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F.A. Cup 3rd Qualifying Round

Hednesford Town

Woolfe (71), Harvey (78)

West Auckland Town

Briggs (50), Galpin (90)

(0) 2

(0) 2



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Kris Taylor


West Auckland Town (A) 15.10.13

Hednesford will have to make the long journey up to County Durham on Tuesday night to try and see off the challenge of Ebac Northern League side West Auckland Town, after this afternoon's frenetic F.A. Cup tie between the two sides ended in a draw

What looked a straightforward tie on paper for the Pitmen was, in reality, a real potential banana skin for the Skrill North league leaders against opponents who were unbeaten so far this campaign. With this in mind, manager Rob Smith made two changes to the side that had beaten Gloucester City the previous week; old warhorse Dave MacPherson was brought back into the side to shore up the midfield in place of Alex Melbourne, whilst Aaron Rey returned to the side ahead of Michael Lennon after recovering from a knock

West Auckland arrived at Keys Park having beaten the much-fancied Celtic Nation and Birtley Town in league action the previous week, extending their unbeaten run to seventeen games. Having already seen off the challenge of Evo-Stik Premier League sides Whitby Town and Skelmersdale United in the last two rounds of the Cup, West arrived at Keys Park understandably confident of producing another shock result

From the offset, it became quite clear that the referee was determined to stamp his authority on the game, with Mr Dermott setting a standard after just two minutes by booking Rey for a seemingly innocuous challenge on Andrew Green

Hednesford enjoyed a dominant spell of possession in the next ten minutes, creating several good openings in the process. A brilliant free-kick from Kris Taylor on eight minutes found the head of Neil Harvey, whose flick-on just evaded Ben Bailey as he attempted to head home at the far post

A free-kick from man of the moment Elliott Durrell tested the reflexes of Auckland keeper Jordan Nixon on ten minutes, with the keeper turning Durrell's shot over the crossbar for a corner

From the resultant Taylor corner, Auckland somehow managed to avoid going behind through a combination of the woodwork and good fortune. Bailey's flying header from Taylor's ball in was hacked off the line by Lewis Galpin, with Francino Francis also having an effort smothered away from goal. A final effort from Francis saw the centre-back fire a rising shot against the crossbar from six yards out

More baffling refereeing from Mr Dermott followed on fourteen minutes, as Auckland reacted angrily to a clean challenge from MacPherson in midfield. Cue hysteric reactions from the Auckland management and players, with the referee playing to the theatrics of the away side and booking MacPherson for the foul. He also booked Darren Campion and Matthew Moffat after a lengthy lecture, much to the irk of both sets of supporters

Nixon was called upon to make another smart save on twenty minutes, turning Harvey's goalbound header behind for a corner kick after the big striker had met Durrell's cross

From the resultant corner, the same combination of Durrell and Harvey linked up as the midfielder's corner kick was headed wide of goal by Harvey at the far post

 Bailey followed Rey, Campion and MacPherson into the referee's notebook five minutes later after kicking the ball away in frustration, only a minute after an Auckland player had done the same thing and escaped punishment

A rare foray into the Pitmen's box followed from the resultant free-kick, as Moffat headed over the crossbar after a rare lapse in concentration from the Pitmen's centre backs

More baffling refereeing was to follow on thirty-seven minutes, as an over the top challenge on Campion by Neil Pattinson somehow failed to result in at least a yellow card for the Auckland right-back

A marauding run from Jamey Osborne two minutes later saw him slalom his way past three challenges on the edge of the area, but his shot lacked power and was easily saved by Nixon

Harvey was presented with the best chance of the game just before half time, as he raced onto a through ball and nicked it before the onrushing Nixon could get to it. However, with the goal gaping, Harvey could not get the ball out from under his feet and scuffed a weak shot at goal that was easily cleared away

Rey had come off worst in an earlier challenge on the edge of the Auckland box, and finally had to admit defeat a minute before half time, with Wayne Riley coming on in his place

A bright start to the second half from the Pitmen suddenly took an unexpected turn on fifty minutes, as Auckland stole into the lead with what was their first shot on goal all afternoon. A cross-field ball from Moffat saw the ball sit up nicely for midfielder Robbie Briggs, who unleashed an unstoppable first time shot from thirty yards out that flew past Dan Crane and into the far top corner of the net. A great opportunistic goal

This stirred the Pitmen into life, with the hosts piling the pressure on Auckland's defence in search of an equaliser. Four minutes later Bailey again went close with a header following a Durrell corner, heading firmly against the crossbar from seven yards out

In an attempt to inject more pace and urgency into his side, Smith made the bold move of replacing spoiler MacPherson with the creative influence of Nathan Woolfe on fifty-six minutes

Bailey was left wondering what else he had to do to bring the Pitmen back on level terms on the hour mark, as yet another towering header from the young defender once again clipped the crossbar. There was a growing feeling in the Heath Hayes terrace amongst the Hednesford faithful that this could be 'one of those days' once again, and that West Auckland's stubborn approach to the game could seal an unlikely upset

However, this frustration was quashed on seventy-one minutes with a well-earned equaliser. Osborne's long throw into the penalty area from the right was flicked on by Francis, with Woolfe stooping low to head home from close range

The Pitmen struck again seven minutes later, taking the lead for the first time in the game through Harvey. Durrell, having switched positions following Woolfe's introduction, made a swashbuckling run down the right-wing and spotted Harvey making a run to the far post. A delightfully flighted cross from Durrell found the head of Harvey, who seemed to hover in the air for an age before heading beyond Nixon

In an attempt to see the game off, Hednesford made a more defensive-minded substitution with nine minutes remaining as Robbie Thompson-Brown replaced Harvey to a great reception from the Hednesford fans

Auckland looked to have run out of steam at this point in the game, with a number of players in yellow struggling to cope with Hednesford's attacking play. Nixon made a good save to clear Taylor's corner kick as it looked to be curling towards goal, with Auckland struggling to clear their lines from the resultant kick

And yet, there was to be a sting in the tail, as Auckland somehow found the strength to muster up one final attack in added time. A deep ball in from the right-wing was not cleared effectively by the Hednesford defence, allowing Galpin to drive a low shot into the right corner of the net from the edge of the penalty area and send the travelling support wild

There was not the time for the Pitmen to offer a riposte, meaning a trip to the North East is in order for Smith's squad on Tuesday night as they look to finish the job at the second attempt. The outcome of Monday's fourth qualifying round draw could be the impetus either side needs to push on and seal their place in the next round of this season's competition

Hednesford Town: Crane, Disney, Campion © , Bailey , Francis, MacPherson  (Woolfe 59), Osborne, Durrell, Harvey (Thompson-Brown 81), Rey  (Riley 45), Taylor       Subs Unused: Melbourne, Lennon, Anagho-Ntamark

West Auckland Town: Nixon , Pattinson, Green © , Wilkinson, Galpin , Close, Vipond , Briggs, Moffat , Campbell (Richardson 74), Carr (Banks 74)      Subs Unused: Garthwaite, Gibson, Gray, Atkinson, Hall

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