Dr. Martens Southern Premier League

Worcester City

Holloway (4), Middleton (75), (88)


Hednesford Town

Francis (71)

(1) 3

(0) 1




Current Form

Next Match


Wayne Simpson


Ilkeston Town (A) 18.1.03

Hednesford's start to 2003 ended in a tame defeat at title-chasing Worcester City, as an early goal from Jon Holloway set the tone for an afternoon that saw Ian Painter's side up against it from the off to make it back-to-back league defeats


The Pitmen arrived at St. George's Lane having never lost to Worcester in the Southern Premier League at their spiritual home. Painter made one change to his side from the team that had been well beaten by Havant & Waterlooville four days previously, bringing in the striking talents of Graham Lancashire in place of midfielder Derek Rae. This saw Wayne Simpson slotting into a midfield role once again, protecting Chris Brindley and Darren Simkin in central defence


Worcester started the game sitting in second place in the league table, only four points behind leaders Tamworth after topping the table early on in the campaign. Form had been patchy over the festive period for John Barton's side, drawing 0-0 with Chippenham Town before losing to Newport County and only claiming a point last week at home to mid-table Welling, leaving them trailing the Lambs ahead of today's round of games. Prolific striker Mark Owen was dropped in one change to the side that drew against Welling, replaced by former Hednesford loanee David Holmes in a side that also contained ex-Pitmen favourite Paul Carty at full-back


Backed by a large holiday crowd, Worcester swept into an early lead through the Pitmen's inability to cut out the individual errors - a feature of the club's season to date. A needless free-kick given away by Simkin down the left gifted Worcester a free-kick just outside the Hednesford penalty area, allowing Adam Wilde to send over a fine cross that Holmes turned towards goal; Michael Bingham did well to block the shot, but only succeeded in turning the ball straight into the path of defender Holloway, who thumped the loose ball home from close-range


The away side responded well to such an early blow and came back at the hosts with a wave of attacks down the left from Bryan Small. On eleven minutes, Small himself tested the highly-rated Danny McDonnell in the Worcester goal as he struck a rising shot from the corner of the Worcester penalty area that McDonnell turned over the crossbar acrobatically


Wilde's creativity saw him play a clever ball through the middle of the Hednesford defence on fourteen minutes, playing Pat Lyons in behind the Pitmen's back line. The midfielder lacked composure, however, and scuffed a great chance well wide of goal and into the large band of Worcester fans high up behind Bingham's goal


A quickly-taken free-kick from Paul Ware almost caught Worcester napping on twenty minutes, as the midfielder delivered a ball into the box and onto the head of Kevin Francis, whose header from eight yards out drifted over the crossbar


 Incisive build-up play from Worcester on twenty-seven minutes saw Darren Middleton play the ball through to Adam Webster, whose first-time shot on the run was held by Bingham at his near post


A flowing move down the Worcester right saw the popular figure of Carty involved six minutes later, making a typically marauding run down the wing before crossing towards Wilde, only for the excellent Simpson to make a timely interception


For the Pitmen, Ashley Williams made a similarly assertive run to Carty three minutes later, trying his luck with a shot from fully thirty yards out that sailed harmlessly out of play


Just three minutes before the break, Ware forced McDonnell into a good save to his right-hand side as the midfielder struck a first-time shot from the edge of the Worcester penalty area after Francis had laid the ball into his path


In added time, Bingham kept his side in contention ahead of the half-time rest as he made another fine save to palm Wilde's shot away from goal after Lyons had found Wilde with a superb cross-field ball


The Pitmen can be a little disappointed at being behind at the break, having come back into the game after conceding that early goal but having nothing to show for their efforts


Painter's side were on the front foot in the first five minutes of the second half and forced Worcester into their own third in the opening stages. Three successive corner kicks from Ware forced a chance for the Pitmen on fifty minutes, sending over a cross that Francis headed inches over the crossbar as he beat skipper John Snape to the cross


Simkin's clearance turned defence into attack on fifty-five minutes, as his clearance bounced over the heads of the Worcester defence and into the path of Steve Piearce. Hednesford's top scorer seemed a little surprised at the ball landing at his feet and nervously looked across to the assistant on the far side of an offside call. With such indecision, Piearce allowed Carty time to get back and smother the ball away from the striker


Four minutes later, Holmes did well to escape the attention of Brindley, leaving the centre-back flat-footed as he turned quickly thirty yards from goal and headed towards the Hednesford penalty area. With Webster screaming to be played through on goal, Holmes elected to take the shot on himself and fired narrowly wide of Bingham's post


Lancashire's optimistic effort from over thirty yards out caused McDonnell more problems than he originally thought on sixty-two minutes, as the ball bounced on the hard St. Georges Lane pitch and forced the Worcester number one into turning the ball around the post for a Hednesford corner kick


Wilde's well-struck effort just missed the target for Worcester on seventy minutes, before the Pitmen finally got themselves back on level terms through Francis a minute later. Ware's corner kick found Brindley lurking at the near post, with the defender's header coming off the crossbar. Worcester managed to scramble the ball back to Ware, whose low shot from an angle was saved low down by McDonnell. However, the Pitmen still had numbers in the penalty area, with Francis reacting quickest to the loose ball by tapping home from a couple of yards out the equalise


With Worcester now seemingly on the back foot, the Pitmen sensed an unlikely winning goal to get their away form back on track; however, they were hit with a sucker blow from the excellent Holmes with fifteen minutes remaining, as the former Kidderminster man did well to break clear of the Hednesford defence on the counter and find Wilde, who got in behind the Hednesford defence to fire goalwards. Bingham made a fine save, but could only push the ball into the path of the grateful Middleton, who slotted home from close-range


Both sides made attacking changes, with Owen coming on for Worcester and Rae replacing Williams for the Pitmen immediately following the Worcester second goal


Three minutes later, the Pitmen made their second change in quick succession with Damien Charie coming on in place of Stuart Ryder


Brindley's ability in the area was the Pitmen's best chance of getting back into the game, as Ware and Charie looked to hit the defender at every opportunity from a wide area. On eighty-one minutes, a superb looping header from the defender looked to have done enough to beat McDonnell, only for Lyons to hack the goalbound effort off the goal line


The Pitmen continued to commit men forwards as the game entered its final minutes, with Lancashire's shot blocked inside the six-yard box by Snape after Ware's free-kick had caused issues in the Worcester penalty area


A minute later, Snape was on hand again to make a timely tackle on Piearce after Francis had nodded Charie's cross down into the path of his out-of-sorts strike partner


With two minutes remaining, the Pitmen were made to pay for over-committing players forward as Worcester grabbed a clincher on the counter-attack. Holmes was involved once again, sending Middleton away with a defence-splitting ball that played the striker clean through on goal, with the former Aston Villa man firing confidently past Bingham to seal the three points for City


It had been a cruel end to the game for the Pitmen, who had battled manfully for much of the game but had simply lacked the cutting edge of their opponents, who showed why they were pushing Tamworth for the league title with a lesson in finishing. The visitors will be glad of a return to Keys Park on Saturday when they face Chippenham Town looking to get back to winning ways once more


Worcester City: McDonnell, Davies, Carty, Heeley, Holloway, Snape ©, Middleton (Charlton 84), Lyons (Jones 89), Webster (Owen 75), Holmes, Wilde      Subs Unused: Willetts, Hayes


Hednesford Town: Bingham, Williams (Rae 75), Ryder (Charie 78), Simpson, Brindley ©, Simkin, Lancashire, Ware, Francis, Piearce, Small     Subs Unused: Maguire, Bruce, Jenkins


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