Evo-Stik Northern Premier League

Witton Albion

Foster (83) (penalty)

Hednesford Town

Bailey (88)

(0) 1

(0) 1



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Ben Bailey


AFC Fylde (H) 5.3.13

Hednesford took a useful point from Wincham Park this afternoon as they looked to keep pace with league leaders North Ferriby United - but will be wondering how they did not claim all three points after a dominant first-half showing

Right-back Alex Melbourne started the first of his two-match suspension, following an accumulation of yellow cards throughout the season - he was replaced by John Disney at number two. The exciting news during the week had revolved around the re-signing of striker Kyle Patterson on loan from Nuneaton Town, with the 2010-2011 top scorer filling one of the places amongst the substitutes. There was also a place on the bench for U21 player Jordan Fincher after a number of impressive performances for the second string

In front of a healthy 500-plus crowd, both sides enjoyed spells of possession as they searched for the opening goal. It was Hednesford's top scorer Elliott Durrell who tried his luck with the first real effort of the game on seven minutes, testing the reflexes of Witton keeper Stuart Plant

Plant's opposite number Dan Crane made a superb stop three minutes later, pushing a Josh Hancock shot away from goal with a full length save

A minute later, former Witton skipper Dave MacPherson forced Plant into another save, hitting a rising shot that the Witton stopper parried at a comfortable height

Plant was being overworked by a sprightly Hednesford attack, as the Pitmen pushed forward at will. Midfielder Jamey Osborne hit a stinging shot in at goal from long-range that Plant did well to turn away

Witton finally mustered a response on fifteen minutes through Josh Hancock, as he shimmied his way past Disney and fired straight at Dan Crane with a low shot

Midway through the half, a crude challenge on Osborne right on the edge of the penalty area saw Durrell step up and hit a powerful shot straight at Plant, whose parry dropped to Aaron Rey. however, the striker was flagged offside before he could strike

Rey was guilty of a glaring miss seven minutes later, as Ben Bailey flicked a Woolfe corner into the path of the former Marine man; slightly off-balance, Rey somehow managed to clear the crossbar with his looping effort from just six yards out

Rey's strike partner Harvey saw an excellent chance blocked on thirty-five minutes, as he picked up a ball from Osbourne before turning and firing in a shot that was diverted away from goal 

As half time approached, the game took a dramatic turn as Witton were reduced to ten men. Harvey chased down a long ball over the top of the Albion defence, turning Danny Meadowcroft in the process. Desperately trying to get goal side of Harvey, Meadowcroft only succeeded in pulling Harvey back as he bore down on goal. Being the last man, Meadowcroft could have no complaints as he was shown a straight red card for his foul on the big striker

From the resultant free-kick, Woolfe stepped up and unleashed a powerful left-footed strike that cannoned off the post and out of play

Buoyed by their numerical advantage, Hednesford started the second half well, as Rey fired a crisp shot straight at Plant with the first attack of the second half

The hosts went closer than they had done previously on fifty-seven minutes as Danny Andrews scuffed his sidefooted shot just wide of goal after the ball was played into his path

Patterson made his much-anticipated return to the Hednesford team on sixty-two minutes as he replaced the hard-working Harvey up front

The home crowd felt that the referee should have evened up the numbers on sixty-six minutes, as Bailey appeared to pull back Shaun Tuck as the Witton man broke away. However, the big defender's challenge was only deemed a bookable offence, rather than the sending off that the Wincham Park crowd demanded

The Witton fans got their wish a minute later, as skipper Darren Campion saw red for a ridiculously high and dangerous challenge on Steve Foster. Campion will now miss three games due to the fact that the red card was for violent conduct

The Pitmen quickly rearranged their back line, with Sam Barnes coming on in place of Disney to play as a three-man central defence with Bailey and Francino Francis

Rey's luck in front of goal had been rotten all afternoon, and another glorious chance for the number ten came and went on seventy-two minutes. Woolfe's corner-kick picked Rey out perfectly, but his weak effort was parried away by Plant

Witton missed a gilt-edged opportunity to steal into the lead on seventy-four minutes, as Danny Andrews failed to connect with former Hednesford man Matty Wood's cross, despite Crane going walkabout from goal as he looked to close Wood down

Patterson, looking rusty after being frozen out at Nuneaton Town this season, headed over from an Osborne cross three minutes later, before he was joined up front by a new strike partner in the shape of Michael Lennon, who replaced the misfiring Rey

The final ten minutes very nearly challenged the reverse fixture for last-ditch drama, as Witton took the lead with seven minutes remaining. Substitute Barnes was the villain of the piece, clumsily hauling over Andrews in the penalty area as he looked to challenge for the ball. The referee, without hesitation, awarded a penalty to the hosts, which Foster dispatched past Crane despite the Hednesford keeper's best attempts

The Pitmen refused to lie down however and pushed forwards in search of a point that their first-half performance deserved. A Durrell corner with two minutes remaining dropped to Francis, whose shot was blocked by Andrews. The ball ran kindly to Bailey, who drilled a low shot through a crowd of players and into the net

There was still time for Witton to miss another great chance to seal all three points as Hancock's through ball put Foster clear of the Hednesford defence, but the prolific former Fleetwood man somehow fluffed his chance by dragging his shot wide of goal

All in all, a hard-won and useful point for the Pitmen as they look to keep apace near the top of the table. With leaders North Ferriby United visiting third-placed FC United of Manchester tomorrow, the league is still very much a three-horse race at this stage of the season. AFC Fylde make the trip down to Keys Park from Lancashire on Tuesday night as the two sides try again after the previous date for the clash had seen the game postponed a couple of weeks ago due to the snowy weather

Witton Albion: Plant, Gardner , Wood, Glover, Meadowcroft ▆ (43), Sheehan ©, Hancock, Powell , Tuck (James 71), Foster, Andrews       Subs Unused: Shaw, Moseley, Horne, Grocott

Hednesford Town: Crane, Disney (Barnes 71), Campion ©  (67), Bailey, Francis, MacPherson, Osborne , Durrell, Harvey (Patterson 62), Rey (Lennon 80), Woolfe      Subs Unused: Wright, Fincher