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Skrill North

Worcester City 

Nti (1), (68)

Hednesford Town

Riley (25), Durrell (45) (penalty)

(1) 2

(1) 2



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Francino Francis


Barrow (H) 30.8.13

Hednesford's three game-winning run at the start of the Skrill North season came to an end this afternoon - but Rob Smith's side kept their unbeaten run intact after reacting well to going a goal down early on against Worcester City at Kidderminster Harriers' Aggborough ground

The Pitmen came into this Bank Holiday Monday clash on the crest of a wave, having had the perfect first week to life back at step two. Smith stuck faith with the starting XI  that had confidently dispatched of Oxford City at Keys Park on Saturday, with Charlie Anagho-Ntamark named amongst the substitutes in place of Aaron Rey after the striker was ruled out due to work commitments

Twenty-first placed Worcester's start to the new season had been erratic, with back-to-back defeats to Altrincham and Gloucester City followed by a battling goalless draw at much-fancied Brackley Town on Saturday

Despite still adapting to their new, unfamiliar surroundings, it was Worcester who swept into the lead with the first attack of the game, as the dangerous Daniel Nti struck his first goal of the new season. Defensive hesitancy in the Hednesford ranks saw them fail to clear George Williams' long throw, allowing defender Graham Hutchison to play the ball to Nti, who lashed a rising shot past Dan Crane from six yards out

Shocked by the concession of such an early goal, the Pitmen responded quickly with a clutch of good chances to put themselves back on level terms within minutes of going behind. Three minutes later, Neil Harvey fired wide of the post with a right-footed effort when he really should have tested Worcester debutante keeper José Veiga

Wayne Riley - who scored his first league goal for the Pitmen on Saturday - went close to doubling his season's tally a minute later, as Nathan Woolfe's run and cross down the left wing was headed narrowly wide of goal by the former Airbus UK forward

Nti was proving a handful up front for the home side, causing Ben Bailey and Francino Francis headaches with his pace and direct running. Nti felt as though he should have been awarded a penalty on fourteen minutes, as he was eased off the ball by Francis. The referee felt there were no grounds for appeal, and waved play on

Nti - a summer signing from Loughborough University - got the better of Francis on nineteen minutes, darting onto an Ashley Sammons through ball and forced Crane into a fine save low down to turn his shot away from goal

Worcester were made to pay for not taking another of their excellent chances in the first quarter of the game, as the Pitmen pulled level on twenty-five minutes. A superb piece of vision from top scorer Elliott Durrell saw him play an inch-perfect ball through to Riley, who banished any lingering memories of his horror miss against Oxford on Saturday by jinking past Veiga and sliding the ball home from an angle

This equalising goal lifted the Pitmen, as they dominated the majority of the play for the final twenty minutes of the first half. Another pinpoint delivery from Durrell on thirty-seven minutes was headed over the crossbar by Francis, followed by a shot from Woolfe that Veiga watched wide of his post

Veiga produced a breathtaking save to keep the scores level three minutes before half time, as Durrell's corner kick was flicked on by Ben Bailey into the path of Harvey, who headed powerfully towards goal from six yards out; The veteran former Cape Verde International somehow managed to react quickly enough to turn the ball over the crossbar, despite having only a fraction of a second to react to Harvey's close-range effort

The pressure on the Worcester goal finally came to breaking point in the final minute of the half, as Hutchinson allowed the ball to get away from him and allow Dave MacPherson to nip in and steal the ball, six yards inside the penalty area. Hutchison attempted to rescue the situation, but only succeeded in tripping MacPherson as he took the ball away from him and hand the Pitmen a penalty kick

Durrell stepped up and fired confidently past Veiga to give the Pitmen the lead for the first time in the game and change Rob Smith's half time team talk in the process

The second half failed to live up to the excitement of the first, as both sides seemed to wither in the late summer sunshine at Aggborough. Francis and Bailey got a better fix on Nti as the game wore on, as the striker's effectiveness became less and less. Unfortunately, the Pitmen's front pairing of Harvey and Riley were also proving ineffective during the second half, as the visitors resorted to long balls down the channels for players to chase. Woolfe - who had had a fine first-half - became a withdrawn, isolated figure until he was substituted later on sixty-six minutes in favour of Kris Taylor

It took Worcester to equalise to wake both sides from their slumber on sixty-eight minutes. Neat build-up play involving Ellis Deeney and Danny Glover down the left opened up the Hednesford defence, with Glover's low drive saved at his near post by Crane. The ball rebounded off the goalkeeper and looped into the air, allowing the onrushing Nti to nip in and head the ball into the empty net

The Pitmen added pace to their midfield on seventy-two minutes with the introduction of Alex Melbourne in place of the tiring MacPherson, who had been booked in the first half for a crude challenge

Durrell fired horribly wide with a scuffed shot for the Pitmen, followed two minutes later by a long-range effort from Jamey Osborne that was well held by Veiga

In a final attempt to force a winning goal, the Pitmen brought on exciting youngster Anagho-Ntamark with thirteen minutes remaining, as he replaced Riley up front

The visitors were wasteful with a plethora of set-pieces ten minutes from time, as a free-kick and three corners were all dealt with easily by Veiga and his City defence

Despite this, it was still the Pitmen who looked most likely to snatch a late winner, with substitute Taylor playing in Durrell with three minutes left. Durrell's low, powerfully struck shot was well blocked by Hutchison as he pulled the trigger twenty yards from goal

Both sides will probably be content with a point apiece when the dust settles on this game, with the two teams pretty well matched for much of the game. Hednesford will still be delighted with the result of their first four games, taking a superb ten points from them. Relegated Barrow make their first trip to Keys Park since January 2006 on Saturday, with the Pitmen looking to return to winning ways at the first attempt and further enhance their reputation in Skrill North

Hednesford Town: Crane, Disney, Campion ©, Bailey, Francis, MacPherson  (Melbourne 72), Osborne, Durrell, Harvey, Riley (Anagho-Ntamark 77), Woolfe (Taylor 66)      Subs Unused: Thompson-Brown, Barnes

Worcester City: Veiga, G. Williams, Deeney, Thorley ©, Hutchison, Munday, A. Williams, Nelson-Addy, Nti, Glover, Sammons (Moore 66)

Subs Unused: D. Williams, Heath, Walker, Sargeant

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