UniBond Northern Premier League


Hednesford Town

D. Brown (75), Davies (85)

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Paul Evans


Whitby Town (H) 31.3.08

Hednesford completed back-to-back wins this afternoon for only the second time this season as they defeat fellow mid-table dwellers Stamford in a game of typical end-of-season fare from both sets of players


Hednesford manager Phil Starbuck - a relieved figure at the end of Monday's win over Matlock Town - elected to stick with the same XI that had earned the Pitmen their first win in three games for today's trip to Lincolnshire. He made two changes to the substitute's bench as Paul Robinson replaced the dreadfully unlucky Reece Styche, who had been ruled out for the season with a double leg break at the end of Monday's game. Liam McDonald's indifferent form saw him lose his place on the bench, with David Brown replacing him as an attacking option down the flank

Stamford's recent form had seen the Daniels fail to win any of their last six games, dropping them to fourteenth place on the table and only four points ahead of the relegation scrap going on behind them. A 0-0 draw at Lincoln United last time out had done little to improve the fortunes of Dougie Keast's side, with the Stamford manager making two changes to his side for today's game; assistant manager Ian Pledger was thrust into the side as emergency goalkeeper after regular goalkeeper Chris Sanna had completed a surprise transfer deadline day move to Worcester City, whilst ex-Hednesford man Chris Gray missed out due to injury and was replaced by Peterborough United loanee Lewis Webb

Stamford started brightly under miserable conditions, with a stiff wind blowing across the pitch at the Vic Couzens Stadium and showers breaking out intermittently. Stamford's Garath Pritchard was to prove a handful for the Hednesford centre-backs throughout the game and had the first real sight at goal in the fifth minute, firing narrowly wide after just five minutes as he made a run into the Hednesford penalty area

Pritchard was again in action four minutes later, getting on the end of a long ball which was flicked into his path by Webb, but again failed to test Paul Evans in the Hednesford goal as he pulled his effort wide of the target

The Pitmen had offered very little as an attacking threat early on in the game, struggling to cope with the blustery wind that was blowing in their faces in the first half. Top scorer Ross Dyer ending up more often than not out on the right-wing as he went in search of the ball with very little in the way of supply from the midfield


 Anthony Maguire - a scorer on Bank Holiday Monday against Matlock - had the best chance of the first quarter for the Pitmen on fourteen minutes but his volley following a good ball from Daniel McLeod was blocked en route to goal by Tom Guiney and bobbled harmlessly wide of goal

Guiney was involved at the opposite end of the pitch midway through a cagey first period as he broke through on the right-hand corner of the Pitmen's penalty area to latch onto a pass from Pritchard, only to be denied by a timely block from Tom Marshall

 From the resultant corner kick, Marshall was on hand once more to deny the Daniels an opening goal of the game as he booted a Pritchard shot at goal away from danger with a typically industrial clearance


Both defences were very much on top during the first half and chances at either end were limited to either long-range shots or set-pieces. Ben Brown headed high over the crossbar for the Pitmen on the half-hour mark from an outswinging Maguire corner, whilst Stamford striker Kevin Byrne lashed his shot high and wide of goal after a free-kick had dropped at his feet just outside the penalty area

A good tackle from Dominic Hallows denied Alan Nagington a clear run at goal on thirty-six minutes, with the ball breaking to McLeod down the right. His cross was a little too high for Ross Dyer to meet, drifting over the youngster's head and wide of the goal at the far post

Despite the hosts having the better of the chances in the first period, the Pitmen could have gone in at half-time one up as they created a great chance for themselves just a minute before the break; Ross Dyer collecting a ball from strike partner Nagington before firing low at goal, only for the ball to lack direction and was at a comfortable height for Pledger, who made a good save

With the benefit of the wind at their backs in the second half, the visitors looked a far more attacking threat in the early stages of the second half.   Nagington - still looking to add to his solitary goal in the league this season - was unlucky to see his quick turn and shot blocked by Hallows as it headed towards goal on fifty minutes

Wayne Dyer made a driving run into the Stamford penalty area four minutes later but lacked composure at the crucial moment and got his laces underneath the ball to lift his shot into the Hednesford supporters gathered behind Pledger's goal

Ross Dyer was next to test Pledger just before the hour mark, firing in a low shot that the stand-in saved well, albeit in a slightly unorthodox manner with his arm and torso

Pledger followed this up with a great save to deny Rob Davies on sixty-three minutes as he turned away the midfielder's swerving free-kick from twenty-five yards out for a Hednesford corner kick


The stand-in stopper followed this up by saving well from Davies's fellow midfielder Wayne Dyer with the Pitmen's next attack sixty seconds later, palming Dyer's shot away from danger once more

A quickly-taken free-kick from Davies played Chad Sheppard into space on sixty-seven minutes, only for his fellow midfield man to fire well wide when a pass to Maguire may have been a better option

The Pitmen made an attacking change on seventy minutes as David Brown came on for Maguire to play as an inside forward on the left for the visitors and join Ross Dyer and Naginton up top where possible

Brown was joined by fellow winger Mario Pedro three minutes later, as the Portuguese playmaker came on on the right-wing in place of Sheppard as the Pitmen went to a 4-2-4 formation

 The tactic paid off just two moments later, as David Brown gave the Pitmen the lead with his first real contribution. Ross Adams crossed from the left wing and found the diminutive Brown coming in from the right flank. The substitute headed towards goal and was nearly denied by Pledger, only for the ball to trickle over the line via a deflection from the goalkeeper before a Stamford defender cleared the ball in vain

Hednesford pushed forwards in search of a second goal in what remained of the game. Nagington nipped in behind the Stamford defence on eighty minutes as he got a toe on a Pedro cross, but turned his effort narrowly wide of the near post


Ross Dyer could also have put the game to bed two minutes later but was also off target as he turned inside of a challenge from Bobby White and fired wide of the far post with a shot across the face of goal


It was the cultured touch of Davies that settled matters with five minutes left for the away side as he picked the ball up from deep, taking the ball to the edge of the area before firing a shot beyond Pledger's reach and into the corner of the net via a wicked deflection

It had been a pleasing second-half performance from Starbuck's side, who move up to within three points of seventh-placed Marine. A win over Whitby Town on Monday night would move them level with the Merseysiders - for twenty-fours at least - and continue this recent winning run that they are currently on

Stamford: Pledger, Guiney (Kirk 67), Hallows, White, Bonser, Bowater, Webb (Stubley 80), Towers, Pritchard, Byrne, L. Marshall      Sub Unused: Childs

Hednesford Town: Evans, McLeod, Adams, Sheppard (Pedro 73), T. Marshall ©, B. Brown, Davies, W. Dyer, R. Dyer, Nagington, Maguire (D. Brown 70)    Sub Unused: Robinson

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