15.10.2013

F.A. Cup 3rd Qualifying Round Replay

West Auckland Town

Moffatt (32), (45)

Hednesford Town

Riley (41), Francis (52)

(2) 2

(1) 2

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Francino Francis

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Workington (A) 19.10.13

After Extra Time | Hednesford win 4-2 on penalties

A backs-to-the-wall performance to beat them all this evening saw Hednesford Town seal their place in the fourth qualifying round of the F.A. Cup, as Rob Smith's side somehow summoned the energy, spirit and commitment to play for over an hour with nine men to beat West Auckland on penalties

Auckland's late, late equaliser on Saturday had set up an unwanted replay for the Pitmen, dragging them up to the North East in an attempt to finish the job they should have completed at the weekend. Smith made only one change to his starting line-up, giving Wayne Riley his first start since recovering from injury. With the playing squad being stretched, there were only five men on the bench for the Pitmen, rather than the permitted seven for F.A. Cup games

West had achieved their aim of getting the Pitmen back to the Seagrave Stadium following an aggressive, hard-working performance at Keys Park. Backed by a large local following, Auckland fancied claiming their biggest scalp to date by seeing off the Skrill North leaders at the second attempt

A hard, bobbly pitch greeted the two sides at kick-off, with both teams having early shots as they looked to take the initiative. West striker Matthew Moffat fired well wide of goal with a speculative effort on two minutes, with Elliott Durrell doing the same for the Pitmen five minutes later

Auckland's aggressive approach to the game once again infuriated the impressive Hednesford following that had made the journey north for the game, as Neil Pattinson was accused of play-acting after picking up a knock after a clash with Durrell

The dangerous Moffat, who caused the Hednesford defence problems on Saturday, went closest to opening the scoring on nineteen minutes as he did well to turn Darren Campion and fire in a shot that drifted just wide of Dan Crane's far post

Hednesford's best chance fell to Neil Harvey on twenty-six minutes, as Durrell's excellent cross was met by the big striker, who headed straight at West keeper Jordan Nixon from eight yards out

Ben Bailey followed John Disney into the referee's notepad on the half-hour mark, with Bailey suffering a case of mistaken identity as he was incorrectly identified as the man who committed a foul on Moffat. This embarrassing gaffe from the match officials was to cost the Pitmen dearly later on in the game

Two minutes later, Auckland took advantage of Hednesford's inability to clear their lines once again and took the lead through Moffat. A left-wing corner was allowed to drop to the striker, who fired home from ten yards out as the Pitmen desperately attempted to clear the loose ball

Fit-again Riley went close to an immediate response within two minutes of the Pitmen going behind, as a flick on from Francino Francis found the forward, who tried his luck with an off-target overhead kick

Riley made amends for this miss four minutes before half time, levelling matters on the night once again. Racing on to a through ball behind the Auckland defence, Riley's original shot came back off the post, with the forward handily placed to slot the rebound beyond the reach of Nixon

The Pitmen finished the half strongly, and suddenly Riley was at the centre of the game as Hednesford pushed forward. Another run in behind the Auckland defence found the onrushing Riley, whose weak shot was saved by Nixon

And yet there was still time for more dramatics at the end of the half, as Auckland once again stole into the lead in added time. A thirty yard shot from Robbie Briggs looked to be heading well wide of goal until Moffat got enough on the ball to divert it past a stranded Crane and into the net

Smith's half-time team talk clearly had the desired effect, as the Pitmen piled severe pressure on the Auckland defence as they looked for another equaliser. Harvey's goalbound shot was blocked by Jonny Gibson, a minute before Disney went agonisingly close with a deflected rising shot that came back off the crossbar

The Pitmen's pressure finally told on the Auckland defence on fifty-two minutes as a Kris Taylor corner found Francis at the far post, with the big defender forcing the ball home from close range

Durrell looked to continue his rich vein of scoring with a tremendous run on fifty-seven minutes, but the ball bobbled horribly in front of him as he shaped to shoot and gave Nixon just enough time to make a claim

The visitors were denied what they felt was a blatant penalty on sixty-four minutes, as another run from Riley was checked by Nixon as he looked to take the ball around the Auckland keeper. Despite vociferous protests from Hednesford, the referee remained unconvinced and waved play on. In all of the frenzied action that followed, Dave MacPherson's follow-up shot came back off the post

A minute later, MacPherson was shown a straight red card for an elbow on Auckland midfielder Brian Close. The veteran midfielder now faces a three-match ban as the Pitmen enter a busy period in the season

Things got even more distressing for the Pitmen five minutes later, as Bailey's earlier case of mistaken identity came back to haunt him. After kicking the ball away in front of the Auckland bench, Bailey was shown a second yellow card by the ridiculously inconsistent referee, who appeared to be influenced by the hysterical nature of the Auckland bench's reaction

Down to nine men and shorn of two defensive-minded players, Smith quickly made a tactical substitution in an attempt to steady the ship; Harvey was sacrificed up front as utility man Alex Melbourne came on to play in the patched-up Hednesford defence

Auckland looked to make the most of their significant numerical advantage in the final fifteen minutes, with Crane keeping the Pitmen on level terms on seventy-six minutes by making a breathtaking save to deny Briggs. The rebound fell to Moffat, who blazed over when he was expected to turn the ball home

Somehow, the Pitmen held Auckland at arm's length for the final few moments to ensure that the game would at the very least go into another thirty minutes extra time. Just a few minutes into the restart, Hednesford injected fresh legs in the form of Robbie Thompson-Brown, who replaced Campion. This move saw Melbourne moved to left-back and Thompson-Brown playing in front of the defence

This was followed on ninety-nine minutes by the youthful zest of Charlie Anagho-Ntamark being introduced in place of the fading Durrell, who had chased everything during the second half

Auckland were reduced to half chances throughout the first half of extra time, with Disney hacking a goalbound shot away for an Auckland corner kick and Crane easily claiming a Moffat header from the resultant flag-kick

Try as they might, the Pitmen were simply all out of luck as they made a rare move forwards on 110 minutes. Jamey Osborne, who had been quiet for much of the game, came alive as he raced onto a through ball and nicked it past the onrushing Nixon as he headed for goal. Nixon appeared to bring Osborne down, but the sheer disbelief of the Hednesford players, officials and fans, the referee booked Osborne for diving, rather than award the nine men a spot-kick

In the final minute of extra time, Moffat was denied once more from close range by Crane, thus sending the game to penalties and ensuring the Pitmen had played over an hour with two men less - a Herculean effort from all involved

So, onto the lottery of penalty kicks, with Riley scoring for the Pitmen and Close missing for Auckland in the first round of spot-kicks. Melbourne missed his kick before Crane made the first of two saves to deny Shaun Vipond. John Disney and Francino Francis both converted their penalties for the Pitmen before Crane made the crucial stop to deny Auckland. Taylor strode up and fired home the final penalty of a crazy, crazy evening to clinch an away trip to Stamford on the 26th October

This game will no doubt go down in Hednesford folklore in years to come as a tale of triumph over adversity, proving that hard work and team spirit can still get the desired result, against a team intent on bending the rules to suit their own needs

Hednesford Town: Crane, Disney , Campion © (Thompson-Brown 92), Bailey ▆ ▆ (70), Francis, MacPherson ▆ (65), Osborne, Durrell (Anagho-Ntamark 99), Harvey (Melbourne 69), Riley, Taylor      Subs Unused: Woolfe, Rey

West Auckland Town: Nixon, Pattinson (Gray 11), Gibson, Wilkinson, Galpin, Close , Vipono, Briggs, Moffat ©, Campbell (Richardson 45), Carr       Subs Unused: Garthwaite, Hall, Banks, Atkinson

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