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Vanarama Conference North

Hednesford Town

Worcester City

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Tom Thorley


Harrogate Town (A) 4.1.15

Following a week of frustration - partly due to the inclement weather and partly down to controversial decision-making - the Pitmen start 2015 with a fairly uninspiring goalless draw against Worcester City at Keys Park

Following Boxing Day's controversial and farcical late postponement of the reverse fixture and the abandonment of Sunday's home game against Gloucester City, the Pitmen finally got back on the pitch looking to get their play-off push back on track after seeing other teams around them such as Stockport County and Tamworth push on after good performances over the festive period. Manager Rob Smith - still actively looking for a replacement striker for the departed Danny Glover - decided to give young loanee Jack Thomas another opportunity to impress after the 18-year-old played well in the abandoned game at Aggborough a week earlier

Worcester's form over the past fortnight had taken a dip after their F.A. Cup heroics, losing to FC Halifax Town in the F.A. Trophy and the aforementioned improving Tamworth side on Sunday either side of the Boxing Day shenanigans that had seen the reverse fixture called off late on in the game

A heavy pitch greeted both sides before kick-off, with the recent rain and snow having left the Keys Park surface dug up and patchy in places. A strong wind blew across the ground, bringing in further rain clouds to give the pitch a second-half watering

Worcester's man of the moment Sean Geddes was first to try his luck in the second minute of the game, firing over Dan Crane's crossbar with a curling, dipping free-kick from the right side of the penalty area

The Pitmen responded four minutes later with a flick header from Glenn Walker, glancing Tom Thorley's free-kick wide of goal from eight yards out despite being in a good position to test veteran stopper Jose Veiga in the Worcester goal

Veiga was almost embarrassed by the strong wind on eleven minutes, as Ben Bailey's ambitious cross from the right got caught in the wind and drifted over Veiga's head before bouncing off the top of the crossbar and out for a goal kick

A flurry of Worcester corner kicks from Geddes midway through the half failed to break down a resolute Hednesford defence, which is looking far more a solid outfit since the return of Paul McCone last month

A great run from Jamey Osborne almost produced the opening goal for the Pitmen on twenty-four minutes, as the midfielder made a surging run past two challenges before testing the reflexes of Veiga low down to his right

A speculative effort from Connor Gater three minutes later saw Crane scampering across his goal to cover the shot, but the midfielder's long-range was off target and flashed wide of the post

Three Hednesford corner kicks in succession saw the Pitmen crank up the pressure on the Worcester defence, with Richard Batchelor flicking Darren Campion's ball on to Steve Diggin, who toe-poked the ball narrowly over the crossbar

Veiga had been much the busier of the two keepers in the first half, making two further stops at the end of the first half to deny Walker on both occasions

James Hurst - impressive in recent games - had been less cavalier in his approach this afternoon, focusing on his defensive duties more than getting up the pitch to support the midfield. He did make one burst into the City half on fifty-two minutes, however, picking up the loose ball and taking it forward ten yards before unleashing a powerful low shot that was a foot or so wide of Veiga's left-hand post

A quick counter-attack from the Pitmen four minutes later saw Batchelor break clear and play in Osborne, who fired his shot straight into the grateful arms of Veiga

Thomas had offered glimpses of his talent with the ball at his feet, but had struggled with the aggressive aspect of the game in midfield and was duly replaced by the willing running of Alex Melbourne on sixty-four minutes

The Pitmen thought they had broken the deadlock on sixty-nine minutes, as Thorley's corner kick was eventually nodded home at the far post by Diggin after confusion in the Worcester ranks. After initially awarding the Pitmen the goal, referee Ms Fearn changed her mind and gave Worcester a free kick for a foul after a late, late flag from the lineman on the main stand side

Stung by yet more poor luck against them, Hednesford surged forwards after regaining the ball and went close through a shot from Batchelor that cleared Veiga's crossbar

Veteran Worcester defender Wayne Thomas spent much of the last twenty minutes of the game in the spotlight, as the Pitmen tried to force home their advantage in both possession and territory. Thomas was guilty of a crude challenge on Osborne on seventy-four minutes, hauling the midfielder to the floor and handing the Pitmen a free kick in a dangerous position. Thorley's subsequent effort hit the wall before falling to Melbourne, who fired wide from the follow-up

Thomas took it upon himself to tell Fearn how she should be officiating the game on eighty minutes, picking up a yellow card for dissent after getting involved in a midfield argument involving Melbourne and Osborne

Indeed, Thomas could have been shown a second yellow card on two further occasions in the last few minutes of the game, as firstly he escaped another booking after clattering Diggin just outside the penalty area, then blatantly diving in the Hednesford penalty area in added time as he looked to engineer a late penalty kick for the visitors, who had offered very little going forward for the majority of the game

The Pitmen had a late, late effort fall to Campion, as Walker's deep free-kick was headed wide of goal by the Hednesford skipper as he stretched to reach the pacy cross

There was still time for Melbourne to go agonisingly close to winning it for the Pitmen, as the substitute's header from a Hurst cross lacked any real power or conviction and was easily fielded by Veiga

In truth, neither side looked good enough to take all three points from a disappointing game, with the Pitmen having all of the play and possession, but suffering from the Danny Glover-shaped hole that had been created up front following their top scorer's departure. It's another quick turnaround of games in this busy period in the season, as the Pitmen look to climb out of the bottom half when they make the journey north to the inconsistent Harrogate Town on Sunday

Hednesford Town: Crane, Hurst, Campion ©, Bailey, McCone, Thorley, Osborne, Walker, Diggin, J. Thomas (Melbourne 64), Batchelor      Subs Unused: Robinson, Westwood, Sullivan

Worcester City: Veiga, Hutchinson, Khan (Murphy 62), Rowe ©, W. Thomas , Jackman, Dunkley, Deeney, Nti (Gudger 76), Geddes (Symons 67), Gater      Subs Unused: Wright, Collins

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