13.4.2013

Evo-Stik Northern Premier League

Hednesford Town

White (7) (OG), Lennon (35), Harvey (59), (65)

Whitby Town 

(2) 4

(0) 0

Attendance

MoTM

Current Form

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504

Michael Lennon

D W D L W W D W D W

Buxton (A) 17.4.13

It's all to play for at the top of the Evo-Stik Premier League this evening, as the Pitmen seized upon a slip by league leaders North Ferriby United after recording a fine win over Whitby Town at Keys Park

Kris Taylor's loan spell with the Pitmen looked to have been over in midweek, as parent club AFC Telford recalled the utility player to compensate for injuries. However, following a challenge from Hednesford to the Football Association regarding the terms of the loan deal, Taylor was cleared to play in an unchanged side to the one that had beaten Blyth Spartans in midweek. Aaron Rey was deemed fit enough to be involved amongst the substitutes, after missing out on Tuesday night due to injury

Whitby arrived at Keys Park in a mid-table position, safe from the relegation worries they were suffering in November when Hednesford recorded a confident 2-0 victory at the Turnbull Ground

Having developed this handy knack of starting home games strongly in recent weeks, the Pitmen made another flying start to the game, backed by another 500+ Keys Park crowd. Neil Harvey - an early goalscorer in midweek - wasted an excellent chance to continue his goalscoring run in the second minute as he lifted his shot from twelve yards out over the crossbar after he and Elliott Durrell had exchanged passes

Jamey Osborne followed this up a minute later with a cheeky back flick at goal from fifteen yards out, easily saved by Whitby keeper Nick Liversedge after Taylor's miscued shot had fallen to the midfielder

The Pitmen's early pressure was rewarded on seven minutes, as Durrell whipped in a free-kick from the left-hand corner of the penalty area; the pace of the ball forced Liversedge into a fine save, but he only succeeded in palming the ball into the path of the unfortunate Alex White, who turned the ball into his own net under pressure from Ben Bailey

Another dangerous free-kick from Durrell was repelled by Liversedge on eight minutes, punching the ball clear as Bailey challenged him for the ball

The Pitmen's early attacking threat dissipated as the half progressed, with Whitby coming back into the game after weathering the storm. A slip by Bailey on eighteen minutes almost cost the hosts, as he scuffed his attempted clearance to Graeme Armstrong, who was denied a shot on goal by Darren Campion's last-ditch block

Armstrong turned the resultant corner kick over the crossbar after Dan Crane had punched the ball into his path, before the same player stroked the ball past Crane on the half-hour mark, only to be denied a goal by an earlier offside flag as he fired home from twelve yards out

The hosts countered and doubled their lead on thirty-six minutes through Lennon. John Disney's low ball was cleared to Durrell, who was lurking on the edge of the penalty area. His low shot was pushed away by Liversedge, who made another fine save to deny Harvey on the follow-up. The loose ball ran to Lennon, who steadied himself before firing a half volley across goal and into the far corner of the net

Whitby went close to reducing the deficit in the final minute of the first half, as Dave McTiernan headed narrowly over the bar after rising highest to a deep free-kick

Seasiders' player-manager Darren Williams clearly read the riot act on his side at the break, as they made a superb start to the second half. A corner kick caused confusion in the Hednesford ranks, allowing McTiernan to head at goal. Crane came to his slide's rescue, making a fine save and turning the ball away for another corner

A succession of corners followed, with Bailey and Crane doing well to deal with Whitby's aerial threat. Steve Snaith tried his luck with a dipping shot from range on fifty minutes, but Crane was alert and made a simple save

A mazy dribble from Osbourne carved out an opening for Harvey on fifty-six minutes, as the youngster beat three Whitby players down the left wing before pulling the ball back into the path of Harvey. His side-footed effort lacked power, however, as Liversedge turned the ball away from goal  with his left hand

Three minutes later, Hednesford put the game to bed with a brilliant third goal, with Harvey grabbing his fifteenth goal of an increasingly prolific season. Durrell rescued a loose ball by the corner flag, wide on the Hednesford right. He took his time to look up and pick out a team-mate, sending over a superb cross that Harvey headed brilliantly into the roof of the net from ten yards out

A fourth goal duly arrived on sixty-five minutes, with Harvey again on the mark for the Pitmen. Osbourne's run across the face of the Whitby penalty area saw him feed Disney, whose cross found Lennon inside the six-yard box. Lennon turned and fired towards goal, but was denied by the crossbar. The rebound bounced kindly to Harvey, who fired low into the net from fifteen yards out

A raft of substitutions followed for the Pitmen, as Smith utilised his squad once more to allow other players a rest ahead of another busy week that sees them travel to Buxton and Ilkeston. Nathan Woolfe was brought on in place of Durrell, whilst Kyle Patterson replaced Lennon and Rey came on for two-goal hero Harvey

Taylor should have taken advantage of loose marking on eight four minutes, breaking clear of the Whitby back line and homing in on goal. He decided to go on his own, however, rather than square the ball to Patterson, who was unmarked in the middle and allowed Arjun Purewal to put in a challenge to concede a corner

A minute later, clever play from Taylor saw him juggle the ball on the edge of the box before firing a weak shot straight at Liversedge

Substitutes Rey and Patterson combined with five minutes remaining, as Rey jinked his way down the right-wing and crossed to the far post, where Patterson headed narrowly over the bar

It simply wasn't to be Whitby's day, as they wasted arguably their best chance of the game in the final minute to go home with a consolation goal; Snaith broke clear and slipped the ball through to Nathan Mulligan, who was denied by a fine Crane stop as he drove towards goal

In the final minute of the game, a typically tricky run from Woolfe left two Whitby defenders in his wake, with the winger chipping the ball to Patterson at the far post. His lay-off presented Taylor with a chance to grab a fifth, but he blazed over from close range

With news filtering through of a 0-0 draw between North Ferriby United and Nantwich Town, the Pitmen will be much the happier with their afternoon's work as they moved level on 81 points at the top of the table. It's now a real race to the line, with four matches remaining in one of the most exciting title races in many years. Buxton now stand in Hednesford's way of a possible top spot on Wednesday night, but only after Ferriby also make a visit to Derbyshire on Tuesday night, when they go to Matlock Town

Hednesford Town: Crane, Disney, Campion © , Bailey, Francis, MacPherson, Osborne, Durrell (Woolfe 68), Harvey (Rey 77), Lennon (Patterson 71), Taylor       Subs Unused: Barnes, O’Connor

Whitby Town: Liversedge, Hassan, Robinson ©, Burgess, White (James 71), McTiernan, Portas, Purewal, Snaith, Armstong (Evans 62), Mulligan       Subs Unused: Williams, Farrell, Campbell

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