Pre-Season Friendly

Stafford Rangers

Sleigh (23) (penalty), (67)

Hednesford Town

Turner (11)

(1) 2

(1) 1



Current Form

Next Match


Louis Dodds



Bromsgrove Sporting (A) 3.9.20

The Pitmen crash to their first defeat of pre-season as local rivals Stafford Rangers score a goal in each half to edge out their near neighbours at Marston Road

Hednesford made the short trip across Cannock Chase off the back of two home games in the past week which had seen them hold National League North side Kettering Town to a goalless draw before beating Northern Premier League South/East side Sutton Coldfield in midweek. Manager Andy Morrell made a number of changes for the side that had started the Sutton game as the more experienced faces of Louis Dodds, Danny Glover and Lee Smith made a return to the side for today's game. A number of new faces had arrived at the club during the week looking to earn themselves a deal and were named amongst the substitute options for Morrell

Stafford had had a mixed week of result leading up to today's derby clash, beating Gresley 2-1 last weekend before losing 1-0 to Hednesford's league rivals Coalville Town in midweek. New manager Jody Banim named former Hednesford men Tom Thorley, Alex-Ray Harvey, Andre Johnson and Callum Coyle in his squad for today's game, with a familiar-looking triallist lining up at right-back who had also previously played for the Pitmen

On an afternoon of changeable weather, the hosts started brightly and were denied three openings in quick succession by Hednesford captain Ben Bailey's quick thinking and positional sense to clear the danger

The game crackled into life with the Pitmen's first move forwards in the eleventh minute as summer signing Dan Turner raced on to a long, searching ball forwards from Rhys Thompson, doing well to shrug off the attentions of triallist A for Stafford before composing himself and confidently sliding the ball past Lewis King from close-range

Stafford went close to an almost immediate equaliser through summer signing Mitch Candlin as they won a free-kick just outside the Hednesford penalty area; Candlin's dipping, swerving free-kick had Andy Wycherley scrambling down to his right-hand side as the shot dipped just past the foot of the keeper's post

A superb inswinging corner kick from Dan Burns somehow evaded everyone in the six-yard box on seventeen minutes as the ball skipped away from danger and out of play

Another Burns corner kick two minutes later was more accurate and found the head of former Hednesford captain Thorley, only for the popular midfielder to head wide of the target

Thompson drove a shot wide for the neon-clad Pitmen on twenty minutes before Stafford were handed a chance to get themselves back into the game on twenty-two minutes; Harvey's searching pass into the Hednesford box was latched onto by Jamie Sleigh, who was taken out by a late and clumsy challenge from the back-peddling Dan Preston. A blatant penalty kick awarded and duly dispatched by Sleigh, who fired confidently past Wycherley from twelve yards out

Good wing play from Louis Dodds saw the former Port Vale man get to the byeline and whip in a cross for Danny Glover on thirty-two minutes, only for the Pitmen's top scorer from last term to head straight into the arms of King from close range

Wycherley did well to claim a deep cross from Thorley on thirty-six minutes ahead of a number of incoming Stafford players as he plucked the deep cross out of the air

It had been a keenly-contested first period that Rangers had shaded on chances, with the Pitmen a little pedestrian in their approach and looking susceptible to the long ball over the top that Stafford continually looked to play

Dodds was the creator once more for the away side on fifty-one minutes as his perfectly-weighted corner kick was headed narrowly over the crossbar by incoming skipper Bailey from twelve yards out

Bailey was again on the end of a Dodds cross three minutes later but headed high over the crossbar as he was crowded out by a number of Stafford players

The hosts took the lead for the first time in the game on fifty-seven minutes as lax marking from the Pitmen cost them dearly; John Dodd allowed Candlin to slip past him and play in Sleigh, who broke through the flimsy Hednesford offside trap before coolly finishing past Wycherley from an angle

There was a swift response form the Pitmen down the other end, as Dodds curled a delightful effort just wide of goal from the edge of the penalty area from Turner's incisive pass

The Pitmen made three changes on sixty-seven minutes as Jed Davies, George Cater and Jack Hallahan came in in place of Will Norcross, Lee Smith and Dodd respectively

This seemed to perk up the Pitmen's flagging attack as Davies swung in a cross from the right on seventy-one minutes that Dodds played into the path of Glover, whose scuffed effort was just wide of the target


Turner was similarly out of luck four minutes later as Glover's nod-down to his strike partner saw Turner do well to create room for himself before shooting just wide of the post

A quick break from Rangers down the left on eighty minutes saw the Pitmen caught short at the back once more before Mo Sebbeh-Njie blazed an effort high over the crossbar from fifteen yards out

With six minutes remaining, a run and cross from Thompson down the right found the boot of the incoming Davies at the far post, only for King to make the save down at the foot of his far post to deny the former Rangers man

Two minutes later, the hard-working Turner created a chance for himself from nothing after doing well to turn Sam Coulson and lifting his shot over the crossbar

In the final minute, last-ditch Stafford defending denied Cater a run through on goal as Carter Lycett's slide-rule pass into the feet of the substitute was cut out by a late interception

A disappointing afternoon for the few Hednesford supporters that had made their way across the Chase to watch today's game, having seen their side play much of the game as second-best to a limited, but direct, Stafford side. Morrell will have much to ponder before his side makes the trip to league rivals Bromsgrove Sporting on Thursday night in a hastily-arranged friendly tie that will give a good account of where the Pitmen are in their evolution as a team

Stafford Rangers: King, Coulson, Burns (Triallist D 58), Triallist A, Triallist B (Triallist C 45), Sebbeh-Njie, Harvey, Keane (Kenton 58), Thorley (Triallist D 58), Sleigh (Johnson 58), Candlin (Coyle 45)       Subs Unused: None

Hednesford Town: Wycherley, Thompson, Lycett, Bailey ©, Preston, Smith (Davies 67), Norcross (Cater 67), Dodd (Hallahan 67), Glover, Dodds, Turner     Subs Unused: Kilford, Waddison, Dongo, Agoo, Ojelabi, Santana

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