16.8.2003

 

Dr. Martens Southern Premier League

Hednesford Town

Weymouth

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Karl Brown

D

 

Hinckley United (A) 19.8.03

A new dawn at Keys Park started with a slightly disappointing result this afternoon as the Pitmen drew a blank against the much-fancied Weymouth this afternoon in today's 2003-2004 curtain-raiser

New manager Barry Powell - formerly assistant manager to former manager Ian Painter last season - gave debuts to seven players after an encouraging pre-season programme, handing starts to Ryan Young, Carl Palmer, Steve Palmer, Kevin Seabury, Steve Anthrobus, Mark Danks and Karl Brown got his afternoon's game, with further new faces amongst the substitutes in the form of Les Hines, Gary Hateley and Mark Swan. Powell had resisted the temptation to make major changes to the Hednesford defence over a busy summer, as Ashley Williams, Les Robinson, Darren Simkin, Stuart Ryder and Chris Brindley remained from last season's squad

Weymouth had made a major signing of their own during the summer months, with former Portsmouth, Birmingham City and Leicester City striker Steve Claridge appointed as the Terras' new player/manager. He had been busy building a squad that looked likely to be challenging towards the top of the table, having brought in the likes of former Leicester team-mate Lee Philpott to compliment the likes of established names such as Lee Phillips during the summer months

With only three minutes on the clock, Darren Simkin was denied by former Exeter City stopper Jason Matthews, who made a brilliant save to turn away the defender's thunderous free-kick and deny the ex-Wolves man an early goal

Simkin was handed a even better chance to give the Pitmen the lead four minutes later, as debutant Danks won his new side a penalty kick with his first contribution as his pace was too much for Mark Kenway, who only succeeded in bringing down the former Bradford City man just inside the Weymouth box. Simkin stepped up to take the resultant spot-kick, but his well-struck effort was brilliantly saved by Matthews, who made a fine stop diving to his left and side. Carl Palmer was first to the rebound, but could only blaze over from an angle with a wild effort

Weymouth worked their way into the game after this early scare from the hosts, playing some neat, tidy football and using the experience of Phillips and Claridge up front to drag the Hednesford defenders out of position. Phillips did well to beat Robinson to a bouncing ball on eleven minutes before unleashing a long-range effort that sailed over the crossbar and into the car park behind the Hednesford end

Former Premier League player Philpott went close to opening the scoring two minutes later, curling a shot from twenty yards out narrowly wide of Young's right-hand post after the Pitmen's defence had stood off him

Phillips hit the crossbar for Weymouth in the fifteenth minute, heading against the underside of the bar from eight yards out after a cross from Philpott had picked out the prolific striker, with Maguire hacking the bouncing ball away from Claridge's presence

The visitors continued to grow into the game, with Claridge guilty of missing their best chance of the game thus far midway through the first half; miscommunication between Anthony Maguire and Danks down the right saw Claridge played through on goal, to the left of the Hednesford goal. The veteran's shot across Young's body dribbled agonisingly wide of the far post and out for a goal kick

 

 Claridge was irking the home faithful with his constant berating of the referee, as he spent much of the first period seeking retribution from Mr. Williams for even the most minor of challenges against his players

The physical presence of Anthrobus was proving a mixed blessing for the Pitmen in the first half, as he gave the hosts a solid outlet up front by holding the ball up well, only to be pulled up on a number of occasions for supposed fouls on Weymouth players. The former Millwall man had a low shot saved by Matthews on the half-hour mark, before a flicked header from a Brown cross from the big man brought another regulation save from Matthews

An error from veteran defender Robinson on thirty-eight minutes gave Phillips another chance to break the deadlock, slipping at the crucial moment to allow a through ball to find Phillips, only for the striker to fluff his lines with a long-range effort that sailed over Young's crossbar

The half finished strongly for the Pitmen, with Brindley heading firmly over the crossbar from a Brown corner kick as he rose to meet the midfielder's inswinging free-kick from six yards out

Half-time saw Powell forced into a change in midfield after new skipper Steve Palmer was forced off due to a twisted ankle - he was replaced by Hines which saw a re-shuffle in defence that forced Simkin into a role further forwards

 

 Carl Palmer unleashed an early effort from twenty-five yards out that sailed over Matthews' crossbar at the start of the second half, followed two minutes later by a low drive from Hines that Matthews easily picked up

A fine cross-field ball from former Shrewsbury man Seabury found Maguire darting down the wing on fifty-five minutes, with the youngster sending over a cross that was inches away from being turned home by the impressive Danks

Four minutes later, a fantastic run from Danks saw him beat Kenway down the flank before standing up a fine cross that just evaded the incoming Anthrobus at the far post

At the other end, Young made a fine save with his legs to deny the long-serving Ian Hutchinson at his near post after the former Gillingham man had won a header against Robinson

Four minutes later, a run from Steve Tully saw him surge into the Hednesford third and play Claridge in on goal, only for the veteran front man to drive his first-time shot wide of Young's near post

 

Excellent wing play from Brown on sixty-nine minutes saw him dance past two challenges before delivering a fine cross that dropped in the Weymouth six yard box with no-one in white willing or able to gamble in front of goal

 

Matthews continued his inspired afternoon's work with another brilliant stop on seventy-five minutes, turning Danks's header over the crossbar after Brown's long throw was flicked on at the near post by Carl Palmer

A minute later, Danks was involved again with a dipping volley from range that narrowly cleared Matthews' crossbar - it had been a highly encouraging debut from the youngster alongside the experienced head of Anthrobus

Veterans Brindley and Claridge had enjoyed a combative afternoon up against each other, kicking lumps out of the other and generally thriving in the physical nature of the game. Claridge was finally deservedly shown a yellow card by Mr. Wiliams on eighty minutes for a totting-up of offences ranging from dissent to foul play. In contrast, Tully what been shown a yellow card for a sightly mistimed trip on Seabury earlier in the half, which was his first indiscretion in the game, further highlighting the inconsistency in refereeing decisions in the modern game

The final minutes of the game saw the sides trade chances; Brown broke through into the Weymouth penalty area on eighty-one minutes but saw Matthews save his shot, followed three minutes later by a snap-shot from Phillips that Young saw round his near post for a Weymouth corner

There had been much for Powell to take from his first Hednesford game as positives ahead of another long, hard Southern League season. Weymouth are likely to be one of the sides challenging for the title this term if the bookies are to be believed, and going toe-to-toe with an experienced outfit such as the Terras is proof that the Pitmen are on the right track. Powell's men hit the road for the first time this term on Tuesday night as they make the short trip down the A5 to face Hinckley United at Middlefield Lane

 

Hednesford Town: Young, Maguire, Brown, Robinson, Simkin, Brindley, Seabury, S. Palmer © (Hines 45), Anthrobus, Danks, C. Palmer      Subs Unused: Williams, Dodd, Swan, Hateley

Weymouth: Matthews, Tully, Russell (Browne 40), Barlow, Kenway, Waldock ©, Hutchinson, Buckle, Claridge, Philpott, Phillips      Subs Unused: Gadsby, Partridge, Gill, Robinson

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