11.10.2008

UniBond Northern Premier League

Hednesford Town

Barnett (22), Dyer (58) (penalty)

Witton Albion

(1) 2

(0) 0

Attendance

MoTM

Current Form

Next Match

401

Elliott Durrell

D W L L D W W L W W

Buxton (A) 14.10.08

The Pitmen sit proudly at the top of tonight's UniBond Premier League table after chalking up their first double of the season, beating a very physical Witton Albion side in some style

 

Manager Dean Edwards declined the opportunity to give a full debut to new signing Adam Burley, instead keeping faith in the XI that had won so impressively at Boston United in midweek and included the former Worcester City man as part of the substitutes

Witton were struggling to reproduce last season's fine form and were slowly sinking down the UniBond League table in recent games; shipping goals had become a regular occurrence for Nigel Deeley's side, having conceded three against Cammell Laird in midweek and five to FC United of Manchester last Saturday. Ross Thaker and Geoff McGraw were brought back into the side following their defeat to fellow strugglers Cammell Laird in place of Gary Scott and Ben Thornley

After defeat in their last home game against North Ferriby, the Pitmen were keen to re-establish their superiority at Keys Park, with five wins at home this term already. They were dealt an early blow when Sean Platt's run down the right was brought to a halt courtesy of a crude challenge from Paul Donnelly. The wing-back was forced to withdraw after treatment, allowing Sam Hall his first action of the new season in his place. Donnelly was not booked for the late tackle, much to the home crowd's derision

Witton's aggressive approach was soon countered by the Pitmen's speed of passing and movement of the ball, with Elliott Durrell and Mark Briggs again flourishing in the centre of the park. One ball into Ross Dyer set up the youngster on sixteen minutes, with the young striker firing straight at Greg Smith in the Witton goal. After the ball had come back off Smith, it dropped to Durrell, who fired wide

Buoyed by the start they had made, the Pitmen snatched the opener midway through the first half. An interception by Durrell saw him win possession on the edge of the area before he shimmied inside and made himself room to draw Smith out of his goal. Instead of firing past the Witton keeper, he unselfishly squared the ball to the oncoming Tyrone Barnett, who had the simple task of tapping the ball home from close range

Durrell was in fine form and was looking to add to his recent goal glut; his clever play allowed him to get on the end of a ball from Hall, before firing in a shot that Smith had to turn away for a corner. He went even closer two minutes later, somehow missing from close range after being set up by the flying Anthony Maguire

It was all one-way traffic at this point, with Witton rarely venturing into the Pitmen's half. Smith and long-serving centre-back Brian Pritchard were keeping the home side at bay almost by themselves, as they struggled to stem the tide of the Pitmen's pressure. Dyer could have added to the Pitmen's tally but was beaten to the ball by a despairing leap by Smith at the far post to deny the striker a chance from Durrell's fine hanging ball

Dyer should have scored five minutes before half time, latching onto a ball from Briggs, but failed to beat Smith in a one-on-one situation on the edge of the Witton area

Despite all of the chances at one end, Witton did rally towards the half time whistle, with Ross Thaker narrowly missing the target after he was set up by Lee Thompson

The Pitmen started the second half brightly, looking to kill off Witton as they had failed to do in similar circumstances against Atherstone Town a few weeks previously. The crowd were screaming at Barnett to shoot at goal seven minutes into the restart after Dyer had beaten Smith and laid the ball into the path of his strike partner. However, Barnett chose to try and pick out Durrell at the far post and the chance was lost

Dyer and Barnett were causing Pritchard and his defenders to work overtime, using their pace and persistence to good effect. However, it was the seemingly ubiquitous Durrell who looked the Pitmen's best bet for another goal, as he probed for another goal. He managed to get another fine shot in on fifty-four minutes, that Smith managed to save. Barnett looked to force the rebound in, but Smith managed to hold the ball with the striker ready to pounce

Barnett was clearly in no mood to let up, and on fifty-five minutes hit a great shot from twelve yards out that Smith once again struggled to get under control

The pressure eventually told on Witton on fifty-eight minutes, as skipper Ross Draper's marauding run into the area was halted by a blatant trip from Dan Schwarz. Having returned to goalscoring form at Boston, Dyer stepped up to take the spot-kick and squeezed his effort past Smith to the keeper's left-hand side to put the Pitmen two up

Yet another terrible challenge from a Witton player, this time Garry Burke on Durrell, had the Hednesford supporters on their feet. Despite Durrell needing plenty of medical attention, Burke only received a yellow card for his challenge

Hednesford continued to defy the away side's physical approach by creating chances galore. Durrell returned to the fray with a trademark long-range shot that Smith saved well. This was followed a minute later with a Barnett shot that Pritchard managed to get in the way of as it headed towards goal

Danny Harvey decided he wanted a piece of the action five minutes later; bored with a lack of defensive duties due to the lack of penetration from the Witton attackers, the centre back moved up the field to get on the end of a ball from Briggs but volleyed wide of goal at the far post

Barnett was again involved with twenty minutes left, beating Witton's non-existent offside trap to race towards goal. However, he made life difficult for himself by taking the ball wide, thus narrowing the angle. His eventual shot was easily turned away by an over-worked Smith

Brock's only real contribution to one of the easiest halves of his career was a competent stop to deny Schwarz from close range after Decio Gomes had gifted the ball to the Witton man

Durrell had punished Witton all game with his running, and was once again on the end of a crude challenge, this time from McGraw, who received a yellow card for bringing the teenager down. As a result of this, Edwards decided to replace his emerging star with Chad Sheppard to save him from any further punishment

Sheppard could have added to his season's tally late on, firing wide with a powerful long-range effort in added time after being played into space by Durrell

 

The Pitmen had looked assured and confident since the first minute and had thoroughly deserved their three points. With the majority of the crowd right behind them in the second half, there is plenty to be positive about with a visit to struggling Buxton on the cards on Tuesday night 

Hednesford Town: Brock, Platt, Maguire, Gomes, Harvey, Marshall, Briggs, Durrell (Sheppard 83), Barnett, Dyer, Draper ©      Subs Unused: Hall, Stamps

Witton Albion: Smith, Donnelly, Thaker (Scott 60), Burke , Pritchard ©, Willis, McGraw ,  Schwarz, R. Thornley, Donnelly (Drew 76), Thompson (Dunne 80)      Subs Unused: B. Thornley, Smith