11.11.2012

F.A. Trophy 3rd Qualifying Round

Romulus

O'Callaghan (85)

Hednesford Town

MacPherson (45), Rey (81) 

(0) 1

(1) 2

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Luke Bottomer

D L L D W W W W W W

Stocksbridge Park Steels (A) 17.11.12

The Pitmen safely navigated their way through to Monday's first-round draw after defeating a spirited Romulus side at Sutton Coldfield Town's Coles Lane ground this afternoon

With Elliott Durrell hitting five yellow cards for the season recently, the in-form midfielder missed out on the game due to a one-match suspension; Luke Bottomer replaced him in the side. The only other change to the side that had beaten Whitby Town last week came up front, with Michael Lennon preferred to Aaron Rey

After an impeccably observed two minutes silence on this Remembrance Sunday, the two sides went to battle on Sutton's infamous 3G pitch, with the Roms having failed to win on it in the league so far this season

The pitch had an impact on the early exchanges, with both sides attempting to get a feel for the inconsistent bounce and roll of the artificial turf. Romulus were dealt an early blow in the first few minutes, as defender Peter Folkes was forced off with a snapped achilles tendon after a heavy fall

It took until the seventeenth minute for either side to register a shot on goal, with two coming in quick succession; firstly, skipper Dave MacPherson rattled a shot wide of goal, followed a minute later by winger Nathan Woolfe, whose curling shot also failed to find it's target by clearing the crossbar

Two minutes later, great play from Jamey Osborne saw him slip the ball into the path of Bottomer, but the recent signing from Rushall Olympic lifted his shot well over the crossbar from close range

A succession of set-pieces from the Pitmen tested the Romulus resistance, with former Hednesford captain Liam Francis having to work overtime in the home defence to keep the Pitmen at bay

Just after the half-hour mark, the Pitmen had their best chance to open the scoring, as MacPherson made a marauding run forward and fired in a shot that Francis blocked. the ball ran kindly to Neil Harvey, but unfortunately, the big striker pulled his shot narrowly wide of Romulus keeper Lewis Exall's post

Lennon fired into the side netting two minutes later from a tight angle, before Exall made a superb stop to deny Osborne three minutes before the break - Osborne's swerving shot looked destined for the corner of the net, but a brilliant diving save from Exall denied the midfielder his third goal in four games

A minute later, more heroics from Exall could not deny MacPherson the game's opening goal, as Osborne again tested the keeper's reflexes with a shot, only for the ball to drop to MacPherson, who slammed the ball into the roof of the net from close range

Romulus regrouped in the second half after a rotten showing in the first period and forced a couple of corner kicks in the opening exchanges. Sam Barnes and Ben Bailey were dominant in the air, however, reaffirming the belief amongst many Hednesford supporters that this is the most solid and reliable central defensive partnership at the club currently

Woolfe lifted a free kick in a promising position high and wide of goal on fifty-nine minutes, wasting an opportunity given to him after Harvey was crudely fouled twenty-five yards out

This was to be Harvey's final action in the game as he was replaced two minutes later by Rey as he struggled to shake off the knock he sustained in the challenge

Exall was called upon again on sixty-five minutes, turning another Woolfe free-kick away for a corner kick after the winger had fired in another excellent shot

Francis went close to striking back against his former club on sixty-nine minutes, lifting his shot just over the bar after stealing in at the near post to nick the ball away from Dan Crane

Crane had been a virtual spectator for most of the game but had to be alert on seventy-five minutes to deny Dexter Ravenhill from long range

Goalscorer MacPherson's game was brought to a halt a minute later, as the midfielder was replaced by the younger legs of Alex Melbourne

With nine minutes remaining, the Pitmen looked as though they had made the game safe, as Bailey's superb cross from the right-wing found Rey. His initial shot was blocked, but his follow-up shot was lashed into the roof of the net

Despite looking in control, the Pitmen then allowed Romulus to snatch a lifeline with seven minutes remaining. A free-kick from Ravenhill found Dan O'Callaghan, who slotted past Crane from eight yards out unchallenged

Lennon was replaced by Sean O'Connor as the Pitmen looked to run the clock down with a minute to go, but were indebted to Barnes as the game headed into stoppage time when the bug defender cleared the ball off his line to deny former Hednesford man Nicky Campbell an unlikely leveller

Still, it was job done for the Pitmen, who will await Monday's draw with baited breath. Any one of several big local non-league clubs could face Hednesford in the first round proper, with AFC Telford, Tamworth and Kidderminster Harriers all entering the draw at this stage

Romulus: Exall, Robinson (Wynter 34), Meakin-Richards, Folkes (Munday 4), Francis, Jackson ©, Ravenhill, Walker (Facey 65), O’Callaghan, Campbell, Jackson       Sub Unused: Bowen

Hednesford Town: Crane, Disney, Campion, Bailey, Barnes, MacPherson ©, (Melbourne 77), Osborne, Bottomer, Harvey (Rey 60), Lennon (O’Connor 90), Woolfe       Subs Unused: Francis, Shearer