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Nationwide Conference North

Hednesford Town

Worcester City

Webster (12), (46), Clegg (15), Kelly (47)

(0) 0

(2) 4



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Scott Hadland



Leigh RMI (H) 3.4.06

Hednesford's hopes of escaping the drop took an almighty hit this afternoon as Worcester City completed a comprehensive league double over their local rivals, leaving the Pitmen rock bottom of the league and staring at an immediate return to step three with only seven games of the season remaining

Another week, another delve into the transfer market for manager Steve Anthrobus, who had managed to persuade former Walsall and Birmingham City captain Martin O'Connor to come out of retirement and aid the Pitmen's efforts in staying up. The 38-year-old came straight into the side for today's derby game as he replaced the suspended Sean Platt in midfield. O'Connor was the first of four changes to the side that had started last Saturday's 1-0 defeat at Lancaster City as Anthony Maguire came back into the side at the expense of Ross Adams and Ross Dyer replaced the suspended Leon McSweeney up front. The final change saw Tom Marshall shake off his injury issues from last week to replace the now-departed Jai Stanley, who had returned this afternoon's opponents at the end of what had been a very successful loan spell at Keys Park. Marshall's inclusion saw the hosts move to a 3-5-2 formation, with Beckett pushed forwards in the role vacated by Stanley

Andy Preece's Worcester side still harboured ambitions of making a late run at the play-offs in what remained of the season, sitting eleventh in the table and nine points behind Droylsden in the table. The Blues manager made two changes to his side from the one that had lost 1-0 at home to Stalybridge Celtic last weekend as former Wolves man Dennis Pearce and Adam Webster came back into the side ahead of Tom Warmer and ex-Pitman Mark Danks. There was a place on the bench for another one of the Pitmen's F.A. Trophy-winning heroes as Les Hines was named amongst the Worcester substitutes. There was no place for Stanley however as he was left out of the Worcester squad for his swift return to Keys Park due to the terms of his previous loan arrangement

The visitors were to have the better of the opening exchanges and nearly went ahead in the fourth minute as George Clegg's run and through ball found the bright and busy Adam Webster, who turned past Lee Barrow but saw his low effort blocked by on-loan Scott Dann

Three minutes later, Webster linked up well with strike partner Leon Kelly to open up the Hednesford defence, only for a tight offside against Webster in the build-up to deny the away side a clear opening at goal as the Hednesford defence stopped to appeal the offside

Patient and purposeful build-up play from the visitors did eventually break the deadlock in the twelfth minute as the ball was worked forwards and then out to recent signing Adam Burley on the left-wing. His cross was headed back across goal by Nick Colley, who beat Dann to the ball and found Webster, who had the simple task of turning the ball home from close-range

The visitors struck again just three minutes later as they doubled their lead and left the Pitmen with a mountain to climb already. Chris Smith won the ball in midfield and played the ball into the path of Clegg, who was given too much time and space to advance on the Hednesford penalty area before firing past Gary Hateley with a curling effort from twenty-five yards out that beat the stopper all ends up

Shocked into action, the hosts responded through Colin Hunter's strong run down the left in the eighteenth minute; the winger beat Rob Warner and crossed for Lamey, whose volley was deflected behind for a Hednesford corner by veteran defender Des Lyttle

On twenty minutes, Maguire won a free-kick for the Pitmen twenty yards from goal after being halted by Pearce's illegal challenge. Barrow took the resultant free-kick but saw his powerfully-struck free-kick easily held by Danny McDonnell

Barrow went even close to reducing arrears for the Pitmen five minutes later as Hunter's corner kick gave Worcester problems in clearing their lines, with the ball eventually dropping to the veteran defender on the edge of the penalty area. Barrow turned on the ball quickly and struck a low left-footed shot at goal that dribbled a matter of inches wide of McDonnell's left-hand post

Just before the half-hour mark, Webster's pace saw him get away from Tom Marshall as the pair looked to chase down Warner's long punt forwards - Webster did well to hold off the young defender's challenge but struck his angled drive from twenty yards out just over Hateley's crossbar

On thirty-four minutes, Clegg's quickly-taken free-kick found Smith in space, thirty yards from goal. The former Stafford Rangers man took the ball past O'Connor and worked the ball onto his right foot, but his dipping effort at goal was easily saved by Hateley

O'Connor picked up a loose forward pass from Pearce four minutes later and played a delightful pass into the path of Dyer, who took two touches before striking a fine low shot beyond McDonnell's reach but also wide of the target from fifteen yards out

The Pitmen were finishing the half strongly and Marshall headed a deep corner kick from Maguire over the angle of post and crossbar on forty minutes as he beat Canadian international Justin Thompson to the ball

With the final attack of the first half, Hunter did well to win a bouncing ball ahead of Colley and play a superb pass into the feet of Scott Hadland, whose first-time shot took a nick off Pearce and was deflected wide of goal for a corner kick

The Pitmen had certainly had the chances to get back into the game after getting over the shock of conceding two early goals but had lacked the guile that the likes of McSweeney normally offers up front against a tough and experienced Worcester defence

Any lingering hopes the Pitmen will have had to get themselves back into the game were completely extinguished in an explosive two-minute spell at the start of the second half; thirty seconds after the restart, Worcester won a corner out on the right which Warner sent over a pinpoint cross onto the head of Webster, who was left unmarked by a ball-watching Hednesford defence to head past Hateley from close-range; it was the striker's tenth goal of the season and his third against the Pitmen

The Pitmen were reeling and were sucker-punched by the away side straight from the restart as Worcester grabbed a fourth goal; a long ball forwards from Thompson caught the Hednesford back line out once more, allowing Kelly to seize upon the ball and hold off Barrow's desperate challenge before gleefully firing into the far bottom corner of the net from fifteen yards out

The boos from the Heath Hayes terrace were loud and damning as the frustrated home supporters let Anthrobus and new coach Jimmy Mullen know what they thought of it all as the reality of relegation started to hit the supporter base, for so long positive about the club's chances of avoiding the drop

Anthrobus reacted to the Worcester double whammy by making a change early in the second half as top scorer Paul McMahon was brought on in place of Hunter on fifty minutes

Dyer's pace on fifty-four minutes saw him get away from Burley, steadying himself just outside the Worcester penalty area before squaring the ball to Beckett, whose left-footed shot was way off target and ended up amongst the Hednesford faithful behind McDonnell's goal

Just before the hour mark, Kelly danced past Marshall's non-existent challenge and got himself into the Hednesford penalty area, only for Barrow and Dann to close down the space and force him wide, where his angled drive failed to test Hateley as the ball ended up over the top of the Hednesford end stand


On sixty-three minutes, Maguire made a run down the right to take Dyer's pass into his stride, whipping in a low cross to the near post where a combination of McDonnell and the excellent Pearce denied Lamey a tap-in from a couple of yards out

The beleaguered Pitmen made their second substitution of the afternoon on sixty-seven minutes as Mark Briggs came on to add some much-needed creativity in midfield as he replaced Marshall. This saw the Pitmen revert to a more familiar 4-4-2 formation, having struggled to cope with Worcester's movement in trying to flood the midfield areas early on

McMahon created an opening out of nothing for the hosts on seventy minutes as Barrow's hopeful punt forwards was headed on by the diminutive striker, who ran on to his own flick-on as he left Thompson in his wake before he rounded McDonnell and took the ball wide. He attempted to slide the ball home from an acute angle but was denied by some last-ditch defending by Pearce, who got back to clear McMahon's shot off the line

Two minutes later, the hard-working Hadland delivered a superb free-kick from the right-hand touchline into the Worcester penalty area, beating McDonnell for pace but was somehow missed by no less than three Hednesford players as it skipped wide of the far post when it was begging to be turned home from close-range

Young Worcester substitute Troy Wood could have added a fifth for City with fifteen minutes remaining as Burley made a run down the left-wing and picked the seventeen-year-old out in the penalty area, only for the striker to blaze over Hateley's crossbar when well placed ten yards out

Lamey was a matter of inches away from turning a fine Briggs pass into the net on eighty-two minutes as the midfielder's incisive through ball was just too much for the former Moor Green man to get onto and turn the ball past McDonnell, who claimed the bouncing ball

A quick break from Worcester caught the Pitmen out from their own corner kick three minutes later as O'Connor's set-piece was hacked clear by Pearce and picked up by Colley, who broke down the right. Yellow and green shirts streamed forward to support the midfielder as the Pitmen struggled to keep up, culminating in Kelly overrunning the ball as he looked to pull it back to Wood and the chance was gone

The Pitmen made their final substitution of a miserable afternoon before Hateley could take the goal kick as Adams came on for the final few minutes in place of Maguire, who had struggled at right-back against the lively Clegg and Burley overlapping him

Dann almost gifted the visitors a fifth goal in the second minute of added time as his backwards header towards Hateley fell somewhat short and was seized upon by Clegg, whose attempted lob over the Hednesford goalkeeper was tipped over the crossbar by the quickly backpedalling Hateley

Many Pitmen supporters had already seen enough and had started to exit Keys Park long before added time, leaving the few supporters remaining to make their views known to the Hednesford players and management team after yet another heavy defeat - their eighth game this term where they have conceded four goals or more. Another game without a point leaves the Pitmen four points behind Redditch United in twentieth place, with the two sides due to face each other at Keys Park in three weeks. Positive results against Harrogate Town next Saturday and fellow strugglers Leigh RMI the following Monday night could bring them within touching distance of the Reds - anything less and the Pitmen are most likely staring at a third relegation in just five years 

Hednesford Town: Hateley, Maguire (Adams 85), T. Marshall (Briggs 67), Barrow ©, Dann, Beckett, Hadland, O'Connor, Dyer, Lamey, Hunter (McMahon 50)    Subs Unused: Anthrobus, Molloy

Worcester City: McDonnell, Warner, Burley, Pearce, Thompson, Lyttle, Colley (Walker 58), Smith (Warmer 78), Kelly, Webster (Wood 62), Clegg      Subs Unused: Preece, Hines

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