Dr. Martens Southern Premier League

Hednesford Town

Brown (53)

Stafford Rangers

Wilding (10), McAughtrie (72)

(0) 1

(1) 2




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Steve Anthrobus



Chippenham Town (A) 30.8.03

The Pitmen fluff their lines on derby day once more as they allow Stafford Rangers to claim victory at Keys Park for the first-ever time and leave the Pitmen still looking for that elusive first league win against their local rivals in over fifty years

Saturday's first win of the season over the much-fancied Havant & Waterlooville was a welcome boost for Barry Powell and his misfiring troops after a slow start to the new season to date. Powell elected to stick with the same side and formation that had proved successful at West Leigh Park for today's big derby, leaving former Stafford man and Saturday's match-winner Chris Brindley amongst the substitutes once more despite the veteran defender's late winner

Rangers arrived at Keys Park off the back of a similarly frustrating start to the new season as the Pitmen have had, having drawn at Eastbourne Borough on the opening day and followed this up with a heavy defeat at home to Nuneaton Borough and a first win of the season at home to Newport County on Saturday. Player/manager Phil Robinson also named an unchanged side for this afternoon's clash from the one that had won at the weekend, naming former Hednesford man Lee Barrow in his starting line-up and ex-Pitmen youth team graduate Paul Szewczyk amongst the substitutes alongside Allen Tankard, who made a solitary appearance for the Pitmen last season

With both sides backed by large, noisy followings, Rangers made the better start of the two sides through the dangerous Danny Davidson, as his goal-bound header from a Robin Gibson cross was cleared off the line by an alert Ashley Williams in just the third minute of the game

Stafford continued to press, with former Rangers man Darren Simkin easing Craig Wilding off the ball as he broke late into the Hednesford penalty are four minutes later to meet a cross from former Stoke City midfielder Rob Heath

Rangers were rewarded for their bold start to proceedings with the opening goal in the tenth minute as Wilding grabbed a fortuitous first-ever goal for the club since his summer move from York City; Davidson's intended pass across the penalty area took a huge deflection off Stuart Ryder and inadvertently  dropped kindly into the path of Wilding, who calmly lobbed the advancing Ryan Young from sixteen yards out

The Pitmen had struggled to get a foothold in the game during the opening fifteen minutes of the game as they allowed Rangers to dictate the tempo of the game to their own means through the ever-consistent Gibson and the impressive Heath. Up front, the rangy Davidson used his pace and muscle well to drag the one-paced Hednesford centre-backs out of position at will

It was Gibson who went close to adding to Stafford's tally on sixteen minutes, driving a low shot goalwards that was deflected narrowly wide of goal by a late Simkin block

Wayne Daniel headed wide from a Gibson corner three minutes later, followed on twenty-one minutes by a neat piece of play in midfield from Heath that set Wilding clear of the Hednesford defence, only for the Rangers scorer to lash a shot high and wide of goal without troubling Young

The hosts finally started to claw themselves back into contention as the half wore on, with Carl Palmer and namesake Steve starting to get to grips with Gibson and Heath. A glorious pass from carl palmer on twenty-three minutes set Mark Danks on his way, only for Saturday's goalscorer to fire narrowly over Ryan Price's bar

A minute later, Danks's strike partner Steve Anthrobus also lifted a long-range effort just over the crossbar after Antony Maguire had teed up the big striker just outside the Rangers penalty area

On the half-hour mark, Anthrobus went even closer to equalising for the Pitmen with a powerful header from a Les Hines corner that clipped the top of the crossbar on its way over

The Pitmen were looking the more likely to score during this purple patch, as Danks forced veteran stopper Price into a good save on thirty-four minutes with a snapshot from close range that was turned around the post by the former Macclesfield man

And yet, Stafford could have been going into the half-time break two goals to the good as they finished the half strongly; a superb inswinging corner from Gibson on forty minutes found the head of Craig McAughtrie, whose downward header was hacked off the line by Maguire through a body of players

The home side had been second best for much of the first half and received a roasting from Powell at the break, taking comfort in the fact that they were only a goal behind at half-time with a chance to get themselves back into the game. And get back into it they did with an equalising goal in the early stages of the second period; an inswinging free-kick from Hines from the left-wing was not dealt with effectively by the Rangers defence, prompting Karl Brown to pounce on a flick-on by Anthrobus and lash a volley past Price from twenty yards out for his first-ever Hednesford goal


This lifted the Pitmen's spirits as they had the better the game for the next fifteen minutes. A surging run from Carl Palmer on the hour mark saw him brush off a challenge from Lee Downes before drilling a low shot just wide of Price's left-hand post

A mazy run from Danks four minutes later saw him jink his way past Daniel and McAughtrie on the edge of the Stafford penalty area before he pulled his effort wide of goal with a scuffed shot

Price denied Danks once more on sixty-nine minutes, making a smothering save low down to his right to deny Danks a first goal at Keys Park as the Pitmen continued to press

And yet, the Pitmen were undone yet again due to defensive errors as they gifted Rangers what was to be the winning goal on seventy-two minutes; it was Gibson who was the architect once more for the away side, sending over a fine cross from the right with an inswinging free-kick that the Pitmen were caught ball-watching. McAughtrie rose highest at the far post to nod the ball home from close range and score his second goal in successive games against the Pitmen

The hosts reacted to this by bringing on former Tamworth striker Michael Swann for Danks on seventy-four minutes to offer a different option up front alongside Anthrobus

Both sides saw players booked in the closing stages of the game for a combination of fouls and dissent as the game became niggly and stop-start, suiting Stafford as they looked to protect their slender lead

The Pitmen laid siege on the Stafford goal as the game entered the final ten minutes, winning several corners and free-kicks as they looked to force home another leveller. There were a number of calls on the terraces from the home supporters for the introduction of fan's favourite Brindley to add his physical presence to the Hednesford attack, something ignored by Powell as he chose to stick with the players already out on the pitch

A Hines corner on eighty-seven minutes was partially cleared by Daniel and dropped to Steve Palmer, whose dipping half-volley looked to be heading for the corner of the net until Richard Beale headed the ball off his own goal line and cleared the danger

In added time, Simkin headed down into the six-yard box from another Hines corner kick, but no one in white could reach the ball as Rangers scrambled the loose ball away from goal

Rangers take the bragging rights then in the first instalment of this season's local derbies, with the Pitmen now having to wait until Boxing Day to look for revenge against their Cannock Chase rivals. Powell's inconsistent side face another long trip at the weekend as they travel to Chippenham Town - the scene of one of the Pitmen's finest away performances at the end of last season with a 3-1 win over the-then play-off chasing Bluebirds

Hednesford Town: Young, Williams, Simkin, Ryder, Hines, C. Palmer, S. Palmer © , Maguire, Brown Anthrobus , Danks (Swann 74)     Subs Unused: Seabury, Brindley, Dodd, P. Evans

Stafford Rangers; Price, McAughtrie , Daniel ©, Barrow, Beale, Gibson, Robinson (Lovatt 55), Downes , Heath, Wilding , Davidson      Subs Unused: Szewczyk, Edwards, Tankard, Fife