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Pitching In Northern Premier League West


Bell (35), Steele (62), (71), (74), (90) (penalty)

Hednesford Town

Mayemba (90)

(1) 5

(0) 1



Current Form

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Michael Williams



Chasetown (H) 28.8.23

Another woeful second-half display from the Pitmen sees them put to the sword once more this afternoon as hosts Windes plunder four second-half goals to hammer their visitors on their first-ever visit to the DCBL Stadium

Tuesday night's narrow defeat against league leaders Kidsgrove Athletic had been a much-improved display from Danny Glover's side after their nightmarish performance at Darlaston last weekend, with the Hednesford player/manager making three changes to his side for their trip up to Lancashire; in came Callam Mendez-Jones at centre-back in place of Sam Paddock, with Michael Williams dispatched further forwards in midfield as he came in for the injured Tom Thorley. The final change was a significant one as young goalkeeper Jack Richards came in to make his first start for the club as he replaced the suspended Dan Crane. Fellow young stopper Corey Coleman - who had been with the club since pre-season - was called up for the first time as back-up goalkeeper

Widnes - sitting in fourteenth place in the table ahead of kick-off - had narrowly lost 1-0 at Mossley in midweek, with manager Michael Ellison making three changes of his own for their return to the DBCL Stadium as Jay Roberts, Louis Isherwood and Laurence Smith came into the XI ahead of Kai Shorrock, Sean Miller and Eddie Servuts

On a mild August afternoon and in front of a sparse crowd of 205 that was swallowed up by the huge 10k all-seater arena, the visitors started well on the 4G pitch as they stroked the ball around well and protected debutant Richards. A long ball forward from Sam Griffiths in the second minute was played back to Widnes goalkeeper Cameron Terry by Roberts, but the backpass lacked power and was seized upon by Rivel Mardenborough, who beat Terry to the ball but saw his shot from a tight angle turned behind by the recovering stopper

James Steele's movement and high press was to cause the Pitmen's defenders all sorts of problems throughout the game, with the striker making a run in behind the Hednesford back line in the fourth minute to get on the end of a Jack Byrne pass, only to be pulled up by an offside flag against him from the assistant on the main stand side

Good play down the left from the Pitmen a minute later saw Jack Kelly link up well with Williams and send over a superb cross to the far post that was begging to be turned home, only for the ball to be headed away by Isherwood ahead of Mardenborough

The hosts' first sight at goal came in the sixth minute as Matty Rain cut inside from the left flank and drove in a shot that took a deflection off one of his own players and dipped just wide of Richards' right-hand post

An errant clearing header from Griffiths two minutes later landed at the feet of Kris Holt, who tried his luck from twenty-five yards out with a first-time dipping effort that dropped inches wide of Richard's post once more

The lively Steele was brought down by a challenge from Martin twenty-five yards from goal to stop him from breaking into the penalty area and was spoken to by referee Mr Trevethan but avoided going into the book

Teenager Richards made an excellent save to keep the Pitmen on level terms in the eleventh minute as Kelly lost the ball cheaply to Roberts in a dangerous position, with the Widnes full-back's cross turned goalwards by Matt Van Wyk, forcing the young stopper into a fine instinctive save to his right and push the ball away from goal. The follow-up shot from Steele lacked power, however, and was turned behind by the leg of Lewis Wright

Richards was called upon again to rescue his defenders two minutes later as Steele once again got the better of a dawdling Hednesford back line as he raced onto a pass from Roberts and unleashed a powerful shot at goal that was parried away by the debutant

The Pitmen had offered next to nothing as an attacking threat thus far, with Mardenborough, Dixon and Bower looking shot-shy and out of ideas against another big, strong and organised NPL defence. Bower tried to jink his way into the Widnes penalty area on fifteen minutes but lost possession as he got the ball stuck under his feet and allowed Roberts to take the ball away

Griffiths had to be alert to mop up the danger on twenty minutes as Richards scuffed his attempted clearance straight up into the air, with his skipper rescuing the situation with an unorthodox volley to deny Van Wyk a chance to seize upon the loose ball

Midway through the half, Bower picked the pocket of Roberts down the left and played the ball through to Mardenborough, who elected to take a touch rather than shoot first time which allowed Isherwood enough time to come across and block the shot

On twenty-five minutes, the Pitmen created a good chance as Williams won the ball back in midfield and played the ball into the feet of Mardenborough on the edge of the penalty area. He laid the ball off to the overlapping Wright on the right flank, whose unconvincing low effort was easily saved by Terry at his near post

Steele's presence won his side yet another free-kick in a dangerous position on twenty-eight minutes as he was brought down by Williams on the edge of the Hednesford penalty area. The resultant free-kick from Smith picked out Ste Irwin on the edge of the box, whose initial shot was blocked by Williams before dropping to Holt, whose follow-up effort was brilliantly pushed away by Richards

Richards had to be alert to the movement of Steele on thirty-two minutes, racing out of his goal to beat the striker to the ball after a long punt forward from Rain caught the Hednesford defenders ball-watching. The ball dropped to Holt, whose attempted lob from long-range dipped narrowly over the crossbar as Richards tried desperately to get back into his goal

The Pitmen continued to live dangerously as Widnes forced three corners in succession before finally taking a deserved lead on thirty-five minutes from the final one; a ball in from Rain was met by the head of Bell, who was allowed to firmly head home unchallenged from close range. Yet another set-piece conceded by the Pitmen to add to their growing showreel of easy goals scored by the opposition from corners and free-kicks this term. Must do better from these positions I'm afraid

Straight from the restart, Dixon almost grabbed an immediate equaliser as he made a burst down the right before dragging a low shot across the face of goal and inches wide of the far post

With three minutes of the first half remaining, Mardenborough looked to break into the penalty area to get on the end of a ball from Desean Martin but was denied by more excellent cover play from Roberts

The Pitmen had been a sold second-best in the first forty-five minutes, yet again struggling at both ends of the pitch against another big, direct and uncompromising NPL side who did the basics well against a Hednesford side that had looked nervy and error-strewn defence and lacking in experience or creativity in the final third

Mendez-Jones picked up the game's first booking three minutes after the restart, as the centre-back was cautioned by Mr Trevethan for a clumsy and late challenge on Van Wyk

On fifty-one minutes, Martin conceded a free-kick deep inside his own half as he also hauled down the pacy Van Wyk, handing Widnes a free-kick twenty-five yards from goal. Irwin stepped up and struck a firm effort at goal that took a nick off the wall before being hacked clear

Yet again, the men on red were struggling to knit it all together in attack in the second period, with Bower's lazy pass easily intercepted by Bell on fifty-five minutes as he played a blind forward ball into the general direction of Mardenborough from the left side of midfield

Glover had seen enough from the hugely disappointing Bower on fifty-seven minutes after the winger gave the ball away cheaply for the umpteenth time in the game in midfield and was hauled off in favour of Reinaldo Forbes

A man seemingly struggling with overall match fitness and stamina was Wright, who was guilty of a heinous error on sixty-two minutes as he gifted the home side their second goal of the afternoon; Mendez-Jones looked to play out from the back and found Dixon, who laid the ball off to the full-back near to the touchline. Wright's first touch was horrible as he allowed Rain to steal it off him with ease and play a one-two with Holt before pulling the ball back into the box for the incoming Steele, who had the simple task of firing into the empty net from close range. Wright showed no desire to rescue the situation and track back, instead stopping to watch the play unfold in front of him. Very poor attitude from such an experienced player

Good play from Martin three minutes later saw the holding midfielder break the lines with a fine charge forward into the Widnes box, getting on the end of a pass from Williams and trying to turn the ball home from a tight angle, only to be denied by a block from the covering Isherwood

Wright was to pay the price for his part in the second Widnes goal as he was unceremoniously hauled off on sixty-seven minutes for Sam Paddock, whilst Dixon was also replaced by Wembanvuanda Star Mayemba. Richards received a lengthy spell of treatment from physio Adam Paget at this juncture after going down on the edge of his penalty area holding his leg but continued to play on

Steele continued to prove a thorn in the Hednesford side as he broke free once more to latch onto a pass from Irwin on sixty-nine minutes, sidestepping Mendez-Jones but being denied by some desperate last-ditch defending from Griffiths

A minute later, the Pitmen forced their first corner of the second half through Kelly as the left-back's floated cross to the far post was nodded behind by Bell at the far post ahead of the incoming Dixon

However, it was Widnes who extended their lead further on seventy-one minutes as they carved out a replica of their second goal; Holt once again played a neat pass into the feet of Rain, whose low cross was turned home by Steele once again as he nipped in ahead of Richards for his second of the afternoon

Widnes made their first change of the game on seventy-three minutes as former Crewe Alexandra youngster Sam Bhatti was brought on in defence in place of Smith

It was all unravelling fast for the away side, who were once again the architects of their own downfall as they gifted Widnes a fourth goal of the afternoon on seventy-four minutes. It was poor Richards who was to be the latest Hednesford player to drop a clanger as the youngster's attempts to take a Mendez-Jones pass across his six-yard box saw him allow Steele to nick the ball off him and turn it home from a matter of inches out. Another awful, embarrassing goal to concede from the hapless visitors

With fifteen minutes remaining, Widnes made their second substitution of the afternoon as scorer of the opening goal Bell was replaced by fellow centre-back Tom Stephens

The home side's final change of the afternoon came with ten minutes remaining as the experienced MJ Monaghan came on up front in place of  the excellent Van Wyk

Mardenborough had got no change out of the Widnes defence all afternoon long and was denied another sniff of a chance on eighty-one minutes as Irwoin's covering saw him nick the ball off the toe of the striker as he threatened to break into the penalty area to get on the end of a Williams pass

Another fine run from Martin three minutes later saw the midfielder break into the Widnes penalty area and pick up a pass from Forbes, only to see his angled effort at goal turned behind at the near post by Isherwood for a Hednesford corner kick

Still the hosts pressed, with Holt and Monaghan linking up down the left-hand side of the Hednesford penalty area for Holt to stand up a cross to the far post on eighty-six minutes that Richards did well to parry behind for a corner kick to Widnes

As the game moved into added time, the Pitmen's nightmare afternoon got even worse as they handed Widnes a later penalty kick. Steele was played clean through on goal through the centre of the pitch, with Griffiths chasing back and only succeeding in bringing the hat-trick hero down before he could get his shot away. With some in the ground expecting a red card for the defender, Mr Trevethan only issued a yellow card for the Hednesford skipper and awarded the hosts a penalty kick. Steele dusted himself down and fired past Richards from twelve yards out to make it 5-0 and score his fourth goal of the second half

With the very last action of the game, the Pitmen scored what was to be a consolation goal as Mayemba turned the ball home from a tight angle after a free-kick from Kelly had found the substitute at the far post, with Mayemba doing enough to bundle the ball over the line before Widnes could clear the ball and Mr Trevethan could blow the final whistle

An utterly dreadful display from the Pitmen and a deserved hammering for them over the ninety minutes, with some players in red showing a disappointing and unacceptable lack of desire in the second period that contributed to a regular conceding of goals throughout the half. Glover will have just forty-eight hours to lift his flagging squad as they play host to local rivals Chasetown in what will be a big Bank Holiday local derby at Keys Park


Widnes: Terry, Roberts, Rain, Byrne, Bell (Stephens 75), Isherwood, Smith (Bhatti 73), Irwin ©, Steele, Van Wyk (Monaghan 80), Holt      Sub Unused: Walls

Hednesford Town: Richards, Wright (Paddock 67), Kelly, Martin, Mendez-Jones, Griffiths ©, Bower (Forbes 57), Williams, Mardenborough, Dixon (Mayemba 67), Andrews     Subs Unused: Gwilt, Coleman


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