19.9.2020

Pitching In Southern Premier League Central

Hednesford Town

Glover (33)

Stourbridge

Mills (21), (45), Landell (71), (76) 

(1) 1

(2) 4

Attendance

MoTM

Current Form

Next Match

600

Ben Bailey

L

 

Long Eaton United (H) 22.9.20

The Pitmen make a losing start to the new season as title favourites Stourbridge score two goals in each half to see off the challenge of the hosts, who play for eighty-five minutes of the game with ten men after an early red card for Callam Mendez-Jones

It had been a long wait for the club and it's supporters for the start of the new season after the coronavirus pandemic had delayed the start of the 2020-2021 Southern Premier League Central campaign. There had been much change to the club since their last league game at St. Ives Town in March, with new owners Graham Jones and Ade Dando taking charge of the club and installing Andy Morrell as the club's new manager. Morrell had been busy rebuilding the side over the long lay-off, handing Dan Turner and Carter Lycett their full debuts for the club for this afternoon's game alongside the returning George Cater. Other players returning to the club included Dan Preston, Lee Smith and Kieron Dawes, all of whom were named as substitutes alongside other new signings Louis Dodds and Will Norcross

Stourbridge had been installed as favourites for the Southern Premier League Central title over the summer months after manager Mark Yates had strengthened an already strong squad with a number of highly experienced acquisitions - there were league debuts for Ellis Deeney, Darryl Knights, Richard Peniket and ex-Pitman Ben O'Hanlon, whilst the returning Greg Mills made a second debut for the club after his return to the Amblecote from Bromsgrove Sporting

In front of a sell-out 600 crowd - capped by the current government rules - the game exploded into life in the fifth minute of the game as a loose pass from Jed Davies towards Jack Hallahan was seized upon by Knights, who eased Hallahan off the ball and played the ball through the gap and into the path of Mills. Callam Mendez-Jones came across to cover and appeared to toe-poke the ball away from the outstretched leg of the former Corby man, who subsequently fell over Mendez-Jones's standing leg. The Stourbridge players surrounded the referee to demand retribution for what they felt was a foul on Mills and a melee ensued between the two sets of players. Amazingly, referee Mr Brown ignored the flagging official on the main stand side and promptly sent Mendez-Jones off for the foul, deeming the centre-back to have been the last man

Knights took the resultant free-kick once both sets of players had settled down once more and forced Andy Wycherley into a good save down to his left-hand side as he pushed the low free-kick away from danger. From the resultant Mills corner, Hallahan failed to clear his lines as the ball bounced around the six-yard box before Ben Bailey completed the clearance

Morrell made the difficult decision to make an early substitution and balance his side out following Mendez-Jones's red card, taking forward Cater off in favour of centre-back Preston

The best the Pitmen could muster in the opening fifteen minutes was a drifting free-kick from Davies that sailed over the heads of everyone in the Stourbridge penalty area and dropped well wide of the far post

O'Hanlon was booked for the visitors in the seventeenth minute to ironic cheers from the grumpy home crowd as the left-wing back pulled the ever-willing Turner down on the wing and was shown a yellow card for his actions

 

However, the away side made their man advantage count with a well-worked opening goal in the twenty-first minute of the game, a delightful chipped pass from Knights saw Mills nip in behind the static Hednesford backline to beat Wycherley to the bouncing ball before turning it home from close range

To the Pitmen's credit, they rolled their sleeves up and pressed their opponents hard in the following ten minutes as they went in search of an equaliser; a quick break down the centre of the park on twenty-nine minutes saw Hallahan feed Glover, only for the striker's shot to be deflected narrowly wide by former Pitman Kieran Morris for a corner kick

Their positive approach to the game bore fruit on thirty-three minutes Glover was on hand to grab a fortuitous leveller for the hosts; Bailey's up and under clearance was lumped sixty yards down field towards Glover, who was on hand to take full advantage of a lack of communication between Morris and keeper Charlie Price to beat the pair to the bouncing ball before hammering home unchallenged from a yard out after leaving the pair behind on the floor

The Pitmen had their tails up and were looking the more likely to score all of a sudden despite being a man down. A Davies corner kick on thirty-six minutes found the head of the impressive Bailey, who headed just over from six yards out

Deeney somehow escaped any further punishment from the referee two minutes later as he appeared to elbow Hallahan in the centre circle as the pair challenged for a bouncing ball. Mr Brown spoke to the former Telford man but chose not to show him a card of any description with the Hednesford man receiving attention

Turner's presence saw him create a chance from nothing on forty-two minutes as Wycherley's long kick forwards dropped into the Stourbridge box, where Turner attempted an overhead kick under pressure from O'Hanlon that was just wide of the target

And yet, it was the away side that went in at half-time with the lead once more as Mills struck again with what was to prove the final action of the half; Preston gave away a needless free-kick to the left-hand side of the Hednesford penalty area, allowing Mills to place the ball down. The midfielder's quick thinking saw him spot Wycherley still organising his stance and curl a wonderful free-kick over the keeper's head and into the far top corner of the net. A good finish, but questionable positioning from the young Hednesford stopper

Half-time saw the Pitmen make another enforced change to their side as substitute Preston was himself replaced by the combative Smith, who moved into the centre of midfield. This saw the Pitmen shuffle their side around with Griffiths moving across to centre-back and Thompson dropping back to right-back

Mills tried his luck with another free-kick three minutes after the restart, but his weakly-struck effort was easily field by Wycherley, who was standing in the centre of his goal

Another poor touch from Hallahan allowed Deeney to easily take the ball off him and launch another attack on fifty-six minutes, culminating in a foul by Bailey on Mills. This time, however, Knights' free-kick was headed straight into the arms of Wycherley by Morris from eight yards out

Wycherley's indifferent afternoon continued on the hour mark, as he went walkabout outside his penalty area and attempted to clear a long ball forwards that inexplicably hit Knights before rebounding into the path of Kayleden Brown. Bailey spotted the danger and did a great job to mop up as Brown looked to slot the ball into the empty net from twelve yards out

The hosts went agonisingly close to grabbing an equaliser on sixty-five minutes as Turner won a free-kick for his side out on the right flank; Davies's inswinging free-kick was flicked on and fell at the feet of Smith, whose rising shot from ten yards out came crashing off the crossbar before Stourbridge cleared their lines

This was to be a costly miss for the hosts as Stourbridge put the game beyond their hosts with a quickfire double strike from a familiar face; former Hednesford striker Andre Landell came on for the visitors on seventy-one minutes for Kayleden Brown and put his side in a commanding position with his very first touch, sidefooting past Wycherley from twelve yards out after a flowing move involving Mills and Knights down the left saw the ball played into his path 

With fifteen minutes remaining the Pitmen were forced into a making their final substitution of the game and a real rarity of a situation as Louis Dodds came on in place of the injured Smith, meaning that the third substitute had replaced the second substitute, who in turn had replaced the Pitmen's first substitute in the form of Preston

A minute later, Stourbridge put the result beyond any doubt as the weary Pitmen were hit again by another direct piece of play from their highly experienced opponents. Peniket headed a Price ball on to Landell, who showed great composure to slip the ball past Wycherley from an angle with a flick of the outside of his boot and complete the scoring

The referee's incomprehensible afternoon took another comedic turn with twelve minutes remaining, as Davies fouled Knights in midfield which somehow led to substitute Dodds being booked in a case of mistaken identity, despite the Pitmen's protests to the contrary

Another neat piece of play down the left from Stourbridge involving Deeney, Kristian Green and Peniket opened up the Pitmen once more in eighty-three minutes as Knights' cross from the left flew across the face of the Hednesford goal and away from danger. Substitute Darragh Bustin recycled the ball and crossed from the opposite wing which Wycherley palmed straight into the path of Knights once more, only for the former Tamworth man to head against the crossbar from eight yards out

Knights was the final player booked with three minutes to go after pulling Turner back illegally down the right flank. Davies was wasteful once more from the resultant free-kick and weakly placed the ball straight into the arms of Price

It had been an eye-opening and sobering reminder of the work still to do for the Pitmen, both on and off the pitch as attention turns towards Tuesday night's F.A. Cup tie at home to Long Eaton United and a must-win game for the club, both in terms of getting their first win of the season on the board and picking up crucial prize money in the process

Hednesford Town: Wycherley, Griffiths, Lycett, Bailey © , Mendez-Jones ▆ (5), Thompson, Cater (Preston 7 (Smith 45) ((Dodds 75 )), Hallahan, Glover, Davies, Turner       Sub Unused: Norcross, Dawes

Stourbridge: Price, Green, O'Hanlon ▆ (Bustin 69), Birch, Morris, J. Brown, Knights , Deeney ©, Peniket, K. Brown (Landell 71), Mills (Dwyer 79)      Subs Unused: Nicholls, Riley

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