Evo-Stik Northern Premier League

Hednesford Town

Fitzgibbon (11), Glover (90)

Stalybridge Celtic

Roberts (61)

(1) 2

(0) 1



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James Fitzgibbon


Farsley Celtic (H) 2.12.17

The Pitmen got themselves back to winning ways this afternoon at Keys Park but left it late to condemn Stalybridge Celtic to yet another defeat on the road in the process


Wednesday night's tame defeat to Cleethorpes Town in the F.A. Trophy had seen Rob Smith decide to shake up his eleven once more, with midfielders Reece King and James Fitzgibbon available for selection once again after missing the game in midweek. There was a new face at right back, with Tamworth youngster Matt Curley joining the club ahead of the game to replace Charlie Gatter. Danny Glover was once again given a midfield berth in the side after filling in for Tom Thorley at Cleethorpes


Stalybridge - managed by Pitmen great Steve Burr - had struggled with life at step three since their relegation in the summer, languishing just above the drop zone and without a win on the road since the season started in August. This was all despite Burr having a large amount of experience at the higher levels of non-league football to call upon on in the form of Luke Ashworth, Matty Wolfenden and the vastly experienced Liam Dickinson


The Pitmen were first to show their hand in an impressive opening spell from the home side, with Ben Bailey's long throws causing problems for the Stalybridge defence in the opening ten minutes. One such throw from Bailey was not cleared on eight minutes, allowing Bailey himself to wander into the area and pick up Joey Butlin's ball and fire into the side netting with a shot from a tight angle


The Pitmen took a deserved lead on eleven minutes, with the impressive James Fitzgibbon grabbing his first goal for the club. Butlin did well to win the ball in midfield, before playing a clever ball with the outside of his boot over the top of the Stalybridge defence. Fitzgibbon was first to react, racing through the defence and running past the onrushing Joe Slinn in the Stalybridge goal, before confidently slotting home


A late offside flag denied Fitzgibbon a chance of a quickfire double three minutes later, as a quick break out of their own penalty area saw the hosts catch Stalybridge out, only for Fitzgibbon to be flagged offside as he raced clear once more


Stalybridge were forced into a change to their side on seventeen minutes, as midfielder Ross Killock was forced off due to injury and was replaced by Danny Morton


Auxiliary midfielder Glover went close to adding to his season's tally on twenty-two minutes, lifting his shot over the crossbar after yet another long throw from Bailey caused issues in the Stalybridge defence


Butlin was lucky not to go into the referee's notebook on twenty-eight minutes after he challenged Slinn for a bouncing ball, leaving the Stalybridge keeper in a heap. The burly striker received a lecture from the official, but o yellow card for his piece in the act


Stalybridge somehow failed to get themselves on level terms with an incredible slice of good luck for the hosts on the half-hour mark; Wolfenden's far post header was brilliantly saved by Wren at his post but rebounded to Oliver Roberts, whose follow-up shot came crashing off the crossbar. In the melee that followed, Ashworth fired his shot wide of goal as the Pitmen desperately tried to clear their lines


Stalybridge right back Oliver Crowley was next to try his luck after making a move forwards on thirty-five minutes, driving a shot wide of goal from a promising position


There was chaos in the Stalybridge ranks on forty minutes, as Ashworth had to hack the ball off the line to deny Jordan Graham a goal after the winger had lifted a shot goalwards following excellent play from Glover


The Pitmen were forced into a change late in the first half, with King having to be replaced in midfield by James Lawrie after the on-loan Gloucester man limped off


Fitzgibbon was straight into the action early in the second half as he raced away from the Stalybridge defence after Glover had played him through, but his cross lacked direction and was fielded well by Slinn


A barnstorming run by new boy Curley was crudely ended by Alex Honeyball on fifty-three minutes, with Glover taking the subsequent free-kick but lifting his effort high over the crossbar


Former Brighton and Leeds man Dickinson pulled a shot wide of goal on the hour mark, firing wide from a tight angle with Wren covering his front post well


With their next attack, Stalybridge pulled themselves level through Oliver, who curled home a shot from the edge of the penalty area after Connor Hughes had crossed well for him


The Pitmen responded well, with the Stalybridge defence stretched to it's limit to block shots from Glover, Butlin and Lawrie in quick succession. On seventy minutes, a great run from man of the match Fitzgibbon saw the winger escape down the right wing and cross for Lawrie, who drove a shot well wide of goal from a good position


Slinn was on hand two minutes later to deny Glover a goal as he made a good save to deny the six-goal top scorer, palming the ball into the path of Lawrie, who skewed his rebound horribly wide of goal


Another great piece of wing play from Fitzgibbon on eighty minutes saw him cross well for Butlin, but the striker was wasteful with the ball and allowed the Stalybridge defence to smuggle the ball away


Former Port Vale team-mates Glover and Lawrie linked up on eighty-three minutes, as Lawrie's free-kick was headed goalwards by Glover but straight into the grateful arms of Slinn


Campion - guilty of an array of sins against Cleethorpes in midweek - conceded a free kick in a dangerous position once again with five minutes remaining, getting his name taken by the referee in the process. Dickinson took the subsequent free kick, but put his effort wide of goal with a wild effort


Just as the game looked to heading for a point apiece, that man Glover conjured up a moment of magic to win the game for the Pitmen as we entered added time. Picking the ball up deep, Glover set himself before rifling home a low drive from fully twenty five yards out, underneath the diving body of Slinn and into the net to spark wild celebrations


Gatter made a late appearance in place of Graham as the Pitmen closed the game out with ease, earning their first three points since beating Witton Albion a full month ago. There is now a two-week break from league action for the Pitmen, with no scheduled fixture next weekend, meaning that a first-ever visit from Farsley Celtic will be the club's next league game on 2nd December


Hednesford Town: Wren, Curley, Campion ,  Bailey ©, Oji, Fitzpatrick, King (Lawrie 44 ), Glover, Graham (Gatter 90), Butlin , Fitzgibbon       Subs unused: George, Mbunga, Veiga


Stalybridge Celtic: Slinn, Crowley , Honeyball, Brown (Wilkinson 58), Ashworth, Killock (Morton 17), Chapell (Bailey-Jones 62), Roberts, Dickinson, Wolfenden, Hughes      Subs unused: Charles, Cofie