Skrill North

Solihull Moors

Birch (32), Beswick (73)

Hednesford Town

Riley (75), Harvey (83), Francis (87)

(1) 2

(0) 3



Current Form

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Kris Taylor


Altrincham (H) 1.2.14

Another late, late show from Rob Smith's side sees them claim a classic smash-and-grab away win at Solihull Moors this afternoon, moving them to within a point of league leaders North Ferriby United after scoring three goals in the final fifteen minutes of a keenly fought local derby

The Pitmen made the short trip down the M42 to find themselves shorn of arguably their two most influential players ahead of kick-off as both Elliott Durrell and Jamey Osborne failed fitness tests and missed out on starting berths. This saw a swift re-organisation of the side which saw Dave MacPherson and Nathan Blissett return to the side in place of the injured duo

Marcus Bignot's Moors side had been one of the Skrill North's surprise packages so far this term, although recent form had seen them drop out of the play-off places and struggle to stay in contention for a top-five finish. Tuesday night's 3-0 defeat to Guiseley was their first defeat at Damson Park this season, with top scorer Omar Bogle likely to miss the next few games after picking up an injury in last Saturday's defeat at Boston United

With ten minutes remaining before kick-off, an almighty thunderstorm enveloped the Birmingham area, resulting in lightning, hailstones and heavy rain falling on the Solihull pitch. Standing water quickly appeared on the playing surface, making the early exchanges difficult for both sides

Hednesford were first to test the opposition goalkeeper on ten minutes, as loanee Blissett forced Jas Singh in the Moors goal into a comfortable save after dispatching a low drive along the wet surface

The same player went close to opening the scoring seven minutes later, as his glancing header from John Disney's cross flashed inches wide of Singh's near post

The dugout side of the pitch had taken more of the brunt of the wet weather in the first twenty minutes of the game, with puddles forming and the ball holding up on the heavy surface. Referee Mr Meeson had a brief conversation with Smith and Bignot at this point in the game to clarify that the two sides were happy to continue

Solihull had offered little in the way of an attacking threat in the opening quarter of the game, with Bogle looking a real miss up front. However, the poor weather played a major part in the hosts taking the lead on thirty-two minutes, courtesy of burly former Chasetown striker Gary Birch. A deep ball into the Hednesford penalty area dropped in one of the numerous puddles, catching out former Moors man Dan Crane and his defence in the process. Birch seized upon the loose ball to fire home from close range to grab his fourth goal of the season

Hednesford responded with three successive corner kicks as they looked for an immediate response, but determined defending from Stuart Pierpoint and  Michael Nottingham denied the Pitmen a clear sight at goal from Kris Taylor's excellent dead ball delivery

It was the impressive Taylor who had the final effort of the first half for the visitors, picking up the ball some way out and driving a low shot straight at Singh from twenty-five yards

After the inclement weather of the first half had abated, the sunshine emerged in the half time break, allowing the Hednesford supporters to emerge from huddling under the stand to take their place behind Singh's goal to get behind their side in the second period

More set-pieces from the Pitmen threatened the Moors goal in the first five minutes of the second period, with midfielder Tom Thorley firing high over the crossbar as he tried his luck from the edge of the penalty area after Taylor's corner was only partially cleared to him

Another exquisite Taylor corner kick on fifty minutes caught the wind as it drifted in from the Hednesford right, with Jordan Gough alert to the danger in heading the ball off his own goal line as the ball threatened to drift straight in under the crossbar

From the resultant kick, Paul McCone went close to adding to his excellent goal tally since joining the Pitmen, as he headed narrowly wide at the far post after another brilliant ball in from Taylor

The same combination almost conjured up an equaliser for the Pitmen on fifty-five minutes, as Taylor's corner from the right was headed onto the crossbar by McCone, whose looping header beat the despairing dive of Singh, but not the woodwork

Solihull looked to catch the Pitmen on the break as they tried to take advantage of the high pressing up the pitch from the away side; Birch forced Crane into a smart save on fifty-seven minutes, driving straight at the Hednesford keeper from a good position inside the penalty area

Smith made the bold decision to add to his front line on sixty-one minutes, bringing on forward Wayne Riley in place of midfielder Robbie Thompson-Brown. It was to be another excellent decision from Smith, as Riley had a major say in proceedings later in the game

Both McCone and MacPherson made their way into the referee's notepad in quick succession, with MacPherson harshly booked after a coming together with former Hednesford favourite Jay Denny in midfield

Taylor was assuming much of the responsibility normally held by the absent Durrell, including all free kicks inside the Moors half. On sixty-eight minutes, his curling, goalbound free-kick from twenty yards out was deflected narrowly wide of the left-hand post by Pierpoint for a Hednesford corner

The Pitmen were, however, undone again by Solihull on seventy-three minutes, as Birch turned creator for midfielder Ryan Beswick. A deep cross from the Moors left found Birch in acres of space at the far post, with the big striker neatly cushioning a header back across goal and into the path of Beswick, who slotted home

Despite this potentially killer blow, the Pitmen rolled up their sleeves and got themselves back in contention two minutes later through Riley, who had impressed since coming on with his willingness to chase the ball and close the Solihull defence down. A delightful ball through from Neil Harvey sent Riley on his way, with the ball sitting up nicely for the forward as he fired across Singh and into the corner of the net with a powerful half volley to reduce the deficit with just fifteen minutes remaining

The Pitmen were thankful to skipper Darren Campion in keeping them in the game on eighty minutes, as he hacked a Solihull effort off his own goal line as Moors pressed for a killer third goal

With seven minutes remaining, another corner kick from Taylor was once again right on the money as he sent over another inch-perfect cross into the six-yard box. Harvey timed his run and jump to perfection, powerfully heading home at the near post to level the game

Suddenly, the Pitmen had all the belief as Moors' confidence visibly drained away with every minute that passed. An incredible comeback was completed with three minutes remaining, as Taylor's corner from the right somehow found it's way through to Francino Francis, who had the simple task of turning the ball home at the far post from close range for his eighth goal of the season

Cue wild celebrations from both fans and management alike, as the Pitmen turned a 2-0 deficit around in the final minutes for the second time this season, having done the same at home to Leamington in August. Harvey was immediately taken off and replaced by Ben Bailey as Smith threw on another defender to ensure his side saw out the final moments without drama

Another fantastic win that book-ends a phenomenal week for the Pitmen; two wins earned in very different circumstances, but both done with an element of theatre and ones that will live long in the memory. If nothing else, people are certainly getting their money's worth from watching the Pitmen at present, who are back within a point of old foes Ferriby after the Villagers once again fluffed their lines at home to AFC Telford. Next up - a visit from another side challenging for a play-off position, as Altrincham visit Keys Park next Saturday for the first time since February 2000

Solihull Moors: Singh, Pierpoint ©, Gough, Birley (Knights 86), Nottingham, Elvins, English, Denny, Birch, Beswick, Taylor (Wint 62)      Subs Unused: Blackwood, Langdon, Fleet


Hednesford Town: Crane, Disney, Campion ©, McCone , Francis, Taylor, MacPherson , Thompson-Brown (Riley 62), Harvey (Bailey 89), Blissett, Thorley        Subs Not Used: Osborne, Durrell, Woolfe

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