7.4.2018

Evo-Stik Northern Premier League

Hednesford Town

Glover (90)

Stourbridge

Benbow (63)

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(0) 1

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MoTM

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347

Jack Rea

L D L L W L D L L D

Sutton Coldfield Town (A) 14.4.18

Another late, late show form the Pitmen this afternoon sees them claim a point over Stourbridge at Keys Park, halting the slide of two successive league defeats that sees Rob Smith's side move down to twelfth place in the Evo-Stik League Premier table

 

 It was a quick turnaround for the Pitmen after playing Buxton on the same pitch on Thursday night, with Smith taking the opportunity to rotate his threadbare squad where he could. Sam Oji was passed fit to return to the side in place of Charlie Gatter at centre-back, with Jack Rea replacing Tom Thorley in the centre of midfield and taking the captaincy from Thorley in the process. The final change saw Danny Glover restored to the starting line-up in place of Joey Butlin after his bright cameo on Thursday night

 

Gary Hackett's Stourbridge had seen their title and play-off ambitions disappear long ago, having made a good start to the season before being sidetracked by another good run in the F.A, Cup. Former Hednesford defender Paul McCone captained his hometown side, despite facing a ban having been sent off last weekend in their defeat to local rivals Halesowen. Former Hednesford triallist Luke Benbow was the other familiar face in the Stour line-up, looking to add to his goal tally after returning to the club from Solihull Moors

 

Both sides found it difficult to build up a head of steam in the opening exchanges, with chances at a premium. The weapon of the long throw was utilised at both ends, with Ben Bailey launching two throws into the Stourbridge penalty area, whilst Tom Tonks caused problems for Bailey and Oji with two huge throw-ins from the right-hand side that were handled by the defence and James Wren

 

The first real chance of the game came in the twelfth minute, as the long-serving Leon Broadhurst made a driving run towards the penalty area from midfield and fired in a low shot that was brilliantly saved by Wren, adding yet another save to his showreel of outstanding stops this term

 

Four minutes later, McCone and James Lawrie clashed thirty yards from the Stourbridge goal as they challenged for the ball, earning the pair a yellow card apiece for their scuffle

 

The Pitmen failed to deal effectively with a Stourbridge corner on nineteen minutes, with Aaron Forde driving in a long-range shot that was once again dealt with well by the hands of Wren, who turned the ball away for another corner

 

The Pitmen were struggling to create any real chances of note during a tepid first-half display, with Glover doing his level best to keep the Stourbridge defence busy but was being let down by his team-mates' lax attitude. Indeed, there was only Jack Rea alongside Glover who came out of the half with any real credit as he continued to build up his form and fitness with a busy display

 

Reece King was the third man in the book on the half-hour mark in one of  a number of bizarre decisions by referee Mr. Rollason - mainly in Stourbridge's favour - during the remainder of the half that forced the Pitmen back into their own half

 

Oji's tentative return from a hamstring injury was wrecked once more on thirty-seven minutes, as a burst across the pitch from the big man resulted in Oji once again holding his leg. He was immediately taken off, with Thorley coming on to play as an emergency right-back, with Callam Mendez-Jones moving into centre-back. Mendez-Jones has certainly proved his worth in the last three  games, having played at right-back, left-back and now centre-back all inside a week

 

More odd, inconsistent refereeing decisions followed, with a foul on Anthony Dwyer handed to the away side, followed a few minutes later by an arm across the face for Mendez-Jones that was, somehow, given in Stour's favour

 

Another monster throw-in from Tonks on forty-four minutes caught the Pitmen out, with Broadhurst rising highest to nod the ball over the crossbar from ten yards out

 

No doubt rattled by some harsh words from Smith at half-time, the Pitmen emerged with more purpose at the start of the second half, with the disappointing Lawrie seeing his shot blocked by McCone as he looked to find a way of testing Jon Gould in the Stourbridge goal

 

Good vision from Dwyer on fifty-two minutes saw the former Telford man swing in a cross from the right wing, narrowly missing the head of the onrushing Glover at the far post

 

Wren kept the scoreline level once more two minutes later, making another regulation save to deny striker Chris Gallagher and concede a corner to Stourbridge. A minute later, Wren was on hand once more to hold Benbow's powerfully-struck free kick from twenty-five yards out

 

Dwyer felt hard done by the referee on fifty-six minutes, as he was clearly fouled down on the right and picked the ball up for the free kick, only to be penalised for handball in another, frankly, ridiculous decision by Mr. Rollason

 

Broadhurst was shown a yellow card on the hour mark for consistent moaning and attempting to referee the game himself after conceding a free-kick in a dangerous position. Lawrie's resultant free-kick found the head of auxiliary centre-back Mendez-Jones, but he could not divert his header goalwards and glanced wide of goal

 

An incredibly long throw from Tonks a minute later caught everyone out, as he launched a huge throw that sailed past all of the onrushing players into the Hednesford penalty area and dropped wide of the far post without anyone touching the ball home in a red and white shirt

 

The fit-again James Fitzgibbon made a welcome return to the side on sixty-one minutes, with the winger coming on in place of King to play out on the left-wing, meaning a re-shuffle in central midfield for the hosts

Despite having few opportunities during the opening minutes of the second half, it was Stourbridge who took the lead on sixty-three minutes through Benbow. Nicolae Carnet got down the right wing and beat Bailey before sending over in a cross that was blocked by Rea. The ball fell kindly to Carnet again, who whipped in a cross for Benbow to head beyond Wren and give the visitors the lead from close range

 

The Pitmen once again had it all to do, similar to many games in recent weeks after going behind. Lawrie tried his luck with a long-range shot that was deflected off McCone and into the grateful arms of Gould on sixty-nine minutes

 

The Pitmen's first real shot on target came on seventy-five minutes, as Glover hit a powerful shot straight at Gould that the stopper spilled, but with no-one in a white shirt gambling on a fumble, Gould was able to claim the ball at the second attempt

 

The willowy Fitzgibbon was next to test Gould with ten minutes remaining, looping a shot towards goal from the corner of the penalty area that Gould fielded well at his near post

 

Two minutes later, the Pitmen made their final change of the game with the introduction of Joey Butlin in place of Lawrie, who had been guilty of conceding possession far too often in mixed performance

 

A clipped shot from Fitzpatrick drifted wide of the far post on eighty-four minutes as the Pitmen continued to press, with the feeling growing that the hosts were not going to find the equaliser that their approach play in the second half deserved

 

And yet, there as to be one final twist in added time, as that man Glover continued his recent hot streak in front of goal with a valuable equaliser. Glover started the move by laying the ball off to Fitzpatrick, who fed Butlin. He supplied Dwyer, whose cross was net by Butlin, whose looping header came back off the far post. Glover followed the ball in and stabbed the ball home at the second attempt for his sixteenth goal of the season and a hard-earned leveller for the hosts

 

The Pitmen will be pleased to have arrested the slide of back-to-back league defeats but will be aware of the lack of cutting edge that has hamstrung them in the last three games. Two cup games this week will test the wafer-thin squad to the limit, ahead of their short trip to relegation-threatened Sutton Coldfield Town next weekend, and a reunion with former manager Neil Tooth

 

Hednesford Town: Wren, Mendez-Jones, Campion Bailey, Oji (Thorley 37), King (Fitzgibbon 61), Dwyer, Rea ©, Glover, Fitzpatrick, Lawrie (Butlin 82)    Subs Unused: Harris, Gatter

 

Stourbridge: Gould, Westlake, Birch, McCone © , Christophorou, Forde (Shearer 57), Tonks, Broadhurst , Benbow (Hague 83), Gallagher, Carnat   Subs Unused: Timmins, Cooke, Hawk

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