Pre-Season Friendly

Hednesford Town

Cater (17), (73)

Sutton Coldfield Town

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George Cater



Stafford Rangers (A) 29.8.20

Hednesford win their first home game in pre-season this evening at a wet and wild PRG Stadium @ Keys Park with a goal in each half from George Cater to see off the challenge of Neil Tooth's Sutton Coldfield Town side

Saturday's goalless draw against National League North side Kettering Town had given manager Andy Morrell more to ponder about his evolving squad, with former triallist John Dodd named in the side as a starter this evening after agreeing a deal with the club. Jed Davies and Callam Mendez-Jones were both named in the starting line-up after coming on substitutes in Saturday's game, with two of the Pitmen's youth scholars also called up to the first-team squad to join the rest of the substitutes

Former Hednesford manager Tooth's Royals made the short journey to Hednesford off the back of a 2-1 win over Coleshill Town at the weekend, with Tooth naming former Hednesford duo Sufyan Zia and Ryan Shaw in his starting line-up as the step four Royals looked to end a two-game losing run at Keys Park that had seen them lose 5-0 and 3-0 on their last two league appearances here

Tooth was handed an early blow as right-back Ben George was forced off in only the third minute of the game with what appeared to be a hamstring pull and was replaced by Finn Ballantyne

An early free-kick from Sutton's Joel Powney sailed just over Andy Wycherley's crossbar from twenty-five yards out after Ben Bailey had hauled down Edwin Ahenkorah just outside the box

The Pitmen saw plenty of the early possession and were patient in their approach to the game as they searched for an early opener. A good turn from Dan Turner in the ninth minute saw him beat Shaw before drilling an angled shot just over the crossbar

The Pitmen didn't have to wait much longer for the opening goal of the evening as Cater grabbed his first home goal since rejoining the club in the seventeenth minute; Turner's driving run into the Sutton penalty area saw him slip the ball into the path of his strike partner, who coolly side-stepped a challenge before firing confidently past Lewis Gwilliams in the Sutton goal

Turner - looking lively and willing as he had done against Kettering - had another sight at goal midway through the first period as Cater's slide-rule pass played his strike partner in on goal, only for Turner's first-time effort to drift just wide of the upright

Midfield man Jack Hallahan was next to try his luck after Davies rolled a corner kick into his feet on the edge of the Sutton penalty area on twenty-five minutes, only for Gwilliams to make a timely save low down to his right to claim the ball at his post

A dangerous-looking cross from Rhys Thompson five minutes later evaded everyone in white shirts as his low drilled ball in from the right-wing skipped across the face of the Sutton goal before being cleared. Cater did well to recycle the ball out on the opposite flank before attempting a cheeky cross-shot that was only inches wide of Gwilliams' right-hand post

Wycherley's quiet half was interrupted momentarily on thirty-four minutes as he showed good awareness to deny Jordan Francis a chance by racing out of goal to smother a Powney cross-field pass

A minute later, the Pitmen were forced into a substitution of their own due to injury as Mendez-Jones limped off and was replaced by Dan Preston in the centre of defence. With Sam Griffiths and new signing Wes Atkinson already ruled out due to injury, Morrell can ill-afford any more of his senior defenders suffering any more knocks with the season fast approaching

Gwilliams did well to deny Turner a sight at goal with two minutes of the first half remaining, cutting out a Davies cross right at the feet of the striker as he shaped to shoot

It had been a comfortable first-half showing from the hosts, who had looked good going forwards and solid at the back. Cater and Turner had shown more signs of a growing understanding up front as they constantly threatened the Sutton goal, whilst the likes of Davies and Hallahan had offered good service to the front two throughout the first half

Sutton's best chance of the game so far came right at the start of the second period as Zia was played in by Shaw, but his curling effort from twenty yards out was just too high to trouble Wycherley

Carter Lycett's night was brought to a halt on fifty-one minutes as the teenage left-back was taken off in favour of triallist B with Morrell still wanting to take a look at the current crop of triallists at his disposal

The impressive triallist A forced Gwilliams into a fine save at his near post on fifty-four minutes, with the Sutton stopper turning the ball away down low to his right to deny the lively forward a goal

Cater did well to get past Marcus Beckford five minutes later down the right flank and hang a cross to the far post, only for Turner to narrowly miss out on turning the ball home from close range as the ball skipped past him

A Davies corner kick on fifty-four minutes was headed into the path of Bailey, whose over-the-shoulder volley flashed just wide of Gwilliams' left-hand post

Thompson was next to test Gwillaims on fifty-eight minutes, exchanging passes with Cater on the edge of the Sutton penalty area before firing in a low shot that the Sutton keeper held onto

Cater and Turner combined once more a minute later as Cater's deep cross was headed straight into the arms of the grateful Gwilliams by Turner, who probably will have felt he should have done better from six yards out

More substitutions followed for both sides, with the Pitmen making a triple change just before the hour mark as triallists C and D came on for Turner and Wycherley, whilst youngster Josh Kilford replaced Thompson at right-back  

Gwilliams was keeping the scoreline respectable for the visitors and made another superb save on sixty-four minutes to deny Cater a second goal with a brilliant save front point-blank range before pouncing on the loose ball

Another powerful effort from triallist A had Gwilliams struggling to get to his effort from twenty yards out, but the shot was slightly off-target and hit the side netting as it flew wide of goal

Hallahan was unlucky not to find the target with a well-struck effort from range on seventy-one minutes that was a matter of inches away from nestling in the back of the net

The Pitmen's pressure finally told as Cater grabbed his, and the home side's second goal of the evening on seventy-three minutes; triallist C did well to pick the forward out in a packed penalty area, with Cater steering the ball home via a deflection to wrong-foot substitute keeper James Harrison

With the game now comfortable, the Pitmen made two further changes with ten minutes remaining as Ollie Waddison and triallist E came on in place of Cater and Hallahan respectively

With five minutes remaining, the Pitmen made a final change as Kilford was taken off as a precaution and was replaced by a fellow youth team player in the form of Taylor Walker

Sutton went agonisingly close to claiming what would have been a consolation goal in the final minute of normal time as Zia's dipping shot from just outside the penalty area came back off the top of the crossbar before being cleared from danger

A good night's work for the Pitmen and a successful run-out for a number of the fringe players and other hoping to earn themselves a deal for the forthcoming season. It's a return to step three opposition on Saturday when the Pitmen make the short journey across Cannock Chase to face their old foes Stafford Rangers at Marston Road in the reverse fixture to the 1-1 draw played out between the two sides at the PRG Stadium @ Keys Park nearly two weeks ago

Hednesford Town: Wycherley (Triallist D 59), Thompson (Kilford 59 (Walker 85)), Lycett (Triallist B 51), Bailey ©, Mendez-Jones (Preston 35), Hallahan (Triallist E 80), Cater (Waddison 80), Dodd, Turner (Triallist C 59), Davies, Triallist A    Subs Unused: Dodds, Owen

Sutton Coldfield Town: Gwilliams (Harrison 70), George (Ballantyne 3), Beckford, Shaw, Beresford (Rose 51), Ganley, Zia, Francis, Ahenkorah, Budz (Smith 50), Powney (Milligan 74)     Subs Unused: None

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