Dr. Martens Southern Premier League 

Hednesford Town

Hines (63), (68)


McGregor (55), Cherry (88)

(0) 2

(0) 2




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Les Hines


Welling United (H) 27.4.04

The Pitmen fail to hold on to a lead that was given to them by Les Hines as they are pegged back by a late Weston-Super-Mare equaliser at Keys Park this afternoon

Wednesday night had seen Barry Powell's side earn themselves a fine point at improving Newport County, although reality had now set in that they remained too many points behind the midfield pack in order to make a late dart towards a place in the new Conference set-up for next season. Manager Barry Powell made one change to the side that had started at Spytty Park, with Steve Piearce handed a start in place of Mark Danks up front as Powell went looking for goals from his underachieving team. Ryan Young was still not fit to return to the side after pulling up in last week's home win over Chippenham Town but was named as a substitute with Paul Evans continuing between the posts

Weston-Super-Mare's first ever trip to Keys Park came off the back of a 1-1 draw of their own in midweek, having returned from Cambridge City with a point on Tuesday night. Manager Frank Gregan made one change to the side that had come away from Milton Road with a draw as Tony Davis returned to the team in place of Billy Clark as they went in search of a league double over their hosts, who they had beaten 3-2 at a wet Woodspring Park back in November

The hosts came straight out of the blocks and went agonisingly close to taking an early lead through Carl Palmer in the second minute of the game. Picking up Chris Gray's pass, Palmer took the ball into the Weston half and drove to the edge of the penalty area, only to see his low, well-hit shot cannon off the base of the post and back into play with keeper Tony Malessa beaten

There was more woodwork-related agony for the Pitmen five minutes later as skipper Steve Palmer - red-carded in midweek and now facing a suspension for the F.A. Trophy Final - strode forwards to meet a pass from Steve Evans and struck a superb shot from full thirty yards out that crashed off the crossbar and away from danger

Weston were shook into action after the Pitmen's early chances and promptly hit the woodwork themselves in the ninth minute of a busy opening period of the game; Bradley Thomas made a run down the right and crossed well for Dave Gilroy, whose firm header from twelve yards out came back off the crossbar before Les Hines completed the clearance

Gray showed Lewis Hogg a clean pair of heels with his trickery in the fourteenth minute, skipping past the full-back with a clever turn of pace as he got to the byeline. He composed himself and picked out Steve Anthrobus with his cross, only for the big striker's header goalwards to hit the back of Davis's head and drift out for a Hednesford corner kick

Hines' resultant corner kick was flicked on by Darren Simkin at the near post and found Steve Evans lurking from close-range. The winger got the ball caught between his legs and could not get his feet sorted in time as Davis hacked the ball clear

Former Nuneaton Borough striker Marc McGregor - a scourge of previous Hednesford sides - forced Paul Evans into a fine save on nineteen minutes as he headed a cross from Justin Skinner goalwards, only to be denied by a fine save from the teenager to his right

Steve Evans - man of the match at Newport in midweek - was in good form once more for the hosts and had a great chance toped the scoring on twenty-three minutes as his fired narrowly wide following good work from Anthrobus to turn his marker and slip the ball into his path

Carl Palmer drove another effort well wide of goal on the half hour mark, before McGregor's backwards header two minutes later was easily claimed by Evans on his line

Simkin's fine tackle on Stuart Storer in midfield on thirty-six minutes saw him feed Steve Palmer, who in turn played Gray in down the wing. The winger's cross was deflected into the path of Anthrobus by Mark McKeever, only for the big man to scuff his shot wide as he appeared to be surprised at the ball falling at his feet

With five minutes of the first half remaining, Piearce controlled a free-kick from Simkin on the edge of the Weston penalty area and squared it to Carl Palmer, but once again the flame-haired midfield man was wildly off target with his scuffed effort

In the final minute of the half, Stuart Ryder rose to meet a Hines free-kick at the far post, but headed high over the Hednesford end of the ground end into the car park behind

The Pitmen had been the better side in an entertaining first half that had seen both sides throw caution to the wind and push forwards at will. And yet, as had been the case in countless games this term, they had nothing to show for all of their possession, territorial advantage and chances

Weston were more of a threat at the start of the second half as they looked to claim a crucial three points in their bid to qualify for the Conference set-up next season and avoid the technical relegation facing the Pitmen. McGregor turned Simkin on forty-nine minutes and played an incisive ball through to Skinner, only for the veteran midfielder to fire wide of goal from a slight angle

For the umpteenth time this season, the Pitmen were made to pay for all of their missed chances as Weston took the lead on fifty-five minutes through old foe McGregor; former West Ham winger Stuart Slater - well shackled by Ross Adams so far - whipped in a cross from the left to find the unmarked McGregor, who headed past the exposed Evans from close range

The familiar cat-calls from the terraces returned after Weston's goal, with supporters demanding changes to their mis-firing side by Powell, who remained stony-faced but unmoved on the touchline. The sight of Anthony Maguire and Danks sent out to warm up was warmly greeted by the Heath Hayes terrace with the side lacking youth and pace to it's armoury against an experienced, cute Weston side 

Carl Palmer and Steve Palmer played a quick one-two in midfield to send Steve Evans away down the flank on fifty-eight minutes. The former Tamworth man stepped inside and drove a low cross in across the face of the Weston goal, just a matter of inches away from the poaching instincts of the incoming Piearce

It was to be Piearce's final involvement in the game, as top scorer Danks was brought on in his place on the hour mark in a bid to rescue the ever-more desperate situation the Pitmen had got themselves into


It was a rarer source of goals that got the home side back on level terms however three minutes later, as Hines equalised for the Pitmen with a beautifully struck free-kick from twenty yards out to beat Malessa after Carl Palmer's run had been halted by Gilroy just outside the Weston penalty area. A great strike from the left-back and the Pitmen had all the momentum heading into the final quarter of the game

An opportunistic strike from Danks on sixty-six minutes saw him race onto a pass from Steve Palmer and try his luck with a first time shot that brushed the side-netting at Malessa's near post. Close from the substitute, who was giving the Weston defence a different problem than that of the more methodical approach of Piearce

It was Hines who stepped up again to hand the hosts the lead on sixty-eight minutes, collecting a pass from Danks before firing in a dipping shot from long range once more that was too hot for Malessa to deal with. Another superb strike from the left-back, who has been one of the standout performers alongside Young and Carl Palmer in a largely frustrating campaign

The hosts had a big shout for a penalty kick on seventy-two minutes as they looked to kill off the visitors; Anthrobus battled with Davis to get on the end of a Gray pass, with the former Wimbledon man bundled to the ground by the Weston defender. Despite the striker's protests, the referee was unmoved and the game continued

More great play from Hines saw him return to the role of provider on seventy-six minutes as he was set up by Steve Evans to cross to the far post, where Gray turned his outswinging cross wide of goal and into the fans behind the Heath Hayes end of the ground

Having failed to find a killer third goal, the Pitmen started to sit back and protect their slender lead which invited pressure onto them by Weston in the final ten minutes. McKeever drilled well wide of goal on eighty-one minutes after being afforded too much time by the Hednesford midfield to pick his spot

The experienced David Mehew came on for the visitors for the final minutes and was involved with five minutes remaining as his pass to McGregor saw the striker step past Simkin but drag his shot wide of goal from a good position

Successive corners taken by McKeever tested the resolve of young keeper Evans as the minutes ticked by, with the teenager doing well to punch an inswinging effort away from the head of Jon French as he was pressured by the striker

Weston's pressure finally told with two minutes remaining, as slack defending from the Pitmen allowed French sufficient time to control the ball to the left of the Hednesford six-yard box and pull the ball back into the path of substitute Mark Cherry, who had the simple task of side-footing the ball home from close range

It was a cruel blow for the Pitmen, who had been much the better side but had once again proved their inability to kill games off and take the chances presented to them a timely manner

The home side pressed once more as the game entered added time, forcing successive corners that Hines failed to find anyone in white from. In the third minute of injury time, Danks saw his right-footed shot from fifteen yards out cannon off the base of the near post after Steve Evans had played him in on goal

A thoroughly entertaining game for the neutral, but a bitter pill to swallow for the Pitmen, who are now essentially consigned to relegation having failed to pick up three points they thought Hines had earned them midway through the second half. Their final home game of the season is on Tuesday night as they entertain Welling United in a re-arranged game against the mid-table Wings


Hednesford Town: P. Evans, Adams, Hines, S. Evans, Simkin, Ryder, C. Palmer, S. Palmer ©, Anthrobus, Piearce (Danks 60), Gray      Subs Unused: Maguire, King, Hawley, Young

Weston-Super-Mare: Malessa, Thomas, Hogg, Davis, Jarman (Clark 77), McKeever ©, Gilroy, Storer (Mehew 80), McGregor, French, Skinner (Cherry 73)      Subs Unused: Benton, Hunt