Evo-Stik Northern Premier League

Hednesford Town

Warrington Town

Gray (17), Williams (56)

(0) 0

(1) 2



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Sam Oji


Marine (A) 10.3.18

The Pitmen's play-off ambitions took another hit this afternoon, as Warrington Town added to Hednesford's home woes with a well-earned win over Rob Smith's under-performing side


Smith was dealing with the aftermath of last weekend's draw at Stalybridge Celtic which had seen both Callam Mendez-Jones and James Lawrie come off injured during the 2-2 draw at Bower Fold. Both players missed out on this afternoon's game, although Lawrie was amongst the substitutes despite his ailment. This saw left-back Darren Campion return to the side after his brief spell on loan to Boldmere St. Michaels, whilst Reece King returned to the side in midfield to replace Lawrie


Warrington had continued their upward curve from last season's impressive first season at step three, with Paul Carden's side currently occupying second place in the league table. Recent form however had been up and down for the Yellows, with defeats to Lancaster City and Stalybridge in the past few days denting their confidence. Carden named former Hednesford pair Sean Williams and Devarn Green in a strong-looking starting XI


On a crisp, sunny day in South Staffordshire the Pitmen forced successive corner kicks in their opening salvo, although Joe Fitzpatrick's crosses into the penalty area were competently dealt with by the away defence


Big Sam Oji was on hand to deal with Warrington's first real sight on goal in the ninth minute, coming across to make a timely block to deny Tony Gray after Green had played the striker in on goal


Jamie McDonald should have done better with Warrington's next chance on fifteen minutes as the midfielder was played in by Shaun Beeley, only to dither on the shot and allow James Wren to make a crucial smothering stop at his feet


The growing pressure on the Hednesford defence finally told on seventeen minutes as a neat ball through from McDonald found Gray, who had time to steady himself and clip a shot over Wren and into the far corner of the net to give Warrington the lead


Things nearly got worse for the Pitmen in the twenty-third minute as a corner kick was only partially cleared by the Hednesford defence, allowing Gerard Kinsella to unleash a shot from the edge of the penalty area but fire narrowly over the crossbar


An inswinging Fitzpatrick corner kick on twenty-seven minutes found the head of Oji, but the centre-back could only divert the ball into the grateful arms of Warrington's on-loan keeper Luke Pilling


Pilling was indebted to defender Jack Higgins on the half-hour mark, as he got back to deny Jordan Graham a clear shooting opportunity following a throw-out from the keeper that fell at the feet of the Mansfield loanee


Skipper Tom Thorley was the first player to enter the book on thirty-five minutes, picking up a yellow card for his part in a clash with Gray in the centre of the pitch


Another timely block from Oji denied Green a goal on his return to Keys Park on thirty-nine minutes as Gray's cross found the winger at the far post, only for Oji to take advantage of the bouncing ball to make the block before Green could get his shot away


Good build-up play down the Hednesford right saw the ball played across to Thorley on forty minutes, but the skipper's low drive lacked accuracy and drifted wide of goal


The final chance of the half fell to King, whose weak header from a Fitzpatrick corner twelve yards from goal was easily fielded by Pilling standing on his goal line


The Pitmen had a glorious chance to level matters with the first opening of the second half as Adam Carden's mistake let James Fitzgibbon in on goal, behind the Warrington defence. However, unlike his strike against Stalybridge, Fitzgibbon lacked composure and put his shot over the crossbar from a great position


 This was to prove costly for the hosts, as Warrington doubled their advantage on fifty-six minutes through former Hednesford captain Williams. He did well to make room for himself on the edge of the penalty area, turning well to drive a shot in across goal and find the net via a touch off the far post


The Pitmen responded through a Campion cross on fifty-eight minutes that found the head of Butlin, although his header glanced the ball wide of the near post


The home side made their first change of the game on sixty-one minutes, with Ben Bailey coming on in place of Fitzgibbon. This saw a major positional change to the side, with Curley playing down the right wing and Bailey slotting in at right-back


King went close to levelling matters for the hosts on seventy-two minutes, as he seized upon a partially cleared Fitzpatrick corner to drive in a shot from twelve yards out, only to be denied a goal by a last-ditch block by Beeley on the goal line


This was to be King's final contribution to the game, as he was taken off a minute later as the combative Louis Harris came on in his place in the centre of midfield


Bailey was booked for a foul a minute later, closely followed by the Pitmen's final substitution on seventy-four minutes as Danny Glover was introduced in place of the ineffective Graham


Referee Sarah Garratt had had a mixed bag of a game and incurred the wrath of the Hednesford players on seventy-seven minutes when she failed to show the already-booked Gray a second yellow card for a caution-worthy foul on Thorley in midfield


This level of inconsistency boiled over in Warrington's favour on eighty-three minutes, as Fitzpatrick was shown a straight red card for a block tackle in midfield, with the antics of the Warrington players and bench seemingly influencing the referee's decisions, a la Shaw Lane in December


In the melee that followed, Smith was also sent to the stands by the referee after the assistant on the main stand side had brought Smith's comments to the match official's attention


Glover seized upon a poor clearance from Pilling with two minutes remaining, trying his luck with an ambitious effort from near the halfway line but driving his shot a few yards wide of the open goal Pilling had left behind him


No wins in the last four home games has left the Pitmen's play-off push looking a little unlikely with games in hand still to be played out by other sides around them. Their away form - unbeaten in the league since October - is all they have to cling to at present, with a trip to another side with play-off aspirations - Grantham - to come next weekend; a crucial three points for the side if they have any remaining ambitions of a top-five finish this term


Hednesford Town: Wren, Curley , Campion, King (Harris 72), Oji, Gatter, Fitzpatrick ▆ (83),  Thorley © , Butlin, Graham (Glover 74), Fitzgibbon (Bailey 61 )  Unused subs: Lawrie, Law

Warrington Town: Pilling , Carden, McKeown, Williams, Higgins, Goulding ©, Beeley, Kinsella, McDonald (Piggott 82), Gray (Bakare 85), Green (Hayhurst 64)    Unused subs: McMillan, Barne

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