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Pitching In Southern Premier League Central


McKeown (6), (45), (61), Creaney (40), (45), Deacon (67), (82), Finn (75), Collard (85)

Hednesford Town

Bennett (27)

(4) 9


(1) 1



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Ronnie Hollingshead



Alvechurch (H) 28.1.23

The Pitmen hit a new low in their awful 2023-2023 campaign this afternoon as they are humiliated by local rivals Tamworth at the Lamb and handed a record post-war defeat to leave them staring at almost-certain relegation to step four

Having come back from two goals down to grab a late point against St. Ives Town last weekend, player/manager Danny Glover elected to make two changes to his side for today's short trip across the A5 to face the league leaders as Ben Kaninda was handed a debut in place of Harvey Portman in defence, whilst Glover himself had picked up a knock in the St. Ives game and was ruled out, with on-loan Niah Payne returning to the side in his place

Tamworth had suffered something of a wobble since the turn of the year, losing their last two games against Coalville Town in the league and Hungerford Town in the F.A. Trophy; this saw Andy Peaks' side remain top of the Southern Premier League Central table, but only on goal difference over local rivals Nuneaton Borough. Peaks made also made two changes of his own for today's Staffordshire derby as ex-Hednesford full-back Matt Curley came back in for Liam Dolman and Eoin McKeown also returned to the side in place of Luke Fairlamb. Former Hednesford wide players AJ George and George Cater were also amongst the substitutes, but there was no place in the squad for either Ben Bailey or James Hurst

It had been a freezing week across the country, with temperatures dropping well below zero most evenings. Many of the league fixtures were affected by postponements, with the only surviving games involving the clubs with 3G pitches at Barwell, St. Ives, Rushall and Tamworth. In front of a large and expectant home crowd, the hosts started strongly as they pressed for an early goal to exert their authority on the game

An early flurry of set-pieces out on the Tamworth right tested the Pitmen's resolve, with a third-minute cross from Callum Cockerill-Mollett punched away at his far post by Ronnie Hollingshead as Alex Collard challenged Lewis Ison in the air

Good play down the right from the hosts a minute later saw Bradley lay the ball off to Kyle Finn, whose cross to the far post found the head of Eoin McKeown, only for the striker's header to sail high over the crossbar from six yards out


The Lambs got their noses in front with what to prove to be a goal-laden afternoon for them in the sixth minute as former Colchester United man McKeown struck the first of his goals for the afternoon; a comedy of errors at the back saw Kandida fluff Jas Singh's long punt forwards before Ison made a hash of the rebound and allowed Alex Bradley to slip McKeown in on the edge of the box, with the striker firing confidently past Hollingshead from eight yards out

The Pitmen looked to carve out a chance in response through Riley O'Sullivan in the ninth minute as neat build-up play down the right saw James McQuilkin and Kyle Bennett combine to play the ball into the feet of the lone striker, whose first-time shot was easily gathered by Singh at his near post

Creaney - looking to add to his twenty-six goals already this term - was denied a chance to make it twenty-seven on thirteen minutes as another flowing move from the hosts down the right opened the Pitmen up once more as Ben Milnes' threaded-through ball beat the hapless Kaninda for pace and found the foot of Creaney, who had encroached a little too soon for the assistant on the Kettlebrook Road side of the ground and was pulled back for a tight offside call

The Pitmen were living incredibly dangerously at the back, with Kaninda and Luke Redfern struggling to cope with the movement and threat of Creaney and McKeown. They managed to scramble the ball away from a corner kick on seventeen minutes as Cockerill-Mollet's deep flag kick was headed down by Collard and back into the six-yard box, where Ison finally managed to clear the danger with Creaney looking to turn the loose ball home from close-range


Ex-Hereford midfielder Finn went agonisingly close to making it 2-0 to the home side shortly before the midway point of the half as he picked the ball up unchallenged on the edge of the Hednesford penalty area and turned smartly past Redfern before unleashing a low, driven effort that beat the diving Hollingshead but skipped past the on-loan stopper's right-hand post

Another excellent delivery from Cockerill-Mollett on twenty-four minutes saw him deliver an inch-perfect corner kick right onto the head of Creaney in the six-yard box, whose glancing effort was instinctively punched away by Hollingshead on his goal line

An almost identical ball in from former Walsall man Cockerill-Mollett two minutes later dropped at the feet of Creaney once more, only for a combination of some desperate defending from Redfern and the presence of mind of Hollingshead to put the striker off and allow the Pitmen to somehow hack the ball clear of safety

And yet, despite having been completely outplayed in the opening quarter of the game, the visitors got themselves back into contention with an equaliser on twenty-seven minutes; a quick break down the left from the men in sky blue saw McQuilkin play the ball into the path of Bennett, who played a one-two with Tom Thorley on the edge of the Tamworth box before giving Singh the eyes with a cleverly concealed curling shot around the body of Collard and into the far corner of the net

Suddenly, the momentum seemed to be swinging the way of the away side for the first time in the game, as a darting run from the hard-working and persistent Payne saw him get past Curley for the first time on the half-hour and look to pick out O'Sullivan with a low cross that was cut out in a timely manner by Ben Hart for a Hednesford corner kick

McKeown felt that he should have been awarded a penalty kick two minutes later as he went down during a coming-together with Kaninda with the pair challenging for a high ball, only for referee Mr Jackson to gesture to the forward to get back to his feet

Back came the hosts after the Pitmen's brief attacking spell, forcing the visitors onto the backfoot once more for long periods of what remained of the first half. On thirty-five minutes, McKeown got on the end of a rangy cross from Finn out on the right and glanced a header towards goal at the far post but saw his effort ripple the side netting

Thorley was the first player of the afternoon to be shown a yellow card by Mr Jackson two minutes later as the midfield man incurred the wrath of the home supporters for flattening McKeown in midfield

Hollingshead - who had signed his first professional contract with parent club West Bromwich Albion this week - was earning his keep as he continued to frustrate the hosts with another good save to deny Bradley on forty minutes, tipping the former Burton midfielder's low driven shot from twenty yards out around the post for another corner

Cockerill-Mollet's resultant corner was headed back across goal by Collard and initially cleared by the Pitmen back to the corner kick taker, whose second ball in was glanced home by the powerful Creaney from close range as he pushed Kanida aside to beat the defender and Collard to the ball

Payne stung the palms of Singh straight from the restart as his mazy run and shot from the corner of the penalty area saw the Spennymoor Town loanee drill a low shot in at goal that failed to have enough behind it to worry the experienced stopper

The ineffective Todd Parker joined midfield colleague Thorley in the book a minute later for a crude off-the-ball challenge on Milnes that was deserving of a yellow card

With the Pitmen now desperately looking for the half-time whistle to regroup at the break, Tamworth took full advantage of the away team's disarray at the back as they struck twice more before the end of the half. With the forty-five minutes up, Curley's long, angled ball into the box was met by the head of Collard, who once again got the better of Kaninda in the air to nod down to Creaney. With all the time in the world, the unmarked target man volleyed the ball past Hollingshead from close-range to make it 3-1

And the hosts still weren't done as they extended their lead further in added time with another simple route one goal; Milnes played a long, searching ball out of his own half and into the path of Creaney, who had stolen a march on Redfern to nip in ahead of him down the right. Hollingshead looked to narrow the angle for the striker to shoot from, with Creaney electing to lob the ball over the head of the onrushing stopper and into the path of McKeown, who had the simple task of heading into the empty net whilst almost standing on the line

Despite the game being level for much of the first period, Tamworth had been completely dominant in all areas of the pitch and their late goal salvo was no less than they deserved for their efforts. The Pitmen had been staggeringly poor all over the pitch - the teenagers at the back out of their depth against Creaney and McKeown, with an unsupportive and tactically destitute midfield in front of them; O'Sullivan had struggled to offer anything in attack with no supply line from behind him, leaving Glover much to ponder at the break as he looked towards damage control in the second half. His response was to bring on another teenage defender in the form of Harvey Portman, surprisingly in place of McQuilkin, which saw the Pitmen move to three at the back for the start of the second half

If the Pitmen were looking to limit the threat posed by Tamworth in the second half, then their plan fell spectacularly short as the Lambs filled their boots in front of goal to inflict a crushing defeat on their local rivals. McKeown - now looking for a hat-trick - had an early effort at goal on forty-nine minutes with a well-struck looping effort from range that had Hollingshead scrambling across his goal as the ball just dipped the wrong side of the goalkeeper's right-hand post

McKeown turned provider for Creaney three minutes later as he played his strike partner in behind Portman with a smart pass, only for Creaney to attempt a back-heeled effort at goal that failed to trouble the 18-year-old in goal for the Pitmen

Redfern tested Singh in a rare foray into the Tamworth half for the Pitmen two minutes later, with the young Stoke City loanee firing in a low shot at goal from twenty yards out that was parried away from goal by the former Solihull Moors man who collected the ball at the second attempt ahead of O'Sullivan

McKeown continued to give the young Hednesford defence a torrid time as he made a jinking run into the box on fifty-seven minutes, taking Redfern and Kaninda out of play before playing the ball back into the path of Finn, whose close-range effort was somehow scrambled off the line by Ison and put behind for a corner kick

You felt that this was simply delaying the inevitable, however, with Tamworth scoring their fifth of the afternoon shortly after the hour mark through the prolific McKeown. A neat outside-of-the-boot pass from Finn set the striker away through the middle of the park, easing his way past Kaninda once more before firing confidently past Hollingshead with a low, driven shot from fifteen yards out

The excellent Creaney was he was afforded the luxury of a standing ovation from the home supporters two minutes later as Ty Deacon replaced him up front after yet another prolific afternoon in front of goal for the league's top scorer

Deacon was to prove to be just as much of a pain for the Pitmen as he grabbed Tamworth's sixth of the afternoon just three minutes later; Cockerill-Mollett's deep corner was headed back across goal by Collard and into the six-yard box, where former AFC Rushden & Diamonds man Deacon had the simple task of nodding the ball home. On closer inspection, there were no less than four Tamworth men on the line ready to claim the goal, such was the utterly shambolic marking and defending from the Pitmen in the build-up

The desperate visitors looked to try and stem the tide of goals by making a double change on sixty-nine minutes as Chay Tilt came on in place of the dreadfully out-of-sorts Parker and Kemy Agustien replaced Kaninda, whose debut had been something of a disaster at the back after being schooled by Creaney and McKeown for most of the game

It was one-way traffic at this point in proceedings as the Pitmen had seemingly downed tools across the XI and were powerless to stem the flow of Tamworth attacks. Collard headed another excellent corner from Cockerill-Mollett onto the top of the crossbar on seventy-one minutes as the big defender once again got the better of Ison at the far post

The Lambs made it seven with fifteen minutes remaining as Finn got himself on the scoresheet; Fairlamb nutmegged the dreadful Morley and laid it off the Finn on the edge of the box, with the midfielder driving the ball past Hollingshead with a left-footed first-time effort

It was all a little too much for some of the proud travelling support at this point, who took this as their cue to depart the ground and head home in the warmth of their vehicles, much to the delight of the home supporters who were lapping up every moment of a game that was rivalling their biggest win of the season to date - a 8-1 thrashing of Bedford Town in August

Two minutes later, former Hednesford loanee George - who was one of the players to have followed Peaks from AFC Rushden & Diamonds to the Lamb in the summer - came on in place of the excellent McKeown

Ison picked up the game's final booking of the afternoon with nine minutes remaining as he floored the lively Fairlamb to stop the former Rushden man from making progress down the left flank

The hosts matched this scoreline on eighty-two minutes as another long spell of Tamworth pressure finally told with George easing his way past Thorley and playing the ball out to Fairlamb on the left; he skipped past Ison and pulled the ball back across goal with a scuffed effort that was turned home by Deacon from close-range, who was once again completely unmarked as the Hednesford defenders failed to track back

Tamworth finally completed their historic demolition job on the Pitmen with five minutes remaining as Collard grabbed the ninth goal of the afternoon, heading home from six yards out after the Pitmen had failed to clear Curley's initial cross and allowed Hart to chip the ball back into the danger zone from the right

Tamworth remained on the front foot as they looked to take their tally into double figures, with another goalmouth scramble on eighty-eight minutes somehow failing to lead to another goal as the Pitmen managed to turn the ball behind for a corner kick as Bradley tried to turn the ball home

An utterly depressing and, frankly, embarrassing afternoon for all of a Hednesford persuasion, as their side suffer their biggest defeat since their 8-0 mauling at Northwich Victoria in February 2006 and enter an unwanted new record for their largest defeat since WW2. Another winless game also strikes another nail into the coffin of relegation for the club, who remain a huge ten points from safety and with only fifteen games of the season remaining. Nineteenth-placed Alvechurch make the short trip up the RACE Stadium next Saturday in what will be very much a relegation six-pointer for both sides. How many of today's side will feature after this performance, we shall have to wait and see

Tamworth: Singh, Curley, Cockerill-Mollett, Mussa, Collard ©, Hart, Finn, Milnes (Fairlamb 67), Creaney (Deacon 65), Bradley, McKeown (George 77)       Subs Unused: Clement, Cater


Hednesford Town: Hollingshead, Ison © , Morley, Thorley , Kaninda (Agustien 69), Redfern, Bennett, Parker ▆ (Tilt 69), O'Sullivan, McQuilkin (Portman 45), Payne     Sub Unused: Asomugha, Williams


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