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Evo-Stik Northern Premier League

Sutton Coldfield Town

Hawley (3), (90), Richards (19), Smith (68)

Hednesford Town

Dwyer (59)

(2) 4

(0) 1



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James Wren


Grantham Town (A) 17.4.18

Hednesford's dreadful recent league form continued this afternoon as they crash to a heavy defeat to already-relegated Sutton Coldfield Town at Coles Lane this afternoon, leaving Rob Smith's side in fifteenth place in the table ahead of another challenging week of league action


A mixed week in the cups had seen the Pitmen move into the Staffordshire Senior Cup final after a win over Stoke City, but a tired display over Atherton Collieries on Thursday night had seen them fall at the semi-final stage of the Integro League Cup. With injuries, suspensions and wear and tear stacking up for the visitors, Smith once again had to mix and match his side to put together an XI. Matt Curley's early return from injury saw Callam Mendez-Jones move to centre-back to cover for the unavailability of Ben Bailey and Sam Oji to play alongside Charlie Gatter. Smith flooded the midfield with Jack Rea, Tom Thorley and Joe Fitzpatrick all starting the game, playing Joey Butlin and Danny Glover up front


Neil Tooth's Sutton side had seen relegation confirmed last week following a 2-1 defeat to Barwell, with the Royals falling through the trapdoor twelve months after their miracle escape through Richard Sneekes. Tooth's assistants Andy Ling and Phil Male picked a number of former Hednesford players in their starting line-up, with Tyler Lyttle, Chekaine Steele, Lee Smith and Karl Hawley all starting for the hosts alongside veteran striker Justin Richards, who was on trial at Keys Park in pre-season

The first real day of spring had finally arrived in the West Midlands, with warm, bright sunshine beating down on the 3G Coles Lane pitch. Sutton - no doubt relaxed and playing without pressure following the confirmation of relegation - made a great start to the game and took an early lead through veteran striker Hawley. Tom Thorley lost the ball in a crucial area to Steele, who drifted past Callam Mendez-Jones and crossed for Hawley, who turned the ball past former Sutton keeper James Wren from close range to open the scoring with the first attack of the game

The Pitmen responded with a shot of their own in the next minute as the in-form Danny Glover tried his luck with a shot from twenty-five yards that was easily fielded by Jono Brown in the Sutton goal


Hawley was guilty of not doubling his tally for the afternoon on five minutes as more woeful Hednesford defending allowed the former Walsall man a glorious chance to turn the ball home once more unchallenged, but on this occasion horribly mis-controlled the ball at the crucial moment and put Steele's cross out of play from a great position at the far post


The lively Steele was giving former team-mate Mendez-Jones the runaround in the early stages of the game, making another great run down the right on six minutes before firing over the crossbar with an off-target effort


There has been a theme running through a number of Hednesford games in recent weeks - particularly in league games - where they will enjoy plenty of possession but produce very little in the way of goalscoring openings before handing the ball back to the opposition. Sutton looked to exploit the Pitmen's lack of width and narrow, clustered midfield by playing long balls out to the flanks and allowing the likes of Steele and Richards to stretch the tired Hednesford players across the pitch


 Fitzpatrick forced Brown into a save on thirteen minutes, trying his luck with a rising shot from the edge of the penalty area that Brown turned over the crossbar for a Hednesford corner. From the resultant James Lawrie ball in, Gatter headed the ball straight into the arms of Brown after rising highest at the far post


 A quick break from Sutton almost caught the Pitmen out seventeen minutes, with Richards robbing Mendez-Jones and escaping the attentions of the Hednesford defence and firing in an angled shot that was well saved by Wren


 Richards was not to be denied, however, and the former Burton man doubled Sutton's advantage on nineteen minutes after yet more dreadful defending from the Pitmen; an Adam Murray corner kick was not dealt with by the Hednesford defence and was headed back into the danger zone by Smith, who found Richards unmarked in the six-yard box to turn the loose ball past Wren


 Neat build-up play from the Pitmen saw them make a rare foray into the Sutton penalty area on twenty-six minutes with Glover flicking the ball on to Lawrie, whose miscued shot flew well wide of goal


Skipper Thorley got on the end of a flowing Hednesford move on thirty-five minutes, firing narrowly over the crossbar with a crispy-hit shot from twenty yards out


Wren was finding his return to Coles Lane hard going, as he once again kept his side in it on forty minutes by denying Richards once again with a brilliant flying stop to his left to turn away the striker's curling effort


Smith's half-time team talk failed to inspire his troops in the early stages of the second half, as Sutton forced a number of corner kicks without threatening Wren's goal in any serious way


Brown was perhaps lucky to stay on the pitch for the host on fifty minutes as he and Butlin clashed inside the Sutton penalty area. After a heated discussion, Brown petulantly threw the ball off the head of Butlin, causing more pushing and shoving amongst the players. The referee showed both players a yellow card after calming both parties down, despite the Hednesford protests


 The Pitmen made an attacking double change on fifty-six minutes, with right-winger Anthony Dwyer coming on for Fitzpatrick and winger James Fitzgibbon moving to the left-wing in place of the ineffective Butlin


The change paid almost instant dividends, as Dwyer grabbed his first Hednesford goal with his first chance of the game. A cross from Lawrie was headed down by Glover into the path of Dwyer, who lashed his shot beyond Brown and into the roof of the net to reduce arrears


 The Pitmen made their final change of the game on sixty-two minutes as Jack Rea was replaced by the recently returned Louis Harris in central midfield


Another Wren save denied Richards on sixty-five minutes before the Royals settled the game as a contest with a killer third goal three minutes later. A corner from Murray was flicked on by Mendez-Jones, who only succeeded in diverting the ball into the path of Smith, who nodded the ball home at the far post to strike against his former club


Dwyer had looked bright and breezy since coming on, offering pace and width down the right wing to give Sutton problems that had previously not existed due to the narrow nature of the original XI. He was involved in a number of neat passages of play, but could only muster a bobbling shot at Brown on seventy-five minutes. A minute earlier, Fitzgibbon had tested Brown's reflexes with an angled volley that Brown had turned over for a corner kick to the Pitmen


As the Pitmen tired and toiled in the sunshine, Sutton put an extra coat of gloss on their performance with a fourth goal in added time. There was a hint of controversy about the goal, as Hawley capped a fine display off with a delightful chipped goal from long-range, but the assistant on the far side had flagged for an earlier offside against Richards in the previous phase of play. For some reason, however, the referee overruled his assistant and awarded the goal, which led to a yellow card for Charlie Gatter for his protests against the decision


Yet another dreadful display from the Pitmen in league action leaves them floundering in fifteenth place in the table at the end of the game. The difficult games keep coming thick and fast, however, as play-off chasing Grantham and fast-improving Rushall provide this week's midweek opposition before Mickleover Sports visit Keys Park next weekend. Today had been a rare misjudgement of tactics from Smith and Larry Chambers, with the team crying out for more width and creativity in a dire opening twenty-minute display - not something you can justify associating with tiredness or fixture pile-ups. Must do better, Hednesford


Sutton Coldfield Town: Brown , Lyttle, Flint , Murray (Howell 90), Beresford, O'Callaghan ©, Steele, Smith, Hawley, McGrory (Probert 80), Richards.  Subs Unused: Wedderburn, Coton


Hednesford Town: Wren, Mendez-Jones, Campion , Rea (Harris 62), Curley, Gatter , Fitzpatrick (Dwyer 56), Thorley ©, Butlin (Fitzgibbon 57), Glover, Lawrie   Subs Unused: King, Veiga


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