Evo-Stik Northern Premier League

Hednesford Town

Whitby Town

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Callam Mendez-Jones


Farsley Celtic (A) 3.2.18

The Pitmen strike a rare blank this afternoon, as Whitby leave the hosts feeling frustrated by earning themselves a point at Keys Park. Rob Smith's side remain unbeaten in 2018 and remain a handful of points outside the play-offs after a match of little goalmouth action


Hednesford returned to action after an enforced two week break, following last weekend's postponement of their away trip to Warrington Town. Smith had the luxury of picking from a full-strength squad for today's game, with only Jim Mutton unavailable after the defender had re-joined Redditch United on a month's loan. Smith stuck with the side that had been so successful in recent times, with Mason Walsh fit enough to return to the side in place of Jordan Graham and Joey Butlin replacing Danny Glover up front


Whitby's recent away form had been impressive since December, with the Seasiders unbeaten in their last five games on their travels. A superb comeback last time out at Liam McDonald's Rushall Olympic saw Whitby recover from three goals down to earn a 3-3 draw at Dales Lane. They handed South Shields goalkeeper Jack Norton a debut after he had joined the club this week, in the only change to the side


A chilly, overcast afternoon in South Staffordshire was the backdrop to a dreary game, with one of the only real moments of quality coming just a couple of minutes into the game; a James Lawrie cross from the right dropped to Charlie Gatter, who brought the ball down and fired in a shot that came back off the post


Whitby responded with a decent chance of their own on seven minutes as James Farley's cross found Matty Tymon, whose header at the far post narrowly cleared the crossbar


Following the early flurry of chances, the game settled into an attritional affair, with defences and midfields on top for the most part of the game. Gatter was once again proving to be a real find with his cool head under pressure, whilst Sam Oji recovered from a couple of poor early touches to turn in another superb performance. At right-back, Callam Mendez-Jones had his best game yet for the Pitmen, impressing both in defence and going forwards


For the visitors, the experienced Andy Monkhouse was the pick of the midfield options alongside skipper Steve Snaith, seizing upon an indifferent performance from Joe Fitzpatrick to win the ball in the centre of the park on a number of occasions


There was another flurry of chances towards the end of the first half, with the in-form Lawrie trying his luck from twenty-five yards out on thirty-five minutes, firing just wide of goal with an opportunistic strike


Skipper Tom Thorley had a great chance to open the scoring two minute later, but slipped at the vital moment as he looked to turn James Fitzgibbon's cross towards goal


Three minutes later, a dynamic run from Walsh saw him evade three challenges down the right wing, before he scuffed a shot towards goal, but failed to hit the target with his miscued effort


Lawrie was to have the last chance of an instantly forgettable first half on forty-three minutes, as a free kick conceded by Luke Blythway in a dangerous position was lifted just over the crossbar by Lawrie, who whipped in his shot from twenty five yards out


Oji was alert to danger early in the second half as Tymon threatened to break clear of the Hednesford defence, but a crucial saving block from Oji denied the striker a shot on goal and turned the ball away for a corner kick


More trickery from Walsh on fifty-three minutes saw the winger dart inside from the wing and curl in a shot that failed to test Norton in the Whitby goal as it drifted wide of the far post


With the Pitmen in search of a cutting-edge Glover was introduced to the game on fifty-nine minutes, replacing the out of luck and tiring Butlin, who had had no luck against the powerful Whitby defence


This move from Smith seemed to pay dividends, as Glover offered a different option to Butlin up front with his creativity and movement. Just two minutes after coming on, Glover made a break into the Whitby area as he raced onto a superb through ball from Mendez-Jones, only to fire his low shot into the side netting from a tight angle


A marauding run from Fitzgibbon down the left wing almost led to a goal for the slight winger on sixty-five minutes, but his cross-cum-shot drifted wide of the far post


The hosts made a bold double change on seventy minutes, with Jordan Graham coming on for Fitzgibbon and Reece King replacing Fitzpatrick in midfield


The under-used James Wren was called upon to make a fine save a minute later, saving well down low to his right to deny Lewis Maloney inside the penalty area


There was a loud shout for a penalty for the home side on seventy-six minutes, as Lawrie went down under a challenge just inside the Whitby penalty area. Perhaps Lawrie's fall was too dramatic for the referee, despite the obvious contact, and the game continued despite the crises from players and fans


The woodwork came to Whitby's rescue once more with twelve minutes remaining as Lawrie cut inside from the wing and curled a superb shot that came back off the far post once more. King - racing in to meet the rebound - could not react quickly enough to the ball as it came back off the woodwork, and could only head the ball over the crossbar from close range


 Whitby could still have won the game, however, despite having few real openings in the second half. With five minutes remaining, Callum Martin fired in a half-volley from the edge of the penalty area that just missed the target, followed late on by lob from Tymon that drifted wide with Wren scrambling back


All in all, a game that neither side had the firepower to claim to have earned all three points from. It was a similar game to the previous home game against Coalville for the Pitmen, as another well-organised and strong outfit had kept the hosts at bay with a game plan. The Pitmen are on their travels next weekend, as they make their first-ever visit to the Throstle Nest, home of play-off chasers Farsley Celtic


Hednesford Town: Wren, Mendez-Jones, Curley, Fitzpatrick (King 70), Oji, Gatter, Walsh, Thorley ©, Butlin (Glover 59), Lawrie, Fitzgibbon (Graham 70)    Subs unused: Bailey, Harris


Whitby Town: Norton, Weledji, McWilliams, Burgess, Bythway, Snaith ©, Monkhouse, Fairley (Martin 66), Tymon, Maloney (Patton 80), Mondal
Subs unused: Hume, Fryatt, May

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