13.1.2007

UniBond Northern Premier League

Whitby Town

Wilford (8), (45)

Hednesford Town

(2) 2

(0) 0

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MoTM

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397

Jamie March

W W D W W W W D L L

Whitby Town (H) 27.1.07

After five months on the road without defeat, the Pitmen's proud away record finally succumbed at a windy Whitby Town this afternoon as their hosts scored twice in the first half to claim the points and leave the visitors further behind league leaders AFC Telford in the race for the title

 Manager Phil Starbuck refreshed his side following their New Years Day defeat to the Bucks, making three changes to the side for today's long journey north. Striker Dean Oliver had joined the club on loan from Premier League side Sheffield United for a month and came straight into the side in place of Dave Whittaker, whilst Jamie March - a summer signing from King's Lynn who had been out injured for the past six months - came in for his debut at left-back in place of Ritchie Butler. The final change saw the injured Chris White replaced by Ross Dyer, which also saw Darren Alexander drop back into an unfamiliar position in midfield

Whitby - currently sitting in fifth place in the table in the final play-off place - returned to the Turnbull Ground after trips to Burscough and North Ferriby United in the past ten days. Player/manager Lee Nogan made two changes to his side for today's first-ever league meeting between the two sides as Nogan himself replaced James Drinkall and Anthony Omerod came in for top scorer Danny Brunskill

The home side clearly knew how to deal with the blustery conditions, and used it well to their advantage in the first half. A slip by Gary Sucharewycz in the very first minute saw a through ball from Tom Raw play Nogan in, only for the gaffer's shot from fifteen yards out to sail over the crossbar

The home side continued to force the Pitmen onto the back foot in the early stages as a pass from Dave McTiernan found the returning Ormerod in the sixth minute, who stole a yard on Ross Adams and crossed for Raw, only for the striker to slice his shot well wide of goal from a promising position ten yards from Ryan Young's goal

It came as no real surprise when the hosts made their early pressure count with the opening goal of the afternoon on eight minutes. Nogan headed an Omerod cross into the path on the oncoming Aron Wilford, who side-footed past Ryan Young for the opener as he arrived unchallenged in the Hednesford penalty area

The away side made a better fist of the gusty conditions the longer the half wore on, with Oliver handed a good chance to level matters almost immediately in the tenth minute but saw his tame effort field by veteran Whitby goalkeeper David Campbell

Good play from Wilford for the hosts on eighteen minutes saw him get away from Sucharewycz and exchange passes with Nogan before firing straight into the arms of Young from twenty yards out 

Four minutes later, Phil Hadland ghosted his way into the Whitby penalty area as he got on the end of a pass from Iain Screaton, but saw his angled drive saved again by Campbell

A corner kick from McTiernan midway through the first half was flicked on by Nogan and into the path of Ormerod at the far post, only for debutant March to divert the ball away from danger before the forward could pull the trigger

March was involved at the opposite end of the pitch on twenty-seven minutes as he played Pedro into space down the left with a fine threaded ball. The winger took a couple of touches before crossing for Dyer, who was within inches of connecting with the ball at the far post as the wind appeared to take it away from the youngster

 Tom Marshall came up for a free-kick for the Pitmen on thirty-three minutes and got on the end of an Adams cross with a clever flicked effort at the near post, only to find Campbell in fine form as he made a brilliant save low down to his right to push the ball away from goal

Dyer wasted a magnificent opportunity to equalise for the Pitmen five minutes later, beating Danny Farthing for pace as he entered the Whitby penalty area before firing in a low shot that beat Campbell but dribbled just wide of the far post

With three minutes of a competitive half remaining, Oliver twisted and turned on the edge of the Whitby box to get the better of Wilford but struck his shot well wide of the upright and into the hardy Hednesford fans huddled behind the goal

The Pitmen were made to pay a heavy price for wasting the good chances that had presented them in the first period as they were hit by a sucker second Whitby goal in first-half injury time; a corner swung in from McTiernan was seemingly fielded with ease by Young, who inexplicably spilled the ball and allowed it to fall to Wilford, who headed home from close-range to make it 2-0 to the Seasiders

This will have changed both manager's half-time team talks, with Starbuck unhappy at the timing and manner in which they had conceded the second Whitby goal and sent his side out early ahead of the second period

The Pitmen came out and were to dictate long periods of the second period now they had the wind at their backs; Young's long goal kick on forty-eight minutes carrying to Pedro, whose flick header put Dyer into space down the left. The youngster took a couple of touches and looked to pull the ball back into the path of Oliver, only for the pass to fall just behind the on-loan striker as he entered the Whitby penalty area before Phil Brumwell cleared the danger

Campbell made another good save on fifty-four minutes as he watched a deflected shot from Marshall into his hands after the defender had picked up a loose ball on the edge of the Whitby penalty area

A rare venture into Hednesford territory from the hosts on fifty-eight minutes saw Ormerod beat Hadland with some neat footwork and stood up a cross to the far post, where Young just did enough to claw the ball away from the post as he was challenged by Raw

Raw lifted another shot a matter of inches over the crossbar for the home side on the hour mark as Marshall's miscued clearance fell straight at the feet of the Whitby striker, lurking twenty yards from goal

Back came the Pitmen and Sucharewycz headed over the crossbar from an inswinging Adams corner kick on sixty-four minutes as he nipped in at the near post to beat Graham Robinson to the ball

Marshall was also unsuccessful from a Haldand corner on the opposite side three minutes later as he tamely headed straight into the hands of Cambell from eight yards out

Alexander was gestured further forwards by Starbuck and John Ramshaw in the seventieth minute and saw his towering header from a Hadland cross saved well by the excellent Campbell two minutes later

Marshall was a constant menace to the Whitby defence on his trips into their penalty area and had the best chance of the match for the away side on seventy-five minutes as he met a Pedro cross with a thumping header towards goal that was cleared off the line by Brumwell

Despite having the majority of the chances, the Pitmen were leaving gaps at the back and were almost made to pay for their high line on seventy-nine minutes as Whitby broke quickly through substitute Bryan Stewart, who got goal side of the chasing Sucharewycz but rushed his shot from twenty-five yards out and scuffed his shot straight into the arms of Young

Oliver had found the Whitby defence a tough nut to crack on his debut, trying his luck with a snapshot from twelve yards out on eighty-three minutes after Dyer had played the ball to him, only for his effort to be blocked by Wilford

The Pitmen pressed Whitby in the final minutes and won a string of set-pieces as they looked to grab a goal back to set up a grandstand finish to the game; Alexander headed wide at the far post from a Hadland cross on eighty-seven minutes, followed sixty seconds later by a well-struck effort from Dyer that was also narrowly off-target

 

In the final minute of the game, Screaton's long throw was flicked on by Alexander and into the path of Pedro, whose curling effort took a nick off Matty Appleby before dipping wide of Campbell's left-hand post

The Pitmen had been made to play for some first-half sloppiness and a lack of composure in front of goal as Whitby took the points, which keeps them in touch with the other sides in the play-off picture. Telford's thrilling 4-3 win at Mossley moves them seven points clear of the Pitmen in the table and leaves Starbuck's team looking for a response when they face Whitby once again at Keys Park in fourteen days time

Whitby Town: Campbell, Reid, Brumwell, Appleby, Farthing, Wilford, McTiernan, Robinson, Raw (Stewart 73), Nogan, Ormerod      Sub Unused: Tom Claisse

Hednesford Town: Young ©, Hadland, March, Alexander, Marshall, Sucharewycz, Pedro, Screaton, Dyer, Oliver, Adams      Sub Unused: Moore, Sheppard, Franklin