8.3.2022

Pitching In Southern Premier League Central

Tamworth

Creaney (48), (60), Yeomans (89)

Hednesford Town

O'Sullivan (17), Cater (53), (81)

(0) 3

(1) 3

Attendance

MoTM

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502

George Cater

D D D W W D L L L D

 

Lowestoft Town (A) 12.3.22

The Pitmen end their three-match losing run with a hard-fought but well-earned draw at local rivals Tamworth this evening, in a game that flowed from end to end in the second half

Saturday's timid defeat against Stratford Town had dropped the Pitmen into the bottom half of the table for the first time in the season, with manager Keenen Meakin-Richards opting to make two changes to his misfiring side for tonight's short trip across the A5 as Lewis Hayden was handed his first start for the club ahead of Wes Atkinson and Cameron Ebbutt also making his full debut for the Pitmen as he came in ahead of Luke Ward

Tamworth's season had faltered badly since the turn of the year, culminating in Andy Peaks being poached from league rivals AFC Rushden & Diamonds a couple of weeks ago to take over from the now-departed Gary Smith. Results had improved slightly for the Lambs since Peaks' appointment, beating Barwell and Bromsgrove Sporting either side of a draw at Hitchin Town. Peaks made two changes to his side for tonight's derby game as Jordaan Brown came in for Hednesford legend Ben Bailey, who was ruled out due to his wife going into labour, with Jack Concannon also replacing Dexter Walters

It was a cool but clear night in Staffordshire, with the 4G pitch heavily watered for tonight's clash. The all-sky blue Pitmen set their stall out early on as they harassed and harried their hosts from the first kick and did not allow the men in red any time to settle on the ball. Good play from Hayden in the fifth minute saw the former Walsall Wood man win the ball and play it into the path of Kyle Bennett. who turned past Ryan Beswick and looked to send Riley O'Sullivan away. However, the big striker was to be denied by an offside flag on the main stand side before he could pull the trigger

George Cater made the first of several tricky runs into the Tamworth penalty area three minutes later, leaving former Hednesford man James Hurst in his wake but ran out of pitch before he could pull the ball back to O'Sullivan as he took the ball over the byeline

Carter Lycett's free-kick in the tenth minute was floated into the Tamworth penalty area, where O'Sullivan headed the ball back across goal and into the path of Ebbutt, whose low sidefooted effort was blocked by Henri Wilder before being claimed by Jas Singh in the Lambs goal

The home side seemed content to carve out opportunities via set-pieces, with two corner kicks from Concannon in the eleventh and thirteenth minutes dealt competently with by the Hednesford defence

Although the Pitmen had been looking to keep the ball on the floor and play their way around the pitch, it was a good old-fashioned route one move that saw them take the lead in the seventeenth minute; Joe O'Shaughnessy rolled the ball out to Portman, whose long, raking ball forwards drifted over the head of Hurst and into the path of Cater in behind the full-back. The winger took a touch before squaring the ball to O'Sullivan, who had the simple task of sidefooting past Singh from eight yards out. It was a long-overdue gold for the striker, having gone six games without a goal

The Pitmen almost doubled their lead just two minutes later as another long ball forwards from Portman caught Hurst out once again, with O'Sullivan this time scampering in behind him before taking the ball into the penalty area; his initial effort was saved by Singh before Ebbutt's follow-up effort was cleared off the line by Wilder. Cater recycled the ball on the edge of the Tamworth penalty area and fed Bennett, who curled his shot wide of the post

Back came the hosts through skipper Beswick, whose free-kick midway through the first half into the Hednesford penalty area was headed goalwards by Chris Cox before Lewis Ison hacked the ball away from danger inside his six-yard box

Cater was having a field day against the hapless Hurst, creating another opening for himself on twenty-six minutes as he nutmegged his fellow former West Brom trainee before shooting at goal with a bobbling effort that was easily saved by Singh

Hurst was involved in the opposite penalty area on twenty-eight minutes as he headed Beswick's inswinging free-kick over the crossbar from ten yards out, under pressure from Portman

On thirty-three minutes, dangerman Dan Creaney brought down a long ball from Wilder and held off Ison's challenge before feeding the ball out to Concannon, whose low cross into the penalty area was turned behind by Portman before Creaney could get to the ball

The hosts started to turn the screw on the stoic Hednesford back line as the half entered its final ten minutes, with Shaquille Whittingham drilling a low shot well, well wide of goal on thirty-six minutes after more good hold-up play from Creaney

With four minutes of the first half remaining, O'Shaughnessy made a good save to deny Creaney after Wilder's run and cross down the Tamworth left was headed towards goal but the former Coalville Town man, only for the on-loan Wolves man to make a flying save at full stretch out to his left

O'Shaughnessy did well to clear his lines in the final minute of the half as a corner kick from Concannon was floated into the six-yard box, where the stopper came through a crowd of players to bravely punch the ball away from danger

It had been an impressive first-half showing from the Pitmen, who had shown character and spirit in keeping their hosts at bay, whilst creating several good openings of their own. Tamworth had looked off the pace and a little disjointed at times, only offering a sporadic threat to a well-drilled Hednesford defence that had looked a far more cohesive unit than the one that had started Saturday's defeat to Stratford

The expected Tamworth backlash came early in the second half as Peaks sent his side back out with a flea in their ear, with the hosts earning themselves a penalty kick just two minutes after the restart. Whittingham flicked a long ball on into the penalty area which Lycett failed to deal with effectively, allowing Concannon to pick up the loose ball before being hauled down by the left-back's mistimed challenge. Referee Mr Allsopp took a long, hard look at the challenge before awarding the hosts a penalty kick. Creaney stepped to take the resultant kick but saw O'Shaughnessy equal to his spot-kick, parrying the ball away from goal down to his right. Unfortunately for the stopper, his parry sat up nicely for Creaney, who followed the ball in and turned the ball home at the second attempt by lifting the ball into the roof of the net

The Lambs continued to boss the possession in the early stages of the second half and forced successive corner kicks out of the visitors, who were suddenly nervy and on edge as they dealt with Concannon's delivery from the right 

However, the visitors rolled their sleeves up once more and restored their advantage with their first attack of the second half on fifty-three minutes. A quick passing move through the middle of the Tamworth defence saw Reece Flanagan slip the ball into the path of O'Sullivan, who in turn played a delightful first-time pass in behind the Lambs defenders and into the path of Cater, who slotted the ball beyond Singh from fifteen yards out with a well-taken finish

More superb wing play from Cater two minutes later saw him skip past Hurst and lay the ball into the path of Lycett as they doubled up on the full-back, with Lycett's cross a touch too high for O'Sullivan to reach at the far post

 

Peaks had seen enough from Hurst and hauled the right-back off on fifty-seven minutes after another poor attempt at stopping Cater from getting into the Tamworth penalty area; he was replaced by Lucas Yeomans

A minute later, the Pitmen went close to adding to their tally as Cater turned provider for O'Sullivan with a fine threaded pass through to the striker, whose left-footed effort from just inside the Tamworth penalty area cleared the crossbar by a matter of inches

This was to prove a crucial miss, as the hosts came back once more to level matters on the hour mark; Wilder's run down the left saw him drill a low cross into the penalty area, where Whittingham unselfishly laid the ball off to his striker partner Creaney, who fired past O'Shaughnessy from close-range with a powerfully-struck rising shot

Chay Tilt was introduced to the game for the Pitmen as their first change of the evening on sixty-one minutes as he came on for Ebbutt, who had struggled to make an impact on the game after an initially bright start

A cross from Concannon on sixty-five minutes almost caught O'Shaughnessy out as it drifted over the head of the goalkeeper but ended up on the top of the Hednesford net

Neat play from the Pitmen in midfield three minutes later saw Flanagan and Bennett link up to play the ball out to Tilt, who got past Wilder and sent over a low cross to O'Sullivan, who saw his attempted shot blocked by Beswick from. fifteen yards out

A flurry of substitutions from both sides on seventy-one minutes saw the Pitmen bring on Ward for the tiring Hayden and Atkinson for Bennett, which saw the away side revert to a 5-4-1 system in a bid to protect the point that they had more than earned thus far. Jordan Clement had also come on for the Lambs, replacing skipper Beswick in the process as Tamworth added another body up front

O'Shaughnessy had to be alert to deny Clement on seventy-five minutes as the substitute looked to make an immediate impact, latching on to a fine reverse ball from Concannon to make a run in behind the Pitmen down the left-hand side of the Hednesford penalty area. His angled drive at goal was pushed away by the young goalkeeper, handing Tamworth a corner kick in the process

Chris Cox headed over the crossbar for the hosts on seventy-eight minutes as he met a deep corner kick from Concannon, under pressure from Portman to get above the Hednesford man to reach the ball

The Pitmen had struggled to match their first-half attacking display in the second half, offering less in the way of a threat in the final third as they had to endure more and more spells in their own third of the pitch. However, with nine minutes of the game remaining, they took the lead for the third time in the evening as Atkinson's throw-in on the right was controlled by O'Sullivan, who brought the ball inside and laid it off thew Flanagan, who in turn found Cater on the edge of the Tamworth penalty area. He teased his way past Yeomans and fired in a low right-footed shot beyond the unsighted Singh and into the far corner of the net. Having only scored two goals in his Hednesford career so far, the winger doubled his tally for the club in just under half an hour

You did fear, however, that the goal had probably come a little too soon, with Tamworth given over ten minutes to get themselves back into the game by ramping up the pressure on the Hednesford defence with set-piece after set-piece. Two minutes after Cater's goal, Whittingham's knock-down on the edge of the penalty area was laid off to Clement by the impressive Concannon, with the substitute's rising effort clipping the top of the crossbar as O'Shaughnessy tried to get across his goal

The pressure continued on eighty-five minutes as Cox flicked on a cross from Yeomans to Creaney, only for Ison to do enough to deny the striker enough space to turn the ball home and force him to shoot wide of goal

The Pitmen's brave attempts at hanging on were dashed however as Tamworth finally found an equaliser in the eighty-ninth minute; Concannon's corner kick to the far post was headed back towards goal by Cox, causing O'Shaughnessy to get caught in two minds as to coming to claim the ball or not and did neither, allowing Yeomans to pounce and volley the ball into the roof of the net from close-range. More questionable positioning from the young stopper after also being at fault for the second Stratford goal at the weekend

With all the momentum now in Tamworth's favour, the four minutes of added time were spent camped out in the Hednesford penalty area as the Lambs sensed a late turnaround in the game. Another fine corner from Concannon in the third minute of time added on found the head of Brown, whose goalbound effort was cleared off the line by man of the match Cater, who had stayed on the back post

It had been a fine game to watch all round and probably a very enjoyable one for any neutrals in attendance, with both sides having to be content with a point apiece from a competitive ninety minutes. The Pitmen avoid a fourth defeat in a row but extended their winless run to five games, depending on how you view recent form and results. A long trip to relegation-threatened Lowestoft Town is next up for the Pitmen in what will be a second of three away games in succession, ending with a trip to champions-elect Banbury United a week on Saturday

Tamworth: Singh, Hurst (Yeomans 57), Wilder, Beswick © (Clement 71), Cox, Brown , Thomas (Tahra 87), Mussa, Creaney, Whittingham, Concannon       Subs Unused: Fallows, Bradley

Hednesford Town: O'Shaughnessy, Hayden (Ward 71), Lycett, Portman, Ison ©, Flanagan, Ebbutt (Tilt 61 )Parker, O'Sullivan, Bennett (Atkinson 71), Cater     Subs Unused: Brown-Jones, Williams