Vanarama National League North

Hednesford Town

Solihull Moors

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Matt Regan


Bradford (Park Avenue) (A) 21.11.15

What a difference a fortnight makes! Hednesford turn in arguably their best team performance of the season today to earn a point against high-flying Solihull Moors at Keys Park and keep their first clean sheet of the season at the sixteenth time of asking

Having had a week off league duties due to Gainsborough Trinity's continued involvement in the F.A. Cup, the Pitmen returned to action desperately looking for a run of form to keep them away from the relegation trapdoor. A midweek friendly win at Heath Hayes had given Bernard McNally's side valuable game time ahead of this afternoon's clash, with McNally handing young striker Danico Johnson a first start in place of Kyle Perry as a consequence. Paul Ennis was restored to the starting line-up in place of the suspended Phil Trainer, with Andy Todd dropping back into midfield to cover for the experienced Trainer

Solihull had lived up to their early billing as potential league champions so far this term, topping the league for a spell and remaining in the top four all season long. Marcus Bignot had spent Moors' improved budget well over the summer months, bringing in several Nuneaton Town players to add quality to their ranks. They arrived at Keys Park off the back of a fourteen match unbeaten league run, looking to extend it further against an inconsistent Hednesford team

Looking refreshed after their mini-break from action, the Pitmen made a flying start to the game with Adam Thomas having his low shot saved by on-loan Aston Villa keeper Ben Siegrist

Ahmed Obeng and Johnson gave Solihull an early example of their pace and power by dragging Liam Daly and Theo Streete out of their centre back positions to chase the ball in wide positions

The closest Solihull got towards the Hednesford goal in the opening quarter of the game was a tame effort from Michael Nottingham, whose ball in from a Darryl Knights ball rifted harmlessly out for a goal kick

Both sides were guilty of not making the most of the numerous set-pieces that were stacking up during the first half, with Hednesford looking unusually comfortable at the back as they nullified the threat of the normally dangerous Stefan Moore

Indeed, the Pitmen created the clearest opening of the match after a quick breakaway on twenty-nine minutes, with Johnson doing well to mick the ball and lay it into the path of Obeng. The fleet-footed striker wasted a great chance to score, however, and fired over the crossbar from fifteen yards out

A ball across the face of the Hednesford penalty area from Nottingham somehow missed everyone in a yellow and blue shirt a minute later, as the cross appeared to catch Moore, Knights et al on the back foot as it drifted across Crane's six-yard box

The impressive Johnson further added to his growing reputation with the Hednesford supporters by creating a great opening for himself on thirty-seven minutes; after robbing Daly of the ball, Johnson held off the challenge of two Moors defenders before firing in a shot at goal from an acute angle. The ball crashed off the foot of the post and out of play, although Siegrist had it covered at his near post

Ben Bailey - making his 300th appearance for the club today - wasted a further chance to give the Pitmen an advantage at the break, as an Ennis free kick on forty-two minutes was headed over the crossbar by the Hednesford skipper

The rain that had been teaming down at Keys Park lifted slightly at the break, with the floodlights crackling into action as the afternoon set in early.

Solihull made an authoritative start to the second period, stroking the ball around with purpose but failing to test Dan Crane in the Hednesford goal

It was the home side who took the game to their opponents as the half wore on, with chances falling to several Hednesford players as the half wore on. On fifty-seven minutes, a low drive from Tom James was saved down to his right by Siegrist after the left-back had made a move into a pocket of space just outside the Solihull penalty area

Siegrist made a superb stop to deny the Pitmen on sixty-three minutes, making a flying save to push Adam Thomas's shot over the crossbar for a Hednesford corner kick

A minute later, Sean Williams went even closer to giving the Pitmen a deserved lead, as his long-range effort looked destined for the top corner of the net, only to be denied by the right-hand post of Siegrist's goal

Siegrist was breathing a sigh of relief on seventy minutes, as he raced out of his goal to challenge a bouncing ball with Andy Todd and only succeeded in tackling the midfielder illegally just outside the box. With a number of Solihull players tracking back, the referee awarded the Pitmen a free-kick and a yellow card for the goalkeeper

With eight minutes remaining, the burly presence of Kyle Perry was called upon by the Pitmen as he came on in place of the tiring Johnson up provide a focal point to the attack alongside Ennis and Obeng

Two minutes later, Todd was given a well-earned rest as he was replaced by the considerably younger legs of Kennedy Digie

Both sides will feel that it was a well-earned point apiece, with Hednesford finally able to toast a clean sheet for the first time this season in the league. The hosts will feel that they had the better of the chances, with Solihull enjoying more of the possession without doing much in the final third of the pitch. A difficult-looking trip to Bradford (Park Avenue) will be another severe test of the Pitmen's brittle confidence next weekend, as they look for another clutch of points to move into the safety of mid-table

Hednesford Town: Crane, T. Williams, James, Bailey ©, Regan, Todd (Digie 85), S. Williams, Thomas, Johnson (Perry 83), Obeng, Ennis     Subs Unused: Disney, Robinson, Ransome

Solihull Moors: Siegrist , Nottingham, Franklin, Daly, Streete, Dean, Armson, Byrne, Moore, Beswick, Knights (Asante 71)      Subs Unused: Bignot, Cowan, English, Gittings

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