Evo-Stik Northern Premier League


Hednesford Town

Sheldon (3), McDermott (6)

(0) 0

(2) 2



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Tony Clarke


Warrington Town (H) 10.12.16

What a difference a week makes! Paul Casey's hard work and decision-making paid off this afternoon, as the new Hednesford boss celebrated his first win as manager with an excellent display at mid-table Workington this afternoon


Following three defeats on the spin, Casey had some difficult decisions to make in the past week as he looked to get the Pitmen back on track in the Evo-Stik Premier League. Out had gone Michael Williams (Chasetown) and Gurjit Singh (Redditch United), casualties of the changing of managers. Casey had been busy bringing in more players to give him options with the experienced pair of Gavin Caines and David McDermott joining the club from Blyth Spartans and Worcester City respectively, as well as signing young Kidderminster Harriers midfielder George Forsyth on a month's loan


David Hewson's Workington had been frustratingly inconsistent this term so far, as they looked to build on their top-five finish last season. The previous week had summed their season up perfectly, as they followed up an excellent 3-0 win over Spennymoor Town with a poor 5-0 defeat at Stourbridge to leave the reds in a mid-table position. 


On a cold early winter afternoon in Cumbria, the new-look Pitmen were quickly into their stride - and what a start it was for the handful of people who made the journey up from Hednesford. In just the third minute, Tony Clarke was fouled by Kyle May just outside the penalty area, allowing Tom Thorley the opportunity to strike at goal from the resultant kick. The Hednesford skipper's curling shot came back off the crossbar but fell kindly for the recently-signed Jamie Sheldon, who headed home the rebound for his first goal for the club


It got even better for the visitors three minutes later, as debutant McDermott slipped past Jake Simpson with a neat piece of control, before sliding the ball past Aaran Taylor in the Workington goal. Not a bad start to his time at Keys Park by scoring with one of his first touches to give his new side a two-goal lead inside the first ten minutes of the game


The Pitmen continued to press, buoyed by the brilliant start they had made. Former Walsall man Caines almost got in on the scoring act on fifteen minutes with a debut goal of his own, heading just over the crossbar from a Thorley corner kick as he rose highest at the far post


The lively Sheldon was impressing on his full debut for the club and went close to adding to his early goal on three minutes later as his low shot was deflected narrowly past the near post by May for a Hednesford corner kick


Workington came back into the game as the half progressed, although they were limited to half-chances against a more sturdy-looking Hednesford defence. Elliott Newby was denied by a comfortable Dan Crane save on twenty-six minutes, easily saving the striker's cross-shot after he had darted in behind Dan Brenan


The Pitmen continued to create the better of the chances and a scramble inside the Workington penalty area on twenty-eight minutes culminated in a scuffed shot from Clarke that bounced off the base of the post and running along the goal line, before being cleared by full-back Gari Rowntree


Newby's curling free-kick on thirty-three minutes was lifted a foot or so over Crane's crossbar and into the vast, crumbling Borough Park terracing behind the goal

Crane was alert to the danger on thirty-seven minutes as he tipped a drifted cross from Scott Allison over his own crossbar for a Workington corner as the ball threatened to drop over the veteran stopper's head and into the far corner of the net

A quick break from the Pitmen two minutes later saw McDermott trade passes with Thorley before crossing for Clarke, whose weak stab at goal was turned away from danger by May once more


As the game entered the final minute of the first half, Workington midfielder Josh Calvert tried his luck with a long-range shot that just dipped over the crossbar

 Workington's James Earl had the final chance of a competitive first half, firing a rising effort narrowly over Crane's crossbar after cutting inside from the wing and beating Calum Flanagan

It had been a fine response from Casey's men in the first half, who had shown real desire in front of goal but also a good level of discipline in defence to limit Workington to long-range efforts during the first period


Kyle Rowley was on hand to deny Workington early in the second half as the reds started strongly, clearing a dangerous Ryan cross away from the Hednesford goal with Newby lurking in the six-yard box

More disciplined defending from the visitors saw them deal with three successive Workington corners on fifty-three minutes with relative ease as the hosts struggled to create any efforts of note

At the other end, Thorley's deep free-kick was met at the far post by the impressive Clarke, only for the Workington defence to smuggle the ball away from both Caines and the recovering Clarke

On fifty-eight minutes, a superb through ball from Newby found Allison clean through on the Hednesford goal, only for the assistant on the near side to pull the striker back for an earlier offside against him before he could shoot at goal


The Pitmen were forced into a change at the hour mark after Jamie Matthews was forced off the pitch after an earlier slip on the greasy turf; He was replaced by Reece Leek, who lined up out on the left-wing


Crane made his first fine save of the second half on sixty-two minutes, making a superb one-handed stop to palm away a Joe McGee effort and concede a corner kick. A great save from the former Burton man 

He followed this up with an equally fine stop three minutes later as he pushed Allison's close-range effort away from goal after the striker had got goal side of Brenan to turn the ball goalwards


A deep cross from Simpson on seventy-one minutes found Allison waiting in the Hednesford penalty area, but the forward got his shot all wrong and lifted his effort high over the crossbar, much to the ironic cheers of the small band of Hednesford supporters at the other end of the pitch

The hosts were starting to come to terms with the result as the chances dried up for them in the latter stages of the game. Much of this can be attributed to the excellent Hednesford defending, with the newly-put together four of Rowley, Flanagan, Caines and Brenan supporting Crane well in nullifying the threat of Allison, Newby and Ryan


With nine minutes remaining, the recently re-signed Luke Shearer was given a late run-out by Casey up front as he came on in place of McDermott, who was afforded applause from the travelling supporters for an impressive debut


Just as the Pitmen looked to have done enough to see the game through, Workington were awarded a late penalty kick on eighty-four minutes as Brenan was adjudged to have brought Allison down in the penalty area as the pair challenged for the ball


Newby's resultant kick, however, lacked any real conviction with the striker hitting a weak penalty at a nice height for Crane, who made a good save to preserve his well-earned clean sheet

This seemed to completely deflate the hosts, with many of their supporters heading off into the murky evening as their hopes of a late comeback were now dashed with Allison missing the penalty kick


Casey and his troops will be delighted at recording their first win in four games, in a result that keeps them in touch with the other members of the top five. The attractive football of earlier in the season seems very lacking in many parts, but a more robust, resolute Hednesford side has emerged from the changes driven by Liam McDonald's departure and Casey's arrival. Fellow play-off chasers Warrington will offer another stern test to the Pitmen next weekend when they make their first-ever trip to Keys Park in competitive action in what will be another tough test of Casey's character as the new man at the helm at Keys Park


Workington: Taylor, Simpson, Rowntree (Waterston 88), May, Douglas, Earl (Wright 72), McGee, Calvert, Ryan (Symington 60), Allison, Newby       Subs Unused: Henderson, Fowler


Hednesford Town: Crane, Rowley, Flanagan, Thorley ©, Caines, Brenan, Matthews (Leek 60), Sheldon, Clarke , Sammons, McDermott (Shearer 81)       Subs Unused: Dunkley, Forsyth, Hutton