F.A. Cup 1st Qualifying Round

Hednesford Town

Davies (50), Howard (89)


(0) 2

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Nathan Fox




Mickleover Sports (A) 11.9.18

The Pitmen recorded their first win in the F.A. Cup since 2015 this afternoon after earning themselves a fine victory over county neighbours Tamworth at Keys Park to move into Monday's draw for the second qualifying round


Wounded by Tuesday night's poor result and even poorer performance against local rivals Stafford Rangers, Rob Smith made a number of changes to his misfiring side as they looked to record their first win on home soil since beating Marine way back in March. Daniel Eccles was taken out of the firing line after a debut to forget between the posts, with the experienced ex-Kidderminster Harriers and Sutton Coldfield Town stopper Jono Brown joining the club in the short-term to become the third goalkeeper in three games for the Pitmen. Elsewhere, Charlie Gatter, Reece King, Michael Howard and Jermain Hollis all paid the price for Tuesday's defeat, making way for Sam Griffiths, Josh Craddock, Joe Fitzpatrick and Lewis Archer


Tamworth - relegated to step three in the summer and now in the hands of former player Mike Fowler - arrived at Keys Park off the back of a mixed start to their Southern League Central campaign, having won only one of their six league games so far this season, leaving the Lambs down in fourteenth place in the league table. Fowler named former Hednesford right-back Lewis Wright in his starting line-up, with ex-Hednesford striker Tristian Dunkley amongst the substitutes


With the ever-present threat of rain hanging over the ground at kick-off, the Pitmen started brightly through Fitzpatrick, who was denied a clear shot on goal in the fifth minute by a blocking challenge from Tamworth skipper Joel Kettle


Two minutes later, a Fitzpatrick corner kick was partially cleared by the Tamworth defence, but only as far as ex-Tamworth man Matt Curley; he took the ball forwards before driving a shot high over the crossbar and out of the ground from fully twenty-five yards out


The hosts were very much on top in the opening quarter of the game, with a neat piece of play almost slipping Craddock in on goal on twelve minutes, but he was denied by a smothering challenge from Tamworth keeper Jas Singh


Tamworth were sporadic and frustrating in attack, with the powerful duo of Tyrell Waite and Akwase Asante well shackled by the trio of Griffiths, Stefan Galinski and Callam Mendez-Jones. The Lambs were limited to long-range efforts and through-balls that came to nothing, with Brown left with little to do on his Pitmen debut


Mendez-Jones went closest to breaking the deadlock midway through the first half, as he made a run into the penalty area to meet a low cross from Fitzpatrick, but saw Singh in commanding form to turn his rising effort over the crossbar for a Hednesford corner


Brown made a simple stop to deny Tamworth a chance on twenty-six minutes, easily fielding a low, scuffed shot from the on-loan Coventry City midfielder Kyle Finn on his six-yard line


The final fifteen minutes of the half was to be the best of the game for the visitors, as they played with more conviction, and yet still struggled to create any real openings, with Chris Lait lashing his shot high over the crossbar from a good position on thirty-three minutes


A mistake from Dan Cockerline presented Tamworth with their best chance of the game on forty minutes, as he inexplicably played Asante's cross into the path of Finn, whose curling effort was inches away from the net as it curled just wide of Brown's left-hand post


In the final minute of the half, a rare error from Singh gifted Cockerline a great chance to open the scoring, as he dropped a simple Fitzpatrick shot into the path of the lanky striker, who somehow failed to net as he poked the ball straight back at the keeper as he looked to recover on his goal-line. A golden chance wasted


Half-time brought the rain that had been forecast, with a deluge soaking the pitch at the break. The weather failed to dampen the spirits of the hosts, however, who emerged with far more purpose and intent and took the lead with the first attack of the second period. Curley got in behind the Tamworth defence down the right and crossed for Cockerline, who showed great composure to lay the ball off into the path of ex-Lamb Jed Davies. The playmaker needed no invitation against his former club, firing home with a viciously-struck half-volley that was too hot for Singh to handle


Tamworth were indebted to the leniency of the referee four minutes later, as high, late and heavy tackle on Craddock from Regan Upton left Craddock in a heap in midfield. With many in the ground expecting a straight red card for the defender, the referee showed him a yellow card, much to the derision of the home crowd


The Pitmen cranked up the pressure on their shot-shy opponents, forcing successive corners through Davies and Fitzpatrick as they went in search of the killer second goal. Cockerline dragged an effort well wide of Tamworth's goal on sixty-six minutes after good work from Archer in winning the ball back


The hosts made a double change to their personnel on seventy-three minutes, with Howard replacing the hardworking Cockerline and King coming on in place of Davies


Lait was off-target wide a swerving free-kick a minute later, curling his effort from long-range into the small band of Tamworth fans housed in the Hednesford end of the ground


The excellent Nathan Fox earned the Pitmen a free-kick in the corner on seventy-eight minutes, with Fitzpatrick's subsequent ball in headed back across goal by King to Archer. The youngster went agonisingly to scoring his first goal at Keys Park with an overhead kick that flew inches wide of the post


The experienced Paul Green should have done better for Tamworth on eighty minutes, failing to pick out one of three players in red after he had broken free down the left and sent over a cross that was too far in front of any of the away side's attackers


With eight minutes remaining, the Pitmen made their final change of the afternoon, as Matt Dodd came on to offer pace to the attack in place of the tiring Archer


With Tamworth committing more numbers forward in search of an equaliser, a quick break down the left from the Pitmen saw them seal victory in the final minute of the game. Substitutes Dodd and Howard combined, with Dodd playing the ball into the path of the Preston North End loanee, who confidently fired low into the far corner of the net for his third goal of the season and end any hopes of a Tamworth comeback in added time


An excellent team performance from the hosts, who were perhaps a little surprised at how easily they had seen off a toothless Tamworth side that was filled with experience and quality. The Pitmen will look forward to Monday's regionalised draw with confidence, having finally got over their Keys Park hoodoo in style and kept their first clean sheet of the season in the process. The result - coupled with Mickleover Sports' 6-0 win over Haughmond - means that the Pitmen will travel to Mickleover's Don Amott Arena in the league on Tuesday night as scheduled

Hednesford Town: Brown, Curley, Fox, Mendez-Jones, Galinski ©, Griffiths, Fitzpatrick, Craddock, Cockerline (Howard 73), Davies  (King 73), Archer (Dodd 82)   Subs Unused: Gatter, Grimshaw, Veiga, Hollis


Tamworth: Singh, Wright (Ofori 73), Upton , Green, Kettle ©, Shaw (Beswick 59), Finn (Dunkley 64), Verma, Waite, Asante, Lait      Subs Unused: Thorne, Mpofu, Medford, Jezeph 

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