F.A. Trophy 3rd Qualifying Round

Hednesford Town

Riley (27), Francis (30), Durrell (60)


(2) 3

(0) 0



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Tom Thorley


Brackley Town (A) 23.11.13

Hednesford safely navigated their way through to the first round of this season's F.A. Trophy this afternoon, as the Pitmen confidently dispatched of fellow Skrill North side Workington at a chilly Keys Park

Following the Pitmen's narrow F.A. Cup exit to League One side Crawley Town last weekend, manager Rob Smith paid tribute to his side's fighting spirit but also put pressure on his side to bounce back to winning ways against a side they had faced just under a month ago in Cumbria. With this in mind, Smith made two changes to his side - Wayne Riley coming in up front in place of Michael Lennon and new signing Tom Thorley making his full debut ahead of Robbie Thompson-Brown after missing out last week due to being cup-tied

Workington arrived in Staffordshire crippled by the unavailability of no less than six players, due to a combination of suspensions, injuries and loan players being cup-tied. With this in mind, Darren Edmondson's Reds - currently struggling in the Skrill North relegation zone - could only muster three substitutes for this afternoon's tie, looking to overturn a Hednesford side high on confidence at the top of the table

On an overcast, typically late autumn afternoon, the Pitmen made a slow start to proceedings as they allowed the makeshift Workington side to stroke the ball around in the opening exchanges without really testing Hednesford's resolve

The hosts were first to register an effort on goal however on six minutes, as a drilled cross from Thorley looked to have picked out Riley at the far post. Just as Riley was about to turn the loose ball home from close range, Workington keeper Joel Dixon managed to get enough on the ball to divert it away from goal and deny Riley his fourth goal of the season

Workington responded quickly and were guilty of missing an excellent chance three minutes later. Lee Andrews' cross from the right flank was headed narrowly over the crossbar by Josef Jackson when it looked easier to score from six yards out

Two successive Hednesford corners on twelve minutes saw panic in the Workington ranks as they struggled to clear their lines; Francino Francis bravely dived in as he looked to turn the second Elliott Durrell corner goalwards, but only managed to divert the ball wide amongst a tangle of Workington legs

Durrell tried his luck on twenty-one minutes with a trademark long-range piledriver, unleashing a rising effort from twenty-five yards that dipped over Dixon's crossbar

Andrews was lucky to escape with only a booking on twenty-four minutes, as his late, clumsy challenge on Jamey Osborne out on the touchline left the Hednesford midfielder in a heap. On another day, with a different referee, Andrews may have walked for his tackle

Hednesford finally found a way through the stubborn Workington back line on twenty-seven minutes, as Riley managed to get in behind the Reds defence and toe-poke the ball past the onrushing Dixon. In almost slow motion, the ball bobbled goalwards and finally settled into the net via a touch off the left-hand post

There was more to celebrate from the Pitmen three minutes later, as they doubled their lead and put themselves firmly in command. A Durrell corner was headed back to him by the Workington defence, allowing the midfielder to change the angle and send over a deep, swinging return cross. The quality of the ball in was too much for the Workington defence as they were caught ball watching, allowing Francis to rise and get the faintest touch on the cross and glance the ball into the corner of the net

Workington could have dragged themselves back into contention on thirty-four minutes as striker Scott Allison rattled Dan Crane's right-hand post with a firm shot from ten yards out

Francis could have put the game beyond Workington just before half time, but got his shot all wrong from the edge of the penalty area and fired high over the Hednesford end with a wild effort

Osborne was an early casualty at the start of the second half, as he limped off after more rough treatment from the opposition. Alex Melbourne came on in his place to shore up the midfield alongside Kris Taylor and Thorley

With the cushion of a two-goal advantage, the Pitmen were free to express themselves in the early stages of the second half and created a number of good openings as they searched for that killer third goal

An incisive through ball from Taylor on fifty-three minutes opened up the tiring Workington defence, allowing Neil Harvey to nip in behind the visiting back line. The big striker took the ball around Dixon, who brought Harvey down just outside the area. The Keys Park crowd demanded a red card for the Workington keeper, but the referee showed common sense in showing him a yellow card due to the fact that Harvey was running away from goal and there was a covering defender present

Workington skipper Rory May was guilty of gifting the Pitmen a great chance on the hour mark, as his back pass to Dixon - under pressure from Harvey - forced Dixon to smother the ball low down to his left-hand side. The referee correctly awarded the Pitmen an indirect free kick inside the penalty area for a deliberate backpass picked up by Dixon

Standing fifteen yards from goal, Taylor and Durrell combined once more to grab yet another Hednesford strike from a free-kick; Taylor tapped the ball to Durrell, who drove a low shot beyond the reach of Dixon and into the far corner of the net, somehow finding a small hole in the net in the process. Despite the initial confusion of the ball coming back out of the net, the goal was correctly given

This killer third goal allowed the Pitmen the luxury of resting key personnel ahead of next week's mouthwatering Skrill North game against fellow high flyers Brackley Town. On sixty-nine minutes, both Harvey and Taylor were taken off, replaced by Aaron Rey and Lennon respectively. This double change saw Riley dropped back into a midfield role to allow Rey and Lennon to play up front

Ben Bailey tried to match his defensive partner Francis's goal count on eighty-three minutes, heading firmly towards goal from a Durrell corner but powering his effort straight at Dixon

A minute later, a neat run and cross from Ross Wilson begged to be turned into the empty net by a Workington player, but the ball drifted harmlessly out of play as it ran across the six-yard box

Workington's rotten afternoon in front of goal was summed up in the final minute of normal time, as a cross from Jackson found Allison unmarked at the far post. Rather than tap the ball home, Allison somehow managed to skew his shot horribly wide of the post, much to the humour of the Hednesford fans

In added time, Workington still looked to create chances, with Crane saving from Wilson and Francis hacking Allison's rebound off the line as the Reds continued to plug away in search of a consolation

All in all, a confident, powerful performance from the Pitmen, who continued their strong start to the season at Keys Park with what is fast becoming a regulation win here. Next week's trip to Brackley will be a major test of the side's capabilities, as they look to consolidate their first place in Skrill North as they return to league action after two weeks away. Thorley looked a class act on his first start for the club - supported by a midfield that grew into the game, in front of the ever-impressive Francis and Bailey. Hopefully, Monday morning's draw will give Hednesford the tie their efforts deserve following this excellent win

Hednesford Town: Crane, Disney, Campion ©, Bailey, Francis, Taylor (Lennon 69), Osborne (Melbourne 50), Durrell, Harvey (Rey 69), Riley, Thorley        Subs Unused: McCone, Thompson-Brown

Workington: Dixon , Andrews , Wright, May © , S. Smith, Skelton, Hindmarch (J. Smith 72), Lynch, Jackson, Wilson, Allison      Subs Not Used: Dean, Conway

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