Vanarama Conference North

Hednesford Town

Peers (25), Francis (85)

Solihull Moors

Daly (52)

(1) 2

(0) 1



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Francino Francis


AFC Fylde (A) 30.8.14

In monsoon-like conditions this Bank Holiday Monday, Hednesford chalked up their second home win in a row over a disappointing Solihull Moors side as Rob Smith's side made light of their severe injury issues to move into the top half of the Vanarama Conference North table

The Pitmen's injury crisis had deepened to quite desperate levels over the weekend, with Tom Thorley and Glenn Walker joining James Hurst, Steve Diggin and Paul Sullivan on the injury list. Several players were also carrying knocks and niggles from the draw at Gloucester City on Saturday, with Darren Campion, Jamey Osborne and Kris Taylor all playing through the pain. There were full debuts for teenagers Dominic Dell and Tom Peers, joining fellow teenager Jamie Ashmore in moving up from the bench to make up the numbers. Old warhorse Dave MacPherson returned to the substitute's bench after agreeing to help out the Pitmen once more

Solihull's season had mirrored the Pitmen's after four games, with one win, one draw and two defeats. Marcus Bignot had added pockets of quality to his squad in the summer, with former Hednesford loanee Tony Breeden joining from league rivals Leamington alongside giant defender Liam Daly to shore up a defence that had been solid during the first half of last season but lost it's way during 2014. On the bench, there was the familiar name of ex-Aston Villa and Walsall striker Darren Byfield, who had returned to the club recently after a spell at relegated Tamworth

With the rain lashing down on the Keys Park turf at kick-off, Solihull made a bright start to the game and almost capitalised on a slip from Paul McCone in the first minute. A cross from Richard Taundry was flicked goalwards by Daly, requiring an intervention by Campion to hack the ball away from goal for a Solihull corner

Osborne - playing despite continued pain from the dislocated shoulder he suffered at the end of last term - had the Pitmen's first sight on goal on seven minutes, as Taylor's corner kick found it's way to the feet of the midfielder. Osborne's powerful low drive lacked the accuracy needed to test Breeden however and flew wide of the target

A neat move through the middle involving Owen Story, Aaron Brown and the long-serving Junior English opened up the Hednesford defence on fourteen minutes, with Campion once again defying his hamstring problems to throw himself in front of the ball and divert it wide of goal

The young Peers - impressive in his cameo role as a substitute at Gloucester on Saturday - linked up well with Danny Glover a minute later, exchanging passes with his strike partner before drilling in a shot that Breeden turned behind for a corner kick. From Taylor's resultant corner, Glover headed well wide of goal, under pressure from Daly

Defender Paul McCone added to the Pitmen's ever-lengthening injury concerns on twenty-one minutes, coming off worst in a midfield challenge and limping off a minute later after treatment. Ben Bailey took his place in central defence alongside Francis

The Pitmen's positive approach to the game reaped its reward on twenty-five minutes, with Peers scoring his first goal for the club with a well-taken effort. A suicidal square pass between Rob Elvins and Daly saw Peers nip in between the pair and run in on goal unchallenged. Breeden came out and attempted to put the teenager off, but Peers kept his composure to drop a shoulder and dummy his initial shot before calmly lifting his effort into the net from twelve yards out

Former Solihull stopper Dan Crane was alert to a quick Moors attack nine minutes later, just beating English to a through ball and flattening the forward in the follow-through

The Pitmen continued to have the better of the openings, with Glover having a shot blocked by Daly on thirty-nine minutes after wriggling away from the initial tackle from the giant centre back

With two minutes remaining at the end of the half, Taylor fired narrowly over the crossbar with a well-hit rising shot that Breeden watched over

The Moors will have been disappointed with their efforts in the first half, rarely threatening this makeshift Hednesford side apart from two fleeting chances. This changed however early in the second half, as they equalised with their first real chance since the restart

Taundry's free-kick from just inside the Hednesford half found Daly at the far post, who lashed the ball home at the second attempt after his header had been blocked by the Hednesford defence before dropping back at his feet

Dell had struggled to make the same impact his fellow teenager Peers had done in the first half, allowing himself to be bullied off the ball by the giant twin centre backs Daly and Elvins. In an attempt to combat this, the former Wolves youngster was replaced just before the hour mark by the big, burly figure of Marvin Robinson

A typically marauding run from Osborne on sixty-two minutes was halted by a typically aggressive challenge from former team-mate Denny, twenty-five yards from goal. New free kick guru Glover stepped up and lifted his shot up and over the wall, taking a slight deflection off one Moors player and sailing over the crossbar

Solihull had a great chance to take the lead for the first time in the afternoon on sixty-nine minutes, as substitute Ryan Beswick - on as a replacement for English barely a minute earlier - clattered the underside of Crane's crossbar with a powerful effort from the left-hand edge of the penalty area that had the Hednesford keeper clutching at air

The Pitmen responded five minutes later through Taylor, who hit the outside of the left-hand post with a wicked free-kick from twenty yards out after yet another foul on that man Osborne

The rain continued to fall incessantly on the drenched Keys Park pitch, which was holding up well considering Wolves' women's side had played Derby County Ladies on the same turf the previous day

Campion's corner kick on eighty-two minutes was disappointing in it's delivery but was expertly taken out of the air by Breeden, who claimed it with one hand before launching the ball forwards

However, Breeden was to be beaten once more with five minutes remaining, as the Pitmen grabbed the winner their spirits and effort deserved; Francis pushed forwards and played Alex Melbourne's pass into the path of Robinson, who headed the ball back into the feet of Francis in return. Showing his old instincts as a striker with Watford, Barwell and Wealdstone, Francis expertly fired beyond the dive of Breeden and into the corner of the net to send the majority of Keys Park wild

The hosts had to endure a nervy final few minutes, as Solihull went in search of a second equaliser of the afternoon. Substitute Michael Taylor blasted wide in a good position after Taundry's corner had dropped to him in the penalty area, with Crane also making a smart parry to deny the unusually quiet Omar Bogle in the final minute of the game

In an attempt to see the game out, the Pitmen made their final change of the game in the last minute - MacPherson got easily the biggest cheer of the afternoon as he made a brief appearance in place of Peers, pulling on a Hednesford shirt for the first time - and possibly the last - since announcing his retirement at the end of last season

Three games unbeaten then, a mid-table position after five games, and all that despite an ever-growing injury crisis that has enveloped the squad in recent games. Smith will be hoping that McCone can recover quickly from the injury he picked up today, with several walking wounded looking forward to a four-day rest before making the trip to newly-promoted Fylde at the weekend

Hednesford Town: Crane, Ashmore, Campion ©, McCone (Bailey 21), Francis, Taylor, Osborne, Melbourne, Glover, Dell (Robinson 59), Peers, (MacPherson 90)       Subs Unused: Smith, Price


Solihull Moors: Breeden, Nottingham , Langdon (Gough 45), Denny, Daly, Elvins ©, Story (Taylor 79), English (Beswick (69)), Bogle, Taundry, Brown       Subs Unused: Fleet, Byfield

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