Evo-Stik Northern Premier League

Whitby Town

Campbell (29), (53)

Hednesford Town

Graham (47), (67)

(1) 2

(0) 2



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Ben Bailey


Mickleover Sports (H) 28.10.17

The Pitmen once again showed grit and character to come from behind on two occasions to grab a useful point at a wet and windy Whitby Town this afternoon, moving them back into the top half of the table in the process


A battling draw against Workington last weekend was followed up with an impressive display from Rob Smith's men in midweek, defeating local rivals Rushall Olympic in the Integro league Cup at Keys Park. Smith was forced into two key changes to his side due to injuries, with attackers James Lawrie and Edji Mbunga both pulling out of the squad ahead of the game. With Alex Melbourne still not 100% fit, Tyler Weir returned to the side in an unfamiliar right-back role. Mansfield Town loanee Lewis Collins was restored to the starting line-up in place of Lawrie at the top of the midfield diamond


Whitby - one of last season's surprise packages in the league - had struggled to replicate last season's strong league displays, and sat two places below the Pitmen in the table at the start of play A 2-1 defeat to local rivals Scarborough Athletic in midweek in the Integro Cup had done little to turn fortunes around, with the Seasiders without a win in five games in all competitions


In blustery, overcast conditions on the North East coast, the hosts almost gifted the Pitmen the lead with the first meaningful attack of the game on twelve minutes. A long, hopeful ball from the in-form Jordan Graham was headed back towards goal by Whitby centre back Andrew May. However, his header skipped off the turf and beyond the reach of keeper Shane Bland, just missing the left-hand post s it drifted towards the empty net for a Hednesford corner


A deep free-kick from Joe Fitzpatrick found the head on the on-loan Reece King on sixteen minutes, with the tall midfielder heading the ball into the path of Graham, whose lofted effort from the edge of the penalty area


James Wren did well to stop a Whitby chance on twenty minutes, smothering a ball at the second attempt at the feet of John Campbell to deny the former West Auckland striker an opener after a ball was played into the Hednesford penalty area


Campbell was to have a say in the next attack though as Whitby took the lead just before the half-hour mark. Darren Campion lost out in a midfield tussle, thus leaving space in behind him to allow fellow full-back Callum Martin time and space to pick out Campbell, whose looping header from seven yards out beat Wren


Then came the controversy. The Pitmen drove forwards in search of an equaliser and thought that they had earned a penalty kick on thirty-five minutes, as Danny Glover looked to have been brought down inside the penalty area by Niall McGoldrick. Despite loud appeals from players, officials and supporters, the referee and assistant flattered to deceive with their decision making, and after a period of head-scratching between them, awarded a free kick right on the edge of the penalty area. Understandably frustrated, Weir received a yellow card for his piece in the argument, with Tom Thorley driving the free-kick well wide of goal


Glover was presented with an opportunity to equalise for the Pitmen six minutes later, as the away side were awarded a penalty - perhaps due to guilt on the part of the referee from earlier - after the striker was bundled to the ground by Bland as the pair challenged for a high ball. Glover - without a goal in nine games - stepped up and struck his penalty straight down the centre of goal, but without any real power or conviction, and allowed Bland to save with his legs with relative ease


The Pitmen went into the half time break feeling slightly hard done by, having had plenty of the ball in the first half but nothing to show for it. This was addressed with the first attack of the second half, as they grabbed a deserved equaliser through Graham. A deep, inswinging free-kick from the left from Campion found Graham, who prodded the ball home from close range to make it four goals in four games


The Pitmen had their tails up and went in search of a second goal through Weir, who was played in on goal by Graham, only to be denied a clear shot on goal by a last-ditch challenge from McGoldrick


Despite doing all the hard work of getting back into the game in the early stages of the second half, the Pitmen shot themselves in the foot again by conceding a second goal on fifty-three minutes. Collins gave the ball away cheaply and allowed Whitby to work the ball into the path of Campbell, who played a neat one-two with Dave Carson before chipping the ball over the head of Wren and into the net


Back came the Pitmen once more, with Fitzpatrick curling a shot just wide of the right-hand post after being set up by a neat lay-off from Thorley on fifty-six minutes


The away side were back on level terms once more on sixty-seven minutes as Fitzpatrick's low free-kick found Graham in the penalty area, with the on-loan youngster once again providing a neat finish to the move for his second goal of the game from fifteen yards out


The luckless Glover was replaced by Joey Butlin up front on sixty-eight minutes, as the Pitmen looked to go and win the game with more power up top and end another game without a goal for the former Port Vale man


Buoyed by his brace, Graham was looking for a hat-trick to seal all three points for the Pitmen, with the youngster going close on seventy minutes as he cut inside from the right and drove a shot goalwards but was denied by a last-ditch block from McGoldrick


Melbourne was deemed fit enough to make a late appearance for the side on seventy-three minutes, coming on in midfield in place of Collins, who had done little to impress against an aggressive midfield


A tremendous lock from Jim Mutton kept the score at 2-2 with five minutes remaining, turning the ball away from goal to deny Whitby substitute Anthony Hume a certain tap-in at the far post


In the final minute a free header from McGoldrick almost won it for the hosts, but good keeping from Wren saw him pounce on the ball at the near post and deny the centre back a late, late winner for Whitby


It was a well-deserved point for the Pitmen to bring back with them, meaning they have lost one game in their last seven as their continue to improve and gather a bit of momentum. They Take a break from league duties next weekend when Mickleover Sports visit Keys Park in the first qualifying round of the F.A. Trophy


Whitby Town: Bland, Martin, McWilliams, Bythway, McGoldrick, May, Snaith, Weledji, Campbell (Hume 75), Carson, Gell     Subs Unused: Fryatt, Dixon, Monkhouse, Tymon


Hednesford Town: Wren, Weir , Campion , Bailey, Mutton, King, Collins (Melbourne 73), Thorley ©, Glover (Butlin 68), Graham, Fitzpatrick    Subs Unused: Oji, Steele

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