Zamaretto Southern Premier League

Hednesford Town

Dinning (29), Durrell (66)

Truro City

Watkins (40), (86), Afful (43)

(1) 2

(2) 3



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Sean Platt


Nuneaton Town (A) 31.8.09

Hednesford's steep learning curve back in the Southern Premier League continued where it left off on Tuesday night, with Truro City taking all three points back to Cornwall with another example of quick passing, movement and deadly finishing, which the patched-up Pitmen defence simply failed to live with for the ninety minutes

Manager Dean Edwards, still smarting from the poor performance against Brackley in midweek, made four changes to his side with Theo Stair making his first league start for the club at the expense of Aaron Gibson at left-back. There were two further changes in defence, with Nick Amos returning to the club after nine years away, slotting into the place vacated by skipper Richard Walker, who started a three-match suspension. Fellow new signing Gabriel Emechete, another defender, lined up in place of Scott Lycett, who moved to the bench. Joining him there was Elliott Durrell, who made way for Carl Palmer, who was deemed fit enough to start and take the captain's armband

Edwards' harsh words from Tuesday must have been ringing in the player's ears at kick-off time, as they almost conceded a goal in the first minute. Static defending allowed Les Afful in, despite calls for an offside flag, with Gavin Ward having to come to the home side's rescue with a good early save by turning the ball away for a corner

The Pitmen grew in stature and went on to enjoy plenty of the ball in the first quarter of the game. Tony Dinning, as expected, was at the heart of everything, organising the side and producing some well-placed passes. He was first to try his luck after six minutes, firing a couple of yards wide of goal with a long-range effort

Buoyed by this, Hednesford continued to force the issue, winning three corners in succession. On two occasions, the ball dropped temptingly in the six-yard box, but such is the Pitmen's luck in front of goal at present, both were hacked away before anyone in a white shirt could react

Truro's pacey attack, with Afful partnered by Andy Watkins, were giving the Pitmen's new-look defence real problems with their movement early on. Bailey having to be alert to deal with a darting run from the diminutive Afful as he looked to get on the end of a left-wing cross on eleven minutes

Bailey then marched up to the other end, heading a Dinning corner just over the bar on nineteen minutes as he looked to continue his excellent run in front of goal since the start of the new season

Back came Truro, and a twenty-first-minute effort from Watkins was well saved by ward at his near post after the Truro forward had got in to the right of the Hednesford penalty area

Both sides were playing good football, with Hednesford offering the greater physical threat, but Truro threatening with pace and movement in abundance. After Jake Ash had headed well over the bar for Truro from a corner kick, Ross Dyer seized upon his first chance of the game, but his luck was out as he fired a few inches over the bar with a good effort on twenty-six minutes

Hednesford's toil and effort finally paid off just before the half-hour mark; Dinning's corner from the left-hand side was whipped in viciously towards the back post, catching Truro defender Dave Wilkinson out as he challenged for the ball with Emechete; the ball seemed to come off the stopper before bouncing into the far corner of the net, despite a defender's best efforts to keep the ball out. After much deliberating, the goal was awarded to Dinning

Clearly refreshed from his goal, Dinning tried a cheeky attempt at goal a minute later, spotting Wilkinson off his line and hitting a free-kick from his own half towards goal. Wilkinson scampered back towards his goal in despair, but Dinning's effort just had too much on it and dropped onto the roof of the net

Back came Truro, and they had a wonderful opportunity to equalise on thirty-nine minutes. A hopeful ball down the Truro left appeared to have gone over the goal-line. With the Hednesford players stopping, assuming the goal kick would be awarded, the referee carried on playing, allowing Afful to cut the ball back to Watkins, who sliced the ball wide of an open goal from two yards out - a real sitter missed by Truro

No matter, as a minute later Watkins grabbed the leveller, firing past Ward after another flowing move saw Afful and Watkins outpace the Hednesford defence to get to a through ball

Just as had happened on Tuesday night, one goal led to another, as the Pitmen's heads dropped in despair as Truro took the lead two minutes before the break. Yet again, Afful got away from the Pitmen rearguard with his pace, latching onto another god through ball before hitting a shot from eight yards out that Ward managed to get a hand to, but could not stop dribbling over the line

Despite a marked improvement in terms of attitude and performance, the Pitmen were still struggling with the direct nature of Truro's play, with Emechete, Amos and Bailey having struggled to cope with Watkins and Afful. The home side kicked off the second half looking to redress the balance and felt they should have had a penalty within a minute of the restart. Ross Dyer's trickery got him into the area, where he took the ball past Ash and was promptly tripped as he shaped to shoot. The referee took a different view to everyone else in the ground, denying the Pitmen a penalty, and booking Dyer for diving

The Truro strike force carried on where they left off at the end of the first half, with Ward again having to save from Watkins on fifty minutes, parrying the ball towards goal and relying on Bailey to turn the ball away for a corner before a Truro player could seize upon the rebound

Edwards had seen enough and decided to change it on sixty-five minutes, bringing on Durrell for the hard-working, but ineffective Sam Aiston. And what a decision it was! A minute later, Platt floated in a free-kick just to the right of the Truro penalty area. The ball was only partially cleared by the defence, dropping to Durrell on the edge of the area. With his first touch, he hammered the ball through a crowd of players, with Wilkinson unsighted for the crucial moment. His late dive saw the ball squirm under his body and into the net to level the game at 2-2

There was a feeling that the impetus was now with the Pitmen, especially as Truro had been forced into taking the dangerous Afful off with an injury. A succession of corners for the home side fell frustratingly to Truro at the crucial moment, with one dropping to the quiet Tyrone Barnett, but the bounce deceived him as he tried to hook the ball home from close range, allowing Truro to clear

Durrell had made a real difference since coming on, playing in a free role that made him difficult to pick up. A fine run just outside the area saw him beat three players and send over a cross to the back post, but the ball was just too high for Barnett, with the striker heading upwards rather than towards goal

Despite the pressure, Truro still offered their own threat on the counter-attack - and that was just how they sealed the three points with four minutes left. A quick break down the right saw the ball slipped to Watkins, who fired past Ward from just inside the six-yard box after he made a superb late run through the Hednesford defence

There was very little time for the Pitmen to attempt another comeback, with Durrell firing wide with a minute remaining the closest the hosts came to a third goal


The hosts will have learned much about themselves as much as other teams in the last two games, but one thing stands out from these back-to-back defeats -  a need to be a hell of a lot sharper, as any mistakes in this league are punished with aplomb by quick-witted, fit opponents

Hednesford Town: Ward, Platt, Stair, Amos, Bailey, Emechete, Dinning , Palmer ©, Barnett, Dyer , Aiston (Durrell 65)       Subs Unused: Lycett, Gibson, Nisbett, Bandurak

Truro City: ​Wilkinson, McConnell, Power, Ash ©, Broad (Gaia 66), Taylor, Clay, Martin, Watkins, Afful (Edwards 79), Watts      Subs Unused: White, Long, Pugh 

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