Vanarama Conference North

Stockport County

Spencer (22), Baker (77), Milligan (80) (penalty)

Hednesford Town

(1) 3

(0) 0



Current Form

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James Hurst


Tamworth (H) 22.11.14

TheThe Pitmen's mini-revival in Conference North was given a harsh reality check at Edgeley Park this afternoon, as in-form Stockport County took advantage of slack defending from the away side to continue their own recent good run of form

Recent results and performances had essentially meant that the side was picking itself at present, with manager Rob Smith making the straightforward decision to stick with the same side that had earned a draw against league leaders Barrow the previous weekend

Stockport - following a difficult first season at step two last term - had improved considerably in the early stages of the current campaign, with the Hatters having only lost one game at home all season. Alan Lord's side sat just a place below the Pitmen in the table at the start of play, level on twenty-six points each

Bringing their confidence into the game, Hednesford made a superb start to the game as they put Stockport under early pressure in the first fifteen minutes

Ben Bailey tried his luck as early as the third minute with an ambitious long-range effort, with Jamey Osborne also narrowly missing the target from twenty-five yards out a few moments later

Right-back James Hurst - impressive in the 1-1 draw against Barrow - was again to be the standout performer for the Pitmen, with his athleticism, pace and ability to get into forward positions one of Hednesford's main assets. One of those powerful runs forward carved out a chance on nine minutes, with Hurst driving a low shot inches wide of the far post

Steve Diggin was playing off the shoulder of the Stockport defence, looking to get in behind the back line to feed off through balls from the likes of Tom Thorley and Osborne. One such ball on twelve minutes from Thorley played the striker in, but the ball would not sit for him and allowed Danny Gregson to block the shot

An acrobatic effort from Danny Glover three minutes later tested the reactions of Stockport keeper Ian Ormson, holding Glover's overhead kick on his goal line after the in-form striker had reached Darren Campion's cross

Stockport had barely been in the Pitmen's half in the first twenty minutes, never mid register a shot on goal. This changed midway through the half, as the hosts took the lead against the run of play. A through ball from midfield found Scott Spencer, who held off half-hearted challenges from both Campion and Francino Francis to bundle the ball past Dan Crane from twelve yards out

The Pitmen responded two minutes later by forcing successive corner kicks, the second one somehow going straight across the face of goal and missing the heads of both Glover and Francis

Neat approach play down the Hednesford left opened up the Stockport defence on twenty-seven minutes, with Glover cleverly creating a chance for Thorley by stepping over Campion's ball and playing the midfielder in on goal. However, Thorley lacked composure and fired over the crossbar from an excellent position

Stockport went close to adding to their lead on thirty-seven minutes, as Tunji Moses drove narrowly wide of goal with a shot across the face of Crane's goal

A bizarre refereeing decision almost went against the Pitmen a minute later, as Francis turned a ball back to Crane via a touch off his knee. The referee initially adjudged Francis to have touched the ball back with his hand, but on advice from his assistant on the far side correctly allowed the game to continue

The Pitmen made a strong start to the second half, forcing Stockport back into their own third for the first ten minutes of the half as they searched for the elusive equaliser. A clutch of corners and free kicks from the right led to an eventual chance for Batchelor, as he reacted quickest to Ormson's save to deny Francis by heading the rebound a matter of inches over the crossbar

Diggin's final act of the game was to get on the end of Bailey's flick header on fifty-nine minutes, looping a header over the reach of Ormson but onto the roof of the net from eight yards out

A minute later, Paul Sullivan was introduced in place of Diggin to give the Pitmen more pace up front alongside Glover

The Pitmen lived dangerously at the back on sixty-one minutes, with Jamie Milligan allowed time and space to drive a ball straight across the face of the Hednesford goal. To the relief of the Hednesford supporters, Spencer could not get on the end of the ball at the far post, under pressure from Francis

Another Campion set-piece on sixty-nine minutes saw Osborne glance a header well wide of Ormson's goal from a decent position ten yards from goal

With the game firmly poised going into the final fifteen minutes, Marvin Robinson came on against one of his former sides to add his weight to the Hednesford forward line

However, within two minutes a heinous error from Francis allowed Stockport to double their lead and essentially end the game as a contest. Under pressure from Lee Stevenson, Francis had two opportunities to clear his lines only but succeeded in losing his footing at the crucial moment and left Stevenson to seize upon the loose ball. The midfielder had time to pick out Richie Baker in the penalty area, who drove past a horribly exposed Crane from twelve yards out

The wheels were coming off the Hednesford wagon quickly, and three minutes later a poor refereeing decision cost them a third goal. A long, bouncing ball was chased down by Hurst and Stockport's Spencer, with the pair seemingly running into each other as the ball ran away from them. To the disbelief of the Hednesford players and supporters, the referee awarded Stockport a penalty for a foul by Hurst. Milligan stepped up and sent Crane the wrong way from the spot to complete the afternoon's scoring

Archie Love was given a late run out by the Pitmen in place of the ineffective Walker, with fellow substitute Sullivan summing up the Pitmen's luckless afternoon in the final minute as he spooned a shot over the crossbar from close range

There was time for Robinson to incur ironic cheers from the Stockport fans in added time, as his overhead kick flew high over the crossbar and into the empty Railway End with the final chance of the game

After a good run of recent form, a result like this will no doubt be a blow to Smith and his players. Rarely, however, does a 3-0 defeat come with as many positives as this. For a large portion of the game, the Pitmen were decent value for at least a point, particularly at the start of both halves. However, the old spectre of defensive errors reared it's ugly head once again, with the Pitmen looking for a response in training this week ahead of the big local derby against Tamworth next Saturday

Stockport County: Ormson, Belezika, O’Halloran, Moses , Gregson, Lees, Baker (Churchman 87), Stevenson, Owens, Spencer, Milligan © (Woolfe 90)      Subs Unused: Hurst, Sharp, Russell

Hednesford Town: Crane, Hurst, Campion ©, Bailey, Francis, Thorley, Osborne, Walker (Love 85), Glover, Diggin (Sullivan 59), Batchelor (Robinson 73)      Subs Unused: Melbourne, Westwood

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