Zamaretto Southern Premier League

Hednesford Town

Bailey (13), Durrell (90)

Tiverton Town

Morrissey (53) (penalty)

(1) 2

(0) 1



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Gavin Ward


Stourbridge (A) 18.8.09

Hednesford got their season off to a flyer this afternoon, as a late, late Elliott Durrell striker gave the Pitmen their first win since returning to the Southern League for the 2009-2010 campaign. However, they had to do it the hard way, as they had to play nearly an hour of the game with only ten men after skipper Richard Walker was dismissed in the first half

Manager Dean Edwards was boosted by the return of striker Ross Dyer after illness, but left-back Aaron Gibson was only deemed fit enough to make the substitute's bench after picking up a nasty head injury against Birmingham City the previous week - Scott Lycett deputised for him at number three

The Pitmen started brightly, with Tony Dinning immediately making his presence felt with two crunching tackles and a succession of cultured passes to his team-mates. One ball found Elliott Durrell in space, with the little playmaker firing in an early warning shot that former Cheltenham keeper Steve Book saw over the bar from twenty-five yards out

The home side were clearly not in the mood to hang around and grabbed their first goal of the new season on thirteen minutes. An inswinging cross from the right-hand side caused chaos in the Tiverton ranks, with Ben Bailey rising highest to head goalwards. The ball was blocked on the line, but a combination of Book and a defender on the line saw the ball trickle into the net

The Pitmen continued to dominate proceedings, and Barnett headed well wide of goal when he really should have done better from Sean Platt's deep cross from the right on fifteen minutes

Tiverton had failed to make an impact on the game up to that point, with long-serving skipper Nathan Rudge struggling to keep his defence together against a free-flowing Hednesford attack

Dyer went closest to putting the Pitmen further in front on twenty-six minutes, racing onto a through ball and beating Book to the bounce on the edge of the penalty area. He steadied himself and fired towards goal, but the angle counted against him and the ball cannoned back off the outside of the post

Finally, Tiverton offered something up front, with Dave Morrissey finding some room to shoot at goal from the edge of the area - Gavin Ward got down well to save to his left-hand side

Then - the turning point of the game. A harmless-looking ball over the top from Tiverton was suddenly disrupted by the referee's whistle. The match official raced up to Hednesford captain Walker and showed him a straight red card, much to the bemusement of both sets of players, supporters and officials. It later transpired that the referee had spotted Walker raising his arm to a Tiverton player as the ball was played

This inspired the away side, who enjoyed a good fifteen-minute spell. Ward became the busiest man on the park, as he denied Tivvy on no less than four occasions before the break. On thirty-five minutes, he was thankful to Bailey, who hacked the ball away from goal after Ward had fumbled a shot from the experienced Mark Saunders

He was in action again five minutes before the break, denying Morrissey at his near post after a rare mistake from Platt had let the big number nine a run in on goal

The Pitmen had scaled down their attacking intentions, with Dinning now at centre back and Durrell dropped to midfield. Barnett had the home side's last chance of the half, leaping higher than anyone else to head Carl Palmer's cross wide of goal with a couple of minutes left in the half

Despite the disruption to the team, Edwards decided to stick with his formation after the break, with Dinning doing a fine job in organising the defence alongside the excellent Bailey. The busy Sam Aiston conjured up a great run and cross four minutes after the restart, finding Barnett unmarked in the centre, but once again the striker failed to make the keeper work with a poor header

Ward was still working hard for the Pitmen between the sticks, and the veteran stopper produced his best save of the afternoon two minutes later, denying Saunders with a fantastic save from just a couple of yards out

He could do nothing however on fifty-three minutes, as Dean Griffiths won Tiverton a penalty kick after he was clipped by Bailey just inside the area. Morrissey stepped up to fire past Ward to level matters

For many, there was a feeling that eleven-man Tiverton would go on and complete the job in the final half-hour, but the Pitmen's dogged resistance saw them frustrate their opponents. Palmer was the epitome of this commitment, injuring himself in a series of crunching tackles in midfield in the process of trying to win the ball. He ended up leaving the field a few minutes later, replaced by the patched-up Gibson

Back came the Pitmen, and Bailey looked to make amends for gifting the opposition a way back into the game by getting a shot in following a corner kick. However, luck was not on his side, as his effort found the side netting

The referee had not done anything to endear himself with either set of supporters, with a number of bizarre decisions peppered throughout the game. Two strong challenges by Tiverton players went unpunished, as Pitmen supporters screamed for him to 'even up' the numbers

Dyer's lack of fitness finally caught up with him twenty minutes from the end, as he was replaced by Justin Nisbett, who many were surprised had not started in favour of Dyer thanks to his sparkling recent form in pre-season

Durrell, who had to be told to calm down by the referee after a series of rash challenges at the start of the second half, went close to putting the Pitmen back in front with fifteen minutes left, but his crisply-hit shot cleared Book's bar

The last ten minutes saw both sides gamble on a winner; Dinning's powerful free was deflected goalwards, but just dipped over the bar for a Hednesford corner. From the resultant kick, Bailey headed high over the Hednesford end

For the away side, Morrissey was guilty of a shocking miss from close range, where he side-footed wide of goal with only Ward to beat from two yards out

With the game looking like ending all square, Hednesford snatched a dramatic late winner through Durrell. Gibson's cross was headed on by Barnett, finding Durrell at the back post. His initial shot bounced off the foot of the post, but for the first time in the afternoon, luck was on their side, and the ball fell back at his feet. He made sure the second time around, firing past Book and a number of defenders to give the Pitmen all three points

Three points on the board on the opening day make is a satisfying return to the Southern League for the Pitmen, who follow this up with a short trip down to Halesowen Town's Grove ground on Tuesday night to face Stourbridge in a first league meeting between the two old Midlands rivals for many years

Hednesford Town: Ward, Platt, Lycett, Walker ©  (32), Bailey, Dinning, Durrell, Palmer (Gibson 63), Barnett, Dyer (Nisbett 69), Aiston      Subs Unused: Domingos Buttiam, Bandurak, Flynn

Tiverton Town: Book, Adam Faux, Alex Faux, Villis, Rudge ©, Gardner, Booth, Saunders, Morrissey, Cleverley, Griffiths       Subs Unused:  Humphreys, Veal, Cole

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