Pitching In Southern Premier League Central

Hednesford Town

Lita (41), Cater (61)


Mussa (52), Tahra (53), Howkins (88)

(1) 2

(0) 3



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Leroy Lita



Barwell (A) 23.4.22

A late winner from the head of Tamworth's Cameron Howkins clinches today's Bank Holiday Monday derby in favour of the visitors and condemns the Pitmen to a second successive defeat at the PRG Stadium @ Keys Park

Saturday had seen the Pitmen return from Biggleswade Town with all three points, beating the Waders 2-0 to leave them sitting in ninth place in the league table ahead of today's Staffordshire derby. Manager Keenen Meakin-Richards made one change to the side that had started at Langford Road as Lewis Hayden returned at right-back in place of Josh Webb

Tamworth had also been victorious at the weekend, beating local rivals Redditch United 1-0 at the Lamb to lift Andy Peaks' fast-improving side up to thirteenth in the Southern Premier League Central table, four points behind their hosts. Peaks made three changes to the side that had started Saturday's game as Howkins came back in for Lucas Yeomans, Jack Concannon replaced Jordan Clement and Dexter Walters made way for Shaquille Whittingham. Hednesford great Ben Bailey lined up against his former club for the first time in his career, alongside another former Hednesford man in the Lambs' defence, James Hurst

The unusually mild Bank Holiday weekend continued into this afternoon's proceedings, with bright sunshine beating down on the beaten-up Keys Park pitch for long periods of the game. The visitors had much the better of the opening exchanges, with skipper Ryan Beswick drilling a low shot wide of Oliver Basey's goal in just the second minute after picking the ball up twenty yards from goal

Two minutes later, auxiliary left-back Harvey Portman gave away a free-kick on the right-hand side of the Hednesford penalty area, with Beswick whipping in the resultant ball to the far post where Hurst met it with a looping header and saw his effort come back off the top of the crossbar before Leroy Lita cleared the danger

The highly experienced Beswick was certainly seeing plenty of the ball in the first few minutes and tested Basey just a minute later with a rising shot that the Hednesford goalkeeper clutched to his chest

Bailey - taking the banter from the Heath Hayes end in good spirits - almost silenced the Keys Park crowd on his return to the club in the ninth minute as Hurst's long throw from the right was headed as far as the defender by former team-mate Martin Riley, only for Basey to push away Bailey's first-time shot at goal from ten yards out

Another free-kick to the away side in the eleventh minute saw Henri Wilder whip the ball into the Hednesford six-yard box, but striker Dan Creaney was penalised for a foul on Lewis Ison as the pair tangled to reach the ball and the Pitmen cleared their lines

Neat approach play from the shot-shy Pitmen in the seventeenth minute saw Todd Parker link up with Kyle Bennett to send Lita away in behind the Tamworth defence, only for the pass to just evade the veteran striker as it skipped away from him on the uneven Keys Park turf and into the hands of Jas Singh

Three minutes later, Parker gifted the Lambs another set-piece in a dangerous position after he had brought down Concannon to the left of the Hednesford box. Beswick stepped up to take the free-kick once more and looked to pick out Bailey at the far post but was denied by some impressive covering play from winger Chay Tilt, who cleared the ball from Bailey's clutches

Concannon's corner kick on twenty-four minutes caused confusion in the Hednesford ranks as Ison and Riley both struggled to clear their lines and had to rely on Basey to come out of his goal to smother the ball ahead of dangerman Creaney on his six-yard line

Sixty seconds later, Parker and Bennett worked the ball well across the pitch and into the path of Riley O'Sullivan out on the left flank; he stole a yard on Hurst and drilled a dangerous-looking low cross into the Tamworth six-yard box but got too much behind it as Lita was caught on his heels and could not apply the finish from close-range

The game's best chance so far fell onto the had of Lita on twenty-six minutes as Parker and Bennett forced Gift Mussa into a rushed clearance down by the corner flag, with Bennett sending over a fine cross to the far post where Lita was on hand to head goalwards but narrowly missed the target from close-range with a header back across Singh's goal

On the half-hour mark, the talented Concannon picked up a pass from Mussa and made his way to the edge of the Pitmen's penalty area but drove his shot into the Hednesford fans standing behind Basey's goal

O'Sullivan tested Singh from a tight angle three minutes later after Reece Flanagan's angled pass had played the forward in behind the dawdling Hurst, with O'Sullivan trying to pull the ball back to Lita from the byeline but only succeeding in finding the gloves of Singh at his near post

The Pitmen were slowly playing themselves back into the game after a slow start to proceedings, with Ison the latest player to have a sight at goal on thirty-seven minutes; Flanagan was fouled by Howkins with the midfielder taking the resultant free-kick from thirty yards out, floating the ball into the penalty area where Ison headed well wide from ten yards out, under pressure from the giant Howkins

Good, patient play down the left from the Lambs a minute later saw Eoin McKeown play the ball back into the path of Howkins from the flank; the defender cleverly chipping the ball through to Beswick, who had made a run into the penalty area unchallenged. The burly veteran tried his luck with a first-time shot from an angle that Basey held at his near post with ease

With four minutes of a competitive first half remaining, Lita lit up the game as he grabbed his fifth goal in five games since joining the club to open the scoring; Tilt and Parker played a one-two with each other before Parker slipped the ball into the path of the striker, who had his back to goal and Bailey behind him. The veteran did brilliantly to sidestep Bailey and make his way into the penalty area, taking full advantage of a slip from Howkins to open up the space in front of him and drill a low shot beyond the reach of Singh to his left and find the corner of the net in the process

With the last action of the first half, Creaney headed on a long ball forwards from Hurst towards Whittingham, who was denied a shooting chance by excellent covering from Riley to see the ball back to Basey

It had been a tight, cagey and low-quality first half, although Tamworth will perhaps be a little bemused that they found themselves chasing the game at the break having enjoyed the better of the possession throughout without really making their mark in the final third. The hosts had grown into the game after having barely any of the play in the opening quarter, once again indebted to the experience and quality of Lita to find a way through

Lita started the second half well, leading Bailey a merry dance once more on fifty minutes as he picked up a pass from Tilt on the edge of the Tamworth penalty area before turning past the defender once more and forcing Singh to tip his shot over the crossbar for a corner kick

Flanagan sent over the resultant corner kick and found Lita unmarked just outside the six-yard box, only for the striker's glancing header to dip wide of the far post

However, the Lambs levelled matters on fifty-two minutes with a moment of magic from Mussa; picking up the ball thirty yards from goal from Concannon and to the right of the penalty area, the former Bromsgrove Sporting man unleashed an unstoppable shot from long range that arced beyond the reach of Basey and nestled in the top far corner of the net. A superb strike from nothing from the midfielder

Before the game could restart Tamworth made their first substitution of the afternoon as the dreadlocked Wahib Tahra replaced Whittingham in one of the attacking midfield roles

Frenchman Tahra was to have an immediate impact on the game as, with his first touch of the ball, he put the visitors 2-1 up just a few seconds after coming on; the move again came down the Tamworth right, with the substitute picking up a lay-off from Creaney before firing beyond the reach of Basey once again with another high-quality effort from nearly thirty yards out

The Pitmen had been left stunned by the turnaround in the game and struggled to get their heads back in the game as passes went astray and Tamworth continued to press in search of a third goal. Creaney was penalised for an overly-aggressive push on Ison inside the Hednesford penalty area on fifty-five minutes as the pair rose to meet a cross from Concannon

Two minutes later, Bailey's long ball forwards was picked up by Creaney once more, who chested the ball down to McKeown just outside the penalty area. His left-footed effort was blocked by Riley and eventually cleared by Portman

The Pitmen made their first change of the afternoon on the hour mark, as Tilt was taken off and replaced by Cater. This saw a shift of position for O'Sullivan, who moved to the right flank to allow Cater to play down the left

Cater matched Tahra's instant impact on the game with his first touch of the game a minute later, picking up the ball after Parker's initial shot had been blocked by Hurst, Cater drifted inside before curling what appeared to be a cross towards the far post; his whipped ball in drifted over the head of both Singh and Howkins before somehow ended up in the far corner of the net. A fluke of a goal no doubt, but it was game on once more

McKeown was the first name taken by referee Mr Allsopp on sixty-five minutes as he brought Lita down inside the Tamworth half and was shown a yellow card for the foul

Good defending from Portman denied Tahra another shot at goal on sixty-eight minutes, blocking the initial shot before Riley eventually cleared his lines to stop McKeown from getting to the loose ball

Hayden was the first player in white to receive a caution on seventy-one minutes as he blatantly pulled the aggressive Creaney back to stop the striker from getting away from him and was booked by Mr Allsopp. Creaney had spent most of the afternoon bleating at the referee about the fouls on him, but in truth, the striker was more guilty than most in dishing out his own form of retribution on the Hednesford defence

A corner kick from Concannon on seventy-four minutes was partially cleared by the Pitmen to Tahra once more, whose follow-up shot lacked power on this occasion and was saved low down by Basey

With fourteen minutes remaining, Wilder went down awkwardly on the edge of his own six-yard box as the Lambs defended a Flanagan corner, with O'Sullivan attempting a shot at goal as the whistle was blown, hitting the grounded Wilder on the head as he lay injured. Several Tamworth players, including Bailey, Creaney and Singh, took exception to O'Sullivan's antics and a skirmish between both sets of players occurred before Mr Allsopp split them up. O'Sullivan and Bailey were both booked for their parts in the piece before Tamworth could restart the game with a free-kick

A surging run from Cater on eighty minutes saw the substitute drift past Hurst in much the same way he had done time and again in last month's reverse fixture, crossing from the left-hand byline towards Lita but his ball in had a little too much on it for the veteran to get his head to and Bailey cleared the danger

With nine minutes of a topsy-turvy second half remaining, Hayden made way for Webb at right-back for the remaining minutes with what was to prove to be the Pitmen's final substitution of the afternoon

The game continued to swing from end to end, although it was noticeable that the tempo had slowed quite considerably as neither side seemed too keen to throw everyone forwards at every opportunity 

Singh denied the Pitmen a certain goal and what could well have been the winner on eighty-seven minutes as Flanagan's free-kick on the halfway line was headed on by Ison and into the path of Portman, who suddenly found himself eight yards from goal and with only Singh to beat. The young defender looked to turn the ball home with a first-time shot but was denied by a brilliant instinctive save from the experienced stopper to keep the game level

The hosts were to pay a heavy price for this miss as Tamworth grabbed what was to the winning goal a minute later. A throw-in from Hurst was flicked on at the near post by Creaney to Howkins, who was on hand to head beyond Basey at the far post and grab the Lambs' third goal of the afternoon, sparking wild celebrations from the travelling support behind Basey's goal

Despite late pressure from the hosts, with O'Sullivan getting into the thick of things in added time to flick a Basey ball on into the box to no avail, the visitors hung on to claim the win and move with a point their hosts in the league table. Tamworth have two games remaining, facing Biggleswade on Thursday night in a controversial re-arranged game before hosting St. Ives Town at the weekend, whilst the Pitmen finish their season on Saturday with a trip to Barwell, who have confirmed their safety today and will remain at step three in 2022-2023

Hednesford Town: Basey, Hayden ▆ (Webb 81), Portman, Riley, Ison ©, Flanagan, Tilt (Cater 60), Todd ParkerLita, Bennett, O'Sullivan       Subs Unused: Ebbutt, C. Smith, Williams

Tamworth: Singh, Hurst, Wilder, Beswick ©, Bailey , Howkins, Concannon, Mussa, Creaney, Whittingham (Tahra 53), McKeown ▆ (Tom Parker 83)      Subs Unused: Fallows, Walters, A. Smith


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