22.10.2016

Evo-Stik Northern Premier League

Skelmersdale United

Hazeldine (52)

Hednesford Town

Maye (9), Sammons (50), Logan (90)

(0) 1

(1) 3

Attendance

MoTM

Current Form

Next Match

212

Lewis Wright

D D W L W L W L L W

Stamford (A) 29.10.16

The Pitmen get themselves back to winning ways this afternoon, as Liam McDonald's men earn all three points at bottom club Skelmersdale - but not entirely without incident or drama

 

Tuesday night's poor display and subsequent defeat at the hands of lowly Barwell had seen a frustrated McDonald make more changes to his side a she continued to tinker with his squad - Lewis Wright, Ashley Sammons and Jamie Matthews all came back into the XI in place of Jimmy Mutton, Tristian Dunkley and Joel Logan. There was no place in the matchday squad for Dan Crane, who was replaced by Reiss Wagstaff, with youngsters Desean Martin and Remeao Hutton making their first-ever appearances amongst the Hednesford substitutes

 

Opponents Skelmersdale had sunk to the foot of the Evo-Stik Premier League in the past week, having lost twice in the last week - 1-0 to Whitby, 3-0 to Ilkeston - to leave Skem three points from safety at the start of play after a difficult start to their fourth season at step three. It had been a week of firsts for the Pitmen, whose game against Barwell was the first competitive meeting between the two sides in midweek and were also facing Skem for the first time on their history

On a bright but slightly chilly day in Lancashire, Hednesford keeper Lloyd Ransome had his heart in his mouth in the very first minute of the game, as Skem striker Max Hazeldine made an immediate breakthrough the middle of the Hednesford defence. Keeper Ransome came rushing out of his box and fouled Hazeldine as he made his way forwards. The referee recognised the number of defenders were covering behind Ransome and only showed him a yellow card, much to the relief of the former Port Vale man. The resultant free-kick was fired straight into the wall as Skem wasted their early set-piece right on the edge of the Pitmen's penalty area

 

The Pitmen responded well from the early shock and settled into their sharp passing game and started to drag Skelmersdale around the pitch. Sammons tried his luck with an optimistic effort from thirty yards out in the sixth minute, lobbing Skelmersdale keeper Martin Fearon but also narrowly clearing the crossbar with his shot

 

George Carline went even closer to opening the scoring a minute later, as his run and curling shot was deflected inches wide of the left-hand post for a Hednesford corner after Tom Thorley's pass had played Carline into space

 

Neat, incisive play by the Pitmen saw them open up Skelmersdale in the next attack in the ninth minute, allowing Simeon Maye to fire home his second goal of the season as he was put through by Thorley to slide the ball past Fearon from twelve yards out

 

A succession of Hednesford corners followed as Skelmersdale's defence adopted a 'safety first' mentality of clearing the ball at the earliest opportunity. However, the closest the visitors came to adding to their lead came through George Carline's off-target header from Tom Thorley's deep left-wing cross in the fifteenth minute

 

Skelmersdale forced a clutch of corners of their own midway through the half, with Ransome doing well to punch clear twice as the Pitmen confidently cleared their lines against a Skem attack that looked short of confidence and quality

Maye did well to win the ball from Luke Wall on twenty-six minutes and play Cohen Bramall into space down the left-wing, only for the youngster's cross to evade everyone in a red shirt as it skipped wide of the Skelmersdale goal

 

A swift break out from the Pitmen two minute later saw Carline collect the ball twenty-five yards from goal and attempt a lob over Fearon, only for him to lift the ball over the crossbar with a slightly heavy touch

 

Carline continued to waste the good opportunities that came to him in the first half, heading downwards from a Cohen Bramall cross and wide of goal on thirty-three minutes and followed this up on thirty-seven minutes with a driven shot well wide of the target after being played in behind the Skem defence by Sammons

 

The in-form Gurjit Singh had been quiet for the majority of the first half but came close to making his mark on the game just before half-time; after making a run in behind the Skelmersdale defence, Singh cut back inside from the left touchline and fired in a shot that came back off the angle of bar and post with Fearon beaten at his near post

It had been a fine first-half display from the Pitmen, who were providing a fine response to the two poor defeats that had preceded today's game although they were still guilty of missing several good chances to further extend their lead

 

  The visitors continued to dominate proceedings in the early stages of the second half and added to their lead just five minutes after the restart. A cross from Bramall picked out Carline, who clipped the ball into the path of Sammons. Without checking his stride, Sammons unleashed a low volley that flew through a forest of legs and beat Fearon to his right. A fine goal and a contender for goal of the season no doubt with Sammons showing great technique to fire the ball goalwards

 

Many expected the Pitmen to go on and finish the game as a contest, but poor defending allowed Skelmersdale back into the game two minutes later. Maye was the culprit, losing the ball in midfield to Wall after over-playing with the ball at his feet Wall picked the ball up and fired in a shot that Ransome did well to save from close range; however, the loose ball looped up and fell kindly to Hazeldine, who nodded the ball into the empty net unchallenged from close-range

 

The ineffective Matthews was taken off in favour of Dunkley on fifty-eight minutes, with the former Witton Albion man still looking for his first Hednesford goal since joining in the summer despite being handed several good chances to break his duck

 

The Pitmen counted themselves lucky to stay in front on sixty-three minutes, as Benito Lowe headed wide of goal at the far post after a deep left-wing cross from Shaun Holden had found him unmarked at the far post

 

Dunkley's afternoon came to a premature end before it had even started, as the striker was shown a straight red card for stamping on the foot of Tony Rendell as the pair challenged for a loose ball. A silly, petulant challenge from Dunkley that now rules him out for three games 

 

In an attempt to allow for Dunkley's dismissal, the fleet-footed Logan came on in place of Singh to add pace to the attack as the Pitmen looked to play on the counter-attack with more width to their game in former Rochdale man Logan

Flanagan headed well wide from a Tom Thorley corner kick on seventy-four minutes, before a quick break from Skelmersdale sixty seconds later saw Hazeldine scuff his shot straight into the rams of Ransome after catching the Pitmen out at the back

Maye ballooned a shot high and wide of goal with eleven minutes remaining after turning past a challenge from Lowe and lifting his effort from twenty yards out over Fearon's goal

Logan used his pace to good effect on eighty-two minutes, escaping the attention of Phil Mooney down the left but firing straight at Fearon from an angle when a pull-back to the unmarked Carlien may have been a better idea

 

The Pitmen had another let-off with six minutes remaining, as a corner kick from Skelmersdale was flapped at by Ransome, allowing substitute Ben Hodkinson the chance to equalise. However, with the goal gaping, he skied the ball over the crossbar from close range and with that, Skem's best chance to claim a point

This let-off saw the Pitmen break at the other end through Sammons, whose delightful slide-rule pass played Carline clean through on goal. However, the former Redditch man was denied by a late and dubious offside flag from the main stand side of the pitch before he could pull the trigger

 

In the second minute of added time, the visitors sealed the win with a swift counter-attack from the excellent Wright, who slipped the ball through to Logan. The forward broke clear of the Skelmersdale defence and jinked his way past Fearon before clipping the ball into the empty net for a fine counter-attacking goal

 

3-1 appears to be a reasonably comfortable win for the Pitmen, but it had been anything but in a game that they had dominated most of the possession but had failed to see off a resolute Skelmersdale side until the final moments of the game. They take a well-earned break from league action next weekend by making a first-ever trip to Stamford's new Zeeco Stadium to face the Daniels in the first qualifying round of the F.A. Trophy

 

Skelmersdale United: Fearon, Mooney, Holden, O’Riley, Bodie, Rendall, Lowe, Strickland, Hazeldine, Almond, Wall        Subs Unused: Akrigg, Fernandes, Priestly

 

 Hednesford Town: Ransome , Wright, Bramall, Maye, Williams, Flanagan, Singh (Logan 72), Thorley ©, Matthews (Dunkley 58 (68)), Sammons, Carline      Subs Unused: Wagstaff, Hutton, Martin

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