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Dr. Martens Southern Premier League

Hednesford Town

Airdrie (9), (90)

Tiverton Town

Lynch (63)

(1) 2

(0) 1



Current Form

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Stewart Airdrie



Cambridge City (A) 23.4.02

The Pitmen claim an absolutely crucial three points this afternoon as a late, late goal from Stewart Airdrie clinches a narrow win for his side over Tiverton Town at Keys Park and keeps Kenny Hibbitt's side away from the relegation trapdoor

Hibbitt's side had hit another spell of indifferent form at precisely the wrong time in the season, losing at Havant & Waterlooville in midweek despite a spirited display to leave them just a point above the bottom three ahead of today's final home game of the season. Hibbitt made one change to the side that had started at West Leigh Park on Tuesday night with Wale-Kwik Ajet coming back into the side at the expense of Andy Brownrigg to give set the hosts up in a 4-4-2 formation

Tiverton made their first-ever trip to Hednesford off the back of a terrible run of recent form in the Dr Martens League, losing five of their last seven games as they continued to fall away from the top six at this late stage of the season. Last weekend had seen the yellows lose 1-0 at home to strugglers Chelmsford City, prompting long-serving manager Martyn Rogers to make two changes to the side that had started at Ladysmead last week with Marcus Gross and Richard Pears coming in for Kevin Nancekivell and Steve Ovens respectively

With a big crowd roaring them on, the home side started well and went close to opening the scoring in the fourth minute as Neil Davis pulled a shot across the face of Tiverton keeper Paul Edwards' goal after getting himself goal side of former Blackburn Rovers man Nicky Marker

However, the Pitmen didn't have to wait too much longer to open the scoring as they took the lead in the ninth minute of the game. Ajet did well to draw the Tiverton defenders out to the left-hand side of the penalty area before crossing into the space vacated and into the path of Stewart Airdrie, who controlled the cross well before slotting past Edwards

Back came the away side through Gross, who latched on to a corner kick from Scott Rogers on the edge of the Hednesford penalty area in the twelfth minute but lifted his shot high over the crossbar and into the Heath Hayes terrace

Airdrie was involved once again for the hosts in the fifteenth minute, making a run down the right and skipping past Neil Saunders before cutting inside on the edge of the Tiverton penalty area. His angled drive took a wicked deflection off Marker and wrong-footed Edwards before drifting wide of the post

Five minutes later, the busy Ajet forced Edwards into a fine save as he broke clear of the Tiverton defence to get on the end of a Derek Rae pass, only for the former Bideford stopper to make a fine save and divert the ball behind for a corner

Edwards himself created an opening for his team a minute later as his long punt forwards was flicked on by Pears and found Antony Lynch in behind the Hednesford defence, only for opposite number Mark Gayle to make a timely save to deny pluck the ball out of the air before the former Taunton forward could nip in

The game descended into a battle of defensive dominance, with both sides content to sit back and invite the opposition to push on to little effect at either end. Rae lifted a shot high over the crossbar on thirty-three minutes before skipper Mark Haran headed an Airdrie corner kick over the top of the Hednesford end stand three minutes later 

With five minutes of the half remaining, Ajet played Airdrie clean through on goal with a delightful slide-rule pass, only for an offside flag in the Wimblebury side to pull the winger up before he could slot the ball home

In the final minute of the first period, a deep cross from Wayne Thomas down the left flank found Rae, whose first-time shot was parried away from danger by Edwards with a fine stop

It had been a dominant first-half display from the home side to get themselves in front and keep their destiny in their own hands. Tiverton had been poor going forwards and looked like a team with nothing to play for in the remaining games this term

The yellows did make a marginal improvement to their performance at the start of the second half as Pears sent over a fine cross from the left that Lynch headed towards goal, but his effort lacked power and was easily claimed by Gayle on fifty minutes

A minute later, Winter made a run deep into the Pitmen's territory down the left-wing and sent over a cross-cum-shot that clipped the angle of the crossbar and post as it sailed over Gayle's goal

Ajet tested Edwards' reflexes three minutes later as he tipped a cross from the winger over the crossbar for a corner kick as he was challenged by Davis at his near post

From the resultant corner kick form Richard Lucas the ball found it's way to Airdrie, who neatly sidestepped Saunders before setting up Rae, whose low shot was blocked in the six-yard box and cleared

With an hour on the clock, a cross from the impressive Pears found Phil Everett at the far, only for the striker to dither on the ball and allow Haran to clear the danger. Everett had now gone nine games without a goal for the visitors having scored fifteen goals this term up to February

Tiverton's bright start to the half saw them finally get themselves back on level terms on sixty-three minutes; Thomas lost the ball to Pears in midfield, who subsequently played Winters into space down the right flank. The full-back spotted Lynch unmarked in the centre and found the forward with an incisive pass which Lynch slotted past Gayle from close-range

Within a minute of conceding, the Pitmen could have stolen back into the lead with their next attack as a cross from the excellent Airdrie was met by Davis, whose flick header came back off the crossbar before being cleared by Marker

The Pitmen's first substitution of the afternoon came on sixty-five minutes as the combative Brownrigg came on in place of the tiring Thomas in the centre of midfield

Rae was lucky to get away with a late tackle on Rogers on sixty-nine minutes that incurred the wrath of the Tiverton players and officials, only for the referee to hand the combative midfield man a verbal warning

Lucas's deep free-kick on seventy-three minutes was headed back across goal by Haran, only for Saunders to clear the danger from a yard out before Davis or Brownrigg could get to the ball

Four minutes later, Edwards made a block at his near post to divert Airdrie's cut-back away from goal and smothered the loose ball in front of Ajet before the striker could pounce on the rebound

The home side's second change of the game arrived with eleven minutes of the game remaining as Ajet was replaced by veteran target man Kevin Francis up front

The Pitmen used Francis's height to good effect in the final ten minutes, pumping high balls into the penalty area and handing the likes of Marker and Rogers a different type of problem to the once faced earlier in the game. Edwards made a brave stop to deny Davis at point-blank range on eighty-two minutes to block the striker's shot after Francis had nodded the ball down into his strike partner's path

Two minutes later, Lucas's corner kick bounced around in the Tiverton six-yard box after Stuart Lake had flicked the ball on at the near post, only for Francis to allow Tiverton to hack the ball away from danger as he tried to sort his feet out

With three minutes remaining, an increasingly desperate Hednesford team were denied once again by Edwards as they pushed for that crucial winner; Davis played Airdrie in through the inside-right position but the Tiverton keeper once again came up with the goods to deny Airdrie low down to his left

With the game about to enter added time, the home side got their critical breakthrough as Rogers fouled Airdrie out on the right flank; The ball was worked across the pitch to Lucas after Airdrie's initial free-kick hit the wall, whose high ball into the cross was aimed at Francis. The big man did enough with his physical presence alone to put Edwards off his stride, allowing the ball to drop to Airdrie at the far post for a simple tap-in and send the ground wild

There was a loud roar of relief at the sound of the referee's final whistle at the end of three nail-biting added minutes as the Pitmen and their supporters celebrated what is likely to be a season-defining three points to keep them ahead of the bottom three as we head into the final week of the campaign. A trip to fellow strugglers Cambridge City is up next for Hibbitt's men as they look to claim the one more win likely to be needed to confirm their participation at step two for next season


Hednesford Town: Gayle, Lake, Lucas, Haran ©, Gardiner, Barrow, Thomas (Brownrigg 65), Rae, Davis, Ajet (Francis 79), Airdrie      Sub Unused: Simpson

Tiverton Town: Edwards, Winters, Saunders, Peters, Marker (Vinnicombe 90), Rogers, Gross, Pears (Nancekivell 78), Everett, Chenoweth (Owens 78), Lynch        Subs Unused: None

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