19.1.2002

Dr. Martens Southern Premier League

Hednesford Town

Worcester City

Webster (52), Bullock (68), Hyde (85)

(0) 0

(0) 3

Attendance

MoTM

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767

Stuart Lake

L W L W L W D W L L

 

Chelmsford City (A) 2.2.02

A dreadful second half performance from the Pitmen condemned them to a home defeat to in-form Worcester City as three goals from the visitors in the second period earned them all three points at Keys Park this afternoon

Last weekend had seen the Pitmen exit the F.A. Trophy at the third round stage with defeat at Nationwide Conference side Scarborough, thus ending their mini-revival around the festive period. Manager Kenny Hibbitt made two changes to the side that had started at the McCain Stadium, bringing Leon Brown back into the side in place of Damien Charie and handing a debut to midfielder Tom Poston, who replaced Phil Trainer after the winger's loan from Crewe Alexandra had come to an end

Worcester arrived at Keys Park in fine form, scoring freely in their last three games to beat Salisbury 6-0, Weymouth 2-1 and Newport (Isle of Wight) 4-0 to move into the top four of the league table. Despite this, manager John Barton had been in the midst of something of an injury crisis with a number of his first-team out due to injury. He named an unchanged side from the one that had beaten Salisbury out of necessity which included the popular former Hednesford man Paul Carty playing at left-back

In front of a healthy crowd on a cold day, the Pitmen made a good start and almost took the lead in the fourth minute; Stewart Airdrie's inswinging corner kick found the head of Matt Gardiner, whose header at the far post drifted wide of the woodwork

Poston went close to making an immediate impact in the eighth minute as Graham Lancashire played a neat through ball into the path of the new boy after holding off Carl Heeley's challenge on the edge of the Worcester penalty area. Poston took a touch before firing just wide of the post from fifteen yards out with a low shot

Worcester's Martin Bullock did well to hold off Gardiner's challenge on twelve minutes to beat the Hednesford centre-back to the ball after Alan Davies had crossed from the right wing to nod the ball just wide of Mark Gayle's goal

Gayle was on hand to claim a loose ball three minutes later, plucking a long ball from Carty out of the air just ahead of the onrushing Adam Webster as the pair met just inside the Pitmen's penalty area

Stuart Lake's presence in midfield saw him win the ball back for the hosts on nineteen minutes and play Airdrie into space down the left flank. Airdrie composed himself before laying the ball back to Richard Lucas, whose cross into the penalty area was palmed behind by Danny McDonnell in the Worcester goal ahead of Lancashire

The visitors had a shout for a penalty kick on twenty-seven minutes as Bullock's initial shot was pushed away from goal by Gayle and into the path of Gardiner, who appeared to push the ball away with his arm as he attempted to clear. Despite Webster and Bullock's protests, referee Mr. Lever continued with the game

Lucas did well to deny Webster a clear shot on goal three minutes later, getting his body between the striker and the ball to shepherd it behind for a goal kick after Jamie Hyde's cross fell at the feet of the former Notts County man

Webster was involved once again for the away side on thirty-six minutes, nodding a Heeley ball into the feet of Marc Burrow in behind the Hednesford defence; the midfielder took a touch before drilling a low shot just wide of goal with an angled drive

The Pitmen had been second best for the past twenty minutes of the game but finished the half strongest; on forty minutes, quick thinking from Lucas saw him take a corner kick before Worcester could get themselves set, finding Lake on the edge of the Worcester six-yard box. Martin Weir just managed to do enough to recover and block the midfielder's low shot at the near post and divert it away from goal for another corner kick

From the resultant corner kick, Worcester cleared their lines and broke quickly down the right through Webster, who did well to hold the ball up despite Wayne Simpson's attentions and slip the ball into the path of Bullock. The former Huddersfield Town man elected to shoot first time with Gayle rushing out to meet him and found the Hednesford keeper equal to his rising effort

In first-half added time, Airdrie did well to skip past Davies and cross for Lancashire, whose flicked header at the near post lacked any real power or direction as it skipped away past McDonnell's far post

If the first half had been a reasonably even affair, the second half was to prove anything but as the Pitmen allowed Worcester to dominate proceedings and canter to victory with a lesson in finishing to leave the hosts shattered

The visitors struck an early warning shot at the Pitmen in the third minute of the second period as Hyde linked up well with Webster to leave Gardiner chasing shadows before Hyde pulled a shot wide of Gayle's goal from twelve yards out

Worcester took the lead on fifty-two minutes as more defensive mishaps - a fateful feature of the Pitmen's season so far - saw the Hednesford defence allow Davies's innocent-looking cross to somehow make it to the far post, where Webster was on hand to tap the ball home from close-range

The Pitmen went close to conjuring up an immediate response straight from the kick-off as Russell Dodd ventured forwards from right-back to pick up a pass from Lake and drive a shot at goal, only to see his effort come back off the far post before being cleared by Heeley

Lee Barrow headed well wide for the hosts on the hour mark from an inswinging Airdrie corner kick before Worcester went close to adding to their tally through Hyde on sixty-two minutes, lifting his shot just over the crossbar after Burrow had played him in behind Dodd through the inside-left position

 

 A late offside flag denied Lancashire a clear shot at goal on sixty-five minutes after Lake had played him through on goal before Worcester doubled their lead in controversial circumstances three minutes later. Bullock's corner kick to the near post was played straight back to him by Simpson, with Bullock taking a touch before crossing once more. There was a momentary pause in the Hednesford penalty area as everyone stopped expecting an offside flag against both Webster and Burrow, who both appeared to be standing in an offside position. Incredibly, there was no flag incoming as Bullock's effort sailed into the far corner of the net with the hosts desperately trying to convince the referee that there were two players clearly offside. Mr. Lever had a brief conversation with his assistant on the Wimblebury side but allowed the goal to stand, to the amazement of the Hednesford players, management and supporters

This decision knocked the stuffing out of the hosts, who struggled to create chances against a Worcester side now in cruise control. Heeley easily coped with the threat of Lancashire, whilst Brown was hauled off on seventy minutes after an ineffective display and was replaced by Charie

A good run from Poston down the right-wing on seventy-three minutes saw him drift inside and take a pot shot at goal with a low shot that McDonnell fielded well at his near post

Lancashire's rotten luck in front of goal this afternoon continued with fifteen minutes remaining as he was played clean through on goal by Lake, only to take a heavy touch at the wrong moment and allow McDonnell to pounce on the ball as it dribbled away from the striker

Dodd made way for Andy Brownrigg with nine minutes remaining in a move that saw Simpson moved to right-back to allow the substitute to play in a more natural midfield role as the Pitmen went to a 4-4-2 formation

However, it was Worcester who wrapped up the scoring with five minutes remaining with a goal that appeared to emanate from a player initially in an offside position; a long punt forwards by Burrow caught the Pitmen out as Hyde got on the end of the ball, with the Pitmen again waiting for a flag that was not forthcoming against the winger, who appeared to have been in front of Barrow as the ball was played. Hyde took full advantage to take a couple of touches before slotting past a horribly exposed Gayle from close-range to make it 3-0

Once again, there was a debate between the Hednesford management and the match officials, with Hibbitt and assistant Barry Powell both warned about their conduct after protesting to the referee about another soft award of a goal to Worcester

It was another depressing defeat for the supporters to swallow after the team's recent upturn in form, hampered somewhat by some questionable decisions from today's match officials. Defeat puts the Pitmen back in the relegation dogfight, only three points ahead of the bottom three and a tough-looking home game next weekend against Newport County to come

Hednesford Town: Gayle, Dodd (Brownrigg 81), Lucas ©, Simpson, GardinerBarrow, Lake, Airdrie, Brown (Charie 70), Lancashire, Poston    Sub Unused: Haran

Worcester City: McDonnell, Davies, Carty, Heeley ©, Weir, Burrow, Jukes, Hadley, Webster, Bullock, Hyde       Subs Unused:  Ellis, Shepherd, McFarlane

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