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Evo-Stik Northern Premier League

Hednesford Town

O'Connor (90), Durrell (90) (penalty)

Witton Albion

Stott (81)

(0) 2

(0) 1



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Sean O'Connor


Trafford (A) 27.10.12

After their late show on Saturday, Rob Smith's team went one better this evening by grabbing a win from the jaws of defeat with two goals in added time to beat high-flying Witton Albion

With a vital F.A. Trophy game on the horizon at the weekend, manager Rob Smith made changes to his team from the one that had beaten Grantham at the weekend. John Disney was left out for personal reasons and was replaced by Alex Melbourne, whilst Sean O'Connor was rewarded for his goalscoring impact as a substitute at Grantham with a starting berth alongside Neil Harvey

Witton had adapted well to life back in the Premier Division after promotion in the summer, currently sitting in a play-off spot. They started the game with a free-kick from Daniel Andrews that was whipped in from just outside the area that Dan Crane was alert to and picked out of the air

The Pitmen responded with a set-piece of their own, as Nathan Woolfe sent over a deep corner kick that Francino Francis headed over the bar on nine minutes

A minute later, on-loan striker Steve Foster wasted a good chance for the visitors as he got on the end of a good Witton move but skied his shot well over the bar

Neil Harvey went down heavily under a heavy challenge on eleven minutes and gingerly got back to his feet after a bout of treatment. He was substituted later on in the game, after never really running off the ill effects of his injury

Witton defender Ben Harrison should have made more of a great chance midway through the first half, as Anthony Sheehan's cross was glanced just wide of goal by the big centre back

Five minutes later, another cross from Sheehan found the head of big centre back Harrison, but he too failed to hit the target with a wayward header

Jamey Osborne tried his luck from range ten minutes before half time, jinking his way through before firing in a shot that was narrowly wide of the left-hand post

O'Connor was causing Witton problems with his physical approach to the game, and came close to opening the scoring on thirty-eight minutes; Nathan Woolfe's free-kick was whipped in towards the head of the big striker, with O'Connor glancing the ball goalwards. Harrison had to be alert to turn the ball away from goal for a Hednesford corner kick

From the resultant corner kick, Francino Francis rose highest to head Elliott Durrell's ball in straight at Witton keeper Matt Cooper, under pressure from Harrison and two other Witton defenders

In the final minute of the half Durrell fashioned himself an opening from the edge of the area, but rushed his shot and fired over the crossbar

Foster was guilty of not converting a great chance in added time, as Sheehan played him in on goal. Foster chose to dummy the ball and create extra space, rather than just shoot and allowed Ben Bailey to get back and tackle him

Harvey could have given the Pitmen a dream start to the second half, as another excellent delivery from Durrell out wide saw the big striker head towards goal - only for Cooper to easily claim what was a weak header

Witton's Daniel Andrews was left cursing his wayward finishing on fifty-four minutes, as he was played into a great position by a Foster ball. To Crane's relief, the winger scuffed his close-range effort way wide of goal

A rare moment of comedy on the hour worked out to the home side's advantage, as the referee awarded the Pitmen a free kick on the edge of the penalty area when it appeared that Osborne had been pulled down by his own team-mate Durrell. Durrell failed to make the resultant shot count, as his free-kick was deflected wide for a corner kick

Both sides incurred the wrath of the referee in a scrappy middle period of the game, with a clutch of players going into the referee's notebook. Harvey's lack of mobility saw him finally hauled off with twenty minutes remaining, as Michael Lennon was introduced

On seventy-eight minutes, Crane made a hash of two Witton attempts, pushing out Andrews' attempt then spilling a follow-up shot from Josh Hancock. Harrison's header from the rebound should have nestled in the net, but the defender miscued his effort and headed wide

Crane's luck ran out four minutes later, however, as Witton snatched what looked like a winning goal. Former Hednesford man Matty Wood played a through ball into Ashley Stott, who calmly shot underneath Crane to give Witton a late lead

The Pitmen responded immediately with two swift changes, as Aaron Rey came on for Osborne and Sam Barnes replaced Francis

A frantic final few minutes saw the game burst into life, as the Pitmen exerted real pressure on the Witton defence. O'Connor raced onto a through ball from Durrell with five minutes remaining, but his low shot only rippled the side-netting

With a minute left, Woolfe tried his luck with a driven shot from fifteen yards out but saw his effort come back off the base of the post

Credit to the Pitmen, as they never gave up with the game heading into five minutes of added time. With three extra minutes on the clock, a deep free-kick from Woolfe found O'Connor lurking, with the forward firing low past Cooper from close range to send the Keys Park crowd wild

With the final attack of the game, deep, deep into added time, Hednesford's final throw of the dice saw the ball played in to Lennon, whose run into the area was brought to a crude end by a late tackle from Harrison. The referee was left with little option but to award the Pitmen a last-ditch penalty and send Harrison off in the process

Durrell spotted the ball and remained the coolest man inside the ground, as he stepped up and fired low to Cooper's left to seal what looked a highly unlikely three points just two minutes earlier

It had been a breathless and memorable final ten minutes of the game, with the Pitmen warmly applauded off by the supporters after their late, late show. Attention turns to the F.A. Trophy once again on Saturday, as Smith's team make a first-ever visit to Evo-Stik Division One outfit Trafford in a tricky-looking second qualifying round tie

Hednesford Town: Crane, Melbourne, Campion, Bailey, Francis (Barnes 85), MacPherson ©, Osborne  (Rey 82), Durrell , Harvey (Lennon 70), O’Connor, Woolfe      Subs Unused: Bottomer, Hornby

Witton Albion: Cooper, Gardner, Wood, B. Harrison  (90), Glover, Sheehan © , Hancock, Cross, Tuck (Stott 66), Foster (Fallon 88), Andrews      Subs Unused: Booth, J. Harrison, Clayton

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