16.8.2021

Pitching In Southern Premier League Central

Stourbridge

Cowley (4)

Hednesford Town

Richards (18) (penalty), Landell (68) (penalty)

(1) 1

(1) 2

Attendance

MoTM

Current Form

Next Match

864

Todd Parker

W W

 

Alevechurch (A) 21.8.21

The Pitmen made it back-to-back wins this evening by taking the notable scalp of title favourites Stourbridge on their own turf to move the side to the top of the Southern Premier League Central table with six points from six

Hednesford manager Keenen Meakin-Richards surprised many of the travelling faithful by making four changes to the side that had beaten Needham Market in Saturday's curtain-raiser, with Sam Griffiths, Ryan Ryce, Ben Bailey and Andre Brown all coming into the side for their first starts of the season  in place of Callam Mendez-Jones, Kyle Rowley, Reece Flanagan and Reece Styche respectively

The Glassboys had started the new season with a 1-1 draw at Banbury United and returned home looking to get their home campaign off to a winning start. Manager Mark Yates made one change to his side from the weekend as the experienced Darryl Knights came in for Darragh Bustin in midfield

In front of a large home crowd, the hosts made an assertive start to proceedings and almost found themselves ahead in the third minute of the game; summer signing Jason Cowley picked the ball up thirty-five yards from goal and attempted an audacious effort that drifted just over Andy Wycherley's crossbar

The home side did take the lead however with their next attack sixty seconds later as a long ball forwards was brought down by ex-Hednesford loanee Montel Gibson, who appeared to control the ball with his arm before playing Cowley through on goal. The striker took a touch before rounding the advancing Wycherley and turning the ball home, despite Pryce's best attempts to keep the ball out

The Pitmen responded with Andre Landell doing well in midfield in the eighth minute and spraying the ball out to Carter Lycett, who was playing in a more advanced role tonight with Pryce covering him at left-back. He teased his way past the experienced Lee Vaughan and crossed low into the Stourbridge six-yard box, only for the ball to skip away from the incoming Andre Brown and end up drifting wide of the far post

The game settled into a more attritional encounter with both sides enjoying plenty of the ball but finding the opposition equal to their attacking efforts. Cowley's pace was a constant threat to the Pitmen, with another darting run from the former Bromsgrove frontman being deemed offside by the assistant on the far side in the twelfth minute

A minute later, ex-Hednesford defender Kieran Morris made a move forwards to get on the end of a free-kick from yet another former Hednesford man, James McQuilkin but headed high over the crossbar as he got underneath the ball

The visitors were handed a lifeline, somewhat literally, in the eighteenth minute as a quick throw-in from Griffiths found Courtney Richards making a run into the penalty area, only for McQuilkin to handle a Brown flick-on just inside the box as the ball fell to him. Referee Mr Pratt had no doubt in his mind and immediately pointed to the spot. Richards stepped up and sent goalkeeper Charlie Price the wrong way from twelve yards out to level matters once more

It was the Pitmen that now had the momentum and George Cater's nuisance value won them a free-kick to the right-hand side of the Stourbridge penalty area just after the midway point in the first half. Lycett curled in a left-footed ball that was headed goalwards by Lewis Ison but was somehow scrambled clear at the far post by the hosts

Another free-kick, this time from a more central position, was taken by Pryce in the twenty-sixth minute but his rising shot from twenty-five yards out drifted high over Price's crossbar

There was an edge to the proceedings, with both sets of players nibbling away at each other. With four ex-Pitmen in the home ranks and two former Glassboys playing for the Pitmen coming up against each other, it was certainly a competitive local encounter. The hugely experienced Liam Daly hauled down Landell in full flight on twenty-eight minutes and was given a talking-to by Mr Pratt as the Pitmen won yet another free-kick in opposition territory

Richards was the first player to go into the referee's notebook on the half-hour mark as he crudely brought down Knights in midfield with a thumping tackle that saw him pick up a caution

Greg Mills - a thorn in previous Hednesford sides for the likes of Bromsgrove Sporting and Corby Town - had been quiet out on the wing for the Glassboys, although he did well to come inside from the right on thirty-three minutes and cross for Cowley, who could not get the ball under his control and allowed the excellent Bailey to come across and make the challenge

Todd Parker was having an outstanding game for the away side in midfield, further emphasising his credentials as a growing influence on this Hednesford side. He made a fine run through the centre of the pitch four minutes later but his final ball lacked the pace to find Brown and the move broke down

Gibson was perhaps lucky to stay on the pitch with three minutes of the first half remaining as he wildly slid in on Griffiths in front of the benches and took out the right-back with a late and high tackle. On another day and with a different referee, this could easily have been a red card, but Mr Pratt showed the striker a yellow card and gave him a severe ticking-off as Griffiths received treatment

The tackle had incensed the Pitmen's dugout, with coach Jemiah Richards constantly in the ear of the assistant and the referee before he was finally sent to the stands by Mr Pratt just before the break

It had been a competitive first forty-five minutes between two sides looking to take top spot in the table for twenty-four hours at least. The Pitmen's defence had looked fairly comfortable against a Stourbridge attack that had failed to push on from their opening salvo, whilst their attack had been lively - if a little limited - against the experienced and high-quality Stourbridge backline

The away side started the second half with real purpose as the two Andres, Brown and Landell, linked up well on forty-nine minutes, culminating in Landell seeing his shot deflected wide of goal from the edge of the penalty area

Good play from Brown on fifty-one minutes saw him work the ball out to Parker down the right, who played Landell into space towards the byeline. The former Galssboy - a goalscorer against the Pitmen on the opening day of last season - drove a low cross into the six-yard box but again Brown could not get on the end of it and tap the ball home

Three minutes later, Landell and Cater linked up well with Landell squeezing a pass into the path of Cater some neat interplay down the right flank,. only for the winger to drill his shot from a tight angle into the side netting

King's name was no stranger to the referee's notebook during his time at Keys Park, picking up numerous yellow and red cards in two spells at the club, and it perhaps came as no surprise that he was the next player to be shown a yellow card on fifty-eight minutes as he stretched out a long leg and fouled Parker in midfield

Bailey was next to pick up a booking for the all-blue visitors, earning himself a yellow card on sixty-two minutes for a foul on Gibson as he denied the striker a shooting opportunity

The Pitmen made their first change of the evening on sixty-three minutes as Richards was replaced by Flanagan in the centre of midfield in a like-for-like swap

You felt that the away side were growing in confidence against a Stourbridge side that simply could not get started going forwards, with the Pitmen enjoying long spells of possession inside the Glassboys half of the pitch. Cater - a real threat with his pace down the right - exchanged passes with Griffiths on sixty-five minutes and drifted past McQuilkin, only to see his cross cut out at the near post by Morris

It was Morris that was to hand the Pitmen the chance to take the lead three minutes later as Cater picked up a Griffiths throw and made a run into the Stourbridge penalty area. McQuilkin failed to stop him despite a pull on his shirt, leaving it to Morris to come across and bring the former Chasetown man down as he ran across him. Once again, Mr Pratt had no doubt that it was a penalty and pointed to the spot once more

  

With Richards going off and Saturday's penalty scorer Styche still on the bench, Landell stepped up and fired home a brilliantly taken penalty kick to send it high to Price's right and into the top corner of the net to hand the Pitmen the lead

The hosts made an immediate attacking change as summer signing Miracle Okafor came on for the desperately disappointing Knights to add more pace and power to the impotent Stourbridge attack

 

And yet, there was still little to no attacking threat from the hosts, with the Pitmen expecting a late onslaught that simply never materialised. Indeed, the away side should have extended their lead in the final twenty minutes as they continued to have the chances. On seventy-three minutes, Brown did brilliantly down the left to skip past Daly down the left flank before pulling the ball back to Cater, whose weak effort at the near post was turned wide of the target

 

With fifteen minutes remaining, The Pitmen made their second change of the game as the hard-working Brown made way for Styche up front for the final period of the match

 

Styche was involved straight away as he almost forced Vaughan into an embarrassing own goal on eighty minutes; Wycherley's long kick forwards was chased down by the substitute, forcing Vaughan to get goal side of the striker and stoop to head the ball back to Price, only to get a bit too much on the ball and send it towards his own goal. However, Price spared his full-back's blushes with a flying save to hold the ball before Landell could tap the ball home

 

Ison was booked with eight minutes remaining for holding Gibson as the pair challenged for a high ball, most likely an accumulation of smaller fouls from the defender throughout the game

 

With five minutes remaining, Pryce broke into the Stourbridge third of the pitch as Brown played the ball back to the full-back from his own throw. With no one in red and white to close him down, Pryce strode into space but lifted his shot over the crossbar

Many of the Stourbridge fans had seen enough from their side and started to head for the exits, frustrated at how the game had been dominated by the Pitmen despite their side making such a good start to the game

It had been a thoroughly enjoyable and professional display from Meakin-Richards' side, who had been tremendous value for their win and probably should have won by a bigger margin had several players shown more composure in front of goal in the second half. They sit top of the table with their 100% record intact and will travel to Alvechurch this weekend in fine fettle as they look to make it three wins in the first week of the season

  

Stourbridge: Price, Vaughan, Rowe-Turner, McQuilkin, Daly © , Morris, Knights (Okafor 70), King , Cowley, Gibson , Mills (Bustin 66)     Subs Unused: Portman, Moran, Marsden

 

Hednesford Town: Wycherley, Griffiths, Pryce, Bailey © , Ison , Richards   (Flanagan 63), Cater , Parker, Brown (Styche 75), Landell (Rowley 90), Lycett      Subs Unused: Hanna, Williams