F.A. Trophy 3rd Round

Hednesford Town

Barrow (38)

Worcester City

(1) 1

(0) 0



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Carl Palmer



Chippenham Town (H) 22.1.05

The current F.A. Trophy holders remain in this season's competition this evening after beating Nationwide Conference North neighbours Worcester City at Keys Park this afternoon to move into the fourth round

The Pitmen's recent return to form had seen them go four games unbeaten over the Christmas and New Year period - all of which had picked up clean sheets - moving Chris Brindley's team up to tenth in the Southern Premier League table before they take the break for today's Trophy tie. There was one change to the starting line-up from the one that had drawn at King's Lynn last weekend as Matt Turner returned to the side in place of the injured Anthony Maguire

Former Southern Premier League rivals Worcester were having an inconsistent season at step two, hovering just outside the play-off places but struggling for form after a topsy-turvy last four weeks. Under-pressure manager John Barton stuck with the same side that had thrown away a two-goal lead against Ashton United last weekend for this afternoon's derby game, including former Hednesford favourites Les Hines and Paul Carty in his eleven

In a typically brisk and cool January afternoon, with both sides well backed by their supporters, Worcester took control of the early proceedings as they looked to make their higher league experience count early on. Nick Colley beat Carl Palmer to a bouncing ball in the fourth minute and played it out to Carty, whose cross into the penalty area was punched away by Ryan Young as Adam Webster looked to turn the ball home from eight yards out

Two minutes later, Webster tried his luck with an opportunistic shot from range in the seventh minute as he picked up Carty's pass but drilled his low shot wide of Young's goal

The Worcester pressure continued through Webster three minutes later as he was given time and space to pick up a pass from Hines before letting fly from twenty yards out, putting his shot narrowly wide of Young's right-hand post

In the thirteenth minute, Webster improvised with a bouncing ball inside the Hednesford penalty area to hook Colley's pass narrowly over the crossbar from fifteen yards out as he was shut down by Richard Teesdale

The stubborn Hednesford defence once again shut the door on Worcester's attackers in the sixteenth minute as Webster sprayed the ball out top Carty and then looked to get on the end of a through ball from the veteran, only for Lee Barrow to step across the front of the striker and clear the danger from six yards out

The Pitmen had struggled to get any momentum going forwards and had to wait until the eighteenth minute of the game to register a shot of any note as Lee Williams clipped a free-kick into the Worcester six-yard box where Leon McSweeney met the ball with his head, glancing the ball wide of Danny McDonnell's far post from close-range

Young Worcester midfielder Tom Warmer won a free-kick to the right of the Hednesford penalty area three minutes later as he was fouled by fellow youngster Mark Branch, with midfield man Jai Stanley sending over a curling, dipping free-kick to the far post where old stager Carl Heeley arrived to head narrowly over the crossbar as Barrow closed down the space

The visitors went closest to opening the scoring via a Hines corner kick on twenty-five minutes as the left-back - who was only passed fit for the game just prior to kick-off - swung the ball in from the right and found the head of Colin Hoyle, whose goalbound header brought out a wonderful fingertip save from Young at his near post to deny the defender a goal

Two minutes later, Young made another fine save to keep his side in contention as Colley's fiercely-struck right-footed effort from twenty-five yards out was pushed away by the highly-rated stopper for another Worcester corner kick

For all of the possession Worcester had enjoyed in the opening half-hour of the game, they had found the lower-league Pitmen a tough nut to crack as Hednesford continued to show plenty of spirit and endeavour, particularly in midfield through Palmer and Williams. It was the former who went close for the hosts on thirty-one minutes as his daisy-cutter of a shot deceived McDonnell as it came at him through a crowd of players but drifted wide of the far post

Three minutes later, Barrow made a late run into the Worcester penalty area unchallenged as Turner's deep free-kick from the right was flicked on by McSweeney and into the path of the veteran defender, whose scuffed effort ended up in the side-netting

Barrow was not to be denied, however, on thirty-eight minutes as his superb strike put the home side ahead; Williams swung in a free-kick from the right that was partially cleared by Hines and into the path of Barrow, who was lurking on the edge of the Worcester penalty area. The centre-back showed great technique to turn and strike a fine half-volley back through a forest of legs and past McDonnell for his first goal of the season

The Pitmen's goal appeared to affect Worcester's confidence as their previously neat and tidy play started to disintegrate with passes going astray and niggly fouls on the likes of Turner and Andy Bell earning the hosts cheap free-kicks

One such free-kick earned by Bell on forty-two minutes saw Turner take responsibility and curl his effort over the top of the Worcester wall that McDonell pushed over his own crossbar for a corner kick

With the final action of the first half, Palmer did well to hold off the challenge of the similarly-combative Stanley and play the ball through to Bell, who helped the ball onto McSweeney. However, the Irishman was pulled up for an earlier infringement by the assistant on the main stand side, who felt that McSweeney had held Hines back in the build-up

The hosts could feel happy with their first-half performance after weathering the early Worcester storm and finishing the half strongly with Barrow's goal handing them a well-deserved lead

Warmer looked to get the visitors back on level terms just a couple of minutes after the restart as he made a fine run down the left-wing to beat Ross Adams and enter the Hednesford penalty area, cutting the ball back into the six-yard box but slightly in front of both Webster and Leon Kelly, who both made late runs into the penalty area

Any early pressure exerted on the Hednesford goal quickly dissipated as the hosts took charge of the game and pushed their step two visitors back into their own third for long periods of the second period. McSweeney did well to get away from Heeley's attentions on fifty-three minutes with a smart turn of pace and a fair amount of skill to leave the defender in his wake, drilling in a low shot that McDonnell palmed away to his right for a corner kick

Williams stole the ball from Colley three minutes later and set Turner on his way down the right flank up against Hines. The winger got a lucky bounce off the shin of the Pitmen's Trophy hero from last season as he made his way into the box but was perhaps a little selfish in his application as he fired wide of goal from an angle rather than look to pick out the unmarked Bell at the far post

On the hour mark, Bell was denied by McDonnell once more as the youngster got goal side of Hoyle to meet a low cross from Grant Beckett, only for McDonnell to make a fairly comfortable save to his left to claim the ball at his far post and claim Bell's stubbed effort

Four minutes later, Barrow almost doubled his, and the Pitmen's total for the afternoon as he met Turner's free-kick full-on with his head at the near post but got his angles all wrong and headed high and wide from eight yards out

Hines tried his luck from a free-kick for the away side on sixty-seven minutes as he clipped a left-footed shot over the four-man Hednesford wall but narrowly cleared Young's crossbar

Barry Woolley came on in place of Colley on seventy-one minutes and was immediately involved for the visitors as his fine pass through the middle of the Hednesford defence found Webster, whose first-time shot was easily saved by Young

McDonnell continued to frustrate the Pitmen with a series of good stops, making the latest in a long line of good saves on seventy-five minutes as he made a timely save to deny Palmer after Turner had picked the midfielder out in a well-placed position ten yards from goal 

Worcester were looking heavy-legged and out of ideas at this juncture, throwing on the lively James Smith for Stanley with eleven minutes remaining as they looked to salvage at least a replay from then ninety minutes

In truth, it was the Pitmen who finished the game the stronger of the two sides as they continued to plunder chances against a Worcester side that started to push more players forwards and left gaps at the back. Palmer was off-target on eighty-one minutes as he miscued Bell's lay-off following a quick break from Turner down the right flank

Two minutes later, Williams delivered a fine pass into the path of McSweeney, who once again got the better of Heeley but struck his shot into the ground and straight at McDonell when he should have done better from eighteen yards out

With five minutes remaining, Beckett and Branch linked up well down the left to play bell into space just outside the Worcester penalty area. The Pitmen's top scorer dragged the ball back and away from Hoyle's challenge but drove his low shot wide of goal

Full-back Rob Warner was on hand to deny the Pitmen a game-sealing second goal with two minutes remaining as he hacked Teesdale's goalbound header off the line after the young centre-back had headed Williams' corner kick goalwards from ten yards out

It had been a highly impressive display from the hosts, who had looked more than a match for their step two opponents and had dominated large parts of the game after struggling in the early stages. The holders move into the fourth round draw on Monday and will hope for a favourable pairing as they dare to dream of a repeat of last season's fairytale. In the meantime, they will look to continue their upturn in recent form when they return to Southern Premier League action next weekend when they play host to title-chasing Chippenham Town

Hednesford Town: Young, Adams, Branch, Barrow, Teesdale, Williams, Turner, Palmer ©, Bell, McSweeney, Beckett      Subs Unused: Brindley, Brannan, Rogers, Dyer, Evans

Worcester City: McDonnell, Warner, Hines, Hoyle, Heeley ©, Colley (Woolley 71), Carty, Stanley (Smith 79), Kelly, Webster, Warmer (Lyons 82)     Subs Unused: Khan, Skyers