29.3.2003

 

Dr. Martens Southern Premier League

Hednesford Town

 

Tamworth

Evans (2)

(0) 0

.

(1) 1

 

Attendance

MotM

Current Form

Next Match

1,182

 

Michael Bingham

 

W L L D L D W L L L

 

Chippenham Town (A) 5.4.03

Another turbulent week at Keys Park culminates in a narrow defeat for the Pitmen at home to title favourites Tamworth, but new manager Chris Brindley will take plenty of positives from this performance as his side give a far more committed display to give the Hednesford fans hope of escaping the dreaded drop zone

Monday had seen manager Ian Painter and assistant Archie King relieved of their duties following a woeful run of form dating back to before the New Year, leaving Hednesford floundering in the league table and only four points off the drop zone going into today's big local derby. Brindley had been handed the reigns as the club's new manager until the end of the season, bringing former assistant Barry Powell back to Keys Park to help his side in their quest to avoid the drop with nine games remaining. Brindley quickly swept through his squad and made a number of changes to the side that had been soundly beaten at Grantham last weekend, making no fewer than three changes to his side; out went Stuart Ryder, Graham Lancashire and Derek Rae and in came Bryan Small, Kevin Francis and Stewart Airdrie, whilst Brindley released Richard Eastell after an infamous forty-five minute appearance for the club at Grantham and brought back Damien Charie

Tamworth's fine season saw them on the brink of a well-deserved title triumph after a dominant campaign for the Lambs. After taking ownership of the league in September, Gary Mills' side had been in peerless form, sitting a full twelve points ahead of a team with a vested intests on both clubs, Stafford Rangers. Mills brought the experienced Darren Collins back into his side in the one change to his side from the team that had surprisingly lost at home to Dover last week, dropping the scorer of the winner in the reverse fixture Paul Hatton, to the bench

It was a glorious early spring day in South Staffordshire, with both clubs loudly and healthily backed by a 1,000-plus crowd. The 500-plus Tamworth fans didn't have to wait long for their side to continue their fine run, as the Lambs stole into the lead with what would end up being the winner in just the second minute of the game. A hopeful cross from Rob Warner found the head of the diminutive Steve Evans, whose header seemed to lack power but somehow did enough to evade Michael Bingham and find the net. A rare error from a keeper who has looked solid for the club since joining in December

Collins forced his way past a hesitant Darren Simkin on eight minutes before pulling his low shot wide of Bingham's post, followed a minute later by a wayward header from skipper Steve Walsh from an Evans corner kick

The Lambs were very much on top in the opening quarter of the game, playing quick, confident football that Hednesford were struggling to keep up with. Nick Colley's strong run down the left wing saw him beat Ashley Williams and send over a fine cross that Bingham did well to push away form the head of the incoming Collins

Former Rushden man Collins was a constant threat to Brindley's team, with Brindley himself having to make a timely challenge to deny Collins a certain goal on fourteen minutes

A minute later, Bingham atoned for his earlier error with a brilliant one-handed save to turn a Scott Rickards shot way from goal. Bingham followed this up later on in the move with a similarly breathtaking save to deny midfielder Brian McGorry, flying full-length to tip a certain goal away for a Tamworth corner

The Pitmen were ponderous going forwards as they struggled to get back into the game, with Francis doing well against Walsh in the air but to little benefit in front of goal. Steve Piearce's high, wide and not-too-handsome effort from twenty yards out was the closest the hosts came to a meaningful chance of the first twenty minutes

Emeka Nwadike was having a good game for the hosts in midfield, following on from his good display at Grantham with another combative display to quell the flow of the Tamworth attacks. Bingham was called upon to make another fine save on twenty-nine minutes to turn a dipping shot from Rickards over his crossbar after the ball had sat up kindly for the young striker

Simkin headed wide from an Airdrie free-kick on thirty-three minutes, rather than head back across goal towards the Hednesford players in the six-yard box, followed two minutes later by a snap-shot from Airdrie himself that Darren Acton easily fielded in the Tamworth goal

As the half drew to a close, Bingham made another fine double save to keep his side in contention, making a smothering save from Evans on forty-three minutes before making a brilliant block in added time to deny Collins a certain goal from just a couple of yards out after Walsh had headed down into the striker's path

Although the Pitmen had been second best in the first period, Brindley could at least point to their improved commitment and attitude towards the game that had been severely lacking under Painter in his final games

The tone of the game continued into the second half, with Tamworth looking confident and fluent on the ball, whilst the Pitmen were lacking in conviction going forward but tight and organised at the back. A fine piece of play from Tamworth on fifty-two minutes saw them open up the Hednesford defence momentarily, until Nwadike put his boot in to deny Rickards a clear sight at goal

Rickards was involved again for the away side on fifty-six minutes, running clear of Williams and clipping the ball into the path of Collins. However, Collins showed a rare lapse of control in the penalty area and allowed Small to take the ball away from him

Another outstanding Bingham save on sixty-four minutes denied McGorry one more, with the stopper coming from nowhere to palm the midfielder's shot over the bar

For the hosts, they were limited to long-range efforts and set-pieces, with Small drilling a free-kick into the Heath Hayes terrace on seventy minutes and Francis heading up into the air and over the crossbar from Nwadike's clever chip four minutes later

Berks had been quiet for the hosts down the flank, having been well shackled by Warner, and was replaced by the more direct approach of Rae on seventy-six minutes

Four minutes later, assistant manager Powell made a double change for the Pitmen as he brought on Anthony Maguire for Wayne Simpson in midfield and Charie for Francis up front

 

  Charie was to have the Pitmen's best chance of the remaining minutes, dribbling his way past Dave Robinson on eighty-four minutes before that man Walsh blocked his attempted shot and cleared

Tamowrth made made shrewd changes of their own late on, with former Hednesford striker Mark Hallam coming on to give the Lambs more strength up front. His late header from an Evans cross drifted well wide of goal was Tamworth's final chance of the game as they looked to settle the match as a contest

It had been a tough encounter for the hosts, who had looked short in an attacking third for most of the match. However, playing against a side playing with such confidence in the form of Tamworth was a cruel start to Brindley's management career, and he will take this into account before the Pitmen's next game, when they visit play-off chasing Chippenham Town next weekend. A win - albeit unlikely at the moment - would go a long way to clinching the Pitmen's survival this term, as they now sit only two points above the drop zone

Hednesford Town: Bingham, Williams, Small, Simkin, Brindley, Nwadike, Simpson (Maguire 80), Berks (Rae 76), Francis (Charie 80), Piearce ©, Airdrie     Subs Unused: Lancashire, Jenkins

Tamworth: Acton, Warner, Follett, Robinson, Walsh ©, Fisher, Colley, McGorry (Atkinson 49), Collins (Hatton 79), Rickards (Hallam 87), Evans      Subs Unused: Sale, Turner

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