21.4.2014

Skrill North

Hednesford Town

MacPherson (60), Riley (77), Disney (89) (penalty), Sullivan (90)

Worcester City

(0) 4

(0) 0

Attendance

MoTM

Current Form

Next Match

668

Marvin Johnson

W L L W W W D W W W

Barrow (A) 26.4.14

The Pitmen can now look forward to a fifth successive season of play-off action, their first at step two level, as they ended their home league campaign with victory over Worcester City, earning the point that they needed to clinch their place in the top five with one game to spare in the Skrill North season

With the finishing line in sight for Rob Smith's side, the Pitmen were unchanged from the side that had edged out Oxford City forty-eight hours previously, as they went looking for an eighth game in succession without defeat

Worcester's season had been one of struggle for much of the campaign, with Carl Heeley's nomadic side picking up enough useful results in recent weeks to settle into a comfortable lower mid-table position and safety for another season in Skrill North

A sunny Bank Holiday Monday afternoon greeted the players and supporters at kick-off, with many supporters keeping a keen eye on results elsewhere with a number of issues in Skrill North still to be resolved at such a late stage in the season

It was Worcester's Daniel Nti - a constant threat to the Pitmen in the reverse fixture at Aggborough last August - who had the first chance of the game, but his weak, bobbled effort failed to test Dan Crane in the Hednesford goal

A bout of handbags and pushing was sparked by a coming together between Darren Campion and Martin Devaney on ten minutes, as the pair clashed in front of the Worcester bench, sending the Hednesford skipper flying into the City management and replacements

Both sides struggled to produce many real moments of quality in a dour opening quarter of the game, with Ben bailey almost heading into his own net with a back header just over his own crossbar after flicking a George Williams throw-in back towards Crane

Two minutes later, it was a throw-in from Bailey that caused chaos at the other end, as his deep throw failed to be seized upon by anyone in a white shirt, allowing City keeper Leigh Bedwell to claim the loose ball

Loan star Marvin Johnson was making an impact for the Pitmen once again after his winner at Oxford on Saturday, creating openings with his pace and trickery down the wing and going close to giving the hosts a lead on the half-hour mark; a quick run from the midfielder almost let him in behind a hesitant Worcester defence, but his touch was heavy as he looked to get a shot away and allowed the ball to dribble away for a goal kick

John Disney had to be alert twice in the matter of a couple of minutes to deny Worcester chances in on goal as he firstly denied Nti by cutting out a through ball, followed swiftly by a risky back header to Crane that the Hednesford stopper did well to claim

An untidy final few minutes of the half saw Johnson and Danny Glover both receiving treatment after heavy challenges, whilst Worcester's Tyler Weir was booked for an over-aggressive challenge on the hard-working Dave MacPherson in midfield

Thankfully, the second half was much more of a spectacle than a first-half that had lacked quality or conviction from either side. The Pitmen produced their best move of the match on fifty-two minutes to open up the Worcester defence, as MacPherson made a great run before playing in Johnson. His clever run and cross somehow managed to just evade the boot of the onrushing former Worcester striker Glover

A minute later, Johnson's inswinging free-kick from the left somehow ended up bouncing over the crossbar as the ball dropped in front of a group of players in the six-yard box

There was a real purpose to the Pitmen's play at the start of the second period, as they forced three successive corners and put City on the back foot as they searched for the opening goal. Alex Melbourne tried his luck with a lofted effort from the third corner on fifty-six minutes but chipped his shot high over the crossbar

With the Pitmen looking for a moment of inspiration to put them in front, MacPherson duly stepped up with a moment of magic to give them the lead on the hour mark with a breathtaking strike; picking up Glover's header in midfield, fully thirty yards from goal, the veteran midfielder lashed a half volley over the head of Bedwell and into the net via a touch off the underside of the crossbar, sending Keys Park wild at the quality of another brilliant strike from a Hednesford player this season

It was to be MacPherson's final involvement in the game, as he went off to a rapturous reception three minutes later and was replaced by Kris Taylor

City responded quickly through Aaron Brown, who rose highest on sixty-four minutes to head Ellis Deeney's corner kick narrowly over the crossbar

The Pitmen continued to look a threat, both from set-pieces and on the counter-attack through the pace of the excellent Johnson. Centre back Paul McCone almost added to his impressive goal haul for the season on seventy minutes, as his looping header from Johnson's corner was eventually claimed by Bedwell

Glover's game was brought to a premature end on seventy-two minutes, as he was replaced up front by the more physical presence of Marvin Robinson

The home side finally put clear air between themselves and City on seventy-seven minutes, with Riley continuing his recent fine form in front of goal with another headed finish. Bailey's long throw was flicked on by Worcester's Wayne Thomas, allowing Riley to steal in at the far post and head past Bedwell

Riley - like MacPherson - had little time to make any more of an impact on the game as he too was taken off soon after scoring, with Paul Sullivan given a run out with ten minutes remaining

Worcester were struck a further blow on eighty-four minutes as Danny Edwards limped off with a suspected broken ankle, meaning City had to play the final minutes with ten men having made all three substitutions prior to Edwards' injury

Hednesford were finally enjoying their afternoon, running willingly at a Worcester side now intent on keeping the hosts out for the remainder of the game. They gifted Hednesford a potential third goal with two minutes remaining, as Graham Hutchinson brought down Sullivan as he made inroads into the Worcester penalty area. The referee swiftly awarded the Pitmen a penalty, which John Disney dispatched confidently to score his second goal of the season and his side's third of the afternoon

And still, there was more for the supporters to celebrate, as in the final minute of the game Sullivan managed to get his name on the scoresheet. A long ball over the top of the Worcester defence was seized upon by Sullivan, who kept his cool to dance past Bedwell and slide the ball into the empty net

Results elsewhere had long become null and void, with the Pitmen able to celebrate a job well done in qualifying for the play-offs with a match to spare. A season of massive over-achievement for Smith's troops comes to an end when they visit Barrow on Saturday, with the Hednesford supremo likely to make a number of changes as he eyes up the challenge of a two-legged semi-final that will follow in the next two weeks

Hednesford Town: Crane, Disney, Campion ©, Bailey, McCone, MacPherson (Taylor 63), Riley (Sullivan 80), Johnson, Glover (Robinson 72), Melbourne, Thorley      Subs Unused: Lennon, Francis

Worcester City: Bedwell, G. Williams, Weir, Hutchinson, Thomas ©, Nelson-Addy, Nti (Edwards 73 (84)), Denney, Brown, Moore (Farrell 60), Devaney (A. Williams 64)      Subs not used: Smith, Veiga