19.4.2018

Evo-Stik Northern Premier League

Hednesford Town

King (60)

Rushall Olympic

Waldron (78)

(0) 1

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(0) 1

Attendance

MoTM

Current Form

Next Match

229

James Lawrie

L W L D L L D L D D

Mickleover Sports (H) 21.4.18

A glorious spring evening at Keys Park saw a sparse crowd witness a keenly-contested derby between the Pitmen and Rushall, with both sides settling for a point apiece after second-half goals from Reece King and Dan Waldron

 

Coming off the back of an impressive draw at play-off chasing Grantham Town on Tuesday night, manager Rob Smith made five changes to his threadbare and exhausted side, with one eye on Saturday's looming home game with Mickleover Sports. James Wren returned in goal after being passed fit, whilst Ben Bailey had completed his suspension and came straight back into the side in place of Tom Thorley, taking the captaincy ff the midfielder in the process. Joe Fitzpatrick came in for Louis Harris in midfield, whilst Danny Glover was recalled at the expense of debutant Tom Wheeldon. James Fitzgibbon was handed a first start in a while in place of the suspended Charlie Gatter in the final change to the side

 

Rushall's recent form had seen them top the league's form table, rising from the bottom four in recent weeks to move into a comfortable mid-table position. Former Hednesford manager Liam McDonald named former Hednesford pair Simeon Maye and Gurjit Singh in their starting line-up, alongside former Wolves youngster Sam Whittall and the experienced Richard Brodie up front for the Pics

 

 An early James Lawrie corner kick created an opening for the Pitmen in the third minute, as an inswinging corner was flicked on at the near post and into the feet of Glover, whose powerful half-volley from fifteen yards out arrowed just over the crossbar

 

 Anthony Dwyer felt that he was unfairly manhandled to the ground by Brian Smikle in the eighth minute, but the game continued despite the winger's protests

 

Dwyer was involved again for the hosts three minutes later, doing well to beat his man out on the right wing and dribbling the ball along the goal line, before losing control of the ball and allowing Rushall keeper Matt Hill to scoop the ball up

 

The Pitmen's bright start to the game continued in the first fifteen minutes, with skipper for the night Bailey rising highest to meet a Lawrie cross from the right wing, only to divert his weak effort well wide of Hill's left-hand post

 

 Rushall's first opening of the game came in the eighteenth minute, as neat build-up play saw the ball played through to Waldron, who managed to escape the attention of the Hednesford defence. His cut-back found Brodie, who got to the ball ahead of Bailey but could not turn his effort goalwards and headed tamely across goal and into the arms of Wren

 

Hill was called upon to keep his side in the game midway through the first half, as he produced a stunning close-range stop to deny Lawrie, whose diving header from Fitzgibbon's downward header was brilliantly turned away by the Pics stopper

 

A tricky run from Singh on twenty-four minutes saw him test Wren's reflexes, with the Hednesford keeper needing two attempts to field the bobbling shot from the former Hednesford and Kidderminster striker

 

Two long throws from Bailey caused problems for the Rushall defence in successive minutes, with the second ball in falling to Fitzpatrick on the edge of the penalty area. However, the young midfielder was well off target with his effort and skied his shot high over the crossbar

 

 It had been a thoroughly entertaining opening half hour, with both clubs keen to 'have a go' at winning the game on the excellent Keys Park surface. A marauding run from Matt Curley on thirty minutes saw him drive in a shot from the edge of the penalty area that forced Hill into another fine save to his left-hand side

 

 Another Ben Bailey throw two minutes later caused more issues for the Pics defence, with King this time getting on the end of another monster throw from the skipper but glancing his header wide of the far post

 

 Lawrie thought he had been given a penalty kick on thirty-seven minutes, as he was felled by full-back AJ Adelekan. However, the referee deemed the challenge to be inches outside the area and awarded a free-kick to the Pitmen, rather than the spot-kick Lawrie was expecting

 

Bailey was again heavily involved at the other end of the pitch for the Pitmen on forty-two minutes, heading a Lawrie corner just wide of the post after being left unchallenged to head towards goal by Rushall

 

 Lawrie was the first player to have a goalscoring opportunity in the second half, trying his luck with an inswinging free-kick from nearly thirty yards out that was easily fielded by Hill

 

 Two minutes later, Callam Mendez-Jones did well to smuggle the ball from Rushall in a dangerous position and slipped the ball through to Glover, whose low driven shot from a tight angle drifted just wide of the far post

 

 Yet another Lawrie corner created an opening for the hosts on fifty-nine minutes, as his ball in was volleyed back across goal by Glover and forced Whittall to dive in and head the goalbound shot away for another corner kick

 

From the resultant Lawrie corner - floated in towards the far post - King rose highest to powerfully and firmly head beyond Hill and the crowd of players around him to give the Pitmen a lead they richly deserved for their attacking efforts

 

The Hednesford goal forced McDonald into a bold double change, with the disappointing Brodie replaced by Lewis Archer and Adelekan making way for Daniel Dubidat

 

A great run from the flying Dwyer saw him skip past a couple of challenges down the right wing on seventy minutes, but his inviting cross was too far in front of anyone in a white shirt and drifted out of play

 

This was to be Dwyer's final involvement in the game, as he was taken off three minutes later as the Pitmen reshuffled their pack with Thorley's introduction into midfield

 

 Wren made his first save of the second half on seventy-six minutes, making a fine catch to deny Whittall after Josh Webb's deep free-kick into the Hednesford penalty area was headed goalwards by the Rushall skipper

 

 Rushall suddenly started to up their game, sensing a tiredness to the Hednesford players as the game entered the final fifteen minutes, and grabbed themselves an equaliser with twelve minutes left; Archer did well to keep the ball alive down the right wing, looping a cross towards the far post. Waldron did well to rise highest and head the ball home, despite the attentions of Curley

 

 Straight from the kick-off, Rushall almost turned the game on it's head, as Webb raced onto a through ball and held off the attentions of Mendez-Jones, only to be denied a possible winner by the legs of Wren from six yards out

 

The Pitmen made their first change of the evening with ten minutes remaining, as Harris came on in midfield to replace the tiring Fitzpatrick, who had missed Tuesday night's draw with an injury

 

Both sides struggled to create clear openings in the final moments, as a lack of stamina and the culmination of so many games in such a short space of time became obvious as simple passes were over-hit and/or misplaced. Joey Butlin was given a late run-out in place of the tiring Fitzgibbon with two minutes to go but was given little time to win the game for the Pitmen

 

In the context of the opposition, two draws against a play-off chasing team and the division's form team are reasonable results. However, having dominated the first seventy-five minutes of this evening's game, the Pitmen will be smarting at not completing a league double over their local rivals when they were there for the taking. Attention turns to Saturday's dead rubber against another mid-table side, Mickleover Sports, in what will be the Pitmen's final home league game of the campaign

 

Hednesford Town: Wren, Curley, Bailey ©, Mendez-Jones, King, Dwyer (Thorley 73), Fitzpatrick  (Harris 80), Glover, Lawrie, Fitzgibbon (Butlin 88)    Sub Unused: Wheeldon, Veiga

 

Rushall Olympic: Hill, Webb, Adelekan (Dubidat 67), Smikle, Hull, Whittall ©, Waldron, Hawker, Brodie (Archer 67), Maye, Singh.  Subs Unused: Burroughs, Paisley, Butterfield

 

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