9.2.2002

Dr. Martens Southern Premier League

Hednesford Town

Davis (40)

Welling United

Hogg (49)

(1) 1

(0) 1

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Matt Gardiner

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Kettering Town (A) 12.2.02

The Pitmen are held to their second successive score draw this afternoon at an overcast Keys Park as mid-table Welling United claim a point that does nothing to aid either team's cause in their respective ambitions for the season

A draw at Chelmsford City last weekend had halted the Pitmen's recent run of back-to-back defeats in an evenly-matched encounter at the New Lodge. Manager Kenny Hibbitt made one enforced change to the side that had started last week's game, having seen Monday night's local derby against Stafford Rangers fall foul to the weather once more, bringing back striker Neil Davis in place of Graham Lancashire after the former Rochdale man had failed a late fitness test

Welling made the long trip up from Kent in mixed form recently, losing to Kettering Town in their last outing but had beaten league leaders Crawley 4-2 last month. Manager Tony Reynolds made one change to the side that had started the game against Kettering two weeks previously as Dean Standen came in for the unfit Anthony Riviere, who was named amongst the substitutes for the Wings

The game had been in some doubt all through Saturday morning after another dumping of rain overnight had left the Keys Park pitch sodden in places. An army of volunteers and the ground staff worked tirelessly on the playing surface to allow it to pass a pitch inspection just before lunchtime, despite copious amounts of sand laid on the pitch to soak up the standing water in patches around the main stand

The visitors started brightly, zipping the ball around the heavy pitch in the opening ten minutes and creating the first chance of the game in the sixth minute of the game. Striker Tommy Tyne's clever pass played former Birmingham City winger Steve Barnes in on goal down the left side of the Pitmen's penalty area. Matt Gardiner did enough to make a covering challenge and push the diminutive player wide enough that his shot went wide of goal

Welling skipper Lewis Watts made a run down the Wings right flank two minutes later and tried his luck with a long-range effort that narrowly cleared Mark Gayle's crossbar

A good run from Tom Poston saw the recent signing skip past Russell Edwards on twelve minutes and cross from the right flank to find Stewart Airdrie on the far side of the penalty area. Airdrie took a couple of touches before drilling a low shot wide of Glenn Knight's far post

Davis 's first sight at goal came in the sixteenth minute of the game as Stuart Lake's pass was deflected into the path of Davis by a touch from Wayne Brown, only for the striker's first-time effort to lack power and bobbled into the arms of Knight

Lake added to the Pitmen's long-standing injury woes once more on twenty minutes as he was forced off with what appeared to be a calf problem and was replaced by Wayne Simpson at the base of the midfield

Referee Mr. Dorr riled the Welling players and management four minutes later as he refused to award the visitors a spot-kick after former Aldershot man Gary Abbott's shot appeared to be handled just inside the penalty area by Simpson. Despite vociferous protests from the men in red, the game continued with the hosts hacking the ball to safety

 

 Superb wing play from Airdrie on twenty-eight minutes saw him drift past both Watts and Powell before crossing well to Davis, only for a late offside flag to deny Davis a goal on his return to the side after over a month out injured

Wale Kwik-Ajet - making his home debut after joining the club ten days ago - was finding it difficult to get any joy against a strong and experienced Welling defence. His one notable contribution to the first period saw him skip past a challenge from Edwards and enter the Welling penalty area, where he appeared to be brought down by a challenge from Brown. Once again, however, Mr. Dorr failed to award a spot kick despite the men in white surrounding him to demand a penalty for Brown's late challenge and the game continued

The Pitmen seemed motivated by this non-award and had their best spell of the game in the fifteen minutes up to half-time. Poston's free-kick on thirty-two minutes was headed over the bar by Lee Barrow from eight yards out, followed two minutes later by a deft flick goalwards by Davis from Ajet's nod-down that dribbled wide of the near post

Gardiner failed to force the ball home from close-range on thirty-eight minutes after a goalmouth scramble inside the Welling six-yard box saw the ball drop at the feet of the centre-back, but good defending from the Wings saw Watts eventually clear the danger

The Pitmen finally made their pressure tell five minutes before half-time as Davis took full advantage of an error by Edwards, racing onto a long ball forwards from Simpson that was inexplicably missed by the Welling man before coolly slotting the ball past Knight from twelve yards out after taking a touch

Two minutes later, the Pitmen had a glorious chance to double their lead ahead of the half-time break as a clearance from Brown was intercepted by Davis, whose run and cross from the left wing was somehow missed by Ajet at the far post when it looked easier to turn the loose ball home from a couple of yards out

The hosts can be pleased with their half-time endeavours, having dominated the last twenty minutes of the first period and David proving why he is regarded as one of the best finishers at step two when fit with a fine opportunistic strike

However, Welling regrouped well at the start of the second half and were level once more just four minutes after the restart; a throw-in from Brown was controlled by Brownrigg, who subsequently dallied on the ball and allowed Anthony Hogg to rob the ball off him just outside the Hednesford penalty area. The Pitmen were caught out of position as Hogg unleashed a fine effort that flew past Gayle and nestled in the far corner of the net. Superb from Hogg, dreadful from Brownrigg and yet another tiresome individual error at the back from the Pitmen to add to their wall of shame for the season

The Wings had their tails up now and almost completed the turnaround on fifty-three minutes as Tyne's quickly-taken free-kick played veteran striker Abbott through on goal, only for the normally-reliable striker to fire wide of goal from a good position

Good wing play from Barnes three minutes later saw him beat Richard Lucas and cross for Tyne, whose first touch took the ball away from goal and enabled Barrow to force him wide and shoot into the Hednesford end stand from ten yards out

Hibbitt had seen enough at this point and made a double attacking change on the hour mark as Damien Charie replaced Airdrie and the unconvincing Ajet was taken off in favour of the physical presence of Francis

Within a minute of being introduced, Charie was involved down the right flank as he exchanged passes with Brownrigg before crossing well for Poston, whose shot was well saved by Knight low down to his right-hand side

Four minutes later, the Pitmen had a superb chance to take the lead once more as Davis broke down the left flank and crossed for striker partner Francis at the far post. However, Brownrigg rushed in to meet the ball ahead of the striker and took it right off the head of the better-positioned Francis to head wide via a deflection off Powell

More bizarre refereeing decisions followed by Mr. Dorr, as he denied both teams a penalty kick once more in a frantic three-minute spell as the game became stretched. Firstly, Francis was sent sprawling by Brown on sixty-eight minutes just inside the Welling penalty area as the pair challenged for a high ball with nothing given, followed on seventy-one minutes by another loud shout for a spot-kick from Welling that was ignored after Tyne went down under a challenge from Gardiner

Another gaffe from the referee followed on seventy-five minutes, as he somehow failed to show Abbott a red card - or a card of any colour for that matter - after the striker had caught the face of Simpson with a high boot as the pair came to blows twenty yards from goal

In the interests of irking both teams, Mr. Dorr failed to show Poston a red card three minutes later after the winger had clearly struck Edwards after taking exception to a challenge from the Welling man right in front of the referee. Poston, amazingly, escaped with only a talking-to depsite many Hednesford supporters expecting the worst. Another truly bizarre decision from the official in an afternoon of bizarre decisions

The game became more stretched in the final ten minutes as both sides had chances to take all three points from today's game with the pitch deteriorating rapidly in certain places. Gayle was called upon to make his first real contribution of the game on eighty-three minutes to turn a shot from Tyne around the post after the striker had broken clear of the Hednesford defence

Two minutes later, Francis did well to nod a Lucas corner kick back across the face of the Welling goal only for the ball to drift across the face of the Welling goal and away from danger

With two minutes remaining, Standen was denied by the legs of Gayle after a free-kick was not cleared sufficiently by the Hednesford defence and dropped at the feet of the midfielder only eight yards from goal

There was to be six minutes of added time after Simpson's extended spell of treatment for a cut above his eye, but neither side could force home a winner as they cancelled each other out in a frenetic final few moments of the game. A second successive draw keeps the Pitmen just ahead of the bottom three, with the Pitmen looking to use their midweek trip to title-chasers Kettering Town as an opportunity to claim crucial points in their fight to stay in the Southern Premier League

Hednesford Town: Gayle, Brownrigg, Lucas ©, Haran, GardinerBarrow, Lake (Simpson 20), Airdrie (Charie 60), Davis, Ajet (Francis 60), Poston      Subs Unused: None

Welling United: Knight, Watts ©, Brown (Jonson 84), Powell (Riviere 65), Edwards, Standen, Barnes, Rutherford, Abbott, Hogg, Tyne      Sub Unused: Hone

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