10.12.2005

Nationwide Conference North

Hednesford Town

Vauxhall Motors

O'Donnell (10)

(0) 0

(1) 1

Attendance

MoTM

Current Form

Next Match

397

Tom Marshall

W W D L D L D L L D L

 

Moor Green (A) 13.12.05

The battle of the caretaker managers went the way of Vauxhall Motors' Carl Macauley this afternoon as a first-half goal from Karl O'Donnell clinches a crucial three points for the Motormen and drops the Pitmen into the bottom three for the first time this season

Tuesday night's battling draw against Moor Green had earned the Pitmen a replay against their league rivals this coming Tuesday. caretaker manager Steve Anthrobus elected to stick with the same XI that had drawn with the Moors, although summer signing Tommy Whittle was fit enough to take his place amongst the substitutes after shaking off his recent injury issues. There was also a first-ever call-up for another one of the Pitmen's never-ending conveyor belt of youth team talent, as midfielder Danny Bragoli joined his fellow graduates Tom Marshall, Craig Marshall and Ross Dyer in today's squad

Motors - soundly beaten 3-0 at Keys Park back in October in the F.A. Cup - had recently dispensed with the services of manager Owen Brown and appointed senior pro Macauley as their caretaker manager. They had continued to struggle in Conference North and remained rooted to the bottom of the table on only eight points for the season. Macauley made three changes to the side that lost 2-0 to Hyde United in midweek as Mike Garrity, Wayne McDermott, and O'Donnell replaced Mike Duffy, Chris Butler and Scott Willis

Crowds continued to take a dip at Keys Park, with under 400 people braving the miserable weather to attend today's game, at odds with the 628 that had attended the F.A. Cup game between the two sides just seven weeks ago. Motors made a bright start to the game and almost took the lead in the very first minute as O'Donnell broke through the flimsy Hednesford offside trap to race onto Mike Garrity's fine through ball, but saw his low shot saved by the legs of Adam Jenkins

Jenkions' opposite number Tom Dittmer was alert to the danger to snuff out the Pitmen's first sight at goal three minutes later as Mark Branch's long ball forwards was aimed at Paul McMahon, only for the Motors number one to race out of his goal and head the ball away from the clutches of McMahon

Sixty seconds later, McMahon forced Dittmer into a more orthodox save as Rob Heath played McMahon into space just inside the Motors penalty area, with the striker's firm shot well held by the highly-rated stopper

The visitors took the lead with what was to prove the winning goal in the tenth minute as Mark Smyth was afforded time and space just outside the Hednesford penalty area to strike a firm shot at goal which was fumbled by Jenkins inside his six-yard box and straight into the path of O'Donnell, who had the simple task of turning the loose ball home from close-range

It nearly got worse for the hosts as Vauxhall Motors almost doubled their advantage in the fifteenth minute as Thomas Rooney broke down the right flank and ran into the space behind Branch before firing in an angled shot at goal that Tom Marshall did well to turn behind for a corner kick

Confidence in the Motors' ranks was evident, as they passed the ball with pace and purpose to leave their hosts chasing shadows. Good play from the pacy Garrity in the eighteenth minute saw him drift past the hapless Branch and cross for James Olsen, who headed high over the crossbar

On twenty minutes, the Pitmen were forced into making their first substitution of the afternoon as Colin Hunter was forced off with what appeared to be a groin strain and was replaced by Steve Brannan

More nervy defending from the Pitmen on twenty-four minutes saw Robbie Lawton's ball into the penalty area bounce around before Tom Marshall finally managed to clear the ball from his own six-yard box as Smyth looked to turn the loose ball home

Motors' burly captain Steve McNulty headed wide of the away side on twenty-eight minutes as he rose to meet a Lawton free-kick inside the Hednesfords six-yard box, beating Ian Wright to the ball but heading into the Heath Hayes terrace

On the half-hour mark, Andy Bell played a delightful cross-field ball from left to right to find Brannan, who took the ball in his stride as he entered the Vauxhall Motors penalty area but drove his shot wide of Dittmer's left-hand post

A minute later, Ross Adams made a run down the right and crossed for McMahon, who jumped to meet the ball at the near post ahead of McNulty but looping his header over the crossbar from eight yards out

With nine minutes of the first half remaining, good play from Motors saw Garrity run past Lee Williams and play Olsen into space; the striker turned past Wright and laid the ball off to Rooney, who struck his effort well wide of goal

Danny Scheppel won a free-kick for the Pitmen on thirty-nine minutes after being brought down by Wayne McDermott, prompting Williams to thump a free-kick straight into the hands of Dittmer from the resultant kick from twenty-five yards out

The final goalmouth action of the first half came on fifty-two minutes, as a corner from the visitors was flicked on by McNulty and into the path of full-back Brian Moogan, who skied his effort over the crossbar from a tight angle

It had been a disjointed and muted display from the Pitmen, who had once again looked off the pace and defensively porous, against a side that had recently gone five games without scoring a goal but had been bright, inventive and a threat in the final third

Motors started the second half in the same way that they had ended the first as they continued to dominate possession and cause the home side problems going forwards; O'Donnell exchanged passes with Olsen on forty-eight minutes but lifted his ambitious long-range effort over the crossbar

The Pitmen were almost gifted a response by Motors on fifty-two minutes as an aimless backpass from Garrity was seized upon by McMahon, who was denied a leveller by the legs of Dittmer

Williams tested Dittmer's reflexes four minutes later as Bell squared the ball to his captain, whose firm low shot from nearly thirty yards out was claimed by the Irishman

Adams denied the visitors a second goal on the hour mark as he hacked the ball off the line to deny Rooney a tap-in from close-range after Lawton's free-kick was turned goalwards by Garrity from six yards out

Two minutes later, the Pitmen made their second change of the game as Craig Marshall was brought on to add more physical threat up front as he replaced the hard-working but out-of-luck McMahon

Garrity struck an effort inches wide of Jenkins' upright on sixty-five minutes as he easily swept past Wright and struck a shot on the run that had the Hednesford goalkeeper rooted to the spot

Lawton went even closer to grabbing Motors' second goal of the game on sixty-nine minutes as his rising shot from the edge of the penalty area - set up by Smyth's drifting run and pass - skimmed the crossbar as Jenkins watched the shot over

With sixteen minutes of the game remaining, Tom Marshall wasted a good chance to level matters for the Pitmen as he headed into the side-netting following a deep Williams corner kick played to the far post

Anthrobus's final roll of the dice came on seventy-five minutes as he handed young striker Dyer his first minutes of the season as he took Adams off in favour of the teenager, changing the formation to a more attacking 4-3-3 one and dropping Brannan into a wing-back role down the right

Bell turned provider for his young strike partner Craig Marshall with eleven minutes remaining as he broke past McDermott down the right and clipped a cross into the near post, where Marshall planted a firm header at goal but saw his effort come back off the post

Back came the visitors on the counter-attack and Jenkins made a fingertip save to turn Moogan's cross-cum-shot on eighty-three minutes, turning the full-back's drive behind for a corner to the men in sky blue

With three minutes remaining and the Pitmen quickly running out of time and options, Tom Marshall rose highest to meet a Williams corner kick and headed towards goal, but was denied by the palms of Dittmer, who turned the ball over for another corner kick

In the first minute of stoppage time, the hosts were denied a late equaliser by some unorthodox defending from McDermott as Dyer got the better of Moogan and crossed from the left, finding Craig Marshall at the far post - his scuffed shot looked to have done enough to bounce over the hands of Dittmer, but a timely block by McDermott's outstretched leg on the line diverted the ball away from goal. Agonisingly close at the death from the Pitmen

Defeat for the Pitmen leaves them only four points above the drop zone and handed one of their rivals a morale-boosting three points that move them within two points of today's hosts. A second trip of the season to Damson Park looms for the Pitmen on Tuesday night as the 2004 F.A. Trophy winners look to make progress in this season's competition and avoid the ignominy of being knocked out before the first round proper

Hednesford Town: Jenkins, Adams (Dyer 75), Branch, Williams ©, Wright, T. Marshall, Scheppel, Heath, McMahon (C. Marshall 62), Bell, Hunter (Brannan 20)     Subs Unused: Bragoli, Whittle

Vauxhall Motors: Dittmer, Moogan, McDermott, Brazier, McNulty ©, Lawton, Garrity, O'Donnell (Noone 80), Rooney, Olsen, Smyth       Subs Unused: Cumiskey, Duffy, Butler, Glendenning