18.9.2001

Dr. Martens Southern Premier League

Tamworth

Wilson (47) (penalty), Hallam (53), Mutchell (76)

Hednesford Town

(0) 3

(0) 0

Attendance

MoTM

Current Form

Next Match

628

Stewart Airdrie

L L L L L W W L L L

 

Weymouth (H) 22.9.01

Paul Raynor is now clinging on to his job by his fingertips this evening after his side are completely outplayed by a confident Tamworth side who blitzed their local rivals with a second-half goal-fest at the Lamb this evening to leave their neighbours staring at the foot of the Dr. Martens League table

Successive defeats for the threadbare Pitmen saw them make the short trip across the county off the back of poor displays against Hinckley and Chelmsford in the past week, leaving them third-bottom of the table going into tonight's round of games. Raynor was finally able to call upon the services of the experienced Wayne Simpson after the former Port Vale man had recovered from an injury picked up in the opening week of the season. He came straight back into the side as one of two changes to the side that had started against Chelmsford at the weekend as he replaced the injured Mark Haran, whilst new signing Michael Anderson replaced Robbie Meacham in the centre of midfield

Gary Mills' Lambs came into the game in mixed form, drawing at 1-1 Bath City at the weekend to brush off a 2-1 reverse at Ilkeston Town last midweek. Despite this, the hosts could move up to second place in the table with a win and made one change to the side that had started at Twerton Park as Lee Wilson came back into the side in place of former Wolves man Darren Roberts up front

On a cold evening, both sides took their time to warm up on the pitch as early passes went astray from both sets of players. Darren Grocutt - sent off against Bath on Saturday - tested the handling of Chris Wood in the Hednesford goal in the ninth minute with an opportunistic long-range effort that stung the palms of the young stopper

Three minutes later a mistake from Dean Craven gifted the ball to Tamworth player/manager Mills, who did well to hold off the attentions of Raynor in the clash of the player bosses before squaring the ball to ex-Birmingham man David Foy, who skewed his effort from twenty yards out into the crowd huddled behind Wood's goal

The Pitmen's first sight at goal came in the fifteenth minute as Stewart Airdrie strode forwards from right-back and drove a rising shot narrowly over the angle of post and bar with Darren Acton watching the ball over

Tamworth went closest to opening the scoring on twenty-three minutes but were denied by some quick thinking from Craven as he managed to hook a Mark Hallam effort off the line after the former Hednesford striker had turned a Nick Colley cross goalwards

 

 Hallam made a fine run to get himself away from the clutches of Simpson four minutes later as Foy played him through on goal, only for Wood to make a good save on his goal line

 

The Pitmen had proven themselves to be fairly impotent up front so far, relying on the individual craft of the likes of Paul Bagshaw and Airdrie to create openings whilst the likes of Graham Lancashire and Kevin Francis struggled to get any joy out of the well-drilled Tamworth defence

 

A free-kick from Rob Warner found the head of Grocutt on thirty-five minutes, only for the defender to head wide of goal at the far post after getting the better of Richard Lucas in the air

 

Lucas was involved at the other end of the pitch for the Pitmen on forty minutes with an inswinging free-kick from the left flank that Francis weakly headed straight into the arms of Acton from ten yards out

 

It had been a slightly dull, attritional first half from both sides, much as you would expect local derbies to be in many ways. However, this was as good as it was to get for the away side as Tamworth gradually took a stranglehold on the game. Airdrie went on a mazy run from deep with the first move of the second period as he drifted inside from the right flank before shooting wide of Acton's goal with a bobbling long-range effort

 

The turning point in the game came a minute later as the hosts were awarded a penalty kick; Wilson was played through on goal by a fine pass from Warner before being upended by Simpson, still finding his match fitness after such a long period out. The referee pointed to the spot without hesitation, allowing Wilson to fire the resultant spot-kick past Wood by driving it straight down the centre of the goal

 

Suddenly, the Pitmen were chasing shadows as Tamworth picked up the pace and played with more of a direct approach to the game, almost as though they had found their next gear to move into. Colley forced Wood into a good save at his near post on fifty-one minutes before the Lambs doubled their advantage two minutes laterColley picked up a pass from Warner and sent over a fine cross from the right which was met by the head of Hallam, who powerfully turned the ball past Wood from close range to make it 2-0

The away side were at sixes and sevens all over the pitch and handed possession back to Tamworth on fifty-six minutes in a dangerous area as Simpson's simple pass to Lucas was intercepted by Foy, whose cross was turned wide by the boot go Hallam once more

Raynor and on-bench assistant Gavan Walker had seen enough at this point and made a bold double change on sixty-three minutes as Hopkins replaced a rapidly tiring Simpson and Jon Pickess came on in place of the completely anonymous Lancashire, although the large travelling support felt that Lancashire should have stayed on and the similarly ineffective Francis be removed after struggling to escape the attention of Mark Turner

Wilson had further opportunities to further extend Tamworth's lead, volleying a knock-down from Foy just wide of goal from eight yards out as the Pitmen's defence switched off once more on sixty-eight minutes

Two minutes later, Wilson neatly side-stepped a challenge from Lenny Curtis before pulling his shot inches wide of Wood's right-hand post from the penalty spot

Pickess was working hard for the Pitmen up front for little reward, giving Grocutt a more challenging time with his pace than Lancashire had done in the previous hour of play. One marauding run from the former Sheffield man saw him slip inside a challenge from Grocutt and into the penalty area, only to completely fluff his effort and send it sailing into the open terrace behind Acton's goal

Former Sheffield United midfielder Anderson had failed to shine on his debut and was hauled off on seventy-four minutes in favour of youngster Tom Griffiths

With fourteen minutes remaining, the Lambs wrapped up all three points with a third killer goal to see off the Pitmen once and for all. Substitute Jamie Kearns played a neat one-two with Rob Mutchell, who beat three half-hearted challenges before slotting past Wood. So depressingly easy from the full-back and an indication of the slowly eroding confidence within the Hednesford ranks

Despite the game now being out of their reach at this point, the Pitmen rallied in the last ten minutes and created a couple of good chances to at least grab a consolation goal for their supporters. On eighty-one minutes, the hapless Francis turned an Airdrie cross straight into the arms of Acton with a volleyed effort

With four minutes remaining, Griffiths did well to create space for himself with a push and run down the left flank to move beyond Warner before crossing for Pickess, who was still to pick up his first Hednesford goal as he narrowly missed the ball from six yards out

If Raynor hadn't realised the magnitude of the task ahead before tonight, he certainly did at full-time as he angrily locked his players in the dressing room for over an hour after the final whistle in an attempt to get answers out of his under-performing players. He has good, experienced players at the club who are clearly capable of more but are currently massively underperforming for their new manager. Raynor will have to work quickly to find an answer as his side will face an experienced Weymouth outfit at Keys Park on Saturday afternoon

Tamworth: Acton ©, Warner, Mutchell, Gould, Grocutt, Turner, Foy, Mills (Hinks 66), Hallam (Roberts 77), Wilson, Colley (Kearns 70)      Subs Unused: None

Hednesford Town: Wood, Airdrie, Lucas ©, Craven , Simpson (Hopkins 63), Curtis, Anderson (Griffiths 74), Raynor , Lancashire (Pickess 63), Francis, Bagshaw      Subs Unused: None

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