21.9.2004

F.A. Cup 1st Qualifying Round Replay

Hednesford Town

Charie (83), Anthrobus (90)

Rugby United

J. Williams (42)

(0) 2

(1) 1

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MoTM

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Matt Turner

L W D W D W L W D W

 

Chesham United (H) 25.9.04

The Pitmen leave it late once more to finally move into the second qualifying round of the F.A. Cup as two goals in the final seven minutes finally saw off the challenge of league rivals Rugby United

There were two changes to the Hednesford side that had scored twice late on at Butlin Road on Saturday to earn tonight's replay, with Alex Gibson replacing the injured Ross Adams and Mark Branch making his full debut for the Pitmen in place of the suspended Craig Dean at left-back

Rugby were forced into one change of their own from Saturday's starting XI as Rory Squire was ruled out due to a knock picked up in the first game and was replaced by Gary Redgate. This saw a reshuffle of the pack as Andy Commander moved to full-back and Jamie Williams moved into midfield

On a cool evening at Keys Park, the Piutmen started strongly and Matt Turner created the game's first opening in the fourth minute as he cut inside from the left-wing and drifted past Gary Moran down the byeline. With both Andy Bell and Leon McSweeney to aim at, Turner elected to take a touch too many and ran the ball out of play rather than pull the ball back into the path of either striker

In the eighth minute, McSweeney picked up a Lee Williams pass and shot at goal from eighteen yards out, only for a timely block from Adam Hart to turn the ball away from goal for a corner kick

At the other end, Rugby's first chance came in the twelfth minute as Jamie Williams whipped in a good cross from the left which Robbie Beard could not quite reach; the ball came to Moran who delivered a cross back into the box for Beard, but he could not get enough power on his header and it did not overly trouble Ryan Young, who made an easy save

Turner - making his last appearance before starting a two-match ban - made another forceful run into the Rugby penalty area three minutes later but drove his resulting shot over the crossbar

Brindley's positioning denied Rugby a goal on nineteen minutes as he blocked Justin Marsden's goalbound shot with his left leg as he diverted the livewire striker's shot wide for a corner kick

The visitors came closest to opening the scoring on twenty-three minutes as former Pitman Steve Evans whipped in a deep free-kick that was met by skipper Craig Herbert, whose effort beat Young but was hacked off the line by the alert presence of Lee Barrow

Turner was proving a slippery customer for United with his tricky runs coming in off the left flank and made another jinking move on twenty-six minutes as he came past Moran and Herbert but fired a rasping low shot just wide of Jason Pearcey's far post from fifteen yards out

Saturday's villain Pearcey was on hand to make his first meaningful contribution of the game on the half-hour mark as he made a good save low down to his left to deny McSweeney after the in-form striker had seized upon a mix-up between Commander and Hart to take the ball into the Rugby penalty area

Marsden and Beard linked up well on thirty-four minutes as they opened up the one-paced Hednesford back line with a quick piece of play, culminating in Beard skewing his left-footed effort high and wide of Young's goal with a shot on the run

Rugby were very much in the ascendency at this point and were causing the hosts constant problems with their pace and movement; Evans jinked his way to the byeline on thirty-eight minutes and stood a ball up to the far post that was headed into the side-netting by the incoming Jamie Williams and he got goal side of Gibson

It was Jamie Williams that was to give the away side the lead three minutes before half-time as Marsden played Moran into space down the right-wing, crossing for Beard to flick the ball on into the path of the incoming Williams, who poked the ball past Young at the far post to give the Valley the lead

In the final minute of the first half, Turner's fine run and cross towards Bell was cut out promptly by the covering Hart, who nipped in ahead of the youngster to deny him a certain goal from six yards out

The Pitmen had been lax at both ends of the pitch in a disjointed first half and Rugby could lay claim to being deservedly in front after looking the more dangerous in the final third

Two minutes after the restart, McSweeney went on a fifty-yard run down the fright, twisting and turning past Commander before drilling in a low angled shot that was well saved by Pearcey

Beard picked the ball up from Craig Dutton down the right on fifty minutes, cutting inside and crossing towards Marsden but seeing Young make a save at his near post

The Pitmen had seen enough and assistant manager Anthrobus elected to bring himself on two minutes later to add more physical presence to their front line and make it a 4-3-3 formation as he replaced the unusually quiet Anthony Maguire

Beard looked to put the contest to bed for the visitors on fifty-five minutes as he turned inside Lee Williams and unleashed a powerful long-range effort that was well held by Young

On the hour mark, Anthrobus went close to grabbing his first goal of the season as he met Turner's flighted ball with a full-blooded header that was saved well by Pearcey

McSweeney and Bell linked up once more four minutes later, with Bell cajoling Commander into fouling him just outside the Rugby penalty area. Lee Williams whipped in the resultant ball and curled it into the six-yard box, where Barrow missed his header by a matter of inches for what would have been a simple header home

The hosts were very much playing route one football at this point with Anthrobus's introduction and a long, raking ball forward from Gibson on sixty-eight minutes was headed over the crossbar by the big man, stretching to reach the ball at the far post

Rugby continued to push for the second goal and Dutton went within a foot or so of handing them a goal to put daylight between the sides as his twenty-yard shot cleared Young's crossbar by a matter of inches

On seventy-four minutes, Dutton's quickly-taken free-kick found Marsden in space on the left - his slide-rule pass played Beard clean through on goal, only for an offside flag on the main stand side to pull him back as he shaped to shoot

Chris Gray - another player who had looked unusually subdued for the Pitmen - was taken off a minute later as Damien Charie came on to make it a four-man attack for the increasingly desperate hosts

Jon Douglas - on for the visitors - was involved with thirteen minutes remaining as he laid the ball off to the overlapping Jamie Williams, but the auxiliary midfield man got a bad contact on the ball and scuffed it well wide of Young's right-hand post

Charie's introduction seemed to lift the players and fans, with the Pitmen spending more and more time inside the Rugby third of the pitch as they looked to force extra time. Brindley headed over from a Williams corner kick on seventy-nine minutes, followed a minute later by McSweeney mis-kicking Turner's cross straight at Pearcey

The Pitmen's growing pressure finally told with seven minutes remaining as Turner won a free-kick forty yards from goal, allowing Lee Williams to swing in another one of his fine balls into the box and find Charie, whose looping header was enough to deceive Pearcey and land in the far corner of the net

The momentum was quickly swinging the way of the hosts, who had looked out of the game for large parts of the game but suddenly it was them that looked to win the game inside ninety minutes; With three minutes remaining, Turner's out-swinging free-kick was met by Barrow, whose header was blocked by the forest of Rugby legs in front of him

With the very real prospect of extra-time looming and Rugby seemingly hanging on for the additional thirty minutes so they could regroup, the hosts grabbed the crucial winner in the final minute of normal time as Anthrobus put his side into the next round, leaping to reach another fine delivery from Williams out on the right to head past Pearcey from six yards out and spark mass celebrations around the ground

It had been a topsy-turvy ninety minutes, much like Saturday's first game, with Rugby perhaps a little unlucky to be knocked out after being the better of the sides over the two games. However, the Pitmen's character and spirit has shone through over the last four games and they will now travel to local rivals Sutton Coldfield Town in the second qualifying round on Saturday 2nd October

Hednesford Town: Young, Gibson, Branch, Barrow ©, Brindley, L. Williams, Maguire (Anthrobus 52), Gray (Charie 75), Bell, McSweeney, Turner    Subs Unused: Beckett, Brannan, Evans

Rugby United: Pearcey, Moran, Commander, Hart, Herbert ©, Redgate (Douglas 70), J. Williams, Dutton, Beard, Marsden, Evans       Subs Unused: Charley, Pearson, Thomas, Wesley