Pre-Season Friendly

Hednesford Town

Triallist no. 6 (14), Nelson (18), Hill (43)

(3) 3

Sutton Coldfield Town

Triallist no. 10 (38), Haughton (40), Beresford (48)

(2) 3

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Triallist no. 11

Current Form


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Chasetown (A) 11.8.18

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The Pitmen's stuttering pre-season programme continued this evening as another makeshift Hednesford side were held to an entertaining draw by Sutton Coldfield Town at Keys Park


Despite now being deep into pre-season, the strongest Hednesford line-up still appears to be a little way off, with injuries and unavailability still dogging the squad as they limbered up for their penultimate friendly before the kick-off on 18th August. The ongoing uncertainty over James Wren's future had seen Rob Smith use his contacts to full effect to bring in one of England's World Cup-winning U17 squad from last year in the form of Stoke City's Josef Bursik, whilst still relying on three triallists to plug the gaps in his threadbare side


Sutton Coldfield - relegated to the Southern League East this coming season - were back under the stewardship of former Hednesford manager Neil Tooth, who named a good number of former Hednesford players amongst his matchday squad. Centre-back Jim Mutton was named skipper, alongside midfielders Stephen Palmer and Lee Smith, with Jordan Nadat up front for the Royals. Fellow forward Dominic Dell was amongst the Sutton substitutes


The Pitmen were on the front foot in the opening exchanges, with Josh Craddock's finding Tom Hill with an incisive through ball. The young forward did well to create some room for himself but dragged his shot just wide of the far post


The hosts were to take a well-deserved lead on fourteen minutes, as a corner kick from triallist no.11 found the tall figure of triallist no. 6, who did well to backheel the ball past Sutton keeper Lewis Gwilliams at his near post to open the scoring


Four minutes later, triallist no. 11 was in the thick of the action once more, as his deep cross to the far post was not dealt with by Gwilliams, who only palmed the ball down into the path of Mikey Nelson, who slammed the ball home from twelve yards out to double Hednesford's lead


Sutton, however, deserve credit for forcing their way back into the game as they took advantage of the disjointed nature of the Pitmen's side to pull themselves back into the game. On twenty-four minutes, a long, hopeful ball forwards from Gwilliams caught the Hednesford defence out, with Stefan Galinski and Bursik leaving the bouncing ball to each other. the opportunistic Nadat nipped in to turn the ball goalwards but watched on in agony as the ball bobbled inches wide of the open goal


Smith was next to test the Pitmen's rearguard with a run beyond the centre-backs on twenty-nine minutes to reach triallist no. 2's through ball but shanked his shot horribly wide of goal


Another excellent set-piece from triallist no. 11 on thirty-three minutes found triallist no. 6 once again at the near post, but the big centre-back glanced his header a foot or so wide of the far post


Sutton left-back Dan Lomas - booked earlier in the half for a late and aggressive challenge on Matt Dodd - had Bursik scrambling across his goal on thirty-five minutes, as his speculative long-range effort dipped onto the crossbar at the last minute when it appeared to be heading out of play. Sutton recycled the ball effectively, with Omar Haughton playing the ball into the path of Jon Letford, who in turn clipped the ball to the far post. Triallist no. 10 nipped in ahead of Bursik to turn the ball goalwards, doing enough to turn the ball over the goal line before Matt Curley could clear his lines


Two minutes later, Sutton were back on level terms in this topsy-turvy encounter; Letford slipped the ball through the Hednesford defence and into the path of Haughton, who slotted past the horribly exposed Bursik to level matters once again


And yet, there was still time for more goal action before half-time, as the Pitmen took the lead once more on forty-three minutes. The highly impressive triallist no.11 was once again the architect, as his through ball found Hill, who showed excellent feet and composure to slip past Mutton and squeeze the ball past Gwilliams at his near post


There was still time at the end of a breathless first half, as Smith headed home a free-kick at the far post for the visitors, only to be denied another leveller through a late offside flag


Half-time saw the Pitmen make two changes, with Joe Fitzpatrick replacing Nathan Fox and triallist no. 18 come on for Dodd. This move saw triallist no. 11 drop into the left-back role to cover for Fox's departure


The disruption to the Pitmen's ranks had an immediate effect, as Sutton equalised just minutes into the second half; a well-worked corner-kick routine saw midfielder James Beresford head unchallenged beyond the reach of Bursik to bring the away side level once more at 3-3


Haughton almost nipped in to claim his second of the evening on fifty-six minutes, taking advantage of more indecision in the Hednesford ranks to toe-poke a shot just wide of the far post from twelve yards out


A minute later, the Pitmen made another double change as Jermain Hollis and Dan Cockerline replaced triallist no. 4 and Nelson respectively


Traillist no. 18 was wayward in his shooting on the hour mark, before Curley's dangerous inswinging cross a minute later was held by Gwilliams under pressure from Cockerline


A patient passage of play involving six players and twenty passes culminated in triallist no. 11 stepping up to test Gwilliams on sixty-six minutes, firing in a shot from long-range that was well fielded


A free kick in a promising position for the Pitmen was struck well by triallist no 11 once more two minutes later, lifting his shot over the Sutton wall and just wide of Gwilliams' left-hand post


More changes followed for the hosts, with triallists no. 17 and no. 16 coming on to replace skipper Galinski and Hill, whilst teenager Owen Turner came on in midfield to replace Craddock


Triallist no. 17 was to a have a brief and unhappy stay on the pitch, as his game lasted a mere six minutes as he suffered a nasty-looking injury wide on the right. After a lengthy spell of treatment, he hobbled off down the tunnel and was replaced by first-team coach Francino Francis, who made his second appearance in a week to further highlight the limited numbers currently being worked with by Smith and Larry Chambers


Sutton were presented with a great chance to win the game late on, as triallist no. 18 gave the ball away in a dangerous area to allow Sutton substitute Harvey Howell run in on goal. However, the forward wasted the opening by pulling the ball back into an area behind the onrushing Sutton strikers  


In the final minutes, triallist no. 16 was the beneficiary of the loose ball falling at his feet, but his bobbling effort was easily saved by Sutton's substitute keeper


A good evening's entertainment, particularly for any neutrals in the ground, but one that leaves Hednesford supporters asking a few questions about the side: where are the missing players? When will they be back? Who starts in central defence? What is our best formation? Will it be one or two up front? Questions that are to be expected during the early stages of the pre-season programme, but worrying questions being asked with only a trip to Chasetown to come on Saturday before the curtain raiser on 18th August. Over to you, Rob & Larry


Hednesford Town: Bursik, Curley, Fox (Fitzpatrick 45), Triallist no. 4 (Hollis 57), Galinski © (Triallist no. 17 - 73 (Francis 79)), Triallist no. 6, Dodd (Triallist no. 18 - 45), Craddock (Turner 73), Hill (Triallist no. 16 - 73), Nelson (Cockerline 57), Triallist no. 11.   Subs Unused: Veiga


Sutton Coldfield Town: Gwilliams, Triallist no. 2, Lomas , Smith, Mutton ©, Beresford, Haughton, Palmer, Letford, Triallist no. 10, Nadat.  Subs: Triallist no. 12, Dell, Howell, Concannon, Brown, Triallist no. 19, Triallist no. 20

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