F.A. Cup 4th Qualifying Round


Hednesford Town

Durrell (55) (penalty), (79) (penalty)

(0) 0

(0) 2



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Michael Lennon


Altrincham (A) 2.11.13

Hednesford Town booked their place in the first round proper of this season's F.A. Cup this afternoon, courtesy of a hard-working victory at Evo-Stik Premier League strugglers Stamford, in which top scorer Elliott Durrell was once again a prominent figure in the game

Having survived two brutal games against Ebac Northern League side West Auckland Town in the last round, the Pitmen came up against more familiar opposition in the form of Stamford, who have regularly played against Hednesford in league and cup over the last decade. With a large number of his squad carrying knocks and twinges, Hednesford manager Rob Smith took the opportunity to make changes to his side and bring key personnel back into the side; Darren Campion and Michael Lennon were brought back into the side after missing last week's draw at Workington, meaning positional changes for Wayne Riley and John Disney to allow for the inclusion of the duo. Charlie Anagho-Ntamark was well enough to return to the squad, with Dave MacPherson also available after missing last week. Striker Aaron Rey was named amongst the six substitutes despite still not being fully fit

Stamford, under the management of the experienced former Nuneaton and Rushden midfielder David Staff, had found the going tough following May's Evo-Stik Division One (South) play-off final in over Chasetown and promotion back to step three. Four wins and a draw looked to have improved the Daniels' fortunes recently until last week's back-to-back reverses against Kidsgrove Athletic and Stafford Rangers respectively halted their progress

The Skrill North leaders were quickly out of the blocks, as they looked to make a strong start to the game. Jamey Osborne went close to adding to his recent glut of goals with a shot from range on three minutes that was a couple of yards wide of the left-hand post

Stamford made a slow start to the game but came into it after thirteen minutes with Richard Wesley firing in a low shot that Dan Crane did well to smother

Two minutes later, Crane was called into action again to deny Northampton loan striker David Moyo as the tall teenager headed towards the Hednesford goal

Despite neat interchanges between the likes of Osborne, Kris Taylor and Durrell, the Pitmen were struggling to create clear openings for the hardworking duo Neil Harvey and Lennon. In midfield, Riley was struggling to exert his authority on the game, looking a little lost in a more withdrawn role

Midway through the half, Francino Francis reminded everyone why he was a centre back and not a forward anymore, as he sliced a ball out of play from an excellent position after Durrell's wicked free-kick had dropped to him

Durrell was next to try his luck for the Pitmen as the game ticked over the half-hour mark - and what an effort it was from the Skrill North's leading goalscorer; picking the ball up twenty-five yards out, to the left of the penalty area, Durrell unleashed an incredible dipping, swerving, curling effort that beat Stamford keeper Andy Stevens all ends up. Unfortunately for the midfielder, his effort came back off the left-hand post and rolled along the goal line before being cleared for a Hednesford corner kick

The Pitmen had a shout for a penalty kick for the first time in the afternoon on thirty-five minutes, as Harvey appeared to be bundled over as he challenged for a cross. The referee allowed play to continue, despite Harvey's protests, with Osborne slicing his effort wide in all of the confusion

Stevens kept the home side in contention on thirty-eight minutes, making a smart save to deny Durrell after Harvey had played his team-mate in with a neat pass 

Having watched former Hednesford favourite Ross Draper pull off an audacious piece of gamesmanship at the weekend at a corner kick for Inverness Caledonian Thistle, the Pitmen tried their own version of it with five minutes of the first half remaining; Osborne faintly touched a corner kick into play under the watchful eye of the linesman, before walking away from it - Durrell's attempt at surprising the Stamford defence with an early cross was scuppered by the referee, who forced the visitors to take the corner correctly

Campion's game came to a premature end at half time, as the Hednesford captain limped off at the end of the first period and was deemed too much of a risk for the second period. He was replaced by Alex Melbourne, who slotted into an unfamiliar left-back role. Melbourne's adaptability was once again a huge plus to the Pitmen, as he put in an impressive shift in yet another different position for the former Wolves man. Francis assumed the responsibility of the captaincy in Campion's absence

Stamford came at the Pitmen early into the second half, with Crane making a fine save just a minute after the restart - Wesley's well-struck effort was turned around the post by Crane, at full stretch to deal with the goalbound effort

Lennon's response was to fire narrowly wide of goal on forty-eight minutes after he managed to turn away from his marker in typically bustling Lennon style on the edge of the area

Moyo forced Ben Bailey into a smothering block on fifty minutes, as the Zimbabwean turned away from Francis and shaped to shoot until Bailey's last-ditch intervention

The game turned on a penalty decision awarded in the Pitmen's favour on fifty-five minutes, as Lennon won the away side a spot-kick after was fouled by Nathan Haines as the pair challenged for the ball. Durrell stepped up and fired confidently to Stevens' left to put the visitors ahead

Riley's disappointing game was brought to a halt just after the hour mark, as the enterprising Robbie Thompson-Brown came on in his place

Both Harvey and Lennon deserved a goal that their efforts merited, but it appeared that neither was destined to notch in the game; Lennon somehow skewed a shot wide of goal, followed on sixty-four minutes by a barnstorming run from halfway from Harvey that saw him cut inside and fire into the side netting from an angle

Moyo was again left frustrated by Crane on seventy minutes, as he cut inside John Disney and fired at goal, but only succeeded in finding the midriff of the Hednesford keeper

The same player missed his best chance to put Stamford level again three minutes later, as he headed horribly wide at the far post after a Stamford corner kick found Moyo unmarked six yards out

With thirteen minutes remaining, the Pitmen looked to shut up shop with the introduction of MacPherson in place of Harvey, who had run himself into the ground with a master class in forward play

Two minutes later, Durrell finally killed Stamford off with a second penalty kick, awarded to the visitors after the hapless Haines had climbed all over Lennon as the two went up for a cross. Durrell went to Stevens' right on this occasion, finding the bottom corner of the net to register goal seventeen already this term

Looking for a hat-trick - and more F.A. cup headlines - Durrell went close to adding to his tally on eighty-three minutes with an effort that cleared the crossbar

The Pitmen saw out the final minutes with relative ease, booking their place in the hat for tomorrow's first-round draw, and will now hope that their progress will be rewarded with a glamour tie against one of the big hitters in skybet League One. A trip to Molineux, Bramall Lane or even Bescot Stadium will bring back memories of 1997 and all that, and reward this group of players with a chance to pit their wits against more glamorous opposition

Stamford: Stevens, Challinor, Haines, Jarvis, Jones ©, Ashton (Richards 63), Lawlor (Burgess 77), Robinson, Smith, Moyo, Wesley      Subs Unused: Richardson, Blakely, Staff

Hednesford Town: Crane, Disney, Campion © (Melbourne 45), Bailey, Francis, Taylor , Osborne, Durrell , Harvey (MacPherson 77), Lennon, Riley (Thompson-Brown 62)      Subs Unused: Anagho-Ntamark, Rey, Woolfe

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