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Nationwide Conference

Hednesford Town

Cooper (87) (penalty)


Randall (15), Pitman (72)

(0) 1

(1) 2



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Jake Sedgemore

 L W D D D W L L D L


Forest Green Rovers (A) 8.10.00

The Pitmen crashed to their second home defeat of the season this evening as fellow strugglers Woking took the points back to Surrey and dropped John Baldwin's side into the bottom four in the process

Saturday's frustrating goalless draw against Chester City had seen the Pitmen create several good chances but struggle to covert any of them, so it will have come as something of a boost for Baldwin to be able to recall strike duo Neil Davis and Micky Norbury for tonight's crucial clash. The pair replaced Keith Russell and Scott Bonsall in the only two changes to the side that had started Saturday's game. Popular left-back Lee Colkin was finally passed fit to take his place amongst the substitutes after recovering from a hamstring injury sustained in the game against Stevenage Borough in August

Second-bottom Woking had endured a terrible start to the new campaign despite being fancied to do well in pre-season. Saturday had seen the Cards beaten by old foes Stevenage at Broadhill Way to leave them down in twenty-first place in the Nationwide Conference table ahead of tonight's game. Under pressure Cards manager Colin Lippiatt made one change to his side for their trip to South Staffordshire this evening as Mark Watson replaced Mark Druce on the left-hand side of midfield

On a mild Monday evening, the home side made a good start to proceedings and could have taken the lead in the very first minute as Norbury's chipped pass found Paul Bagshaw in acres of space down the right - his run and cross picked out Jake Sedgemore at the far post, only for the former West Borm youngster to sidefoot the ball wide of goal from eight yards out

Cards goalkeeper Darryl Flahavan made a good save to deny Norbury two minutes later as Bagshaw's slide-rule pass found the striker in behind Scott Steele, with Norbury's low driven shot from fifteen yards out parried away by the stopper for a Hednesford corner kick

Val Owen's loose pass was picked up by Nick Roddis in the eighth minute, playing the ball out to the unmarked Watson on the left touchline. The winger tricked his way past Ian Robinson and crossed towards Steve West, who could not enough purchase on his header and nodded the ball well wide of Mark Gayle's goal

Four minutes later, Davis made a darting run in behind a static Woking defence as Mark Cooper played him clear down the left. His initial shot was diverted away from goal by Steele but only into the path of Bagshaw, whose follow-up shot lacked power and bobbled all the way through to Flahavan from the edge of the penalty area

The visitors had been quiet in the final third of the pitch thus far but took the lead against the run of play in the fifteenth minute; Steele's hopeful punt forwards towards the Hednesford penalty area bounced in front of Stuart Lake, who was caught flat-footed and let Martin Randall dart in behind him before slotting the ball beyond the dive of the advancing Gayle

Lake looked to make amends from a Cooper corner kick three minutes later as he beat Steele to the midfielder's inswinging ball in but glanced his header at the near post over Flahavan's crossbar from six yards out

On twenty-one minutes, good work from Sedgemore down the left set Norbury away into space in front of him; the striker took a couple of touches before pulling the ball back into the path of the incoming Owen, who produced a comical air shot from the edge of the box and the ball skipped past him

Flahavan was forced into making a wonderful save to deny Sedgemore on twenty-five minutes as the youngster picked up a Lake pass and unleashed a powerful driven shot from twenty-five yards out that the Woking stopper pushed away from goal. Norbury picked up the loose ball and crossed for Davis, whose acrobatic overhead kick from ten yards out cleared the crossbar

The aptly-named Jamie Pitman gave the Pitmen a scare at the half-hour mark as he made an unchallenged run into the penalty area to get on the end of Randall's knockdown but drove his shot high over the crossbar and into the Heath Hayes terrace

Woking's Scott Smith headed straight into the arms of Gayle from a corner kick on thirty-four minutes, beating Mark Haran to the ball but not getting enough power on his effort from eight yards out

An ambitious effort from Davis with eight minutes of the half remaining saw the former Redditch United man take the ball beyond the challenge of Rob Hollingdale before trying to chip Flahavan from twenty yards out; the ball dipped over the head of the goalkeeper but onto the roof of the net

On forty-one minutes, Neil Pointon's long throw from the left was headed back to him by Roddis, with skipper Pointon's return cross met by the head of Lake at the far post. However, the wantaway midfielder could only head into the Hednesford end stand as he failed to get enough purchase on the header

In first-half added time, a free-kick won by Bagshaw was taken by Cooper, who curled the ball around the Woking wall from the left-hand corner of the box but was at an easy height for Flahavan to make the save

The Pitmen had been competitive in the first period but had again been guilty of not taking their chances, whilst their visitors had taken full advantage of the one good chance they had been presented with

Half-time saw the hosts make a tactical change as the inconsistent Owen was taken off in favour of Colkin, who slotted in at left-back. Sedgemore moved into the base of midfield to cover for the loss of Owen

Woking started the second half with purpose and Mark Watson struck an early warning shot just over Gayle's crossbar on forty-eight minutes as he held off a challenge from Haran before hitting a clean shot at goal from twenty-five yards out

Three minutes later, Roddis won the ball from Owen and sprayed it out to Pitman, who made a run down the right to get in behind a ball-watching Pointon. His chest-high cross into the near post was met by the stooping Randall, who was off-target with a downward header that dipped wide of Gayle's near post

The Pitmen were hit with another injury-related issue ten minutes into the second half as Haran came off worse in a fifty-fifty challenge with Watson. The defender remained on the deck and received a lengthy bout of treatment from physio Don Drakeley before gingerly getting to his feet. After two minutes of soldiering on, Haran admitted defeat and was replaced by Russell Bradley

Sixty seconds later, Sedgemore's slide-rule pass found Davis running in behind the Woking defence, only to be denied a shot at Flahavan's goal by an offside flag against him on the main stand side of the pitch

Norbury was foiled by Flahavan on fifty-eight minutes as his bustling run into the Woking penalty area saw him shrug off West's challenge and strike a bobbling shot at goal that the Woking stopper pushed away from danger

The Pitmen went agonisingly close to levelling matters just after the hour mark as Colkin's drifting corner kick to the far post was met by the head of Norbury, who did well to get goal side of Scott Smith but saw his header hit the top of the crossbar and bounced to safety behind Flahavan's goal

Flahavan was called upon to make a fine save from Davis three minutes later as another fine pass from the impressive Sedgemore evaded Smith and found its way into the path of Davis, who gambled with a late run in behind the Cards' defence and struck a crisp low shot at goal that was palmed away by the stopper at his near post for a corner to the Pitmen

The hosts were starting to dominate possession and territory once more, pushing Woking back into their third of the pitch for long spells of the half; a good run from Bagshaw saw him drift past three challenges and lay the ball off to Cooper, whose driven effort from twenty yards out was deflected behind by Steele

Bagshaw was the game's first recipient of a yellow card midway through the second half as referee Mr Whitestone booked the winger for kicking the ball away to stop Hollingdale from taking a quick free-kick

However, as had been the case in the first half, just when the Pitmen were at their most threatening they allowed Woking to strike against the run of play on seventy-two minutes; a corner from the left, taken by Hollingdale, was played out to the edge of the penalty area where Pitman was lurking. His low strike took a wicked deflection off the bottom of Pointon's boot, taking the ball beyond the reach of Gayle and nestling in the corner of the net

The shell-shocked hosts made their final substitution of the evening on seventy-four minutes as Russell came on up front in place of Bagshaw to add more legs to the home side's flagging attack

Colkin's quick throw down the left was returned to him by Sedgemore, level with the Woking penalty area on seventy-seven minutes - he feinted past Steve Perkins and crossed for Norbury, whose header was just off target as it whistled past the far post

A minute later, Pointon followed his team-mate Bagshaw into Mr Whitestone's book as he was penalised for deliberately tripping Roddis down the Woking right flank

On eighty-one minutes, Russell's pressure on Pitman bore fruit as he won the ball from the full-back in a dangerous position and played the ball into the path of Cooper, whose shot with the outside of his boot lacked power and was easily fielded by Flahavan

More Hednesford pressure saw them force three successive corner kicks in two minutes, with Cooper swinging all three in with purpose to test the Cards' defence. The third kick was met by the head of Lake on eighty-five minutes, but a block on the line by Smith denied the Pitmen a route back into the game

Smith was to hand the hosts a chance to set up a grandstand finish with three minutes remaining as Davis was played into the penalty area by another fine Sedgemore pass, with the striker sent sprawling by a clumsy late challenge on him from the Woking defender. Mr Whitestone had no hesitation in pointing to the spot, allowing Cooper to step up and send Flahavan the wrong way from twelve yards out and reduce the deficit

Pitman was booked almost straight from the restart after giving the ball away cheaply to Colkin and felling the marauding left-sided player as he skipped past him on the left-hand touchline

The hosts were camped inside the Woking third of the pitch for much of the remainder of the game as they looked for the crucial breakthrough, only to be left frustrated by a well-drilled Woking defence who cleared their lines with a no-nonsense attitude. In the first of three minutes of added time, Lake's flick-on from a Pointon free-kick dropped to Norbury, who was crowded out as he stood just outside the six-yard box and could not force the ball home from close-range

A frustrating defeat for the Pitmen drops them down to eighteenth place on the Nationwide Conference table, just a point above the drop zone and with one of the poorer goal differences of the sides scrapping it out towards the foot of the table. A trip to Gloucestershire at the weekend sees them visit The Lawn as they travel to mid-table Forest Green Rovers, looking for a morale-boosting win that could potentially lift them above Rovers in the table

Hednesford Town: Gayle, Pointon © , Robinson, Lake, Haran (Bradley 57), Cooper, Owen (Colkin 45), Sedgemore, Davis, Norbury, Bagshaw ,(Russell 74)      Subs Unused: Bonsall, Carney

Woking: Flahavan, Pitman , Hollingdale, West, Smith, Wye, Perkins, Roddis, Steele, Randall (Teague 52), Watson (Druce 90)      Subs Unused: Brown, Alighieri, Wright

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