9.2.2019

Evo-Stik Northern Premier League

Warrington Town

Vassallo (16), Amis (42), (73)

Hednesford Town

Benjamin (20)

 

(2) 3

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(1) 1

Attendance

MoTM

Current Form

Next Match

348

Javan Vidal

D L L L L L L W D L

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Marine (H) 16.2.19

The Pitmen's mini-revival is checked by league leaders Warrington this afternoon at Cantilever Park, as the hosts overpower their opponents with two goals either side of half-time to remain top of the Evo-Stik Premier League tonight by two points from South Shields

 

Manager Nicky Eaden had been left frustrated following last weekend's postponement of the Pitmen's home game with Hyde United, with one of his recent signings Jordan Mills departing the club this week without kicking a ball as a result of the game being called off. Despite this enforced break, Eaden named the same side that had started the previous league game against Bamber Bridge for this afternoon's game; left-back Nathan Fox was only fit enough to be named amongst the substitutes, whilst there was no sign of new signing Ethan Jones

 

Warrington - beaten 1-0 at Keys Park back in November - had moved to the top of the Evo-Stik League table courtesy of a 4-1 win at Gainsborough Trinity on Tuesday night, having lost only one of their previous thirteen league games since that defeat at Keys Park. Josh Amis and strike partner Tony Gray were in a rich vein of form in front of goal, with Amis having scored six goals in his last five games to add to Gray's three in the last seven. Former Hednesford man Bohan Dixon had also recently been amongst the goals for the Yellows but had to be content with a place amongst the substitutes for today's game

 

A bright start from the hosts saw them cause problems for the Pitmen's defence straightaway with Amis forcing Kieran Preston into a smothering stop in the fifth minute. Gray's attempt to retain possession for Warrington was halted by Alex Melbourne, who did enough to stop Gray from getting a shot in goal with a block tackle

 

Yellows midfielder Dylan Vassallo sent over a teasing cross to the far post from out wide on the Warrington right on ten minutes, only just failing to find the giant Amis who was lurking at the far post as he got goal side of Jon Moran

 

The home side's early pressure finally bore fruit in the sixteenth minute, as a move down the left saw Jack Dunn cross towards Amis, who somehow managed to get the better of Ben Bailey and lay the ball into the path of Gray. The in-form striker did well to take a touch and unselfishly lay the ball back into the path of Vassallo, who had the simple task of tapping home from close range

 

Despite this early blow, the Pitmen's new-found character was in full effect once again with a swift response through recent signing Shane Benjamin on twenty minutes. Successive corner kicks from the away side cranked up the pressure on the Warrington goal, with the second Alex-Ray Harvey cross eventually falling to Javan Vidal, whose goalbound shot was blocked by the Warrington defence on the goal line. The ball dropped kindly to 38-year-old Benjamin, who stabbed the ball home from close range for his second goal in three games since joining from Stratford Town

 

Preston did well to keep the Pitmen in contention midway through the half, as a quick break caught the Hednesford defence on their heels as Gray played Amis in. The striker took a touch too many, allowing Preston enough time to race out and smother the striker's low shot

 

A break down the left from the Pitmen a minute later saw Melbourne stand up a delightful cross to the far post which Vidal headed into the path of Benjamin, whose volley was diverted just wide of the post by Warrington keeper Tony McMillan

 

Vidal himself had a great chance to put the Pitmen into the lead for the first time in the game on twenty-eight minutes, sidefooting a Bailey long throw wide of goal after the Hednesford skipper's rangy ball in evaded a host of bodies in the Warrington penalty area

 

The Pitmen were very much on top at this point in proceedings, with Danny Lupano playing a one-two with Benjamin on the edge of the Warrington penalty area before unleashing a rising shot from twenty yards out that McMillan did brilliantly to tip over the crossbar for another Hednesford corner

 

Harvey's resultant corner kick was played low into the path of the on-loan Jud Ellis, whose first-time shot from ten yards out sailed high and wide of the Warrington goal

 

McMillan was alert to another spell of pressure from the Pitmen six minutes later, pouncing on a bouncing ball inside his own penalty area to deny Kieran Wells a shot at goal

 

The Pitmen were made to pay a heavy price for not taking one of their good chances as Warrington once again showed their title credentials with a second goal just three minutes before half-time. There was an element of controversy about the goal, as the referee allowed an advantage to the Pitmen for a foul on Elis only to fail to pull play back after Warrington had won the ball back immediately. With the Pitmen struggling to get numbers back, Amis got in behind Bailey and lashed a shot in at goal; his initial effort was well saved by Preston, but the striker showed plenty of composure to force the ball home on the rebound

 

The visitors could feel a little aggrieved at being behind at the half-time break, having given as good as they got against the league's most in-form team and created a good number of openings during a heartening forty-five minutes of action

 

Amis was first to get a shot in at goal three minutes after the restart, turning quickly on a sixpence just inside the Hednesford penalty area before striking a shot just wide of goal

 

Benjamin was continuing to offer a threat to the Warrington defence with his clever link-up play and years of know-how. A half-chance fell to the veteran a minute later but found the Warrington defence in the way of his effort as it was blocked

 

Warrington's Ben Garrity rose highest to meet a corner kick from Dunn on fifty-nine minutes, powerfully heading the ball just over Preston's crossbar  from six yards out

 

Three minutes later, Warrington almost gifted the Pitmen an equaliser as Melbourne's deep cross was headed towards his own net by Sean Beeley, prompting the experienced McMillan into a fine save on his own goal line

 

Wells made his way into the referee's notebook on sixty-seven minutes after snapping the corner flag in two with a petulant kick following an altercation with right-back Mitchell Duggan, who feigned an injury following a Wells challenge that successfully hoodwinked the referee into believing he was actually injured

 

A wasteful challenge from Lupano lead to Warrington's killer third goal on seventy-two minutes, as the Belgian full-back needlessly fouled Gray in a dangerous position down the right wing. The resultant free kick from Dunn found the head of Garrity, whose header back across goal was turned home by Amis from close range for his second goal of the afternoon

 

The Pitmen made their first change of the afternoon on seventy-six minutes, as the excellent Vidal was brought off in favour of striker Lewis Archer as the Pitmen threw another forward onto the pitch in an attempt to get themselves back into the game

 

Two minutes later, Jack Hallahan was brought on by Eaden for what was to be the Pitmen's final change of the afternoon as the midfield man replaced Ellis

 

The third Warrington goal seemed to knock the stuffing out of the Pitmen's attacking instincts, as they struggled to create an opening of any not in the remaining minutes. The hosts - who, for some reason, had sent half of their team out with one style jersey and the other half in a completely different design - resorted to game management and time-wasting to kill off their opponents. The blatant time-wasting finally came to a head with four minutes remaining when McMillan was booked for wasting time a fifth successive goal-kick. A needless yellow card with the game sewn up

 

In the final minute of the game, Melbourne was shown a yellow card for a foul on Amis, prompting David Raven to run a full forty yards to further stir up trouble with the match officials. On this occasion, however, the referee showed a more strict approach than earlier in the game and booked the defender for sticking his nose in where it was not wanted

It had been a valiant effort from the Pitmen, who had been well beaten by a more experienced, confident side during the second period after a promising first-half display. A more relevant and important game looms for the Pitmen next weekend as they take on fellow strugglers Marine at Keys Park, looking to earn that crucial three points that would enable them to move away from the congested drop zone

 

Warrington Town: McMillan , Duggan, Whittle, Beeley, Roberts ©, Raven , Vassallo (McCarthy 73), Garrity (R. Benjamin 89), Gray (Evans 84), Amis, Dunn        Subs Unused: Carden, Dixon

 

Hednesford Town: Preston, Melbourne , Lupano, Harvey, Moran, Bailey ©, Vidal (Archer 76), King, S. Benjamin, Wells , Ellis (Hallahan 78)          Subs Unused: Veiga, Gatter, Fox

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