Evo-Stik Northern Premier League

Hednesford Town

Washbourne (5), McNaught (17), Brenan (43), Glover (58), McDermott (74)

Skelmersdale United

(3) 5

(0) 0



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George Washbourne


Ilkeston (A) 21.2.17

Under a cloud of sadness, the Pitmen finally got themselves back on track with a comprehensive win over rock-bottom side Skelmersdale United this afternoon


The club had been shocked by the sudden death of club secretary Mick Johnson the previous week as the Pitmen delivered a fitting tribute to the loyal club official with an impeccably observed one minute's silence before kick-off. On the pitch, it was a warm welcome to new signing Nat Brown, with the highly-experienced 35-year-old centre-back joining the Pitmen on a month's loan from Boston United. He came straight into the side in place of the error-prone Gavin Caines, who dropped to the bench. Up front, Tony Clarke was given the nod ahead of Vinny Mukendi, who had blotted his copybook with a late red card on Tuesday night in the defeat to Buxton. David McDermott was restored to the side after recovering from injury, replacing Jordan Fitzpatrick in a midfield role


Skelmersdale's season had been one of real struggle, with the Lancashire side now rooted to the foot of the table after a nightmare run of results that had seen them lose every one of their six games so far in 2017, part of an overall winless run of twelve games dating back to November. This had led to the hard decision to sack long-serving manager Tommy Lawson two weeks ago after ten years in charge of the side. Former Nottingham Forest player Alan Rogers had been appointed as manager in an attempt to lift Skem away from the drop zone. Rogers made one change to the side that had been beaten by Halesowen Town last weekend as Ramirez Howarth replaced Seb Bradshaw at right-back


The Pitmen were quick to dish out more misery on the away side, however, as with the first meaningful attack of the game, they took the lead through George Washbourne. The recent signing from Sutton Coldfield Town seized upon Clarke's knockdown and skipped past a half-hearted challenge before firing home his first goal for the club in the fifth minute


The Pitmen continued to pile forwards as they looked to take advantage of Skem's dreadful form and low confidence, with keeper Chris Cheetham making a great save to deny McDermott after the fit-again midfielder was played clean through on goal in the eighth minute by Tom Thorley

Thorley provided a fine delivery from the left with a corner kick in the eleventh minute that was headed back across goal by Dan Brenan and into the path of Danny Glover, whose header was smuggled away by the Skem defence

The home side's fine start to the game continued three minutes later as Washbourne did well to dispossess Michael Vaughan-Muscat and send the returning Darren Campion away down the left. The former Hednesford skipper sent over a low cross that evaded Clarke and was toe-poked wide by Glover at the far post


The hosts did double their lead on seventeen minutes as they were given too much time and space to make a move down the right, with Kyle Haynes' cross finding Stuart McNaught on the edge of the penalty area. His low drive was enough to find the far bottom corner of the net, deceiving the unsighted Cheetham after it had come through several players in front of him


Brown made his first significant contribution to his new team on twenty-two minutes, making a vital block to deny Howarth a goal for the visitors after he had raced onto a ball from Vaughan-Muscat and taken the ball around Dan Crane. The Hednesford keeper did enough to divert the ball away from goal but only into the path of Jack Watts, who was also denied by Brown's smothering block

Skem looked devoid of much in the way of attacking intent and were limited to wild, long-range efforts by the Pitmen in the opening quarter of the game. The closest they came to a clear-cut chance fell to Max Allen on twenty-nine minutes, who showed quick feet on the edge of the Hednesford penalty area to make space for himself and fire over Crane's crossbar and into the Heath Hayes terrace


Campion nearly scored his first goal since his return to the club in freak circumstances on thirty-three minutes, as his high, drifting cross from the left bounced off the top of the crossbar and out of play


Great wing play from man of the match George Washbourne saw the winger jink his way past a couple of challenges on thirty-eight minutes before crossing towards McDermott, who narrowly failed to connect with the ball at the far post as he slid in


Top scorer Danny Glover was involved in the Pitmen's third goal of the afternoon just before half time, as his fiercely struck free-kick from the edge of the Skelmersdale was spilt by Cheetham, allowing centre-back Brenan to seize upon the loose ball and turn it home from close range for his second goal of the season

It had been a dominant first-half showing from the hosts, who were good value for their commanding lead against a Skem side that appeared to have accepted their fate with little to no quality in the final third of the pitch, having lost star man Max Hazeldine to Ramsbottom United in December


The away side came out with plenty of intention at the start of the second half, forcing successive corner kicks in the opening moments that were well dealt with by the Hednesford defence, looking far more accomplished with Brown giving the orders at the back. Good play from Howarth down the right saw him clip a clever pass into the near post on fifty minutes that Crane did well to claim ahead of Steven Gillespie

Three minutes later, Reece McNally's throw-in was whipped in by Vaughan-Muscat, only for Gillespie to completely miscue his effort and scuff his shot well wide of goal


Vaughan-Muscat himself went close to reducing the deficit on fifty-seven minutes, turning quickly to get past Brenan but drilled his shot over Crane's crossbar from fifteen yards out


A minute later it was all over as a contest for Skem, as Glover got his name on the scoresheet with a fourth goal for the Pitmen. Clarke did well to close down Cheetham, forcing him to inadvertedly playing the ball into the path of Glover, who calmly slotted home for his tenth goal of the season with a simple gift of a finish

The Pitmen sensed more goals against a side now looking to minimise the damage and went close once more on sixty-three minutes as Clarke won a free-kick out on the right which Thorley curled into the far post, where Brown beat Cheetham to the ball but headed into the stand


Skelmersdale's rotten afternoon got even worse in the seventieth minute, as Vaughan-Muscat was shown a red card for an over-the-top challenge on McDermott. After a spell of pushing and shoving, Vaughan-Muscat was sent off with Haynes and Clarke booked for their part in the following bout of handbags as both sets pf players had their say on the midfielder's crude tackle on the winger. McDermott received a lengthy bout of treatment before returning to the fray a few moments later


The Pitmen took full advantage of their numerical superiority with a fifth and final goal on seventy-four minutes, with Clarke winning the ball and playing in McDermott, who scored his first goal since his debut at Workington in November with a simple finish from ten yards out


Hednesford's caretaker management team could now afford the luxury of making changes to their personnel with another game at Ilkeston looming on Tuesday night - Mukendi was the first player brought on before the game could restart as goalscorer McDermott was replaced


Five minutes later, Lewis Wright was given a much-needed run-out after his recent return from injury as he came on for goalscorer McNaught to play on the right flank

Mukendi's height caused the Skem defence issues with nine minutes remaining as he nodded a Thorley cross down into the six-yard box, only for Washbourne to miskick the ball and Glover driving the rebound well wide of the target

Wright's run down the right saw him use Haynes well as an overlap to take McNally out of play as he drove into the Skem penalty area on eighty-three minutes but was wasteful with a wild shot over the angle of bar and post

Callum Roberts making a late appearance in place of Glover with five minutes remaining, coming on for what was his Keys Park debut a full month after joining the club on loan from Shrewsbury Town


There was still time for Clarke to go close to scoring his first-ever goal for the Pitmen, but the former Lichfield City striker was denied once again by a good save from Cheetham as he continued to search for that elusive maiden strike for the club


A morale-boosting five-nil win lifts the spirits at Keys Park after a difficult couple of weeks on and off the pitch moving the Pitmen back into the top half of the table but still eight points off a play-off place. They face Skem's relegation rivals Ilkeston on Tuesday night, visiting the New Manor Ground for the second time this season looking to earn the three points they thought they had previously earned in September before the game was abandoned with only three minutes remaining in highly dubious circumstances

Hednesford Town: Crane, Haynes , Campion, McNaught (Wright 79), Brown, Brenan, Washbourne, Thorley, Glover (Roberts 85), Clarke , McDermott (Mukendi 74)       Subs Unused: Ransome, Caines


Skelmersdale United: Cheetham, Howarth (Shacklock 62), McNally (White 62), Jefferies, Grogan, Mooney, Watts, Vaughan-Muscat  (70), Randell, Gillespie, Allen       Subs Unused: Callaway, Mason, Bradshaw