Dr. Martens Southern Premier League 

Hednesford Town

Gray (34)

Welling United

Henry (28), Collins (84)

(1) 1

(1) 2




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Stuart Ryder


Tiverton Town (A) 1.5.04

The lights go out on the Pitmen's season - metaphorically and literally - as they crash to a late defeat at home to Welling United to confirm their relegation to step three in their final home game of the season tonight

Saturday had seen Barry Powell's side concede a late equaliser against Weston-Super-Mare to leave them all but relegated to the new Southern League for 2004-2005, requiring a miracle set of results in the final two games to turn their wretched league season around. Powell made two changes to the side that had started against Weston, with Ryan Young passed fit to return to the side after missing the previous two games due to a thigh problem. Mark Danks returned up front in a straight swap with Steve Piearce after the former Wolves man failed to impress in Saturday's game

Welling - sitting in a comfortable top ten position with two games to go and will be part of the new Conference set-up next season - arrived at Keys Park from Kent having held one-time league leaders Weymouth to a 2-2 draw at Park View Road at the weekend, having been two goals to the good with a minute of normal time remaining and allowing the Terras to grab two late, late goals.  Manager Paul Parker - limited to only three substitutes in his threadbare squad - made one change to the side that had handed Weymouth their late point at the weekend as Billy Burgess replaced Paul Booth in midfield

It was a nervy opening quarter of the game, with both sides a little cautious in their approach as chances were at a premium. Jimmy Strouts fired over the crossbar from long range for the visitors in the eight minute with Welling's best effort of the first ten minutes, whilst the Pitmen were limited to a Chris Gray effort that drifted high over the crossbar two minutes later as neither side looked likely to open the scoring early on

Neat play from Welling's Tony Riviere on fourteen minutes saw him drift inside the challenge of Adams and cross for Tommy Tyne, whose flicked header was easily saved by Young inside his six yard box

The first real effort of the game finally came in the twentieth minute of the game as Carl Palmer - deservedly named as the club's player of the year before the game - flashed a powerfully struck shot from twenty yards out inches wide of Danny Naisbitt's left hand post with the Welling keeper beaten

Two minutes later, Les Hines provided Steve Evans with a great chance to give the Pitmen the lead as he crossed well from the left to find the head of the winger, only for Evans to head over the crossbar as he was put off by the presence of Tony Henry inside the Welling penalty area

Welling put the penultimate nail in Hednesford's coffin for the season on twenty-eight minutes as they took the lead against the run of play after taking advantage of the home side's flaky defending. Riviere's inswinging corner was met by Henry, who had all the time in the world to head unchallenged past Young from close range to give the Wings the lead

The hosts made an assertive attempt to get themselves straight back into the game as they forced Welling back into their own third for a spell. Naisbitt made a meal of Steve Palmer's long range effort and claimed it at the second attempt after spilling the Hednesford skipper's initial attempt


Two minutes later, Steve Anthrobus tried his luck with an acrobatic overhead kick from a Steve Evans cross that was deflected just wide of goal by Dave McSweeney for a Hednesford corner kick

The Pitmen's pressure told on thirty-four minutes as they got themselves back on level terms through winger Gray; good work involving Carl Palmer and Anthrobus played Gray in behind the Welling defence, with Gray showing great composure to round Naisbitt and coolly slot home

The remaining ten minutes of the first half saw the hosts throw the proverbial kitchen sink at their opponents as they looked to take advantage of being on top. Naisbitt made a fine save from Saturday's goalscorer Hines on thirty-seven minutes, palming the left-back's free-kick away at his right hand post for a corner kick to the hosts

 Carl Palmer headed narrowly wide at the far post two minutes later as he arrived late to meet the deep, inswinging cross from Steve Evans and beat veteran Brian Statham to the ball

Steve Palmer went even closer to giving the hosts the lead right on the stroke of half-time, spooning a shot onto the crossbar as his dipping effort from thirty yards out bounced off the top of the woodwork and out of play

The interval robbed Hednesford of their momentum as Welling came back into the contest in the early stages of the second period. Kenny Dyer made a mess of his effort on fifty minutes as he scuffed his angled shot well wide of Young's goal, followed by a late offside flag against Tyne denied the striker a shot at goal three minutes later as he ran in behind the static Hednesford defence

Steve Palmer seemed determined to end his home campaign on a high as he continued to take pot shots at goal at every opportunity. A volley from the Hednesford skipper on fifty-seven minutes cleared Naisbitt's crossbar and ended up in amongst the Hednesford supporters behind the goal

Darren Simkin was taken off on sixty-five minutes after being given the runaround by Tyne and replaced by Lee Barrow, who was returning from a spell out injured

The Pitmen started to get a foothold in the game once more, but their luck deserted them in quite bizarre circumstances on sixty-seven minutes as one of the floodlight pylons on the Wimblebury side failed. Fifteen minutes of frantic work on the pylon failed to get it working again, prompting the referee Mr. Kirkup to ask both sides if they would be willing to continue with the game with only three floodlights. Due to it being the final week of the season and the distance travelled by Welling, there was no option other than to continue with the game despite one corner of the pitch in virtual darkness

Danny McGhee was brought on by Powell just before the game restarted as the Pitmen freshened up their attack with the youthful enthusiasm of the former Rushall Olympic winger in preference to Steve Evans

This seemed to kill any momentum the Pitmen had regained as Welling had the better of the final twenty minutes of the game. Substitute Booth's shot from range was held by Young on seventy-two minutes, followed three minutes later by a header from Tyne that was hacked clear by Stuart Ryder after Riviere had delivered another fine free-kick into the Hednesford penalty area

A quick break from the Wings on seventy-eight minutes saw Booth supply Collins with a fine through ball. The midfielder tried his luck with an audacious lob from long range that dropped only a matter of inches wide of Young's right hand post

Welling did find a way through six minutes later and broke Hednesford hearts with an eighty-fourth minute goal that turned out to be the winner. A long ball forwards from Tyne caught the Pitmen's retreating defence out and presented Collins with time and space to slot the ball beyond Young and into the far corner of the net from ten yards out

In a last desperate throw to salvage a point, the Pitmen threw extra numbers forward as they finished the game in frantic fashion. McGhee gave Danks a great chance to level matters in the final minute of the game as he hooked the ball into the danger zone, only for the Pitmen's top scorer to be crowded out by the Welling defence before he could get his shot away inside the Welling six yard box

In added time, a deep free-kick from Hines was headed back into the six yard box by Barrow at the far post, only for Danks to be denied a goal by a late whistle by the referee for an earlier foul by Barrow on Statham in the build-up

Many of the Hednesford players slumped to the floor at the final whistle as the realisation of their under-performing campaign became apparent with the club relegated to step three in 2004-2005. The players have to take a huge portion of the blame as they have proved in many games this season that they have had the ability and quality to win games at this level, only to lack the correct attitude to follow through in games since Boxing Day. Powell will have to accept his part of the blame also, having arrogantly refused to freshen up his ageing, one-paced defence as the pitches deteriorated in the winter months and exposed a lack of pace in his defensive options. The Pitmen's league season ends on Saturday as they take a trip down to Devon to face Tiverton Town - another side still in with a chance of being involved in the Conference set-up if results got their way at the weekend

Hednesford Town: Young, Adams, Hines, S. Evans (McGhee 70), Simkin (Barrow 65), Ryder, C. Palmer, S. Palmer ©, Anthrobus, Danks, Gray      Subs Unused: Maguire, King, P. Evans

Welling United: Naisbitt, Statham, Henry, McSweeney, Cousins ©, Burgess (Booth 64), Riviere, Strouts, Collins, Tyne, Dyer (Hambley 75)      Subs Unused: Slater