Southern Premier League


Ainsley (5)

Hednesford Town

Gray (35)

(1) 1

(1) 1



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Andy Bell



Histon (H) 4.9.04

The Pitmen's unbeaten run in the Southern Premier league is extended to four games this Bank Holiday Monday afternoon as they earn themselves a point in their first-ever meeting with Stamford 

Having beaten newly-promoted Team Bath convincingly on Saturday, Hednesford manager Chris Brindley elected to stick with the same XI that had earned three points at the weekend for their first-ever trip to Kettering Road

Stamford had recorded their first win of the new season in their first season in the newly-structured Southern Premier League, beating Aylesbury United 2-1 at Buckingham Road to start today's game in sixteenth place in the table. Manager Graham Drury - appointed in the summer from Harrowby United - made one change to his side for today's game as the experienced Andy Peaks was replaced by Delroy Gordon

The all-blue clad Pitmen made the worst possible start to proceedings as Stamford swept forwards and went close to opening the scoring in the third minute; Jason Turner's presence saw him dispossess Lee Barrow and play Gary Byrne in on goal, only for Ryan Young to make a one-handed stop

Two minutes later, the Daniels took the lead as a run from Gareth Pritchard from deep saw him enter the Hednesford penalty area and drive a shot at goal that was deflected away from goal by Richard Teesdale. The ball bounced kindly for the onrushing Kevin Ainsley, who forced the ball home on the rebound to give the hosts an early lead

Back came the Pitmen after conceding such an early goal with Craig Dean and Chris Gray linking up well down the right in the eleventh minute to cross for Leon McSweeney, whose scuffed first-time shot from ten yards out was easily fielded by Stamford goalkeeper Darren Watts

Young was involved again to deny Stamford a second goal in the fifteenth minute as Pritchard made another darting run from deep and crossed for Ryan Nash, whose header goalwards was tipped over the crossbar by Young at full stretch

From the resultant corner kick, Gordon rose highest to meet the ball but could not divert the ball goalwards and headed into the Stamford fans gathered behind Young's goal

Lee Williams won a free-kick for the visitors midway through the first half and took it himself quickly, playing Anthony Maguire into space down the left. The youngster steadied himself and crossed low into the feet of Andy Bell, only for the in-form striker to scuff his shot well wide of goal

Two minutes later, Barrow's up and under was allowed to bounce by the Stamford defence and ended up at the feet of Matt Turner, whose wild first time effort was skied high over the crossbar from eighteen yards out

A good run from Dean on twenty-six minutes saw him skip past Danny Steadman's challenge and cross for McSweeney, who did well to bring the ball under control and fired a left-footed effort narrowly wide of Watts' post

Just sixty seconds later, McSweeney was played in behind the Stamford defence once more - this time by strike partner Bell's neat flick - but saw his first-time shot parried behind by Watts at his near post

The Pitmen were very much on top at this stage of the game and Maguire stung the hands of Watts on the half-hour mark with a long-range effort from nearly thirty yards out that was claimed at the second attempt by former Rushden & Diamonds stopper Watts

The Pitmen's persistence was finally rewarded with an equalising goal on thirty-five minutes; Williams swung in a corner from the left-hand side that Stamford failed to deal with, allowing Chris Gray to seize upon the bouncing ball and fire home through a crowded goalmouth from eighteen yards for his first goal of the season

The visitors finished the half strongly and wasted more good chances to turn the game on its head before the break. Gray got himself to the byeline on forty minutes and pulled the ball back to Bell, whose driven effort across the face of goal was smuggled away by Steadman

Two minutes later, Teesdale headed a Williams corner kick up into the air to test the reflexes of Watts, who dropped the ball initially before pouncing on it a second time before Maguire could turn the loose ball home

Right on the stroke of half-time, Dean and Jason Turner had a coming together twenty yards from the Hednesford goal and had to be separated by referee Mr Brockwell, who gave the pair a stern warning for their respective parts in the scuffle

It had been a strong response from the Pitmen after conceding such an early goal, who continued to have the better of the possession and chances at the start of the second half

Bell registered the first shot on target in the second period on forty-nine minutes, getting the better of Nash as he was fed by Williams before striking a clean shot just wide of Watts' far post

McSweeney was denied a shot at goal by a late flag on the main stand side as he was played clean through on goal by another cultured pass from Williams, only for the assistant to have adjudged the Irishman to have moved too quickly onto the ball

Nash fired narrowly over the crossbar with Stamford's first effort of the half on fifty-six minutes, picking up a loose pass from Barrow and playing a one-two with Ainsley before firing over

On the hour mark, Bell's knock-down from a Williams pass found Maguire in space down the left, who in turn floated a ball into the path of Teesdale, only for his effort to be deflected behind for a corner kick

Maguire took the resultant corner and picked out Teesdale once more, this time with his head at the near post. However, his effort was just the wrong side of Watts' near post

The hosts had shown very little in the way of an attacking threat in the early stages of the second half, with Young under-utilised for much of the half as the Pitmen pressed. he made one good stop on sixty-four minutes to watch Jason Turner's rising shot over the crossbar from twenty-five yards out

A minute later, Matt Turner played the ever-willing Bell into space in behind the Stamford defence. Despite the Daniels defenders appealing for offside against the former Blackburn man, play continued and Watts did well to force the young striker wide of goal before making an easy save to his left

A quick counter-attack from Stamford on seventy-one minutes saw Byrne break clear of the static Hednesford defence but struck his shot a little late and allowed Young to make a good save

Ainsley and Byrne did well to play former Rushden man Garry Butterworth into space with fifteen minutes remaining. The veteran returned the ball to Byrne, whose curling shot dipped just wide of Young's post

The Pitmen's one and only substitution of the afternoon came with eleven minutes remaining as Damien Charie was given a late run out by Brindley as he came on in place of Maguire

A minute later, McSweeney was handed a great chance to win the game for the away side as he was played in by another one of Bell's intelligent passes but blazed his shot over the crossbar from fifteen yards out

Barrow almost headed into his own net three minutes later as he defended an Ainsley free-kick at his near post and turned the ball just wide of the post as he sliced the cross away

With three minutes remaining, Charie won a free-kick to the left-hand side of the Stamford penalty area and allowed Matt Turner to spot the ball and curl his free-kick beyond the Daniels wall, only to be denied by a fine save by Watts

In the first of three added minutes, a late rally from the hosts saw them win successive corner kicks as they looked to force home a late and unlikely winner. However, Young was on top form, punching away Ainsley's dangerous inswinging second flag-kick to safety


The visitors can be fairly satisfied with their display and a first-ever point at Stamford's home ground that keeps them in fourteenth place in the league table for now. The Pitmen return to Keys Park once more on Saturday when they face another side for the first time ever in the form of ambitious Cambridgeshire side Histon

Stamford: Watts, Steadman, Ashby, Maddox, Gordon, Pritchard (Boyle-Chong 90), Nash, Butterworth, Byrne, J. Turner (Thompson 90), Ainsley       Subs Unused: Rhule, Peaks, Green

Hednesford Town: Young, Gibson, Dean, Barrow ©, Teesdale, Williams, Maguire (Charie 79), M. Turner, Bell, McSweeney, Gray      Subs Unused: Anthrobus, Adams, Evans