F.A. Trophy 1st Round

Solihull Borough

Barry (48), Pearson (80)

Hednesford Town

McMahon (77)

(0) 2

(0) 1



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Ross Dyer



Nuneaton Borough (A) 26.12.05

The Pitmen crash out of the F.A. Trophy at the first round stage this afternoon as step four hosts Solihull grab a late winner to defeat their higher division opponents, who were forced to field no less than six teenagers by the end of the game

Tuesday night had seen Steve Anthrobus's side set up this afternoon's game after a thrilling 4-2 win over league rivals Moor Green. The intervening days since the game had seen midfielder Rob Heath depart Keys Park, with Anthrobus bringing in former West Bromwich Albion man Mark Briggs as Heath's replacement. Briggs was one of two changes to the side from midweek as he replaced the injured Lee Williams, whilst Danny Scheppel came back into the side in midfield for the now-departed Heath

Solihull - relegated from the Southern Premier League in the summer to the Western division - had been sitting on the fringes of the play-off places for much of the campaign so far without really challenging the top eight; the Reds stuck with the same XI that had drawn 1-1 at Bedworth United last Saturday, looking to bridge the two-division gap on the sides in today's derby game

It was a sense of deja vu for the loyal Hednesford supporters as they entered Damson Park for today's game, having witnessed the Pitmen's win over Moor Green in midweek on the same pitch, with the Moors currently ground-sharing with Boro; it was the Pitmen's fourth visit to the ground in 2005, having beaten Solihull 4-0 in March 2005 on their way to promotion last term

The Pitmen made a strong start to the game and went close to opening the scoring in the third minute as Steve Brannan made progress down the left-wing and crossed for Andy Bell, who stooped to reach the ball and head inches wide of Solihull goalkeeper Justin Bray's near post

New boy Briggs assumed some of the set-piece responsibilities in the absence of Williams and whipped in a free-kick from the left-hand side of the Solihull penalty area that was glanced wide of the far post by Tom Marshall's off-cue header

Great pace from Ross Dyer in the eleventh minute saw the youngster skip past Simo Kayo Berton down the right-wing and sent over a low cross into the six-yard box that Bell turned goalwards, only for a combination of Bray and skipper Martin Hier to clear the danger

Three minutes later, the busy Dyer made another mazy run down the right once more as he drifted inside from the touchline and slipped the ball through to Bell, who took a couple of touches before losing control at the vital moment and allowed Gary Moran to make a timely clearance

Solihull's first chance to test Adam Jenkins came in the eighteenth minute as Jamie Petty exchanged passes with Dave Pearson before driving into the Hednesford penalty area and past the lunging tackle of Ross Adams, but lashed his angled drive over the crossbar 

Midway through the first half, Ian Wright's header dropped into the path of Dean Wellington, who chipped the ball into the penalty area and into the path of top scorer Justin Marsden, whose first-time effort whistled just wide of Jenkins' post from fifteen yards out


 In the twenty-fifth minute, Wright and Marsden clashed just outside the Hednesford penalty area as they challenged for a high ball, resulting in the pair both hitting the deck as a result of the coming-together. Marsden was stretchered off with what was to prove to be a broken ankle, whilst Wright gingerly got back to his feet after intensive treatment from Don Drakeley

Petty's corner kick three minutes later was cleared by Marshall back to the taker, whose return ball to the far post was headed downwards by Pearson. His effort was palmed away by Jenkins before Mark Branch completed the clearance

The experienced Wright was forced to admit defeat in his attempts to shake off his earlier injury and was taken off on thirty-three minutes in favour of teenager Danny Harvey

Good play from Briggs on thirty-five minutes saw the midfield man win the ball from Craig Dutton in the centre circle and supply Bell with a fine through ball. The striker flicked the ball into the path of Dyer, who sliced his left-footed shot wide of goal from the edge of the Solihull penalty area

Moran's right-wing cross on thirty-eight minutes was chested down by Pearson to Petty, who arrived late to get on the end of the pass but shanked his effort high over the crossbar

With three minutes of the first half remaining, Jenkins booted the ball deep into the Solihull half, where Bell did well to pull the ball under his control and strike a firm effort at goal with his right boot that was easily claimed by Bray

After an initially bright start to the game, the Pitmen had lost their way somewhat in the final half-hour of the first period as chances had become limited for the step two side; Wright's early substitution had affected the Pitmen's confidence and flow, with the young side struggling to create clear-cut openings

Two minutes after the restart and with Anthrobus's words still ringing in their ears, the Pitmen made a positive start to proceedings and went close to opening the scoring as Adams sent Bell away down the right-wing, crossing for Dyer who sidefooted the ball into the arms of Bray from eight yards out

A minute later, Dyer's miss was brought into stark perspective as Solihull took the lead with their first chance of the second period; Danny Hall whipped in a deep free-kick from the left and found the head of Peter Barry, who headed past Jenkins from close-range


The hosts were on top and could have doubled their lead on fifty-two minutes as a flowing move through the centre of the pitch saw former Rugby United Dutton play Pearson in on goal, only for a late offside flag saw referee Mr Coote pull the striker back before he could slot the ball past Jenkins

On fifty-five minutes, Petty's run down the left saw him get the better of Harvey as he skipped past the centre-back en route to goal, only for a block by Jenkins at his near post to deny the midfield man a goal

Three minutes later, Branch's long throw was controlled well by Dyer, turned past Moran and pulled the ball back to the incoming Danny Scheppel, whose rising shot was saved by Bray

Just after the hour mark, Harvey's up and under was brought down by Grant Beckett, who was allowed time and space to advance into the Solihull penalty areas before drilling his shot over the crossbar from ten yards out

Anthrobus elected to make a double change for the visitors on sixty-three minutes as top scorer Paul McMahon came on for the ineffective Scheppel and Craig Marshall replaced the hardworking but luckless Bell


Craig Marshall had an immediate impact on the game as he was shown a yellow card within two minutes of coming on after bringing Barry down just inside the Solihull half

On sixty-seven minutes, Pearson held off Harvey's attention as he was played into the penalty area by Dutton, turning past the substitute but pulling his shot wide of goal

Four minutes later, Briggs curled in a free-kick from the right-hand side of the Solihull penalty area that was met by a full-blooded header from Tom Marshall, only for the ball to skip just over the crossbar

The Pitmen thought that they should have been awarded a penalty kick in the seventy-sixth minute as McMahon turned past Hier as he was played into the box by Brannan and appeared to be held by the Borough skipper. Despite the striker's pleas, Mr Coote was unconvinced and waved away the Pitmen's protests. Play continued as Solihull struggled to clear the ball, with Branch seizing upon it and drilling in a low shot that Bray turned away for a corner kick

From Briggs' corner kick, the hosts were caught ball-watching as the midfielder's cross drifted over the heads of the men on red and fell at the feet of McMahon, who hooked the ball past Bray at the far post from six yards out to level the tie once more. Without the striker's regular goal contributions this season, the Pitmen would have been in a dire situation, such is McMahon's valuable return from his limited appearances this term

However, the visitors were level for just three minutes as Solihull struck what to prove to be the winner with ten minutes of the game remaining; more neat play in midfield from Dutton and Wellington played Pearson in on goal, with the striker getting goal side of Harvey before slotting the ball past Jenkins from ten yards out

With it all to do once more, the Pitmen spent the remainder of the game camped inside the Solihull half in search of an equaliser that would earn them a replay at Keys Park this coming Tuesday. Brannan stung the hands of Bray on eighty-two minutes as he tip-toed his way into the hosts' penalty area before getting his shot away

On eighty-five minutes, Beckett quickly took a free-kick down the left and played Branch into acres of space, with Branch's deep cross volleyed over the crossbar by Dyer's rising shot

The impressive Dyer made another marauding run down the right flank with three minutes remaining, taking on Berton once more and holding off his challenge before driving a shot wide of goal from an angle

Solihull did well to soak up the late Hednesford pressure and almost grabbed a third goal on the counter-attack in the first minute of added time; three successive Hednesford corner kicks were eventually cleared by the hosts, with substitute Nav Arshad breaking down the right and playing Pearson clear on goal. Despite the Pitmen appealing in vain for offside against the striker, the play continued and Jenkins was forced into making a fine save to deny the Solihull man a second goal of the afternoon

On paper, this will appear to be something of a shock with a step four side defeating a step two side, but the Pitmen can take plenty of positives from this and Tuesday night's performance when you consider the ludicrously young age of some of the Hednesford players; the defence that finished the game had an average age of nineteen years old, whilst the likes of Brannan, Dyer and Craig Marshall up front are all nineteen or younger. Anthrobus will most likely be given at least one more chance to prove his credentials on Boxing Day as Hednesford make the short trip across the A5 to face local rivals Nuneaton Borough at Manor Park in what will be a tough test of this young squad's resolve

Solihull Borough: Bray, Moran, Berton, Hall, Barry, Hier ©, Wellington, Dutton, Pearson, Marsden (Arshad 25), Petty      Subs Unused: Grady, Crowley, Hayes

Hednesford Town: Jenkins, Adams, Branch, Briggs, Wright © (Harvey 33) T. Marshall, Brannan, Scheppel (McMahon 63), Dyer, Bell (C. Marshall 63 ), Beckett     Subs Unused: Biddle, Whittle