3.3.2012

Evo-Stik Northern Premier League

Whitby Town

Hednesford Town

Osborne (76), Beesley (85)

(0) 0

(0) 2

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Jamey Osborne

L W D D W L L D D W

Northwich Victoria (H) 10.3.12

The Pitmen got back to winning ways this afternoon - but were made to work hard for their three points by struggling Whitby, who remain in relegation trouble as a result of this defeat

After missing out on all three points at Frickley the previous week, manager Rob Smith made a handful of changes to his starting line-up as he looked for a first win in four games. Jamey Osborne was available again for selection after serving his three-match suspension, with the youngster coming back into the side at the expense of Ben Bailey at right back. Skipper Darren Campion was also available again after a spell out suspended, taking up his customary left-back role in place of the injured Kyle Haynes. Up front, Gary Hay started ahead of Mark Beesley, who was still looking for his first goal for the club

With the Pitmen showing indifferent form in recent games, they started with a real purpose against a Whitby side that started the game in the relegation zone. An early free-kick from Chris Clements caused confusion in the Whitby ranks, with Ibby Hassan only succeeding in heading the ball towards his own goal after getting into a mix-up with his own goalkeeper Nick Liversedge. The right-back managed to get back and hack the ball off the line to deny the Pitmen a freak opener inside three minutes

After a neat run from Elliott Durrell just failed to find Nick Wellecomme inside the six-yard box, Osborne then tested Whitby's pace down the right with a flying run down the wing. His cross was deflected towards goal, with Liversedge happy to watch the ball just over the crossbar

Whitby's first sniff at goal came in the form of a Nathan Mulligan free-kick that was whipped across the face of the six-yard box, but failed to find any of the incoming Whitby strikers and drifted out of play for a goal kick

Clements seized upon a Jay Denny ball on thirteen minutes, taking it into Whitby territory before firing narrowly wide of the post with a powerful swerving effort

It was Clements who threatened again three minutes later, as Durrell's short corner picked put Clements on the corner of the penalty area. This time, his shot lacked direction as he fired well over the crossbar

Whitby's Jimmy Beadle had two opportunities to put the home side into the lead on twenty minutes, firstly driving a shot into the Hednesford wall after a free-kick rebounded to him, then clearing the crossbar with a shot after Dan Crane's punch dropped to him on the edge of the penalty area

Nick Wellecomme's goal return this season has been a frustrating one, with the big striker only managing six goals in a stop-start campaign. He very nearly made it seven for the season midway through the first half as he robbed Kevin Burgess and barged his way past Mark Robinson en route to goal. His angled drive past Liversedge looked goalbound, but a last-ditch clearance from Alex White denied the former Stafford man the opening goal

The powerful Wellecomme was causing Whitby problems with his nuisance value, and a smart block from Whitby defender Hassan denied Wellecomme another strike at goal two minutes later as he looked to cut in from the left-wing

On twenty-eight minutes, Durrell's ball into the box was flicked on by Wellecomme; the ball dropped to Ben Jevons, but he sliced badly wide when he should have tested Liversedge. A minute later, White's dreadful ball out of defence only found Durrell, whose cross was headed goalwards by Hay. Liversedge earned his keep by making a superb save at his far post

A brief respite for the hosts came in the form of two free-kicks in quick succession that tested the Pitmen's back line on forty minutes. Jamie Clarke's cross was just out of the reach of Beadle, followed closely by a Tom Portas ball in that Burgess was allowed to meet unchallenged, but the defender headed well over the crossbar with a mistimed effort

Hay was to have the final effort of the first half, as he headed over the crossbar after Jermaine Johnson had sent over a cross for the off-balance striker

That was to be Hay's final contribution of the game, as the veteran striker was taken off at half time in favour of Mark Beesley, still looking for his first goal for the club

Beesley was straight into the action within a minute of the restart, firing wide with his first touch after Osborne's cross was deflected into his path by White

This was as good as it got for the Pitmen for a long period of the second half, as Whitby found form and confidence to push the Pitmen back into their shell. Crane made a smart save at his near post on fifty minutes, saving from Mulligan

Two successive corner kicks saw Burgess test the Pitmen's resolve with two goalbound headers, with Cheyenne Dunkley denying him on both occasions. The second clearance fell to Dave McTiernan, whose header towards goal was hacked away by the impressive Osborne

Durrell offered brief resistance to the Whitby fightback, striking a fierce shot on the half volley that was inches wide of finding the corner of Liversedge's goal

Top scorer Chris Clements almost capitalised on another defensive error from Whitby on sixty-four minutes, as Hassan and Liversedge managed to make a real hash of their clearance, allowing the ball to drop to the midfielder from range. Hassan essentially 'took one for the team', as he hacked Clements down before he could get a shot away, earning a yellow card for his indiscretion

The Pitmen then came up with their own keystone cops defending three minutes later, as Crane and skipper Darren Campion left the ball to each other, allowing Jamie Clarke to fire narrowly wide of goal on the turn with the empty net gaping

Crane made a brave dive at the feet of McTiernan on seventy minutes, making the claim after McTiernan had overrun the ball as he made a move towards goal

Smith made a further change to his misfiring side on seventy-two minutes, as Durrell was replaced by the pacy Andre Landell up front

Osbourne had been impressive in his temporary role at right-back, and he made one mazy run count with the opening goal on seventy-six minutes. His run started on halfway, taking on three Whitby players and leaving them in his wake before firing across goal and beating Liversedge at his far post with a low drive

Whitby countered straight away, looking to strike back with immediate effect. Beadle almost put Whitby back on level terms with a goalbound shot that took a deflection off Dunkley and flew wide of goal

The Pitmen finally put the game to bed with five minutes remaining, with Wellecomme again causing problems. His run and aggression forced him through on goal, firing a shot in that was well saved by Liversedge. The ball dropped kindly to Wellecomme, who squared the ball to Beesley who fired home from close range

The Pitmen moved to tighten their grip on the game late on by bringing on Liam Blakeman in place of Jevons to add more pace on the counter-attack in the final moments of a game that was petering out

It was only the Pitmen's third win of the calendar year, which solidified their second-place in the table ahead of the chasing pack of Chorley, Northwich Victoria and Bradford (Park Avenue). The Pitmen return to Keys Park next weekend to face Northwich in a key play-off clash between two sides with aspirations to return to step two of the football pyramid

Whitby Town: Liversedge, Hassan  (Lyth 81), Robinson ©, Burgess, White, McTiernan, Portas, Beadle, Clarke, Appleby (Smith 73), Mulligan      Subs Unused: Williams, Leeson, Campbell

Hednesford Town: Crane, Osborne, Campion ©, Dunkley, Johnson, Denny, Durrell (Langdell 73), Clements, Wellecomme, Hay (Beesley 45), Jevons (Blakeman 86)       Subs Unused: Blakeman, Bailey