Dr. Martens Southern Premier League


Hatton (82)

Hednesford Town

(0) 1

(0) 0



Current Form

Next Match



Chris Brindley




Ilkeston Town (H) 19.10.02

Hednesford's early season good form is starting to become a bit of a memory now, as the Pitmen crash to their third defeat in five winless games in tonight's big Staffordshire derby at title favourites Tamworth


Having salvaged a draw against Dover Athletic courtesy of a late, late Stuart Ryder equaliser on Saturday, Hednesford manager Ian Painter was starting to come under a little bit of pressure to recreate his side's excellent early season form. Painter made changes to his side once again, both tactically and with regards his personnel, with Steve Piearce moving back to the substitute's bench in favour of Shaun Wray; this meant a return to the front line for centre-back Chris Brindley to play alongside Graham Lancashire in the continued absence of Kevin Francis


Tamworth manager Gary Mills had assembled a strong but talented group of players during his eighteen months in charge, steering the club away from the relegation zone last season and building on solid foundations to bring in the experience of ex-Leicester City centre-back Steve Walsh to compliment fine attacking talent such as Scott Rickards, Nick Colley and Mark Sale. There was a sprinkling of former Hednesford players in the Lambs' ranks, with Tony Hemmings, Mark Hallam and Mark Cooper all in the Tamworth squad for tonight's game


It was a cool night in Staffordshire, with both clubs well backed by a very healthy 1,000-plus crowd for this much-anticipated game. The away side started on the front foot, with Wray justifying his selection with a string of positive runs down the left wing to test the Tamworth back line


However, it was Tamworth who went closest to scoring in the opening ten minutes, as a clever ball over the top from Cooper found Rickards in behind the static Hednesford defence, only for the young striker to fire narrowly past Mark Gayle's post with the goal gaping


Hednesford responded with a swift counter-attack of their own on twelve minutes, as Paul Ware picked up Brindley's knock-down and played Derek Rae in on goal, only for the midfielder to find Darren Acton in commanding form in the Tamworth goal to make the save


The Pitmen were happy to retain possession during the opening quarter of the game but did very little with it other than trying their luck from long-range or over-playing up to the edge of the Tamworth penalty area, where Walsh was proving to be a tough barrier to break through


 The in-form Ware tested Acton with one of his customary long range efforts on twenty minutes, with the veteran stopper once again equal to the effort with a regulation save


Tamworth had very much flattered to deceive so far, with Cooper most likely to create an opening for the hosts as Darren Simkin and Richard Lucas were doing fine jobs in shackling dangermen Hemmings and Colley


There was a half chance for the home side, however, on twenty-eight minutes, as a Cooper free-kick was headed over the crossbar by Sale after the Pitmen had given the striker too much space at the far post


Brindley headed straight at Acton on thirty-three minutes following a free-kick from Simkin, followed a minute later by a cross from Hemmings that Gayle did well to claim under pressure from the giant Sale


Sale was involved again four minutes later, playing a one-two with Colley before turning quickly and firing into the crowd behind the goal from fifteen yards out


Rickards had been a handful with his movement and willingness to chase the ball down but was wasteful just before the half-time break as he lashed his shot high and wide of goal after picking up a through ball from Colley that put him goal-side of Les Robinson


The Pitmen could be content with their first-half performance, as they had matched their much-fancied opponents in most areas without really offering a significant goal threat through either Lancashire or Brindley


Tamworth showed a more assertive attitude at the start of the second half, with Mills firing his team up during the half-time break and inviting them to play further forwards. Hemmings saw more of the ball as the hosts started to press the Pitmen and force errors in the Hednesford ranks

 A great chance fell onto the head of Sale in the fifty-fifth minute, as a deep cross from Colley found the striker lurking in the penalty area, only for Sale to head wide of goal with only Gayle to beat

Cooper and Hemmings linked up well for the hosts three minutes later, with the former Hednesford winger's slide-rule pass finding Colley on the edge of the Hednesford penalty area. Despite the attentions of Lucas, Colley got his shot away and saw Gayle turn it over the crossbar for a Tamworth corner

 The hosts were very much on top, and Hemmings created a chance on sixty-seven minutes by skipping past Simkin and running into the box before having his progress halted by a last-ditch challenge from Ryder

 The Pitmen were really struggling to get the ball out of their own half but on one of those rare occasions in the seventieth minute, Wray managed to race clear down the right before fluffing his effort from the edge of the penalty area

Despite being under the cosh somewhat, the game was still there to be won for the Pitmen, with Painter making a double change with fifteen minutes remaining; Lancashire had offered little up front and was replaced by Piearce, whilst the more defensively-minded Rae was taken off in favour of winger Stewart Airdrie

 The Lambs continued to create the better of the chances despite this attacking change from the away side, with Cooper striking the post on seventy-seven minutes after letting fly from just outside the Hednesford penalty area

 Skipper Robinson had to be alert to clear the danger for the Pitmen on eight minutes as Sale's deflected effort off Ryder looked to be dipping into the net before Robinson intervened with a block

Tamworth finally broke the deadlock as their pressure paid late dividends for them with eight minutes remaining; substitute Paul Hatton was the man to provide the winning touch, as he broke through the Hednesford offside trap to latch onto Cooper's high, raking through ball before taking the ball round the advancing Gayle and lobbing the ball into the net from a tight angle, despite Ryder's best efforts to keep the ball out of the net

The goal floored Painter's troops, who had looked likely to hold on for a draw throughout most of the second half. Brindley attempted to force a Carl Adams corner over the goal-line in the final minute of the game, but that man Walsh was on hand to keep the ball out before Rob Warner completed the clearance

In added time, a quickly taken free-kick from Ware was thrown into the Tamworth box one last time, aimed at Gayle who had been ushered forwards for the final set-piece. The Hednesford keeper very nearly got his head to the ball, but Walsh did enough to help the ball to sefety under pressure form Brindley also

Another disappointing result for the Pitmen, who are now really struggling for consistency after such a good start to the campaign. With such a wealth of attacking options, it is perhaps odd the Painter is struggling to find a goal return from any player so far. The loss of Neil Davis in the summer is starting to look like a bigger loss than many had hoped, with Piearce, Mark Jones and Lancashire - as well as the injured Francis - all stuttering in front of goal this term. It's a return home for the Pitmen after a free weekend next week when struggling Ilkeston Town visit Keys Park

Tamworth: Acton, Warner, Follett, Robinson, Walsh ©, Cooper, Colley, Hemmings, Sale (Hatton 78), Rickards, McGorry      Subs Unused: Hallam, Grocutt, Turner, Bate

Hednesford Town: Gayle, Simkin, Lucas, Robinson ©, Brindley, Ryder, Rae (Airdrie 75), Ware, Wray, Lancashire (Piearce 75), Adams     Subs Unused: Williams, Simpson, Jenkins