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Evo-Stik Northern Premier League

Hednesford Town

Durrell (50) (penalty), Woolfe (90)

Stafford Rangers

Quinn (62), (87) (penalty)

(0) 2

(0) 2



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Dave MacPherson


FC United of Manchester (A) 1.9.12

A competitive, topsy-turvy derby day saw the Pitmen and local rivals Stafford Rangers settle for a point apiece - although both sides felt they could have been taking home all three points with a little more composure and luck

Coming off the back of three successive wins at the start of the new season, The Pitmen entered the game with confidence on a high. Rangers, meanwhile, had made a stuttering start to their campaign, still searching for their first win. Hednesford manager Rob Smith was forced into one change to his side from Saturday's win at Blyth, with Sam Barnes ruled out due to a leg injury suffered at Blyth. He was replaced by Ben Bailey in central defence, with a new name on the substitute's bench in the form of former Chesterfield midfielder Ben Watkis

Following their long trip to Blyth less than 48 hours earlier, the Pitmen made a sluggish start to the game, as Rangers took the early initiative. An early free-kick from former Hednesford defender Jimmy Turner drifted in towards goal, but fortunately for the Pitmen the ball missed the outstretched leg of another former Pitman in Danny Quinn

Hednesford responded quickly, with Neil Harvey looking to add to his impressive early-season tally on six minutes; Elliott Durrell's cross was headed goalwards by Harvey, but Danny Read was equal to it in the Stafford goal and turned the ball over the crossbar for a corner

A war of attrition followed for much of the rest of the first half, as both sides battled hard in midfield to win the ball. Dave MacPherson picked up where he left off on Saturday with another battling performance, making life difficult for the Stafford midfielders with his aggression and power

Stafford went closest to breaking the deadlock just before the half-hour mark, as Ryan Brown's free-kick narrowly missed the post as he lifted a ball goalwards

As the half came to a close, Aaron Rey looked to have given the hosts the lead as he tapped the ball past Read, but he was pulled up for an earlier foul by Harvey

A sluggish start to the second half from the Pitmen almost cost them dearly, as Michael Carr tested Dan Crane's reflexes with a shot that the Hednesford number one did well to turn away from goal

The Pitmen recovered quickly and took the lead three minutes later in controversial circumstances. Jamey Osborne made a dart into the Stafford penalty area and was adjudged to have been brought down by Brown. Despite protests from the Stafford defenders, the referee awarded a penalty to the Pitmen, which Durrell dispatched confidently to Read's left

Two minutes later, Stafford were dealt another blow as former Hednesford defender Jermaine Johnson came off worse in a 50-50 challenge with MacPherson. After several minutes of treatment, Johnson was carried off on a stretcher with what was later confirmed as a broken fibula and ligament damage

The Pitmen looked to capitalise on the changes to Stafford's personnel with a great chance on the hour mark - Woolfe's corner was headed goalwards by MacPherson, with Johnson's replacement Ryan Dicker heading the ball off the line

However, more failings from set-pieces allowed Stafford back into the contest two minutes later, as John Disney needlessly headed the ball behind for a Rangers corner. Turner's deep corner saw Crane flap at the ball, allowing Quinn to head home at the far post - a real gift for a player everyone at Keys Park knows how dangerous he is

Rey had offered little in the way of an attacking threat for the Pitmen, having been well shackled by the Stafford defence all afternoon. He was replaced by Michael Lennon on sixty-nine minutes

Again, the game settled into a midfield scrap for a spell, as MacPherson and Osborne found life difficult against Carr and Lee Downes

The final ten minutes saw the game come to life, as both sides suffered a roller-coaster of emotions. On eighty-four minutes, the Pitmen's disciplinary failings from last season came back to haunt them again, as Osbourne leapt into a challenge with Luke George with both feet, leaving the referee with no option but to red card the Hednesford man. Another well deserved sending off for the side, with Osborne yet again the culprit. Poor, poor discipline again from the club

Stafford looked to have snatched victory with three minutes to go, as Quinn burst into the Hednesford penalty area from the left. Harvey made a typical striker's tackle, sticking his leg out and bringing Quinn down. Quinn picked himself up and fired high to Crane's left from the resultant penalty to send the smaller-than-normal away support into rapture

Added time saw the Pitmen desperately launch a wave of attacks, forcing three successive corners. Rangers partially cleared the final ball, finding Lennon out on the left-wing. His ball across the box found Nathan Woolfe, who composed himself before curling a ball towards goal. The shot took a huge deflection off the head of Ryan Dicker and beat Read at his far post to rescue a point for the Pitmen

Hednesford Town: Crane, Disney (O’Connor 87), Campion, Bailey, Francis, MacPherson ©, Osborne  (84), Durrell, Harvey, Rey (Lennon 69), Woolfe      Subs Unused: Clarke, Melbourne, Watkis

Stafford Rangers: Read, George, Brown, Walshe (Espley 77), Johnson (Dicker 56), Carr, Turner, Downes, Quinn, Street (Everall 85), Kasiama
Subs not used: Heler, Wood

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