F.A. Trophy 1st Round

Welwyn Garden City

Kinoshi (24), (32), Bailey (47)

Hednesford Town

Dwyer (9)

(2) 3

(1) 1



Current Form

Next Match


Anthony Dwyer



Needham Market (A) 19.12.20

The Pitmen finally return to the pitch this afternoon after another long lockdown lay-off but are beaten by Pitching In Southern League Division One Central hosts Welwyn Garden City in the first round of the F.A. Trophy tonight

It had been over six weeks since Hednesford had last played a game, beating Welwyn Garden City's league rivals Corby Town in the previous round of the Trophy. Manager Keenen Meakin-Richards was forced into handing a debut to recent signing Charlie Ten-Grotenhuis at centre-back after skipper Ben Bailey pulled up in the warm-up in one of two changes to the side from last time out, with Jed Davies handed a start as he replaced former loanee, Taylor Allen. Two more of Meakin-Richards' recent captures - Courtney Richards and Rob Hanna - were both amongst the substitutes

Welwyn Garden City had labelled tonight's game as the biggest in the club's 100-year history as they looked to make it through to the second round of the competition in only their third-ever appearance in the competition. Manager Nick Ironton has also had a five-week spell without a game for his side and made four changes to the side that last played back in November against Bedworth United in a 3-2 defeat, bringing his son George in ahead of Jesse Walklin, goalkeeper Charlie Crowley for U23 keeper Aaron Bull, Elliot Bailey for Thomas Opoku and Dave Keenleyside for Jack Vasey

On a cold evening in Hertfordshire and on a bumpy, uneven pitch, the all-neon clad Pitmen made an assertive start to the game and dominated the opening stages of the game. Their bright start was rewarded in the ninth minute as a neat spell of interplay in and around the Welwyn Garden City penalty area saw Louis Dodds, Davies and Reece Flanagan link up to cross for Anthony Dwyer, who slotted into the net from close range to end a fine passing move and open the scoring with his second goal in two games

The hosts almost equalised within sixty seconds of the restart as striker Jordan Kinoshi picked the ball up deep and drove past two challenges before Ten-Grotenhuis halted his progress with a timely challenge


Four minutes later, Ironton fired wide of goal from a promising position on the edge of the Hednesford penalty area after nicking the ball off the dawdling Flanagan in midfield and pushing into the Hednesford third of the pitch

WGC were looking the most likely to grab the next goal at this stage as the Pitmen failed to build their promising start to the game and almost levelled matters on twenty minutes; a terrible lack of judgement from Ten-Grotenhuis saw him attempt to see the ball out by the corner flag but only succeeded in having his pocket picked by Bailey, whose low cross was somehow skied over Andy Wycherley's crossbar from close range by Kinoshi

However, the Pitmen failed to heed the warning from down the right flank and conceded a poor equaliser four minutes later as Robbie Buchanan skipped past Carter Lycett and crossed low for Kinoshi, who turned the ball past Wycherley from close-range, despite Callam Mendez-Jones's best attempts to get across and block the shot

Two minutes later, Davies went agonisingly close to restoring the Pitmen's lead as his mazy run down the right flank saw him attempt a shot from a tight angle that came back off the far post via a touch from Crowley at his near post. The ball ended up at the feet of Lycett, whose rising shot flew high over the crossbar

The hosts were forced into a change on the half-hour mark as full-back Ryan Doherty was replaced by Patrick Tshikala after he had pulled up holding his groin

This did not affect WGC's confidence as they took the lead for the first time in the game on thirty-two minutes with another move down the right flank; a quick thrown-in found Ironton - holding off the challenge of Jack Hallahan sufficiently to turn and cross to the far post for Kinoshi, who turned the ball home from close-range

Back came the Pitmen once more, with Crowley making a fine double save to deny the visitors an immediate reply; Flanagan's deep cross from the right found Dan Turner at the far post, with Crowley managing to turn the striker's cross away from goal. The ball fell to Dwyer, whose follow-up effort was smothered by the keeper as he managed to recover in time

Three minutes later, Davies forced Crowley into another save as his low driven shot was pushed away by the busy WGC keeper as the visitors continued to press

It had been a very disjointed half from the Pitmen, who had threatened going forwards but had looked highly susceptible at the back and once again lacked a physical presence in the midfield area against a sprightly WGC side. Half-time saw Mendez-Jones - struggling with fitness - replaced at right-back by the experienced Sam Griffiths

Whatever Meakin-Richards said to his players was not taken on board, however, as the hosts scored a third goal just a couple of minutes after the restart. A long ball over the top of the Hednesford defence by skipper Dave Keenleyside was missed by makeshift centre-back Ten-Grotenhuis, allowing the ball to bounce and run to Bailey, whose instinctive shot sailed over the head of Wycherley and into the far corner of the net

The Pitmen made their second change of the evening on fifty-three minutes as Ten-Grotenhuis was withdrawn after a nightmare debut and replaced by Richards in a move that saw the Pitmen make a tweak to their defensive set-up

Dwyer was shown a yellow card on fifty-six minutes as he took a tumble in the penalty area under pressure from Carl Mensah, only for the referee to book the striker for simulation

The Pitmen made their third and final change of a torrid evening on sixty-three minutes as recent signing Hanna came on in place of the ineffective skipper for the night Dodds

The out-of-luck Turner was denied a goal four minutes later as Crowley continued to deny the visitors with a fine save to his right after the former Port Vale man had skipped past two challenges on the edge of the WGC penalty area

The same players were involved on seventy-three minutes as Turner cut in from the left flank and drove in a low shot that Crowley smothered at his near post

With ten minutes of the tie remaining and the game starting to peter out, Turner did well to break through the WGC offside trap and fire in a low angled drive that flew a matter of inches wide of Crowley's right-hand post

With five minutes left, Crowley capped off his man of the match performance with another five save, tipping a rising shot from Flanagan over the crossbar for a Hednesford corner kick

It had been a meagre second-half showing from the 2004 Trophy winners, who meekly exited this year's competition without much fight. The same problems continue to haunt this squad despite some changes in personnel - poor communication at the back, a complete lack of midfield battle and wasteful up front. It is difficult to see anything other than a battle against relegation from this hugely inconsistent squad that lack quality in all areas as and when the league programme finally gets the go-ahead sometime this month. The new manager will have to prove his worth in the coming days and weeks with plenty of questions against this squad and its ability to climb the Southern Premier League Central table  

Welwyn Garden City: Crowley , Doherty (Tshikala 30), Sexton, Close, Mensah, Rolfe, Buchanan, Ironton ▆ (Cage 82), Bailey, Keenleyside ©, Kinoshi (Knight 67)       Subs Unused; Adina, Payne

Hednesford Town; Wycherley, Mendez-Jones (Griffiths 45 ), Lycett, Ten-Grotenhuis (Richards 53), Rowley, Hallahan, Davies, Flanagan, Dwyer , Dodds © (Hanna 63), Turner       Subs Unused: Cater, Veiga


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