2.1.2012

Evo-Stik Northern Premier League

Stafford Rangers

Hednesford Town

Robinson (36)

(0) 0

(1) 1

Attendance

MoTM

Current Form

Next Match

1,123

Ben Bailey

W W W L W D W L L W

Bradford (Park Avenue) (H) 7.1.12

Rob Smith's men march into the New Year with renewed confidence after they completed a memorable, and historic, league double over deadly rivals Stafford Rangers this afternoon at a boggy Marston Road

The Pitmen had waited over sixty years to beat Stafford in a league game back in August and named a powerful attacking line-up for the reverse fixture against a side that had spent the majority of the season sitting in mid-table. Nick Wellecomme, a former Stafford top scorer and captain, was restored to the line-up in place of Mark Danks; he partnered August's hat-trick hero Marvin Robinson up front. In midfield, Elliott Durrell gave way to the creative influence of Ben Jevons, who was given a rare start at number eleven. There was also a start for Ben Bailey, impressive after his return to the club from his loan at Sutton Coldfield, at right-back. This move pushed Kyle Haynes further forward, with Jamey Osborne the man to miss out

The players and supporters were greeted with a typically bumpy, dug-up pitch upon kick-off, as heavy rain the previous day had turned the playing surface into a soft, muddy mess. Rangers were without their two ex-Hednesford men in the forms of Alan Nagington and Anthony Maguire, both of whom were on their honeymoon

Robinson's physical presence saw him with the first real sight of goal on five minutes, as he turned his marker quickly but fired his low shot into the side netting

Stafford was swift in their reply, with new signing from FC United of Manchester Michael Carr racing onto a Matthew Bell ball,  testing Dan Crane's reflexes with a well-struck shot that Crane turned away for a Rangers corner

Rangers were enjoying a good spell going forward in the first quarter, as they forced the Hednesford defence onto the back foot. A wild clearance from Pedro Monteiro ended up going for a corner kick, which was headed away by the excellent Bailey as Stafford's forwards threatened

On nineteen minutes, Jevons went closest to opening the scoring as Kyle Haynes' cross was dropped by Stafford keeper Danny Read, only for Jevons' shot to be blocked by Ryan dicker as it headed goalward

The dark undertones that always follow a local derby surfaced momentarily midway through the half, as the Pitmen looked to clear their lines out on the left-hand side. Darren Campion and Luke George clashed, with Campion taking exception to the late challenge of the Stafford man. After about of fisticuffs, both players were booked for their part, although Campion can think himself lucky to stay on the pitch for his aggressive stance

Hednesford were looking to use the aerial threat of Robinson wherever possible, with the big man out-jumping Karl Espley to head Monteiro's cross straight at Read on the half-hour mark

Wellecomme followed Campion into the referee's book on thirty-four minutes for a mistimed challenge just inside the Rangers half

Bailey's long throws had been a constant source of difficulty for Stafford's defenders, and on thirty-seven minutes the tactic bore fruit. His angled throw into the near post found the head of Monteiro, who managed to flick the ball on to the incoming Robinson; he slid in to divert the ball past Read from close range and send the 450+ Hednesford supporters wild

Rangers quickly countered, and a brace of corner kicks again asked questions of the Hednesford defence. Again, Bailey was supreme in the air, dealing with both balls in with authority and a no-nonsense attitude

Indeed, it could have been even better for the Pitmen as half time approached, as Campion almost grabbed a second goal on forty-two minutes. taking the ball forward down the left, Campion cut inside before unleashing n rising shot that was half a yard or so wide of the far post

The Pitmen will have been happy with their efforts in the first half, particularly in defence, as they had kept Stafford's tricky striker Neville Thompson quiet for the majority of the half

The expected Stafford fightback at the start of the second half saw Espley waste a glorious opportunity to equalise just seconds after the restart. A corner from the right-hand side dropped to the centre back inside the six-yard box, but his effort was skewed over the crossbar when he really should have tested Crane from so close in

Hednesford weathered the storm and started to create chances of their own, as they looked to exploit the space behind the full-backs. Wellecomme was a willing runner to chase down angled balls over the top, causing Dicker to come out of position to deal with his threat

An inswinging Chris Clements corner caused panic in the Rangers defence on fifty-eight minutes, but Monteiro was way off target with his rising header

Despite winning a number of set-pieces in promising positions, the Pitmen were well shackled by Rangers in the next few minutes, as the game hit a scrappy period. Neither side could keep hold of the ball for long periods, as the pitch continued to deteriorate. Passing football became an issue for both midfields meaning many balls were being pumped forward by both defences

Veteran Kevin Street gave the Hednesford defence food for thought with a moment of trickery on sixty-six minutes, firing goalwards but denied by a block from Cheyenne Dunkley. Thompson also tried his luck from the follow-up, but he too was denied by the outstretched leg of Dunkley

Both Bailey and Jevons incurred the wrath of the card-happy referee in quick succession, with the two players earning yellow cards for minor offences

Jevons should have finished the game as a contest on seventy minutes, as Wellecomme took advantage of Dicker's miscued clearance to play the midfielder in on goal. However, Read was quick to spot the danger and managed to get enough on it to divert Jevons' low shot away from goal

Dunkley's powerful header from a corner kick three minutes later should have tested Read some more, but the youngster miscued his effort and cleared the crossbar from Clements' inswinging ball

As play continued at pace, both benches suddenly became embroiled in a bout of their own handbags. The referee had to halt the game mid-flow, and after consulting the assistant on that side of the pitch, sent off Hednesford manager Smith and Stafford assistant manager Dorian Garner. Unused Hednesford substitute Chris Shaw was also booked for his part

The game became stretched in the final fifteen minutes, with Hednesford looking more likely to extend their lead than Stafford were in equalising. Jevons, who had put in a tireless shift for the Pitmen in midfield, was replaced by Osborne with nine minutes remaining. A few moments later, Andre Landell was also sent on, in place of goalscorer Robinson

Rangers' best chance of a last-gasp equaliser came with two minutes remaining, as Harry Clayton managed to get to a low cross first, but fired straight at Crane. Rangers substitute Jon Sheldon was booked for his challenge on Crane on the follow-up, clearly kicking the Hednesford keeper in frustration as he held the ball low down

The Pitmen quickly broke forward and George was guilty of blocking Landell's shot with his hand as the substitute tried to squeeze the ball home at the far post. The referee awarded the Pitmen a penalty kick, but Clements' weak effort was easily saved by Read low down to his right

There was little to no time for Rangers to launch another attack of note, leaving the Pitmen to celebrate a famous win over their oldest of rivals. The win has also put Hednesford back into title contention, as league leaders Chester could only muster a 1-1 draw at home to Nantwich, their second draw in succession

Hednesford Town: Crane, Bailey , Campion © , Dunkley, Monteiro, Denny, Haynes, Clements, Robinson  (Landell 86), Wellecomme , Jevons  (Osborne 85)       Subs Unused: Durrell, Danks, Shaw 

Stafford Rangers: Read, George , Brown, Espley, Dicker ©, Carr , Heler (Sheldon 74 ), Street, Clayton, Thompson, Bell      Subs Unused: Stevenson, Rogers, Patrick, Alcock

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