top of page


Pitching In Northern Premier League West


Fagbola (52)

Hednesford Town

(0) 1

(0) 0



Current Form

Next Match


Tom Thorley



Nantwich Town (H) 26.12.23

After taking what felt like a big step forward last week, the Pitmen are brought crashing down to earth once more this afternoon as fellow strugglers Trafford take all three points in today's bottom two encounter at Shawe View

Last weekend's win over Newcastle Town had given the Pitmen and their supporters renewed hope of finally putting together a run of form that could lift them away from the foot of the Northern Premier League West table. Manager Harry Harris had once again made a move in the transfer market as he brought in attacking midfielder James Carvell from local rivals Stafford Rangers ahead of today's game, with the former Basford United man having to be content with a place amongst the substitutes. On the pitch, Harris made two changes to the side that had started the Newcastle game as Ritchie Sutton came in for the injured Lucas Yeomans whilst Joe Thompson came back into the fold ahead of on-loan Max Martin in midfield

Trafford - sitting just one place and one point above the Pitmen going into today's game - had given their own hopes of survival a shot in the arm with victory at out-of-sorts Clitheroe last weekend, with manager Karl Marginson making just the one change of his own for their return to Shawe View as Eddie Servuts was preferred to Rob Worrall up front

On a heavy pitch, it was to prove to be a slow start to proceedings as both sides sized each other up early on. Right-back Sean Higgins required a lengthy of treatment from the Trafford physio in the fourth minute after coming off worst in blocking a Jai Verma shot towards goal in the edge of his own penalty area

Neat build-up play from Trafford in the seventh minute saw Scott Kay play the ball through into the path of Servuts, who had made a run down the left; his cross was aimed towards the incoming Niall Cummins, only for Josh Endall to get enough ont he ball to head away from danger for a Trafford corner

The Pitmen's first chance of the afternoon came on the counter-attack as the men in red cleared their lines and found the dangerous Verma lurking on the left. The former Walsall Wood winger made a typically marauding run down the flank, cutting inside past Higgins and drove in a cross to the feet of Will Mellors-Blair, who fired over the crossbar with a first-time effort from ten yards out

Verma earned the Pitmen a free-kick to the left-hand side of the penalty area after being tripped by Higgins on fifteen minutes, allowing skipper Tom Thorley to take the set-piece but, perhaps predictably, wasted the ball in with a tame effort that was easily headed clear by Harry Norris at the far post

A minute later, Jack Kelly was also guilty of being wasteful from a free-kick as his curling effort into the penalty area was nowhere near anyone in red and was easily cleared by Jordan Fagbola. It's been an utterly shocking season of failed set-pieces from the Pitmen, just one of a catalogue of issues that has led to them being slumped at the foot of the table for a good portion of the campaign

Cummins drew a save out of Kieran Boucher three minutes later as he raced onto a pass from Burke and drove in a shot from fifteen yards out that was well saved by the stopper down to his right, only for the assistant's flag on the far side to pull the veteran striker up for moving too early in the move

Mellors-Blair - looking to pick up where he left off in last week's triumphant debut performance - was guilty of wasting another good chance on twenty minutes as he lifted his shot over the crossbar from the edge of the penalty area after Trafford had been sloppy in playing out from the back and had momentarily gifted the ball to the 31-year-old

Dan Gyasi was again looking a threat down the right for the Pitmen, with the forward dancing past Damola Sotona on twenty-four minutes but failing to pick out either Mellors-Blair or Verma inside the six-yard box as his cross drifted out of play on the far side

The swirling wind around Shawe View almost gifted Trafford a freak goal a minute later as Tom Beckett picked the ball up on the left flank and aimed a cross towards Cummins that was caught in the breeze, taking the ball over the head of Boucher but onto the roof of the stopper's net

Shortly before the half-hour mark, Servuts was allowed time and space to size up his options by a doddering Hednesford defence, lifting his effort over the crossbar from twenty yards out as he got his laces underneath the ball

Verma was once again the Pitmen's main threat going forward, teasing his way past Higins on thirty-three minutes as he slalomed his way into the box before Fagbola cut off the supply line with a no-nonsense clearance to halt the winger's progress

Cummins was frustratingly denied by another tight offside call a minute later as the striker raced onto a pass from soon-to-depart skipper Danny Lambert which caught Sutton ball-watching, only for the assistant to raise his flag once more against the striker, much to his disdain

Trafford goalkeeper Sam Booth had not had much to do thus far, but was called upon to make a save on his line on thirty-six minutes to claim a loose, bouncing ball after Gyasi's curling free-kick into the area from the right had gone straight through a crowd of players and was heading towards the net

The lively Gyasi forced referee Mr Pettitt into dishing out his first booking of the game a minute later as the official showed Sotona a yellow card for bringing the former Stourbridge man down in full flight on the right flank

Trafford continued to look the more threatening of the two sides in the final third, with Servuts forcing Boucher into a good save on thirty-nine minutes as his effort from twenty yards out was turned behind by the stopper's one-handed save. The resultant corner kick as cleared as far as Beckett, whose follow-up shot sailed harmlessly over the crossbar from twenty-five yards out

It had been something of an attritional first period from both sides, with the hosts shading the game on chances but had struggled to contain both Verma and Gyasi as the Pitmen had been content to play with pace on the counter-attack. Mellors-Blair should have done better with both of his chances, which could have tipped the game in the Pitmen's favour at the break

Trafford emerged with purpose at the start of the second half and pushed the Pitmen back into their own third of the pitch early on. A cross from Beckett ninety seconds into the second period looked to pick out the incoming Cummins, only for Boucher to be alert and claim the ball ahead of the 36-year-old

Servuts followed Sotona into Mr Pettitt's notebook on forty-nine minutes as the striker got into a tangle with Endall and was booked for his part in the coming-together from the highly inconsistent match official

Trafford felt that they had a reasonable shout for a penalty kick a minute later as another coming-together just inside the Hednesford penalty area saw Cummins take a tumble under Sutton's challenge, only for Mr Petttitt to wave away the half-hearted protests from the men in white and play continued

However, Trafford finally forced their noses in front on fifty-two minutes as a corner from the right from Beckett found the head of Fagbola, who leapt highest to head beyond the reach of Boucher from close range and hand the hosts a crucial one-goal lead

Back came the Pitmen, who spent the best part of the next ten minutes camped inside the Trafford third of the pitch in search of an equaliser. Thorley should have done better with an effort on fifty-five minutes as the veteran midfielder headed Kelly's corner narrowly wide of goal from close-range with the goal gaping

The Trafford goal was leading something of a charmed life at this point, with Verma forcing Booth into making a fine save on his goal line just a minute later as he unleashed a powerful shot from twenty yards out that the stopper just did enough to keep out of the net

Looking to hold onto the lead at all costs, it was perhaps inevitable that Trafford would look to take the sting out of the game where possible, with Booth guilty of taking a little too long with a goal kick for Mr Pettitt's liking on fifty-eight minutes as was booked for time-wasting

On sixty-one minutes, new boy Carvell was handed his Hednesford debut by Harris as he replaced the anonymous and disappointing Thompson in attacking midfield as the Hednesford manager looked for something different from his team in the final third of the pitch in the last half hour of the game

The away side were handed a glorious chance to get themselves back on level terms midway through the second half as they were awarded a controversial penalty kick by Mr Pettitt; a bout of pushing and shoving inside the Trafford six-yard box following a Thorley corner kick saw the match official spot an infringement and pointed to the post, despite impassioned pleas from the hosts. Gyasi stepped up to take the kick but horribly skewed his casually taken penalty kick wide of Booth's left-hand post. A terrible penalty kick from the winger, and yet another example of the Pitmen's complete lack of focus from set-pieces this term

Trafford took the opportunity to regroup after this slice of good luck, with the experienced Matty Wolfenden coming on for former Stalybridge Celtic man  Mike Burke a minute later

This was followed on sixty-eight minutes with the mercurial youngster Matty Lusakueno coming on down the left flank for the hosts as he replaced Beckett

Wolfenden - a member of the FC United of Manchester side involved in that famous play-off final game back in May 2013 - was straight into the action for the hosts, making a run into the box on sixty-nine minutes before dragging his low shot across the face of Boucher's goal and wide of the target

Lusakueno had been one of Trafford's star performers in recent weeks and proceeded to be a thorn in Michael Williams' side in the remainder of the game as he made several tricky runs down the left for the home side. One such run on seventy-two minutes saw him jink past the veteran defender and send over a deep cross that had a little too much on it for either Cummins or Wolfenden to reach

Another Lusakueno run on seventy-six minutes saw him get to the byeline and cross for Cumkins, only for Sutton to do well on this occasion and clear his lines before the striker could react

With eleven minutes remaining, Harris elected to throw on another attacking player in search of the elusive equaliser as Callum Niven came on in place of veteran Sutton in a move that saw Williams move to centre-back and James McQuilkin once again dropped into an auxiliary right-back position

However, try as they might, the Pitmen just couldn't muster a clear-cut chance against a resolute Trafford defence that dealt with the away side's late bout of pressure well. Kelly's inswinging corner kick on eighty-three minutes looked to be landing on the head of Endall, only for Lambert to make a timely clearance

Verma looked to create an opening for himself on eighty-three minutes, twisting and turning on the edge of the Trafford box before being crowded out by sheer force of numbers. Trafford broke quickly through Wolfenden, whose run and low cross into the six-yard box was a touch too heavy for either Cummins or Servuts to get on the end of at the far post

Trafford made another attempt to convince Mr Pettitt to hand them a spot-kick with five minutes remaining as Lusakueno's run into the box from the left was checked by a challenge from McQuilkin, only for the referee to again wave away any protests from the home players and fans

More Hednesford pressure saw them force three corner kicks in a row as they ramped up the pressure on the Trafford defence in the latter stages of the game; a Kelly corner on eighty-six minutes dropped to Mellors-Blair, whose initial shot was blocked by Norris before follow-up efforts from Thorley and Endall were also blocked by Fagbola and Kay

In the final minute of the game, the entertaining Lusakueno was forced off after picking up a knock, with the substitute having to be replaced by youngster Hilal Khan for added time

The Pitmen did have a gilt-edged chance to grab themselves a leveller in the first of seven added minutes as Sotona's effort at one end was blocked by the Hednesford defence and cleared quickly upfield; Thorley picked the ball up and played Niven clean through with a slide-rule pass, only for the substitute to be denied by a brilliant smothering stop by Booth

A damaging defeat for the Pitmen and one that once again leaves them adrift at the foot of the table going into a tough festive programme. Results just haven't been forthcoming under Harris's command, despite the chances totting up for a wasteful front three today. They return to Keys Park on Boxing Day to face Nantwich Town before making the short hop across to Burntwood on New Year's Day to face old foes Chasetown. Two wins is becoming a must for the side if they are not to fall away from the pack once more after doing so much in recent weeks to bring the teams above them back within striking distance

Trafford: Booth, Higgins, Sotona, Fagbola, Norris, Kay, Burke (Wolfenden 66), Lambert, Cummins, Servuts, Beckett (Lusakueno 69 (Khan 90))       Subs Unused: Nisbett, Hogan

Hednesford Town: Boucher, Williams, Kelly, Thorley ©, Sutton (Niven 79), Endall, Verma, McQuilkin, Mellors-Blair, Gyasi, Thompson (Carvell 61)      Subs Unused: May, Morley, Gwilt

bottom of page