Nationwide Conference North

Worcester City

Clegg (6), Kelly (9), (35), (78), Webster (29), Hines (72) (penalty)

Hednesford Town

Hunter (45), Heath (60)

(4) 6

(1) 2



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Colin Hunter



Kettering Town (H) 14.11.05

The Pitmen are handed their heaviest beating since their 6-1 reverse at Crawley Town in March 2004 as Worcester City hammer their visitors courtesy of a prolific first-half showing in front of goal and a red card for goalkeeper Richard Brush in the second

Having hung on to a point against play-off chasing Hucknall Town, the Pitmen welcomed back on-loan stopper Brush for today's trip down the M5 after he had recovered from the dead leg sustained late in their 4-0 defeat to Histon last Saturday. He replaced Adam Jenkins in what was the only change to the XI that had started Monday night's 1-1 draw

Worcester started proceedings second bottom of the Conference North table, having made a terrible start to the new season. A 1-1 draw at Conference South Chippenham Town last weekend had seen the Dragons earn themselves a replay against the Bluebirds on Monday night in the first round proper of the F.A. Cup. Player/manager Andy Preece made four changes to his side for their return to league action as ex-Pitman Les Hines returned to the side in place of Danny Hodnett, Nick Colley came in for Sam Wedgbury, veteran Graham Hyde replaced Tom Warmer in midfield and former Manchester United man George Clegg returned to the side in place of youngster Liam McDonald

In front of a fine 1,200 plus crowd, the home side made a bright start and Brush was called upon in the third minute of the game to turn away a low shot from Leon Kelly after the striker had picked up Hyde's pass just outside the Hednesford penalty area

Brush's nightmare game started in the seventh minute as Adam Webster volleyed Rob Warner's right-wing cross goalwards from fifteen yards out, prompting the Hednesford number one into making a save to his right. However, he could only palm the ball straight into the path of Clegg, who scuffed his rebound beyond the reach of Brush and trickled over the line from close-range

The hosts doubled their lead just three minutes later as they left the men in green with a mountain to climb as the in-form Kelly cut in from the left and drifted past Adams, running unchallenged into the penalty area and slotting the ball through the legs of the hapless Brush from ten yards out

In the thirteenth minute, Hyde quickly took a free-kick, kicking the ball off the shins of Rob Heath and into the path of Clegg, who took the ball into the Hednesford third of the pitch and drive his effort over the crossbar with a rising shot

Hines reminded the Hednesford fans of his ability from free-kick situations four minutes later as he curled a left-footed shot over the top of the green wall in front of him but narrowly cleared the crossbar from twenty yards out

Webster wasted a superb chance to put the game beyond Hednesford in the eighteenth minute as Webster was played clear of the static Pitmen defence by Nick Colley's through ball, despite desperate calls from the defenders to referee Mr Garratt for an offside flag against the forward. Webster drew Brush out of his goal but lifted his shot over the crossbar from a good shooting position

The Pitmen's first sight at goal came midway through the half as Lee Williams took a free-kick out on the right and crossed to the far post, where Colin Hunter arrived to head just over the crossbar, under pressure from Justin Thompson

Mr Garratt had to separate fellow veterans Williams and Hyde two minutes later as the pair challenged for a fifty-fifty ball in midfield and accused the other of going in a little too aggressively

The home side grabbed their third goal of the afternoon just before the half-hour mark, as more dreadful defending from the Pitmen conspired to let their hosts in once more; with the sun shining in his eyes, Richard Teesdale lost the flight of the ball from Danny McDonnell's long punt forwards and completely fluffed his clearance straight into the path of Webster, who held off Teesdale's challenge and fired past Brush from twelve yards out

It was all Worcester at this point, with the Pitmen simply trying to manage the damage already done as they chased shadows across the pitch. Colley strode forwards to get on the end of some fine interplay involving Clegg and Webster, picking the ball up twenty-five yards from goal and striking a firm effort that skipped just past the post

Having not responded to Teesdale's problems with the low-setting sun a few minutes earlier by putting a cap on, Brush was guilty of another heinous error of judgement on thirty-five minutes as Brindley's chipped pass back to the goalkeeper saw Brush lose the flight of the ball in the sun and completely miss his kick, allowing Kelly to seize upon the ball and gleefully tap into the empty net from a couple of yards out. An absolute shocker from the on-loan Stafford man and very much game over already

On forty minutes, Hunter laid the ball back to Mark Branch, whose deep cross was headed back across goal by Steve Anthrobus to Andy Bell, who was already ahead of the ball and could only stretch backwards to hook the ball tamely wide of the target

The Pitmen did, however, reduce the deficit just before half-time as Hunter grabbed the best goal of the afternoon as he picked the loose ball up thirty yards from goal and unleashed an unstoppable shot that beat McDonnell as it flew into the net. A superb strike

It had been a sobering forty-five minutes for the visitors, who had been totally outplayed for much of the half and had been architects of their downfall time and again against a Worcester attack that had lapped up the chances handed to them to essentially end the game as a contest already. Half-time saw Brindley bring himself off and brought on young defender Tom Marshall in his place, whilst top scorer Paul McMahon also came on in place of an out-of-sorts Bell

Brush partially atoned for his dreadful first-half display with a fine save to deny Worcester a fifth goal just three minutes after the restart, making a superb flying save to his right to turn Webster's shot away from goal after the striker had turned quickly past Teesdale

Substitute Marshall almost marked his introduction with a goal on fifty-four minutes as he picked up a square pass from Heath before striking a well-hit shot from twenty-five yards out that dipped just over McDonnell's crossbar and into the large hoard of Hednesford fans standing behind McDonnell's goal

Two minutes later, Anthrobus was hooked by the Pitmen after a second successive game where the veteran striker had looked horribly off the pace and offering little to no penetration up front, replaced by youngster Craig Marshall

On fifty-eight minutes, the dangerous Kelly got the better of Teesdale once more as he hared away from the defender to get on the end of Clegg's through ball, but a late offside flag against the Worcester striker denied him a shot at goal

The Pitmen threatened to make a game of it once more on the hour mark as they reduced the deficit to two goals as Heath made it 4-2; this time, it was the hosts who were guilty of a defensive blunder, as Thompson's attempted backpass fell some way short of it's intended target of McDonnell, allowing Heath to latch onto the clipped pass and volley past a horribly exposed McDonnell from the edge of the penalty area

The away side had their best spell of the game for the next ten minutes, with Williams crossing well from a corner kick on sixty-three minutes to find Teesdale at the near post, only for the centre-back to head over the crossbar

Three minutes later, Brush's long kick forwards found Hunter out on the left, who tricked his way past Warner and laid the ball back into the path of Heath, who saw his low driven shot deflected away from goal by the leg of veteran defender Des Lyttle for a Hednesford corner kick

However, any lingering hopes of a rousing comeback from the visitors were dispelled on seventy-two minutes as Brush's awful performance was capped with a red card for the stopper; Kelly was once again the man to do the damage for the hosts, racing clear of the statuesque Hednesford defence to get on the end of McDonald's defence-splitting pass, taking the ball around the dive of Brush before being brought down by the goalkeeper as he shaped to shoot. Mr Garratt had no option but to show the goalkeeper a straight red card as he had stopped a certain goalscoring opportunity and reduced the Pitmen to ten men

Having used all of his three substitutes, Brindley had to ask one of his outfield players to volunteer to take the goalkeeper's jersey for the final eighteen or so minutes, with Hunter chosen to face the subsequent penalty from Hines. The former Hednesford man drove his penalty home from twelve yards out, although Hunter got close to parrying it away down to his left

The Pitmen closed ranks as they looked to protect Hunter in the minutes that remained and limited Worcester to long-range efforts; Colley stuck a twenty-five yard effort over the crossbar on seventy-five minutes, followed by Webster scuffing well wide from a similar range a minute later

However, Kelly was not to be denied his hat-trick and grabbed Worcester's sixth goal of the afternoon with twelve minutes remaining; Teesdale - another having an utter nightmare of a game - allowed the ball to bounce in front of him, inviting Kelly to nick the ball away from him and hold off the defender's desperate challenge before taking the ball around Hunter and slotting into the empty net. Another comical and embarrassing goal to concede

Worcester were in cruise control in the final ten minutes but could have added to their tally with seven minutes left as player/manager Preece - on for Webster - held the ball up well from Colley's pass and chipped the ball into the path of Hines, who had made a late break into the box down the left. However, the full-back's shot lacked direction and Hunter watched it over the crossbar

With three minutes remaining, Hunter was rooted to the spot as a Hines corner was flicked on last the near post by Thompson and into the path of Jimmi-Lee Jones, only for Tom Marshall to block the shot and clear the danger inside his own six-yard box

It had been ninety minutes of horrendous viewing for the Pitmen and their supporters, who will want to move on quickly from today's heavy beating and the manner in which it was handed to the hosts through some farcical defending. It remains to be seen in Brush will make another appearance for the club after today's performance and looming ban. Monday night gives them the ideal opportunity to produce an immediate response, as they return to Keys Park to face Kettering Town, who have recently appointed ex-England star Paul Gascoigne as their manager

Worcester City: McDonnell, Warner, Hines, Smith, Thompson, Lyttle, Colley, Hyde (Jones 68), Kelly, Webster (Preece 76), Clegg (McDonald 65)      Subs Unused: Hodnett, Warmer

Hednesford Town: Brush  (72), Adams, Branch, Brindley (T. Marshall 45), Teesdale, Williams ©, Scheppel, Heath, Anthrobus (C. Marshall 56), Bell (McMahon 45), Hunter      Subs Unused: Beckett, Molloy