Nationwide Conference North

Hednesford Town

Teesdale (8)

Redditch United

Clarke (84)

(1) 1

(0) 1



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Leon McSweeney



Stalybridge Celtic (A) 17.4.06


A point apiece does very little for either side's position at the bottom of the Conference North table as Hednesford and Redditch play out a low-quality score draw at Keys Park this afternoon

Having lost all three of their last games, all at Keys Park, player/manager Steve Anthrobus once again made wholesale changes to his side for today's game in a desperate attempt to find some late season form from his misfiring squad. Richard Teesdale returned after recovering from injury and replaced Lee Barrow as the first of three changes to the side that had started the 2-0 defeat against Hyde United last weekend. Tom Marshall also returned to the side in place of Ian Wright, whilst Steve Brannan came back into contention as he replaced Anthrobus. In Barrow's absence, Teesdale was also handed the captaincy for the afternoon as the Pitmen lined up with a 4-5-1 formation

Redditch made the short trip to Staffordshire off the back of a 1-1 draw against Hucknall Town, leaving the Reds just five points above the Pitmen in twentieth place in the table and only out of the drop zone on goal difference going into today's derby match. Manager Rod Brown made two changes to his side for today's clash from the one that had started against Hucknall as Richard Field and Daire Doyle came back into the side ahead of Craig Wilding and ex-Pitman Danny Scheppel. Ex-Hednesford skipper Carl Palmer made his first return to Keys Park for the visitors, whilst fellow-ex-Pitman Dominic Reece was amongst the Redditch substitutes

On a hard and bumpy Keys Park pitch, the hosts made a flying start to the game and were awarded a penalty kick in the very first minute of the game as Brannan was played into the Redditch penalty area by Graham Hyde's pass, clashing with Damien Whitcombe who sent the youngster sprawling just inside the box. Referee Mr Coote had no hesitation in pointing to the spot and handing the hosts an early spot-kick. Teesdale ignored Leon McSweeney and Colin Hunter's claims to the penalty kick to take it himself but was to regret his decision as he blasted his penalty high over the crossbar

The hosts shrugged off this early blow and continued to press the Redditch defence as they searched for the opening goal of the afternoon; Marshall headed high over the crossbar with a looping effort in the fourth minute as he reached Hunter's left-wing cross but headed onto the roof of the net from eight yards out

The Pitmen were rewarded for their bright start as Teesdale atoned for his earlier miss in the eighth minute with the game's first goal. Les Hines sent over a pinpoint corner into the Redditch six-yard box, where Teesdale leapt to reach the ball ahead of Redditch goalkeeper Richard Anstiss and headed home from close-range

Good play from the hosts in the twelfth minute saw Hunter send Hines away down the left, with the former Worcester man standing up a cross to the far post where McSweeney was beaten to the cross by Vaughan Thomas's late intervention

Four minutes later, Ross Adams made an unchallenged run down the right-wing before cutting inside and striking a shot from nearly thirty yards out that flew over the crossbar

Redditch looked limited in attack and were reliant on a defensive error from the Pitmen to create an opening on twenty minutes as Scott Hadland's clearance fell at the feet of Whitcombe, whose deep cross from the left was palmed away by Gary Hateley into the path of Simon Hollis, whose lifted his follow-up shot from fifteen yards out over the crossbar

The game's first booking came midway through the first half as Hyde was shown a yellow card by Mr Coote for a foul on Field in the centre circle after the Redditch midfielder had turned past the former Sheffield Wednesday man

Sean Platt's quickly-taken free-kick on twenty-six minutes saw him search out McSweeney with a curling pass into the path of the Irish striker, only for an offside flag on the Wimblebury side to deny the striker a shot at goal as he advanced on goal

On the half-hour mark, Brannan led the Redditch defence a merry dance as he made a run from the halfway line and drifted past two challenges as he entered the Reds penalty area, only to be denied by Mark Creighton's late block tackle

Two minutes later, burly defender Creighton followed Hyde into the referee's notebook as he crudely hacked Hunter down just outside the Redditch penalty area and was rightly booked. Hines took the resultant free-kick and curled his effort over the Reds wall but also over Anstiss's crossbar

On thirty-four minutes, Hines picked up a pass from Brannan and crossed for McSweeney, whose first-time volley from ten yards out flashed past the left-hand post of the Redditch goal. Close from the striker, who perhaps should have taken a touch first with the space he had created for himself

Good defending from the returning Teesdale on thirty-eight minutes saw him ease the giant Jermaine Clarke off the ball as the pair wrestled to get on the end of a pass from Hollis, with the Hednesford skipper doing enough to see the ball out of play for a goal kick

With four minutes of the first half remaining, McSweeney's knock-down from Marshall's long ball forwards found Brannan, who got his laces underneath the ball and lifted his shot over the crossbar from twenty-five yards out


In first-half added time, Doyle raced onto Palmer's slide-rule pass after a typically marauding run from the flame-haired midfielder, only for the former Moor Green striker to be pulled back but he assistant on the main stand side as he had crept into an offside position

The hosts could be pretty happy with the first-half showing, having given their opponents no quarter and limiting them to either long-range efforts or half-chances, whilst taking their one good chance through Teesdale when it mattered

The Pitmen went close to adding to their tally with a goal inside the first three minutes of the second half as Adams played a long angled ball over the top of the Redditch defence which was latched onto by McSweeney, who ran in on goal despite calls for offside against the Hednesford number nine but pulled his shot wide of goal as Anstiss came out to meet him

Hateley kept his side in front on fifty-three minutes as he made a regulation save to deny Palmer on his return to Keys Park, holding the midfielder's powerfully struck shot from twenty-five yards out

Three minutes later, Platt and Brannan worked a free-kick well on the right wing which saw Platt send over a cross into the penalty area, where Hadland met the ball with his head but glanced his effort over the crossbar from eight yards out

On the hour mark, Hadland was involved once more for the Pitmen as another header from the utility man dipped just wide of the left-hand post after Hines had picked him out with a fine free-kick just outside the Redditch penalty area 

The home side were dealt a blow three minutes later as Hyde sent Palmer sprawling in the centre circle as he stopped the Redditch man breaking into the Hednesford half, earning him a second yellow card in the process and reducing Hednesford to ten men. Hyde felt that Palmer had made too much of the challenge and argued the toss with Mr Coote before being escorted off the pitch

The Pitmen made a tactical change to their side to counter the loss of Hyde three minutes later as Grant Beckett came on to play in at the base of the midfield as the more attack-minded Brannan was taken off in favour of the former Preston man

Redditch looked to take advantage of their extra man and pressed the hosts in search of that elusive equaliser; Palmer's long-range effort on sixty-nine minutes saw Hateley parry the ball down to his left-hand side and push the ball away from goal

Creighton headed wide for the visitors on seventy-two minutes as he got everything behind Whitcombe's free-kick, beating Clarke to the ball but powerfully heading past the post 

Clarke's persistence saw him track down Teesdale three minutes later, toe-poking the ball away from the defender as he took the ball into the Hednesford area before Hateley denied him a shot on goal with a smothering save

The pressure was growing on the Hednesford defence with every passing minute as Redditch committed more and more men forwards for set-pieces. Teesdale's headed clearance on seventy-nine minutes from Ian King's free-kick landed at the feet of Hollis, who worked the ball onto his right foot before blazing his effort wide of goal from eighteen yards out

The Pitmen made their second substitution on eighty-three minutes as Nathan Lamey came on to add his goal threat up front as he replaced the hard-working McSweeney

Almost immediately, Reece - on as a substitute for Thomas - crossed from the left and found the head of the lurking Clarke, who got goal side of Marshall but headed the wrong side of the post from close-range

The Reds finally levelled the game a minute later, although there was an element of controversy to their equaliser as another substitute, Chris Murphy, was allowed to make a run into the penalty area unchallenged before slipping the ball to Clarke, who at first glance appeared to be standing in an offside position, with the former Evesham United striker helping the ball over the line from a couple of yards out. The Hednesford defenders surrounded Mr Coote and his assistant, incensed that there was no offside flag against the striker, but the goal stood and Redditch now had all of the momentum going into the final few minutes of the game

With time running out for the Pitmen, Anthrobus brought himself on with three minutes remaining to add his aerial threat to the Hednesford attack as he replaced Platt

Creighton headed wide for the visitors two minutes later as he rose to meet a cross from Whitcombe, before the Pitmen broke quickly down the left through Hunter, with the winger's cross flicked into the arms of Anstiss by Lamey

The Pitmen ended the game on the front foot as they desperately looked for a winner and were to be denied by more questionable refereeing from Mr Coote in added time; Hunter won a free-kick for the Pitmen out on the left, allowing Hines to spot the ball and gesture to Hateley to join the attack in search of a second Hednesford goal. Hines' cross played a superb ball into the box, where Lamey controlled the ball before powerfully drilling the ball past Anstiss from ten yards out. The Pitmen's joyous celebrations were halted, however, as Mr Coote ruled to goal out for handball against the substitute, despite the ball appearing to strike Lamey's leg before he turned the ball home. After the game, the referee was to admit that he was wrong to disallow the goal, which was scant consolation to the hosts as it had already cost them two absolutely crucial two points in their fight against the drop

Only one point from four successive home games leaves the Pitmen with an almighty mountain to climb as they remain five points from safety with only four games left in the season. Their next two games are away from home and against two sides gunning for a play-off places, as they travel to seventh-placed Stalybridge Celtic on Bank Holiday Monday afternoon before making the trip to fifth-placed Harrogate the following Wednesday night

Hednesford Town: Hateley, Adams, Hines, Hadland, Teesdale ©, T. Marshall, Brannan (Beckett 66), Hyde ▆  (63), McSweeney (Lamey 83), Platt (Anthrobus 87), Hunter      Subs Unused: Barrow, Maguire

Redditch United: Anstiss, King, Whitcombe, Thomas (Reece 47), Creighton ▆ ©, Taylor, Hollis, Field (Murphy 75), Clarke, Doyle (Adams 45), Palmer      Subs Unused: Jarrett, May