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Hednesford Town

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Sleigh (74)

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Behind Closed Doors

George Cater



Kettering Town (H) 22.8.20

The Pitmen play out a draw against their local rivals Stafford Rangers this afternoon as both sides strike in the second half to leave today's game at the PRG Stadium @ Keys Park level

Manager Andy Morrell elected to field what appeared to be his strongest currently available side for today's Chase derby, handing Louis Dodds a debut after the former Port Vale man had missed Tuesday night's win over Heath Hayes. A number of triallists were once again in the squad, looking to impress Morrell as he looks to add to his numbers in the coming weeks

Rangers made the short journey across the Chase with a similar squad in development, fielding a number of triallists themselves whilst starting former Hednesford men Jon Moran and Tom Thorley in their starting XI as well as ex-Hednesford loanee Andre Johnson on the bench. A 5-0 win over Stafford Town last weekend had been followed up with a 2-2 draw at step four Newcastle Town in midweek ahead of today's all-step three clash

The Pitmen started well, with George Cater winning a free-kick early on after a good run towards the Stafford penalty area was halted by Sam Coulson in the second minute of the game. Dodds stepped up but found the Rangers wall equal to his curling effort

A minute later, young left-back Carter Lycett sent over a fine cross from wide that was a matter of inches away from finding the boot of Danny Glover, who just missed out on the inswinging ball

Glover was involved again in the eighth minute as he picked up a lay-off from the busy former Rangers man Cater, only to rifle his shot into the side netting from an angle

A third chance in quick succession fell to Glover just a minute later as the Pitmen continued to dominate the opening exchanges, heading a Lee Smith long throw onto the underside of the crossbar before Moran cleared the danger

Glover's new strike partner Dan Turner was next to test the hesitant Stafford defence in the twelfth minute as he drilled a shot just over the bar after Cater had once again won a free-kick in a dangerous position with his pace and trickery

The Pitmen felt that they had a legitimate shout for a penalty in the seventeenth minute as Lycett's cross found Glover lurking in the Stafford penalty area before being hauled down by Lewis King in the Stafford goal. Despite the Pitmen's protests, the referee remained unmoved and the play continued

Good play from Cater down the flank saw him win a corner for the hosts on twenty-five minutes which was subsequently headed straight into the arms of King by captain Ben Bailey from close range

Stafford came back into the game as the game headed towards the half-hour mark, winning a clutch of set-pieces and going close to taking the lead on thirty minutes as a header from triallist B was just wide of Andy Wycherley's goal

Wycherley made a good save to deny veteran centre-back Andy Welsh a goal for his new club four minutes later, palming the defender's shot away from goal for a Stafford corner kick

From the resultant Joe Cuff kick, Welsh was again on the end of the ball but fired wide from the edge of the area after the ball had been cleared into his path

Triallist B wasted a good chance to gove Rangers the lead on forty minutes as he headed wide from close range after Cuff had curled ina cross from the left wing to the far post

With very little of note from this point on until the half-time break, both sides looked to improve in front of goal during the second period. Triallist A came on in place of Lycett at the break after the teenager had received treatment for an injury during the first half


The home side made an assertive start to the second period, although Stafford had the first effort of note as Stafford's right-back curled a shot narrowly wide of Wycherley's post on forty-six minutes. However, the Pitmen took the lead two minutes later as Glover - a former loanee at Marston Road many years ago - scored against his former club as he fired past King from the edge of the penalty area with a crisply-struck drive

The Pitmen went close to doubling their lead two minutes later as a free-kick was played into the feet of Turner, who did well to play the ball back into the path of Cater. The Stafford defence did well to clear their lines and deny the former Stafford man a clear shot at goal from a promising position

The pair combined again on fifty-two minutes as Turner set up Cater once more, only for King to make a save at his near post to deny the former Chasetown forward his first-ever Keys Park goal

Wycherley was called upon to make a stop for the home side as Stafford responded with a couple of half-chances, saving well on fifty-eight minutes with a regulation save on his goal-line to deny Cuff

Rhys Thompson earned himself a rare pre-season booking a minute later, as he felled summer signing Mo Sebbeh-Njie on the halfway line and was shown a yellow card

Both sides started to make changes, with Rangers making seven substitutions at the same time on the hour mark. The hosts made three changes a minutes later as Jack Hallahan replaced Smith, whilst triallists B & C replaced Turner and Dodds respectively

Hallahan and triallist B combined straightaway to force King into a save just a minute after coming on, playing a neat one-two before King pushed the shot away from goal

More changes followed for the Pitmen on sixty-seven minutes as Dan Preston came on for Bailey in the centre of defence, whilst Rhys Thompson and Danny Glover were both replaced by triallists for the remainder of the game

Stafford went close to a leveller on sixty-nine minutes as a shot from triallist F just cleared Wycherley's crossbar after a corner kick was cleared as far as him

The visitors equalised on seventy-four minutes as another corner kick from Rangers was not cleared convincingly by the Hednesford defence and was turned home by summer signing Jamie Sleigh, who scored against the Pitmen for Heanor Town during last season's pre-season programme

With ten minutes remaining, the final two triallists came on for the home side as triallist F replaced Sam Griffiths at right-back and triallist G was brought on in place of the busy Cater, who had had a good game

Two minutes later, Rangers almost grabbed a winner as substitute Josh Green cut inside from the flank and curled a low shot narrowly beyond Wycherley's far post

With so many changes to both sides, the game petered out in the final minutes to leave both sides content with their afternoon's work and another ninety minutes on the board as they look towards their respective league programmes. The sides will meet again at the end of the month at Marston Road in the reverse fixture, with match fitness, sharpness and more settled sides likely to see this game be more competitive than today's fixture. Next weekend sees Hednesford at home once more as they welcome National League North side Kettering Town to the PRG Stadium @ Keys Park in what will be a stern test of the Pitmen's resolve

Hednesford Town: Wycherley, Griffiths (Triallist F 80), Lycett (Triallist A 45), Bailey © (Preston 67), Mendez-Jones, Smith (Hallahan 61), Cater (Triallist G 80), Thompson ▆ (Triallist D 67), Glover (Triallist E 67), Dodds (Triallist C 61), Turner (Triallist B 61)    Subs Unused: None

Stafford Rangers: King, Coulson (Triallist D 60), Moran (Green 60), D. Burns, Triallist A (Triallist E 60), Welsh © (J. Burns 60), Sebbeh-Njie, Thorley (Sleigh 60), Triallist B, Cuff (Johnson 60), Triallist C (Triallist F 60)      Subs Unused: None

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