19.10.2013

Skrill North

Workington

Jackson (14), Forrest (56)

Hednesford Town

Osborne (49), Bailey (71)

(1) 2

(0) 2

Attendance

MoTM

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442

Kris Taylor

W L W W W W W D W D

Stamford (A) 26.10.13

Hednesford came away from Cumbria with a point gained over bottom of the table Workington, which can be seen as a positive result due to the patch-up nature of the Hednesford squad, shorn of a number of key players

Following Tuesday night's epic penalty shoot-out win at West Auckland Town, the Pitmen made their second long trip in five days facing a squad crisis, with Neil Harvey, Charlie Anagho-Ntamark and Dave MacPherson all unavailable for selection. Aaron Rey and Darren Campion were named amongst the substitutes, but were not match fit and would not be risked unless absolutely necessary. This meant a reshuffle across the pitch, with new signing Paul McCone making his debut in an unfamiliar right-back role. This saw normal right-back John Disney pushed across to left-back, replacing Campion. Up front, the loss of Rey and Harvey meant Wayne Riley played up top on his own, with Nathan Woolfe returning to the side in midfield

Workington's season had been a struggle to date, with the reds rooted to the foot of the Skrill North table with only two wins since the start of the campaign. Their pre-season had hugely disrupted with a number of players leaving Borough Park to join ambitious Ebac Northern League side Celtic Nation

An early chance for Workington came on seven minutes with a glorious chance for striker Danny Forrest; Anthony Wright's thrown in found Forrest, who tried his luck with a turn and lob over Dan Crane that came back off the crossbar and away from danger

The Pitmen responded with a chance for top scorer Elliott Durrell on eleven minutes, as Kris Taylor's excellent cross-field ball picked out the midfielder on the edge of the box. His swerving volley dipped just beyond the far post, with Workington keeper Alex Wimmer struggling to get across to the ball

McCone, struggling to settle in his new role at his new club, was guilty of a lack of communication with Crane on fourteen minutes, as he gifted Workington the opening goal. Looking to head a cross back to his goalkeeper, McCone sold his team-mate short with a weak downward header, allowing Forrest to seize upon the loose ball. His goalbound shot was turned away by Crane but only into the path of Joe Jackson, who tapped the rebound home from close range

Workington continued to have the better of the chances in the opening quarter of the game, testing the Pitmen's makeshift defence with pace and neat build-up play that belied their current league position. Forrest went close to doubling their lead on seventeen minutes, with his powerful drive turned away by Crane for a corner kick

Jackson almost took advantage of more defensive woes midway through the half, as Ben Bailey missed a simple header away and allowed Jackson to nip in and fire narrowly wide of goal with a first time shot

The Pitmen looked leggy, nervous and lacking in cohesion in a disjointed first-half display, with stand-in skipper Francino Francis superbly marshalling the square pegs in round holes around him as he looked to keep his side in contention. Up front, Riley was struggling to make an impact as he ploughed a lone furrow against two tall Workington centre backs

They did start to create openings towards the end of the half, however, with Durrell's beautifully-flighted cross only inches away from being converted by Riley at the far post

John Disney - one of the penalty heroes at West Auckland but still searching for a first Hednesford goal, tried his luck with a long-range effort on thirty-two minutes, blasting into the crowd with a wayward shot

Workington's David Lynch probably should have put the hosts two goals to the good just before half time, as he fired a weak effort straight at Crane from a great position inside the penalty area

Despite only having two fit substitutes to pick from, manager Rob Smith made a bold attacking move at half time by bringing on Michael Lennon to play up front alongside Riley. Alex Melbourne was the unlucky player to be taken off as the Pitmen changed their formation to a more familiar 4-4-2

This move paid immediate dividends, as Lennon made an instant impact with his non-stop running, harrying and hard graft. The visitors were level once more just four minutes into the second half, as a long throw from Bailey was flicked on at the near post by Francis and into the path of Osborne at the far post, with the midfielder slotting home from six yards out unopposed

The Pitmen made their final substitution of the afternoon on fifty-three minutes as the industrious Robbie Thompson-Brown was brought on in place of Woolfe, who appeared to limp off the pitch

Despite starting the second period strongly, Hednesford found themselves behind again on fifty-six minutes. Jackson beat McCone for pace down the left-wing and pulled the ball back into the path of Forrest, who fired beyond the reach of Crane and into the far corner of the net to restore Workington's advantage

Despite the latest setback, Hednesford dominated the play in the next ten minutes, with Taylor spraying balls around the park impressively as he looked to create openings for his side. Durrell fired high over the bar with a wild free kick on sixty-three minutes, followed three minutes later by a thunderous effort from the same player from the edge of the box after Osborne and Taylor had teed him up

The away side's pressure eventually told on seventy-one minutes, as Bailey grabbed his first goal of the season after a goalmouth scramble. McCone - who, to be fair, improved immeasurably in the second half after his first-half horror show - was unlucky not to mark his debut with a goal, as he stole in at the far post and headed Durrell's deep cross against the crossbar. Workington failed to clear the ball as it bobbled around the six-yard box, allowing Bailey to slot home from close range to level matters once more

Sensing a winner could be on offer, Hednesford pushed forwards in search of what would have been an unlikely three points in the first half. Taylor went close on eighty minutes, firing a low shot in on goal that was deflected straight into the hands of Wimmer

Workington's Phil McLuckie lived up to his surname on eighty-four minutes, as the reds right-back was only booked for a late, wild challenge on Osborne thirty yards from goal - many observers felt it really should have been a straight red for the player

A frenetic final few minutes saw chances at both ends to win the game; Gavin Skelton headed just over the bar for Workington after stealing into a good position, whilst Bailey went agonisingly close to winning it for the Pitmen in the final minute as his flying header was bundled off the line by Wright

As it was, a point was a well-earned one for both sides, with defeats for North Ferriby and Brackley ensuring the Pitmen stay on top of the Skrill North table on twenty-six points. Another big F.A. Cup weekend follows next Saturday, with a trip to Stamford offering the winners £12,500 of prize money and the possibility of a glamour tie in the first round proper. Before then, Smith and his management team will be focused on getting their wafer-thin squad fit and available after today's game highlighted just how vulnerable they are to a potential crisis of unavailability

Workington: Wimmer, McLuckie , Wright, May ©, Andrews, Skelton (Hindmarch 85), Allison (Wilson 77), Lynch, Jackson, Forrest, Tinnion (McLean 77)      Subs Unused: Dean, Smith

Hednesford Town: Crane, McCone, Disney, Bailey, Francis ©, Melbourne (Lennon 45), Osborne, Durrell, Riley, Woolfe (Thompson-Brown 51), Taylor      Subs Unused: Rey, Campion, MacPherson

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