1.4.2009

UniBond Northern Premier League

Whitby Town

Hednesford Town

Dyer (40), Marshall (60), Barnett (90)

(0) 0

(1) 3

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Ludovic Quistin

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Whitby Town (H) 4.4.09

Hednesford's fine recent form continued this April Fool's Day evening as they brushed aside struggling Whitby Town at the Turnbull Ground to record three vital points that put them back within a point of the play-off places

 

Manager Dean Edwards has seen his side return to something like the form from the early part of the season in recent games and made only one change to his starting line-up from the one that had triumphed at Guiseley, with Ludovic Quistin making his return to the club at left-back due to the facial injury suffered by Anthony Maguire on Saturday. Quistin's compatriot Cedric Abraham appeared amongst the substitutes with Matthew West dropped from the squad along with fellow new boy Jan Coulston, making way for Ben Bailey

Whitby were in the midst of a somewhat unusual run of games due to previous postponements and re-arrangements, having played Witton Albion in consecutive games before facing the Pitmen in their next two games. Their form had been poor in recent weeks, with a 2-0 win over Witton in the last game their first win in four games. Under-pressure manager Graham Clarke made one change to the side that had started the last Witton game as Andy Burton came in for the injured Tony Hackworth

Despite the early start out and late kick-off, the Pitmen adapted well at a ground they have failed to pick a point up at in previous seasons, and top scorer Ross Dyer went very close to scoring in the second minute of the game. Sam Hall floated over a corner from the right, picking out the striker, whose header was cleared off the line as it looked to sail into the net

Dyer was almost presented with another opportunity on five minutes, as he chased a long ball from Hall down with a Whitby defender. Despite the ball being toe-poked back to keeper Nick Liversedge, he made a hash of his clearance, with the ball ending up back at the feet of the Hednesford striker; however, he looked so surprised at the ball coming back to him, he failed to control the ball and Liversedge atoned for his error by booting it away from danger

The home side were limited in their attacking options, with veteran former player/manager Lee Nogan having to step into the side for the game. Their first shot of any note on twelve minutes saw Andy Burton strike a long-range free-kick high over the bar after Tom Marshall's foul

Dyer was an ever-present threat to the Whitby defence in the first half, giving their experienced but limited central defence a torrid time with his movement. He flashed another shot across goal on fifteen minutes, picking up a ball from Elliott Durrell, but dragging his shot wide of the far post

Despite Hednesford enjoying the best of the chances up to a point, Whitby went even closer just before the half-hour mark. After Tom Raw had been denied by Stuart Brock, Karl Charlton tried his luck with a long-range effort that clipped the top of the crossbar, with the Hednesford number one beaten

 

 Brock's busy couple of minutes continued with another smart stop, this time to deny Kevin Burgess from close range

Tyrone Barnett, still looking for something like the form he showed earlier in the season, had a great chance to open the scoring ten minutes before half-time, but his header from a Ross Draper cross was easily held by Liversedge

The Pitmen finally got a goal their efforts deserved five minutes before the break. Marshall played a long, searching ball towards goal. Dyer was onto it instantly, beating his marker to it and sliding the ball past Liversedge to chalk up his 23rd goal of the campaign

The offside flag denied the Pitmen a second goal just before half-time, with the front three all beating the Whitby defence to a ball over the top, but at least one was adjudged to have been in an offside position when the ball was played

The visitors were clearly in the mood to continue their recent good form, and started the second period well, with Durrell seeing much more of the ball in the early stages of the half. His incisive ball to Hall put the young midfielder in, but he hesitated with the ball at his feet and allowed himself to be pushed off the ball with ease

The Seasiders had a golden opportunity to level the game five minutes before the hour mark. Sean Ross, who had only been on the pitch a few minutes, forced Brock into a great save from close range when it looked easier to score

Suddenly, it was all Whitby, and Alex James could have grabbed an equaliser for the home side when he nipped in ahead of Danny Harvey but found Brock in the way again

With their tails up, Whitby sensed a leveller, but as we have seen on many occasions, football is a game of small margins. Four minutes later, the Pitmen extended their lead; after Durrell had won a free kick on the edge of the box, he and Marshall combined with a clever set-piece that saw Marshall hit a deflected shot past Liversedge to score his third goal of the season

Whitby were down but not out, and the excellent Burton was still giving it his all down the right for the hosts. Unfortunately, he was up against Hednesford's man of the match Quistin, who kept a close eye on Burton's movements

Barnett and Dyer were still looking for the spark they had at the start of the season up front, but a clever move on sixty-five minutes saw them link up well to create another chance. Hall's ball to Dyer saw him head it into the path of his striker partner, but Barnett's shot was saved by Liversedge, turning the ball away for a corner kick. From Hall's kick, Draper appeared to be impeded by a defender, but the referee was unimpressed and turned the protests away

Annoyed at not winning a penalty, Draper promptly took it out on a Whitby player two minutes later, earning a fifteenth yellow card of the campaign. This sees him miss the final three games of the season against Prescot Cables, Leigh Genesis and the Birmingham Senior Cup Final against Stourbridge

Brock was again called into action with fifteen minutes to go, making arguably his best save of the evening to deny Kevin Burgess after the Whitby man had tried his luck from fully thirty yards

Back came the Pitmen, and Durrell should have done better with a shot from just outside the area that cleared the crossbar. Barnett followed this up with his own off-target shot from Dyer's clever through ball

The chances were building up for the away side, with Hall firing wide six minutes from the end, and Barnett squandering yet another opportunity a minute later, twisting and turning before hitting the ball high over the bar

Eventually Barnett got his goal, scoring for the first time in three months with a minute left of the game. Durrell's ball found Barnett in the area, who had time to bring the ball down and coolly slot past Liversedge to complete a great night for the Pitmen, and lift them into sixth place in the table

With the same opposition visiting Keys Park on Saturday, the Pitmen will be confident of completing the double over a Whitby side who played with a spirit, but were limited up front and will be looking for revenge in three days time when they make the opposite trip down to Keys Park

Whitby Town: Liversedge, Burgess, Bishop, Janes (Garvis 63), Beadle, Lyth, Burton, Scott, Raw (Ross 51), Thompson (Nogan 63), Charlton      Subs Unused: Forster, James 

Hednesford Town: Brock, Platt (Gill 87), Quistin, Gomes, Harvey, Marshall, Hall, Durrell, Barnett, Dyer (Edwards 90), Draper © (Abraham 90)        Subs Unused: Bailey