29.3.2022

Pitching In Southern Premier League Central

Hednesford Town

Lita (18), (45), (65)

Stourbridge

Cook (75)

(2) 3

(0) 1

Attendance

MoTM

Current Form

Next Match

519

Leroy Lita

D L L L D W L W L W

 

Coalville Town (A) 2.4.22

The Pitmen's Jekyll and Hyde form continues this evening as they return to winning ways with a fine display to beat local rivals Stourbridge at the PRG Stadium @ Keys Park as new boy Leroy Lita plunders a fantastic debut hat-trick for his new side

 

Saturday's defeat and poor performance against Royston Town had given Hednesford manager Keenen Meakin-Richards much to ponder ahead of this, their third home game in seven days. Lita was handed his debut up front after missing Saturday's game due to suspension, coming in ahead of George Cater. Lita's inclusion was the first of four changes to the side as Josh Webb replaced Carter Lycett at left-back, Cain Smith was selected ahead of Kyle Bennett and on-loan Yoane Zohore made his full debut as he replaced Chay Tilt. This saw Riley O'Sullivan and Zohore playing as inside forwards either side of Lita in a new-look forward line for the hosts. Martin Riley had recovered from the dislocated shoulder sufficiently to be named amongst the substitutes

 

In-form Stourbridge arrived in South Staffordshire off the back of a 3-1 win at Biggleswade Town on Saturday, extending their unbeaten run to five games. Joint managers Leon Broadhurst and Stuart Pierpoint made two changes to their side for tonight's game as ex-Hednesford midfielder Reece King missed out due to injury and was replaced by another former Hednesford midfielder, James McQuilkin, whilst former Hednesford striker Reece Styche had returned from international duty with Gibraltar in time to line up against his former club as he came in for Ethan Moran. Other ex-Hednesford men in the Glassboys' XI included Ben O'Hanlon and George Forsyth, whilst centre-back Kyle Rowley and goalkeeper Lewis Solly were amongst the substitutes

 

After basking in bright sunshine on Saturday afternoon, it was back to winter coats and scarves for the Hednesford supporters tonight as the temperature dropped ahead of kick-off. There was an impeccably-observed minute's silence from everyone in the ground in memory of Redditch United captain Tom Rankin, who had tragically died suddenly on Sunday

Styche - looking for a winning return to his former club - got straight into the Hednesford defence in the fourth minute as he clashed with Hednesford skipper Lewis Ison just outside the penalty area and led to the pair squaring up to each other, prompting referee Mr Cooke to separate the duo and give them both an early dressing-down

The Keys Park pitch was hard and bobbly, having had very little water on it in recent times due to the good spell of recent weather. A short corner from Darrrly Knights to McQuilkin in the eighth minute was whipped in from the right and beyond the reach of on-loan Oliver Basey, relying on Zohore to clear the danger out of his own penalty area before Styche could react

The first real effort at goal came in the eleventh minute as a neat move from the Pitmen saw Zohore play O'Sullivan into space down the right, with the striker cutting inside of Jack Wilson before unleashing a low shot from the edge of the penalty area that Glassboys goalkeeper Charlie Price parried away to his right

Styche should have given the visitors the lead three minutes later as Kayleden Brown's looping flick-on from Price's long free-kick forwards found Styche in behind the Hednesford defence, only for his header to drift inches past the post as he beat Basey to the ball. The former Hednesford man was mocked by the Heath Hayes terrace for celebrating his 'goal' as he headed goalwards, only to watch on as it failed to find the target

Basey was on the spot to claim the next ball into his penalty area, however, on sixteen minutes as he claimed a Knights corner ahead of the big and strong Brown before the former West Brom man could get to the ball

More good play from the Pitmen, and in particular O'Sullivan, saw the hosts carve out a chance for Lita a minute later as his chipped cross from the corner of the Stourbridge penalty area was met by the veteran forward, whose bullet header was well saved by Price at his near post

Lita's bright start to proceedings saw him bring Keys Park to its feet in the eighteenth minute as the veteran striker grabbed the opening goal of the evening; a terrible back header from skipper Lee Vaughan, supposedly aimed at Price, fell woefully short and was seized upon by Lita, who took the ball into the penalty area before dancing past Price and slotting the ball home from a tight angle

Lita was up for another goal and looked to get on the end of a Reece Flanagan through ball once more in the twentieth minute but was beaten to it on this occasion by Lathaniel Rowe-Turner

Three minutes later, O'Halnon delivered a fine inswinging free-kick into the Hednesford penalty area from the right and found the head of Brown, whose flick-on had a little too much on it for either Styche or Forsyth, who both failed to turn the ball home at the far post

It had been a lively contest so far, with Lita showing no signs of struggling with the pace of the game as he broke through the flimsy Stourbridge offside trap with a perfectly-timed run down the right on twenty-seven minutes before feeding the ball to Zohore, who saw his low shot blocked by Vaughan

Mr Cooke was having none of Styche's antics on the half-hour mark, gesturing to the striker to get back to his feet after the former Hereford man took a comedic tumble just inside the Hednesford penalty area

The game was halted for a spell on thirty-four minutes as Brown fell awkwardly in the Hednesford six-yard box and landed heavily on his ankle with what appeared to be ligament issues following a corner kick. After a lengthy bout of treatment that lasted several minutes, Brown was carried off and was replaced by Kieran Cook

Lita's experience won the Pitmen a free-kick just outside the Stourbridge penalty area on forty minutes as he allowed Joe Hull to tug him back. Flanagan took the resultant free-kick and floated a delightful ball to the far post, where ex-Stourbridge man Harvey Portman arrived to chest his effort wide of the post. In hindsight, the defender was perhaps surprised at the ball coming to him quickly as his view of the ball had been obscured by Ison in front of him

Three minutes later, O'Hanlon was to be denied by the woodwork as he somehow managed to get past Flanagan and Smith before shooting past Basey with an effort with the outside of his right boot, only for his rising shot to come back off the inside of the far post and fly across the face of goal before running away from danger. A real let-off for the Pitmen

With the game drifting into six minutes of added time due to the injury of Brown, the Pitmen struck with a timely second goal; Zohore won a free-kick just outside the Stourbridge penalty area after being flattened by the hapless Vaughan, allowing Flanagan to curl a shot beyond the Glassboys' wall and towards the far corner of the net. Price made the save to his right, but could only parry the ball straight into the path of Lita, who showed a poacher's instinct to head past the Stourbridge stopper from close range and double his, and the Pitmen's, tally for the evening

 

It had been an impressive response from the hosts to Saturday's horror show, having pressed hard to force the visitors into several errors and taken their chances with aplomb. Stourbridge had certainly had chances as well but had looked disjointed, particularly in defence, where  Lita had led them a merry dance with his movement and experience

The Pitmen had the ball in the net within sixty seconds of the restart as a neat move down the left saw Lita pull the ball back to Flanagan, who slotted home from twelve yards out. However, Lita had been offside in the build-up and the goal was ruled out

Two minutes later, Forsyth's deep free-kick from the left was headed back across goal by Hull and into the path of Knights, whose volley from eight yards out was instinctively saved by the body of Basey. A good save from the youngster, who had looked a little rattled in the first period

The Pitmen's first substitution of the evening came on fifty-five minutes as Cater made a swift return to the pitch as he replaced Zohore down the left wing. It was tough on the on-loan Frenchman, who had looked good in spells through the first half playing as the inside forward from the left-wing

Basey made another good stop, this time to deny full-back Wilson, on fifty-eight minutes after the former Bromsgrove Sporting man had held off O'Sullivan's advances before shooting from just outside the Hednesford penalty area

On sixty-one minutes, Smith's evening came to an end as the former Mansfield Town midfielder was replaced by Bennett in the number ten role just behind the strikers

Good approach play from the visitors on sixty-two minutes saw McQuilkin and Forsyth play O'Hanlon into space down the left-wing, with the former Wolves man sending over a deep cross to the far post that eluded Basey but drifted wide of goal before the incoming Knights could get a foot to the ball

 

The Pitmen looked to have clinched the points on sixty-five minutes as Lita lifted the roof off the Heath Hayes terrace with another brilliantly-struck effort to complete his hat-trick; racing onto a brilliant Todd Parker through ball, Lita broke through the flimsy Stourbridge offside trap and struck a powerful left-footed shot beyond Price from sixteen yards out to grab his third goal of the evening and send Keys Park into raptures

Forsyth was the first player of the evening to be booked by Mr Cooke on sixty-seven minutes as the former Kidderminster Harriers man was shown a yellow card for a foul on Bennett in midfield

The Pitmen were playing with control, poise and showing a rarely-seen maturity to their game as they controlled possession for long periods of the game and managed the clock as the minutes ticked away, not looking to rush to take throw-ins or corner kicks as perhaps they have done in previous games

However, Stourbridge did reduce the deficit with fifteen minutes remaining as a corner kick from the right from Knights was headed on by Cook and into the path of Forsyth, whose drilled ball back across goal was pushed away by Basey but only into the path of Cook once more, who headed home from close-range. O'Sullivan tried to clear the ball off the line using his hand in vain, and was booked by Mr Cooke after the goal was awarded for attempting to stop the play illegally

The visitors sensed an unlikely comeback and enjoyed their best spell of the game in the next five minutes as they looked to push on for a second goal; Basey made a dominant punch from a Knights corner kick to deny Styche a free header at goal on seventy-eight minutes, rising above a forest of players to get his hand to the inswinging cross

The home side's final change of the evening on eighty-one minutes saw veteran centre-back Riley make his return to the side as Meakin-Richards elected to take off the hard-running O'Sullivan in favour of a more defensively-minded replacement

Two minutes later, Styche's intended pass to Cook was intercepted by Parker but inexplicably ran kindly to the Stourbridge substitute, whose first-time shot was deflected wide of goal by the body of Ison for a corner kick

More pressure from Stourbridge came from corner kicks in the latter stages of the game, but again good game management from the Pitmen and competent goalkeeping from Basey, including another confident punch away at his far post in the final minute of the game

It had been a pleasing return to winning ways for the hosts, who move back into ninth place in the Southern Premier League Central tables as a result of the win, jumping above their opponents in the process. Saturday sees the Pitmen make the fairly short trip to Leicestershire to face second-placed Coalville Town, who will once again offer a big physical threat to the Pitmen as they had done back in November when they won 2-0 at Keys Park

Hednesford Town: Basey, Hayden, Webb, Portman, Ison ©, Flanagan, O'Sullivan ▆ (Riley 81), ParkerLita, C. Smith (Bennett 61), Zohore (Cater 55)    Subs Unused: Tilt, Williams

Stourbridge: Price, Vaughan ©, Wilson, Hull, Rowe-Turner (Moran 61), Forsyth , Knights, McQuilkin, Styche, Brown (Cook 38), O'Hanlon (Rowley 62)       Subs Unused: T. Smith, Solly