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Dr. Martens Southern Premier League

Hednesford Town


Phillips (40)

(0) 0

(1) 1




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Emeka Nwadike




Dover Athletic (A) 14.4.03

Hednesford's mini-revival is checked this afternoon by fellow strugglers Weymouth, who move above their hosts after claiming all three points in a tight Southern Premier League encounter at Keys Park

It was an unchanged line-up for a third successive game for the hosts, with player/manager Chris Brindley keeping faith in the side that had gained four points from their previous two games, although Brindley himself returned to the substitute's bench after Wayne Simpson was ruled out through an ankle injury

Weymouth sat just below the Pitmen in the league table at the start of play, with Geoff Butler's side looking to improve on their run on inconsistent form during 2003 that had left them only four points above the drop zone. Butler made two changes to the side that had beaten Welling United last weekend, with defender Steve Browne and forward Ryan Ashford passed fit to start in place of Mark Kenway and Danny Bailey

The Keys Park pitch was starting to show signs of wear and tear after the number of games played on it, both first team and reserve team fixtures. Both goalmouths had been left threadbare and boggy, with a morning downpour leaving the patchy turf difficult to play good football on by both sides

Cheltenham loanee Luke Corbett looked to add to his debut goal at Chippenham a couple of weeks ago, running in behind the Weymouth defence in the fourth minute to latch onto a David Moss through ball, only to drag his shot along the ground and into the arms of Jason Matthews in the Weymouth goal

A corner kick from Stewart Airdrie four minutes later nearly dropped straight into the net as it was swung in from the right, only for Alex Browne to head the ball away from underneath his crossbar as Matthews went AWOL in his six-yard box

More wizardry from Airdrie, this time down the left wing, saw the tricky winger drift past Stephen Tully on thirteen minutes and cut inside, but got greedy with his wayward shot when it was a better option to play Steve Piearce in on the penalty spot

For the third game in a row, the blossoming understanding between Moss and Emeka Nwadike in midfield was in full view, as the pair gave Weymouth no space in the opening quarter of the game with their unwieldy midfield play

Michael Bingham was on his toes to clear his lines for the Pitmen on twenty-two minutes, getting a fist on the ball to push a cross from Mark Robinson away from goal as Lee Phillips challenged him at the far post

Five minutes later, Bingham was called upon again to protect his clean sheet - albeit in an unconventional manner - as Phillips's shot took a double deflection off Stuart Ryder and Darren Simkin before striking the knee of Bingham, who was actually diving the opposite way before it struck him, turning the ball wide of goal

Airdrie's solo run down the left wing saw him skin Tully once again on the half hour mark, running into acres of space before drilling a low shot into the Weymouth penalty area. However, the Hednesford forward line were slightly behind Airdrie and couldn't quite get a touch on the ball as it flew across the six-yard line

Weymouth were a threat on the counter-attack, playing deep and soaking up plenty of pressure before breaking quickly through midfield. Skipper Ian Hutchinson's angled ball into the Hednesford penalty area on thirty-four minutes found Phillips on the corner of the six-yard box, but Bryan Small did enough to jockey the striker out to a tighter angle and force the former Plymouth man into a wild strike

An highly ambitious effort from Corbett on thirty-eight minutes saw the striker show great reactions to collect a poor goal kick from Matthews and attempt a lob over the retreating keeper from fully forty-five yards, only to clear the crossbar as well as the reach of Matthews

The Pitmen were made to pay a heavy price for showing a lack of a clinical nature in front of goal, as Weymouth took the lead with five minutes of the first half remaining; a clever build-up involving Hutchinson and Ashford saw Laws work the ball into the path of Phillips, who stole a yard on Simkin before firing past Bingham from twelve yards out. A goal against the run of play, and with Weymouth's first real effort of the game, to shock the Pitmen and their supporters

Half-time saw Brindley make a like-for-like change down the left wing, surprisingly taking off Airdrie and bringing on David Berks to add more threat from set-pieces

Small's early strike from an angle had Matthews scrambling towards his near post to cover his woodwork, only for the left-back to find the side-netting with an ambitious effort

Three minutes later Berks delivered a fine free-kick from the right, sending over an inswinging ball that was glanced wide by Simkin, who perhaps should have left the ball to the better-placed Piearce behind him

Piearce was handed a fine chance to level matters for the Pitmen on the hour mark, swivelling on a sixpence as he received the ball from Corbett, only to see his shot smothered by a block tackle from Alex Browne before his brother Simon completed the clearance

The Terras had something to hold onto and were content to pack their defence and midfield to make it hard for the Pitmen to break them down. A quick break from the visitors on sixty-six minutes saw Laws turn Ashley Williams and lay the ball off to Hutchinson, whose shot sailed over Bingham's crossbar from the edge of the eighteen yard box

Moss's long-range effort came to nothing on seventy minutes, followed a minute later by a header from Piearce that was scrambled away from goal by a desperate Weymouth defence after Berks had done well down the left and found Nwadike, who supplied the cross for Piearce

The Pitmen made their second change of the afternoon with fifteen minutes remaining, as Kevin Francis came on to add his significant fame to the attack as the hosts went route one in search of an equaliser

Five minutes later, Graham Lancashire was also brought on in place of Corbett, who had been limited during the second half after being well shackled by the Weymouth defence

Even with three experienced strikers on the pitch, the Pitmen still struggled to create any real openings of not as the game entered it's final minutes. Berks' delivery from corners and free-kicks was a real test to the Weymouth defence, but a well-marshalled back line dealt with the threat with relative ease

Moss was handed a great chance to add to his debut goal with six minutes remaining, as Ryder did well to make some room for himself down the left and cross for the veteran, whose firm header was inches over the crossbar

With the game drifting to an end, Francis scuffed his one and only chance of the game in the final minute as he toe-poked a Piearce lay-off straight into the grateful arms of Matthews from close-range

A late flurry of corners from the hosts could not muster a leveller for them, leaving the players and fans frustrated at a reasonable performance that had lacked any real killer instinct, thus allowing a mid-table rival to leapfrog them with a smash-and-grab win to ease their own relegation fears. Brindley's men now face their second long journey down to Dover on Monday night as they try again to fulfil the away fixture at the Crabble after February's fiasco, with Dover still looking for points themselves in their pursuit of second place in the table

Hednesford Town: Bingham, Williams, Small, Simkin, Ryder, Nwadike, Moss, Lake (Francis 75), Corbett (Lancashire 80), Piearce ©, Airdrie (Berks 45)     Subs Unused: Brindley, Jenkins

Weymouth: Matthews, Tully, Redwood, A. Browne, S. Browne, Sullivan, Robinson (Sajic 65), Hutchinson ©, Ashford (Bailey 70), Laws (Jackson 70), Phillips       Subs Unused: Hale, Green

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