15.2.2003

 

Dr. Martens Southern Premier League

Hednesford Town

Brindley (78), (89)

 

Tiverton Town

Everett (16), Mudge (75), (80)

(0) 2

.

(1) 3

 

Attendance

MotM

Current Form

Next Match

452

Kevin Francis

L W W D L L L W L L

 

Welling United (A) 22.2.03

The Pitmen's long unbeaten home record finally fell today against a well-organised Tiverton side that punished Hednesford's sloppy play with three killer goals. It left the Pitmen's faint play-off hopes lying in tatters as their recent form shows only one win and five defeats from their previous seven games

 

 Last weekend had seen the Pitmen left incredibly frustrated at Dover Athletic and the match officials, as they made the long journey down the Crabble only for the game to be called off two hours before kick-off due to poor weather. With an enforced rest week and off the back of their hammering at Bath City in the previous game Painter made four changes to his side, with Ashley Williams, Anthony Maguire, Derek Rae and Bryan Small all restored to the starting XI at the expense of Chris Brindley, Les Robinson, David Berks and Paul Ware. Ware had surprised everyone at the club in midweek by suddenly announcing his retirement from football at the age of thirty-two, leaving the Pitmen with a hole in their midfield area

 

Tiverton fine season had continued since their 2-1 win over the Pitmen at Ladysmead in September, sitting in fifth place in the table ahead of today's fixture. Their championship challenge, however, was looking a little too far of a stretch for the Devon side, despite good recent performances against table toppers Tamworth and third-placed Chippenham. Manager Martyn Rogers stuck with the same side that had won at Hardenhuish Park in midweek as Tivvy went in search of a league double over the out-of-form Pitmen 

 

 The first period was a torrid affair to watch from the Pitmen's point of view, with little or no commitment from many players. Tiverton sat back, stroking the ball around, simply waiting to pounce on the inevitable error the Hednesford defence was going to make. Key man Kevin Nancekivell was first to test Michael Bingham, albeit in an indirect manner as his fifth-minute effort deflected off the unsuspecting keeper's leg and went out for a Tiverton corner kick

 

Midfielder Chris Holloway was denied a clear sight at goal on eight minutes as he escaped the attention of the Hednesford defence to latch onto a through ball from Nancikivell, but as he sized up his shot allowed Stuart Ryder to recover and poke the ball off his toes

 

Two minutes later, good play from Scott Rogers and Nancekivell again played Phil Everett in on goal, but the midfielder was denied once again by stout, if a little last-ditch, defending from Small

 

However, Tiverton did make their dominance count on sixteen minutes, as a cross from Richard Pears was brilliantly dummied by Nancekivell at the near post, allowing Everett all the time in the world to slot past a befuddled Bingham from close range

 

The Pitmen rallied after conceding, with Kevin Francis dropping into a deeper position to help the overrun Hednesford midfield out with flick-ons. Stewart Airdrie toiled down the wing to little effect, beating Paul Chenoweth a few times but failing to supply a cross to the horribly exposed Steve Piearce

 

Indeed, it was Tiverton who went closest to adding to their tally on twenty-four minutes as run from Rob Cousins down the midfield man send over a fine cross for Everett, whose flick header dropped wide of Bingham's far post

 

 The closest the hosts came to levelling matters in the first half was a pulled shot from Steve Piearce on the half-hour mark - the striker is suffering a real goal drought at the moment, not helped by a real lack of supply to him in recent games

 

On the brink of half-time, Chenoweth suffered a nasty-looking injury as he over-reached for a ball down by the benches and went down holding his leg. He was replaced at half time by Danny Haines as he could not carry on following a bout of treatment

 

The Pitmen went in at the interval to a chorus of boos ringing in their ears, with the Hednesford fans venting their anger at Painter at the poor nature of the team's form since the turn of the New Year

 

The Pitmen did improve in the early stages of the second half, with Francis going close to levelling matters again on forty-eight minutes as he headed an Ashley Williams cross goalwards, only to be denied by Tiverton's young keeper Ben Foster, on loan from Stoke City for the season

 

An inswinging corner kick from Airdrie on fifty-three minutes bounced around the Tiverton penalty area, but no-one in a white shirt had the conviction or positioning to turn the loose ball home before Haines hacked the ball clear of danger

 

Four minutes later, Piearce's lack of confidence in front of goal was evident as he dithered on a shot from fifteen yards out following good play from Maguire on the edge of the Tiverton penalty area. A few weeks ago, Piearce would have dispatched the shot with no issues, but now doubt seems to have crept into his mind as he allowed Tiverton to clear their lines

 

Painter's patience with his mis-firing side snapped on sixty-six minutes, making a double tactical change to his side; Mark Jones came on for the completely ineffective and disinterested Graham Lancashire and the creative David Berks replaced an out-of-sorts Small down the left

 

Jones was keen to make an immediate impact after going through a long and frustrating goal drought, attempting an angled chip over the head of Foster on seventy minutes that dropped narrowly wide of the keeper's far post

 

Berks was also involved in the side straight from the off, striking a dipping, swerving free-kick at goal on seventy-two minutes that Foster saw just over his crossbar. The Hednesford substitute did sting the palms of the on-loan youngster a minute later, as his shot from long-range was punched away by Foster, who saw the ball late after Francis had ducked underneath the shot from fully thirty yards out

 

Tiverton had weathered the storm in the early stages of the second half and picked their time to strike perfectly on seventy-five minutes with a killer second goal; Jamie Mudge - on as a substitute only a few minutes previously, was the man on target, as he dispossessed Rae in midfield and advanced on the retreating Hednesford defence to move into the danger zone. Poor challenges from Simkin and Williams failed to stop the forward's momentum, as he ran through unmarked and slotted underneath the advancing Bingham to double Tiverton's lead

 

Veteran centre back Brindley was thrown on up front with Painter's final change of the game, replacing Francis as Piearce's new strike partner straight after Tiverton's second goal. The number fourteen was to bring the Pitmen back into contention three minutes after coming on, turning a Berks cross home at the far post with his head to give the hosts hope of rescuing at least a point

 

However, as the Pitmen committed men forwards, Tiverton struck once again with their next attack. Pears flicked a long ball on into the path of the ever-willing Mudge, who timed his run to perfection to break the offside trap and run in on goal, taking the ball around Bingham and slotting into the empty net for his second goal of the afternoon

 

Some of the Hednesford fans had seen enough and started to head for the exits and will have missed another goal from Brindley with a minute remaining, setting up a frantic last few minutes for both sides as he replicated his first goal by heading a Berks cross firmly home at the far post to give his side hope once more

 

Three corner kicks in added time from the hosts failed to muster a clear-cut chance, despite Brindley's best efforts to notch a heroic hat-trick with his head as he attempted to force the ball home. It would have been tough on Tiverton had the hosts found a late leveller, as they had bossed the majority of the game and taken their chances when presented with them. For the first time in the season, the Pitmen are now starting to look a little nervously over their shoulders rather than looking up, as they continue to sink towards the bottom quarter of the table and away from the top ten. Next weekend sees them make a return to Kent to face former Conference rivals Welling United

    

Hednesford Town: Bingham, Williams, Small (Berks 66), Simkin ©, Ryder, Maguire, Lancashire (Jones 66), Rae, Francis (Brindley 75), Piearce, Airdrie     Subs Unused: Charie, Jenkins

 

Tiverton Town: Foster, Everett (Mudge 70), Chenoweth (Haines 45), Curran, Rudge, Cousins, Nancekivell, Holloway, Rees, Rogers (Steele 86), Pears      Subs Unused: Ovens, Edwards

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