right

A late rally from Radcliffe - boosted by a lengthy amount of added time given by referee Mr Pownall - saw the Pitmen camped in their own third for the remainder of the game. Young bravely claimed a cross from Matty O'Neill in the fourth minute of added time and dropped it at the feet of Lungsden, only for Adams to make a timely interception

The Pitmen held on to retain their 100% winning start on the road this term, pushing them up to seventh place in the early standings after three games after a fine display that highlighted the character in their ranks to hold on to the three points against a persistent Radcliffe side. They take their recent good form back to Keys Park on Bank Holiday Monday afternoon when they face fellow mid-table dwellers Matlock Town

Radcliffe Borough: Hurst, Duffy, Whealing, Kelly ©, Kearney, Warner (Miller 60), Wilson, Forrest, Evans, Lungsden, Heald (O'Neill 73)       Sub Unused: Eanes


Hednesford Town: Young, Ridley (Hadland 88), Groves, Brannan, Jellicoe ©, Adams, Screaton, Franklin, Dyer (Pedro 53), Whittaker, Walters (Alexander 45)      Subs Unused: None

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