Zamaretto Southern Premier League


Bennett (55)

Hednesford Town

Bailey (43)

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Richard Walker


Didcot Town (A) 22.8.09

Hednesford continued to adapt to life back in the Southern League with a hard-fought draw against Stourbridge tonight, although a lacklustre second-half performance will not have impressed manager Dean Edwards


 There was only one change to the side that beat Tiverton Town at Keys Park on the opening day, with Aaron Gibson restored to left-back - Scott Lycett deputised for the injured Carl Palmer in central midfield. There were only three players named as substitutes, highlighting the need for reinforcements, temporary or not, shortly

With Stourbridge without a ground until the end of the cricket season as the town's cricket club - whom the Glassboys share a ground with - were still to complete their 2009 season, both sides arrived at Halesowen's Grove ground eager to stay unbeaten ahead of a hectic schedule during August where all sides will have played six games by the end of the month

The Pitmen started brightly, with Sam Aiston looking a threat down the left-hand side from the off. His persistence won an early corner for the Pitmen on eight minutes, which was whipped in by Tony Dinning. The ball dropped at the feet of Ben Bailey at the back post but fired high over the bar in what was a typical centre back's finish

Tyrone Barnett was guilty of wasting a great chance on ten minutes, firing wide of goal after Ross Dyer had set him up with a clever ball

The 'hosts' best chance in a quiet opening was an effort by Sean Evans, who fashioned an opening on the edge of the area before forcing veteran goalkeeper Gavin Ward into a regulation save low down

Clearly fancying back-to-back wins, the Pitmen put Stourbridge under constant pressure in the first quarter. After winning a free-kick out on the right-hand side, Sean Platt sent over a teasing cross, finding Tyrone Barnett lurking at the far post. However, he failed to direct his header towards goal and only managed to head wide of former Hednesford keeper Lewis Solly's goal

The Pitmen continued to have the better of the chances, although Lycett was wasteful with a wild effort that flew over the stand on twenty minutes when he really should have made Solly work. This was followed up sixty seconds later by Elliott Durrell's high, wide and handsome shot from twenty-five yards out after Aiston had supplied him with the ball

Finally, the home side were shaken into action, with Ryan Rowe finding the dangerous Evans who made Ward work a lot harder than his previous effort, this time turning the ball away for a corner kick

Bailey had been a constant threat to Stourbridge every time the Pitmen had won a corner, and he was in the thick of it yet again just before the half-hour mark, heading narrowly over with a free header from Dinning's corner

Despite having missed a handful of chances, the young centre back did not dwell on it and made amends just before half time. Another fine Dinning set-piece found Bailey unmarked once again at the back post, with the teenager making no mistake third time around, powerfully heading home unmarked to grab his second goal in four days

The Pitmen looked to play out the final moments of the first half without any drama, but could only watch as Drew Canavan hit the crossbar for Stourbridge with what turned out to be the last kick of the half, a swirling long-range free-kick awarded after a foul by the otherwise excellent Richard Walker

If Edwards had been preaching 'more of the same at half time, his players had not been listening, as they allowed the 'home' side to claw their way back into the game during the second half

Ward made a good early save to deny Evans, turning the ball away across the face of goal after the Stourbridge man had made a good run 

Sensing an equaliser, Stourbridge continued to turn the screw and got their reward on fifty-five minutes. Canavan again caused chaos in the ranks with another clever free-kick, finding Ben Bellingham inside the box. His volley was brilliantly saved by Ward from point-blank range, but he could only parry the ball back to Canavan. His effort was also saved by the veteran stopper, but it was not to be third time lucky for the former Stoke man, as the ball ran kindly to Nathan Bennett, who scored from five yards out

This gave the Glassboys a real shot in the arm, as they were the ones creating now the openings as Hednesford floundered in midfield. Canavan was again involved, firing just wide of goal before Ryan Mahon should have made Ward work on the hour mark with a shot that was only just wide of the far post

The Pitmen's attacking threat was now limited to counter-attacks, with Dinning clipping the top of the crossbar with a twenty-yard free kick on sixty-four minutes. Barnett was again a frustrated figure after heading weakly at Solly following a good cross from Dyer two minutes later

It seemed as though nothing was going to run Barnett's way, as his rotten luck continued on sixty-eight minutes. A deep Platt cross was headed back into the danger zone by Dyer, right onto the head of his strike partner. However, his weak header dropped straight into the grateful hands of Solly, when he really should have made the keeper work from only six yards out

Durrell, who had been playing in a more withdrawn role than he normally would play, was withdrawn twenty minutes from the end, with Justin Nisbett brought on to add pace to the attack, as the Pitmen looked to snatch another late winner. Stourbridge also made a change, with Aaron Drake coming on, and immediately testing Ward with his first touch, a looping shot from just outside the area

The final ten minutes saw both sides give it their best shot at winning it; Nisbett did well to wriggle free of his marker but fired over the bar with his powerfully struck shot. At the other end, Evans' ball across the face of goal gave the large Hednesford following something to worry about momentarily


Both sides can be pleased with a hard night's work and the result keeps Hednesford in fifth place in the league table, just behind the four sides with 100% record so far. Newly-promoted Didcot Town will offer a different challenge on Saturday, but three points will be the priority for Edwards as they look to keep up with the pacesetters early on

Stourbridge: Solly, Rock, Cowley, Collins, Canavan, Bennett, Slater, Mahon (Dovey 69), Rowe, Billingham, Evans (Drake 78)      Subs Unused: J. Williams, Bala, L. Williams

Hednesford Town: Ward, Platt, Gibson, Dinning, Walker ©, Bailey, Durrell (Nisbett 69), Lycett, Barnett, Dyer, Aiston      Subs Unused: Bandurak, Flynn

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