Evo-Stik Northern Premier League

Hednesford Town

Durrell (8) (penalty), Harvey (21), Bailey (55)

Rushall Olympic

Daniel (52), Purkiss (70), Walker (71), (90)

(2) 3

(0) 4



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Aaron Rey


Chorley (H) 5.1.13

A second half to forget for the Pitmen saw them relinquish a strong half time lead and allow local rivals Rushall Olympic to claim all three points in a topsy-turvy New Years day encounter at Keys Park. Despite being two up at the break, absolutely woeful defending from the hosts after the break allowed the Pics to snatch victory with a last-minute winner from Dave Walker

Keeper Dan Crane's suspension gave manager Rob Smith a selection headache after his red card at Frickley in December saw him earn a one-match ban. After toying with introducing youth team keeper Sam Hornby, Smith eventually decided on bringing in a more experienced hand, with veteran stopper Steve Dickinson brought in from league rivals Frickley Athletic to cover for Crane on a one-match loan from the Pitmen's league rivals

Rushall's good early season form has gone by the wayside in recent weeks, with the Pics well beaten by Matlock Town on Boxing Day. The pacy Ahmed Obeng created an early opening for former Hednesford midfielder Luke Bottomer on four minutes as he played the winger in after breaking through, only for Bottomer to fire over the bar from the edge of the penalty area

The Pitmen's first real attack of the game led to the opening goal of a crazy afternoon, as Jamey Osborne was clipped by Ramone Stephens as he jinked his way into the penalty area. A penalty was awarded to the hosts, with top scorer Elliott Durrell confidently firing past Chris Gemmell in the Rushall goal

Rushall's defence looked nervous and disjointed against the tricky forward pairing of Neil Harvey and Aaron Rey, with the movement of the pair constantly dragging the Pics defence around the penalty area. At the other end, Obeng and Walker worked the channels well for Rushall, with Francino Francis and Ben Bailey sticking tight to their markers

As befits a local derby, a few wild tackles flew in during a competitive encounter, with Osborne coming off worst in a slash with ex-Pitman Josh Craddock. After receiving treatment, the midfielder continued with a noticeable hobble

A flowing move from the Pitmen on twenty-one minutes opened up the Rushall defence once more, as Rey scampered away from the attentions of former Hednesford left back Grant Beckett. Rey's pin-point cross found the boot of Harvey, who sidefooted past Gemmell from six yards out to give the hosts what looked at the time an unassailable lead

And yet there was a feeling that Rushall could still have a say in the game, as the dangerous Obeng stole in behind the Pitmen two minutes later, only to be denied a shot on goal by a last-ditch tackle from Bailey

Hednesford's grip on the game started to slip away in an eight-minute spell where they were forced into changing their central midfield due to injuries. Dave MacPherson was forced off with a leg injury on twenty-eight minutes, with John Disney coming on in his place. Osborne also had to admit defeat on thirty-five minutes, succumbing to the injury suffered earlier in the game. Michael Lennon came on in his place, meaning Alex Melbourne and Rey had to adapt their previous positions to deputise in midfield

Gemmell was equal to a Rey shot on the half-hour mark, before the Pics stopper watched a Durrell free-kick sail over the crossbar from a favourable position twenty yards from goal

A Durrell corner kick on thirty-eight minutes caught the wind as it drifted in towards goal, requiring a nervy punch clear from Gemmell right under his crossbar, as Francis threatened to head over the goal line

Whatever the Pitmen took back into the dressing room at the break, they clearly forgot to bring back out with them in the second half, as they simply collapsed under pressure from Rushall, both set-pieces and from quick counter-attacks

Another ex-Pitman, Kyle Haynes, struck a warning shot at Dickinson a couple of minutes after the restart, as he was allowed to run from deep and strike a low shot that Dickinson did well to palm away

After forcing successive corner kicks, Rushall took advantage of slack marking from the Hednesford defence to haul themselves back into the game on fifty-two minutes; a Haynes corner was met by old stager Wayne Daniel, with the former Stafford skipper powerfully heading home unmarked from three yards out

The Pitmen looked to have regained the upper hand just two minutes later, as Bailey climbed highest to meet Woolfe's corner with a flick header that found the net via the post

Walker wasted an excellent opportunity to put Rushall back in contention on fifty-nine minutes but headed a Haynes cross horribly wide of goal

Obeng then wasted a gilt-edged chance six minutes later, as he again darted clear of a static Hednesford defence, but fired a good five yards wide of goal despite being one-on-one with Dickinson

The game turned on its head on sixty-nine minutes, as another darting run behind the defence from Obeng was brought to a premature halt by Francis, who deliberately hauled the pacy forward back. Having been booked in the first half, Francis was shown a second yellow and was promptly dismissed

Smith quickly attempted to counter the loss of Francis with the introduction of Sam Barnes, who came on in place of Woolfe

However, the resultant free-kick from Pics substitute Joel Purkiss was to add further misery to the Pitmen's situation, as his effort from twenty yards out swerved beyond the reach of Dickinson and found the net to make it 3-2

This gave Rushall real confidence, as they looked to attack a hesitant, makeshift Hednesford defence at every opportunity. Just a minute later, a ball over the top of the Hednesford defence was missed by Barnes, allowing Walker to steal in a fire past Dickinson to level matters

It was a case of the Pitmen simply hanging on at this point, with so many players simply plugging gaps all over the pitch. Lennon's introduction had seen the striker marooned up front, with him feeding off long balls out of defence and hopeful punts in behind the Rushall defence

The Pitmen did manage to force three successive corner kicks as the game entered the final ten minutes, with Barnes looking to atone for his error by striding forward to meet a Durrell corner on eighty-two minutes; however, the ball fell quickly at his feet, with the centre back lashing his snapshot wide of goal when a bit of composure may have been a better decision

Rushall continued to supply Obeng and Walker with excellent service, with Walker running the inside right position with real effect all game. His shot from the edge of the box with four minutes remaining had Dickinson scrambling across goal, but missed the target by a foot or so

Two minutes later, Dickinson made a smart save to deny Obeng once again, as the striker got goal side of Bailey and fired towards goal

In added time, just as it looked as though the Pitmen had weathered the storm, Rushall struck a late winner - another through ball carved open the Hednesford defence, with Obeng and Walker running clear. Walker picked up the ball and fired past the exposed Dickinson once more to claim a famous victory for the Pics - their first-ever at Keys Park. For the Pitmen, it had been a brutal, costly defeat, and not only with regards lost points - two injuries to key men and yet another suspension to allow for will stretch the small squad as they enter the time of year that historically sees them fall away from the championship reckoning

Hednesford Town: Dickinson, Melbourne , Campion ©, Bailey , Francis  (69), MacPherson (Disney 29), Osborne (Lennon 35), Durrell , Harvey (21), Rey, Woolfe (Barnes 69)      Subs Unused: O’Connor, Craven

Rushall Olympic: Gemmell, Haynes, Beckett, Caines, Daniel ©, Craddock , Stephens (Landell 45), Bragoli, Walker, Obeng, Bottomer (Purkiss 67)       Subs Unused: Clarke, Tolley, Islam

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