Pre-Season Friendly

Hednesford Town

Cockerline (55), King (60)

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Rugby Town

Johnson (66)

(0) 1

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Dan Cockerline

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Brocton (A) 26.7.18

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Hednesford remain unbeaten in this season's pre-season schedule, courtesy of a hard-fought win over Rugby Town this afternoon at Keys Park


With both Rob Smith and Larry Chambers both on holiday, the team was taken by the experienced Micky Moore, who had agreed to step in and assist the Pitmen whilst their management duo were away. Moore gave two triallists another chance to impress from the start as well as handing a first start to Southport striker Dan Cockerline, who had joined the club earlier in the day on a long-term loan from the Vanarama National League North club. Callam Mendez-Jones - who had returned to the club this week after agreeing a new deal - was named amongst the substitutes


Rugby - now managed by former Hednesford midfielder Carl Adams - had not crossed paths with the Pitmen for a number of years, with today's friendly the first time since 2004-2005 that the clubs had faced each other. Adams named former Hednesford striker Danico Johnson in his line-up for the game but was limited to only two substitutes as he continued to build his new squad ahead of the season opener


On a pleasant afternoon in South Staffordshire, Rugby almost made a dream start to proceedings with a great chance in the opening minute; Charlie Gatter gave the ball away to Lewis Rankin, who played the ball into the path of Johnson. The burly striker tried his luck from the edge of the penalty area, but his shot lacked direction and was saved low down by Wren


Another individual error - this time from triallist no. 7 - set Rugby away once more on eleven minutes, as his ball to Stefan Galinski was too short for the Hednesford captain, allowing Johnson to nip in. His through ball set Charlie Evans away, but the former Stratford man skewed his shot wide of goal as Wren put him under pressure from ten yards out


The Pitmen had looked disjointed in the opening quarter of the game, with a number of misplaced passes and offside decisions putting paid to any potential momentum. They had to wait until the half-hour mark to create a chance of note, as triallist no. 7 whipped in a cross for Cockerline, whose acrobatic volley flew wide of goal


A minute later, Galinski played a superb ball over the top of the Rugby defence to find triallist no. 11, who did well to bring the ball under control but scuff his subsequent shot well wide of goal


Cockerline was growing into the game after a quiet start, giving the Rugby defence a tough time with his height and movement. The youngster was also showing willing to run the lines and supporting the two triallists that were flanking him going forwards


Half-time saw the re-introduction of Mendez-Jones to the side, as he came on to play at centre-back in place of Gatter


Rugby made a similarly strong start to the second period as they had done in the first, with Johnson laying the ball off to Rankin on the edge of the penalty area on forty-nine minutes. His shot dipped narrowly over Wren's crossbar with the Hednesford keeper beaten


The substitutions came thick and fast for the Pitmen in the second half, with Sam Griffiths coming on for Nathan Fox on fifty-three minutes, meaning a positional switch that saw Matt Curley play at left-back to accommodate Griffiths


Two minutes later, the Pitmen finally made the breakthrough and opened the game up with a debut strike for Cockerline; triallist no. 7 did well to turn Rugby's Richard Blythe before picking out Cockerline, whose glancing header beat Matt Hill in the Rugby goal and nestled into the far corner of the net


Mendez-Jones did well to preserve the Pitmen's lead two minutes later, making a timely block to divert Johnson's goalbound shot over the crossbar and away for a Rugby corner


This was to prove a crucial block, as the Pitmen doubled their lead with their next attack. A long throw from Griffiths found Reece King lurking at the near post, with the tall midfielder proving his worth in the air once again with a glancing header beyond the reach of Hill to make it 2-0 from close range


The Pitmen made their third change of the afternoon straight after the goal, with Josh Craddock coming on in midfield in place of Jermain Hollis


The Pitmen, however, inadvertently, allowed Rugby back into the game with a moment of miscommunication on sixty-six minutes; a long ball forwards from Hill was flicked on by Rankin. bouncing in front of Mendez-Jones. The defender let the ball run past him, assuming that Wren would be on hand to collect the bouncing ball. However, Wren had stayed inside his penalty area and was too late to react to Johnson darting in between the Hednesford pair to nick the ball away and turn it into the empty net from close range


More changes followed for the Pitmen on seventy-four minutes, with Jed Davies coming on for Joe Fitzpatrick in midfield and triallist no. 15 replacing Galinski at centre-back


Rugby substitute Sam Lockley went close to levelling matters on seventy-five minutes, dragging his shot wide of goal from a good position on the corner of the penalty area


Triallist no. 7 had impressed with his wing play for the Pitmen and was replaced by another triallist on seventy-five minutes wide on the right side of midfield


Triallist no. 11 did well to get on the end of a long ball from Wren on seventy-six minutes, laying the ball off into the path of Cockerline, whose rising shot cleared the crossbar


A through ball from Cockerline set triallist no.11 away on goal three minutes later, with the forward dragging his shot well wide of the far post


With nine minutes remaining, the Pitmen made another change, with Tom Hill coming on for triallist no.11 up front. Four minutes later, the final substitution of the afternoon saw Owen Turner come on in place of the impressive Cockerline


Rugby pushed for an equaliser in the late stages, with Wren making a fine save on eighty-eight minutes to deny the excellent Johnson, turning the striker's goalbound shot away from goal with a superb one-handed save after Lockley's deep cross has been met by Johnson at the far post


A good work-out for both sides, with the Pitmen maintaining their unbeaten start to the pre-season against a spirited Rugby side that should prove good opponents against other sides in the United Counties League. The acquisition of Cockerline adds height and aggression to the Hednesford ranks, with today's encouraging performance from the youngster pleasing to the Hednesford supporters. A trip across the Chase is the next test for Hednesford, as they face Brocton at Silkmore Lane on Thursday night


Hednesford Town: Wren, Curley, Fox (Griffiths 53), Fitzpatrick (Davies 74) Galinski © (Triallist no. 15), Gatter (Mendez-Jones 45), Triallist no. 7 (Triallist no. 20 - 75), King, Cockerline (Turner 85), Hollis (Craddock 61), Triallist no. 11 (Hill 81)   Unused sub: Veiga


Rugby Town: Hill, Rosse, Triallist no. 3, Edwards, Recci, Thomas, Blythe, Evans, Rankin, Johnson, Tulluck.   Subs: Marsden, Lockley


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