Pre-Season Friendly

Hednesford Town

Davies (56) (penalty), Cockerline (60)

(0) 2


Asante (3), Waite (23), (65)

(2) 3

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Nathan Fox

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Newtown (A) 4.8.18

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The Pitmen suffer their first defeat of pre-season this evening, as a strong Tamworth side proves the more adept in front of goal to edge out their step three neighbours by the odd goal in five


Coming off the back of a fine 4-1 win over a young Wolves side on Tuesday night, interim manager Micky Moore and returning assistant manager Larry Chambers made a number of changes to the side as they utilised all of the players at their disposal. This saw two triallists given another chance to impress from the start, whilst new signing Mikey Nelson was handed a first start since his switch from AFC Wulfrunians. There was still no sign of goalkeeper James Wren, who had not been involved in the previous three games


Tamworth arrived at Keys Park having rebuilt their side since relegation from Vanarama National League North in May. Head Coach Mike Fowler had been busy moulding a strong squad ahead of their Southern League Central campaign, looking to bounce straight back at the first attempt. The powerful strike duo of ex-Solihull man Akwasi Asante and former Notts County forward Tyrell Waite had already impressed during pre-season and were to ultimately prove the difference between the two sides on the day. Former Hednesford defender Lewis Wright was the one familiar face in the Lambs' ranks after his summer switch from new league rivals Redditch United


With their very first attack, Tamworth set out their stall with a quickfire opener inside the first three minutes of the game, as a delightful ball over the top from Kyle Finn found on-loan Doncaster man James Morris in space ahead of the Hednesford defence. His initial shot rebounded back to him, with the young forward passing the ball into the path of Asante, who coolly side-footed the ball beyond Joe Williams and into the net



Asante tested the reflexes of rookie keeper Williams four minutes later, outmuscling Stefan Galinski before weakly driving a ball straight at Williams from long-range


A quick break down the right flank from Finn saw him pull the ball back into the path of Paul Green in the tenth minute, but the experienced midfielder could only fire his shot into the side-netting


Former Tamworth man Jed Davies replied for the Pitmen three minutes later, picking up a knock-down from Cockerline and forcing Jas Singh in the Tamworth goal into a scrambling save at his far post


Singh was called upon again five minutes later to make a save low down to his left to field a long-range effort from another ex-Tamworth man, Matt Curley


However, despite creating a number of openings, the Pitmen were made to pay once more by Tamworth's superior finishing midway through the first half; Wright's cross from the left was flicked up in the air by Galinski, only succeeding in diverting the ball into the path of Waite, who volleyed the ball into the net off the crossbar to double Tamworth's advantage


Davies - having another good game following his man of the match display on Tuesday - was involved once more for the Pitmen on twenty-nine minutes, playing a neat ball into the path of Nelson who forced Singh into a save at his near post with a low drive from the edge of the six-yard box


Waite and Asante continued to be a thorn in the Hednesford side, giving triallist no. 6 a particularly tough time at centre-back with their pace and power, showing a growing understanding that bodes well for the Lambs for the forthcoming season


Half-time saw the Pitmen make a double change, bringing on the experienced heads of Matt Dodd and Jermain Hollis in place of the disappointing triallist no. 11 and Josh Craddock respectively


This was to provide instant rewards for the hosts, as they came back into the game by forcing Tamworth onto the backfoot in the early stages of the second period. Dodd was immediately into the action, leaving Wright looking a little foolish with a clever piece of play on fifty minutes that saw him jink his way past the full-back and cross for Cockerline, who was inches away from connecting with his head at the far post


Traillist no. 6 gifted Tamworth a great chance to extend their lead on fifty-three minutes as he brought down Asante right on the edge of the penalty area as the big striker powered past him. From the resultant free-kick, Waite fired inches wide of the far post with a swerving effort beyond the Hednesford wall


The Pitmen were handed a lifeline in their quest to get back into the game on fifty-six minutes, as Curley's cross found Hollis in the penalty area. The midfielder was brought down in the penalty area by Owen Wallis, presenting Davies with the chance to step up from the post. The midfielder calmly and clinically fired low past Singh to reduce the deficit with his third goal of the week


The goal spurred Hednesford on, with all of the play in the Tamworth half in the next five minutes as they searched for a leveller. On fifty-eight minutes, a cross-cum-shot from Nelson beat Singh all ends up, striking the far post with a curling effort from the edge of the Tamworth penalty area


The Pitmen did indeed find themselves level once more on the hour mark, with Cockerline striking again for the third time since his recent arrival. A great cross-field pass from Davies found Dodd, who did brilliantly to force his way past Wright and cross for Cockerline, who had the easy task of tapping home from close-range to make it 2-2


However, once again it was to be Waite who be the difference between the two sides, as the big forward put Tamworth back into the lead five minutes later. Picking up a quick throw-in, Waite powered his way past the hapless triallist no. 6 and the attention of Galinski, before somehow finding a gap between Williams and his near post to score from an acute angle to restore the Lambs' lead


The Pitmen refused to give up on the game and continued to plug away in order to keep their unbeaten record going. Singh made a wonderful flying save to deny the hosts on seventy minutes, making a great stop to his left to tip Cockerline's goalbound effort onto his post and away for a corner kick


Waite went close to making it a hat-trick a minute later, as the Pitmen were sloppy in possession following the corner kick with Joe Fitzpatrick selling Galinski short. Waite ran through unchallenged, but somehow put his shot wide of the far post with the goal at is mercy


More changes followed for both teams, with Hednesford bringing triallist no. 16 on for triallist no. 6 in central defence, whilst Tom Hill was given a run-out up front in a straight swap with Cockerline. With nine minutes remaining, triallist no. 19 came on in place of Nelson, who had been well shackled by the Tamworth defence


All in all, a good test for the Pitmen against a strong side at this level, proving that whilst there is plenty to be pleased with, there is also a good amount of work to do before the curtain raiser against Scarborough Athletic on August 18th. The unavailability of Charlie Gatter and Callam Mendez-Jones has immediately highlighted a lack of depth in defensive areas, whilst there seems to be a similar pattern emerging up front as there was last term - plenty of willing and effort, but a distinct lack of knowhow against big, experienced defenders, of which the Evo-Stik Premier League is famed for. A trip to Welsh Premier League side Newtown is next up for the squad on Saturday before they return to Keys Park next Tuesday night to face Sutton Coldfield Town


Hednesford Town: Williams, Curley, Fox, Fitzpatrick, Galinski ©, Triallist no. 6 (Triallist no. 16 - 72), Nelson (Triallist no. 19 - 81), Craddock (Hollis 45), Cockerline (Hill 76), Davies (Triallist no. 20 - 88), Triallist no. 11 (Dodd 45).  Subs Unused: None


Tamworth: Singh, K. Green, Wright (Upton 66), P. Green (Somel 87), Kettle, Wallis, Morris (Triallist no. 12 - 66), Shaw, Waite, Asante (Ofori 77), Finn (Mpofu 84).  Subs Unused: Steele, Hayden, James,

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