Pitching In Southern Premier League Central

Hednesford Town

Turner (30), (90), Dodds (33), Sweeney (35)

Stratford Town

Powell (67), Andoh (90)

(2) 4

(0) 2



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Dan Turner



AFC Rushden & Diamonds (A) 17.10.20

After yet another depressingly familiar week of upheaval, the Pitmen finally get their first win of the new season under their belts with an entertaining win over Stratford Town at the PRG Stadium @ Keys Park

Tuesday night's defeat to Coalville Town proved to be the final stand for manager Andy Morrell, who left the club the following day after failing to arrest the slide in early-season form. Youth academy manager Keenen Meakin-Richards had been handed the manager's job on an interim basis as the club's owners went in search of another permanent appointment to replace Morrell. Meakin-Richards welcomed back top scorer Danny Glover after he had served a one-match suspension against Coalville in one of three changes to the side that had started in midweek; on-loan Shrewsbury Town keeper Cameron Gregory replaced veteran stopper Jose Veiga and Dan Sweeney came in for Lee Smith, whilst Glover replaced George Cater

Stratford arrived at Keys Park off the back of a fine start to the new season and sat in second place in the league table at the start of play; manager Paul Davis made one change to the side that had beaten title favourites Stourbridge in midweek as Joe Curtis came into the side in place of ex-Hednesford man Ashley Sammons and also named ex-Hednesford players Enoch Andoh and Mitchell Glover amongst the substitutes

Roared on by another fine Keys Park crowd, the Pitmen started well and Glover forced Stratford keeper Ty Belford into a save in the third minute as good play from Sweeney and Louis Dodds set up the striker, only for him to strike a weak shot straight at the visitor's keeper

Three minutes later, Jordan Williams made a timely block to get in the way of another effort from Glover just outside the Stratford penalty area and clear the danger

Debutant Gregory made a fine save at point-blank range in the eighth minute to deny Ken Feyi as he blocked the striker's effort on the line following a cross from Kynan Isaac, only for a late offside flag to hand the Pitmen a free-kick

Belford was on hand to clear the danger for Stratford in the tenth minute of a busy opening, hacking a through ball from Sweeney away from Glover before he could reach it

The two sides continued to trade openings as former Tamworth man Gregory Kaziboni dragged a shot wide for Stratford before Dodds fired narrowly wide of goal in the seventeenth minute after good link play involving Dan Turner and Glover

Three minutes later, Callam Mendez-Jones tried his luck with a long-range effort following a Dodds corner kick that was deflected through a forest of legs before Stratford eventually cleared their lines

More alertness from Belford a minute later saw the former Nuneaton Borough stopper come to his team's rescue as he hacked a loose ball clear under pressure from the hard-working Sweeney

A keenly-contested game exploded into life on the half-hour mark with the rain starting to fall on the Keys Park pitch once more; Sweeney was once again involved as he turned creator, making a storming run down the right-hand side of the Stratford penalty area and pulling the ball back into the six-yard box where Turner was on hand to slot home from close-range

With their tails up, the Pitmen went in search of another goal and struck again with their next attack three minutes later. Turner did well to hold the ball up down the right and play it back to Jack Hallahan, whose deep cross to the far post was headed beyond the reach of Belford by Dodds, who headed back across goal with a looping effort that found the far corner of the net for his first Hednesford goal

Incredibly, after going four games without scoring a goal before today, the Pitmen scored a third goal in five minutes as Sweeney got in on the act to grab yet another goal for the hosts. Turner turned supplier as he sent over a cross from the left that Glover flicked into the path of Sweeney to the right-hand side of the Stratford penalty area. The forward jinked his way past Isaac before unleashing a powerful low drive beyond Belford and into the far corner of the net for his first goal since signing for the Pitmen permanently

The away side had been left punch-drunk at such a brutal spell of finishing from the Pitmen, having been well in the game up to the half-hour mark and were now staring at defeat just five minutes later. Skipper Will Grocott briefly threatened for the visitors on forty minutes as his free-kick was saved by Gregory, who claimed the ball at the second attempt

The Pitmen were warmly applauded off at half-time as their supporters showed their appreciation for a superb performance and the perfect response to a challenging last few days for all involved with the club

Stratford started the second period strongly and had the ball in the net on fifty-three minutes as Feyi turned a cross home, only for an offside flag on the Wimblebury side to rule the goal out for the striker

A quick break from the Pitmen six minutes later saw Rhys Thompson play a delightful through ball into the path of Turner, only for an offside flag to deny the striker a chance to score a second goal of the afternoon

Mendez-Jones was the first player of the afternoon to be booked on sixty-two minutes after committing a blatantly pulling Kaziboni back in the centre circle to stop Stratford from breaking quickly

Stratford brought on tricky winger Andoh for Curtis on sixty-five minutes, which was to prove an inspired decision by Davis as the former Port Vale man helped to drag his side back into contention

Glover lifted a shot just over the bar for Hednesford a minute later, before Stratford pulled a goal back on sixty-seven minutes. Callum Powell was somehow afforded time and space by Thompson to control the ball and fire past Gregory at his near post from a very tight angle with a low drive that went through the loanee keeper's legs

Sweeney had suffered an injury in the build-up to Stratford's goal and was taken off before play could restart as he was replaced by Cater, receiving warm applause from an appreciative home crowd after a fine performance against one of his numerous former clubs


The visitors felt that they had a legitimate call for a penalty on seventy-five minutes as substitute Leam Howards felt he had been pushed over by Griffiths int he area as they challenged for a high ball. Nothing was given, however, and play continued

Lycett was shown a yellow card for the Pitmen with eleven minutes of the game remaining for kicking the ball away before a goalbound shot from Kaziboni was blocked by Ben Bailey as Stratford continued to press

Glover had worked incredibly hard for little change against the Stratford centre-backs and was taken off a minute later as Port Vale loanee Ryan Campbell-Gordon came on in his place

Four minutes later, former Pitman Mitchell Glover was brought on for the visitors in place of skipper Grocott in midfield as Stratford looked for a second goal to set up a grandstand finish

There was a nasty clash of heads between Thompson and Glover in midfield with five minutes remaining as the pair challenged for a long goal kick from Belford, with both players requiring attention for a bang on the head

There was still time for the game to take a couple more twists and turns, as Stratford pulled a further goal back with the game heading into added time; a mazy run and cross from Kaziboni our on the right-wing found the head of the smallest player of the pitch in the form of Andoh, who headed beyond Gregory from ten yards out to narrow the margin to 3-2

Suddenly, the Pitmen were living dangerously with their previously unassailable lead cut to a single goal and Stratford attacking at will. More indecision at the back from the Pitmen saw them concede a late corner kick in added time that prompted Belford to go forwards in an attempt to force home an equaliser. The corner kick was cleared by the Pitmen up towards the halfway line, where Mitchell Glover picked the ball up. However, in attempting to take the ball away from Turner, the former Nuneaton man lost the ball in a crucial part of the pitch to the young striker, who out-paced the backtracking Belford to confidently slam the ball into the empty net and send the Heath Hayes terrace into raptures

A highly entertaining game and a win on the board for the Pitmen at the fifth attempt, lifting them out of the bottom three in the process. Credit must go to Meakin-Richards and his coaching team for getting the squad back on track after a depressing run of form and results under Morrell in such a short spell. The Pitmen have a full week of rest coming up before they hit the road next weekend when they visit AFC Rushden & Diamonds looking to build on today's result. Whether Meakin-Richards will still be interim charge or a new man will be in the hot-seat by this point remains to be seen, but either way today's result is a fine platform to build upon

Hednesford Town: Gregory, Griffiths, Lycett , Bailey ©, Mendez-Jones , Hallahan, Sweeney (Cater 67), Thompson, D. Glover (Campbell-Gordon 80), Dodds, Turner        Sub Unused: Preston, Dawes, Smith

Stratford Town: Belford, Vann, Isaac, Fry, Heaven, Williams , Kaziboni, Curtis (Andoh 65), Feyi (Howards 59), Grocott © (M. Glover 84), Powell       Subs Unused: Braimbridge, Muggleton

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