F.A. Trophy 4th Round

Hednesford Town

Danks (9)


Francis (43)

(1) 1

(1) 1




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Mark Danks



Welling United (A) 7.2.04

The two sides will have to it all again in a week's time after Ryman League Division One South side Worthing held their higher league hosts to a draw tonight and will host the Pitmen at their Woodside Road ground looking to complete an upset


 Manager Barry Powell - coming under pressure from supporters to arrest an alarming slide in results in the Dr. Martens Premier League - made three changes to the line-up that had started the 2-1 defeat to Eastbourne Borough last weekend as Darren Simkin, Damien Charie and Craig Dean replaced Alex Gibson, Steve Evans and the cup-tied Chris Gray with Powell looking for a reaction from his underperforming players

Worthing arrived at Keys Park for their first-ever visit to South Staffordshire at the second time of asking after Saturday's original game had been postponed due to a waterlogged pitch.The draw for the firth round had already taken place to give the two sides an idea of who they could be facing in the next round, with the winners of the tie due to host either Forest Green Rovers or Hednesford's league rivals Dover Athletic at home a week on Saturday. The Reds had been in fine form at step three this term, sitting in fifth place at present albeit fourteen points behind second-placed Lewes in the final promotion spot. Manager Alan Pook made three changes to the side that had beaten Slough Town in their previous league game, bringing Sean Edwards, Andy Beech and Mark Knee in for Shaun Grice, Luke Fontana and Wes Lopez for their biggest game of the season


The Pitmen started well with Les Hines sending over a dangerous cross from the left in the fourth minute of the game that appeared to strike the hand of Beech as the defender went to clear the danger away from Steve Anthrobus The referee seemed unimpressed with the Pitmen's appeals for a spot-kick and continued with the game

Mark Danks put the hosts in front a few minutes later with fine strike to add to his impressive goal tally for the season as he picked up a pass from Dean out on the left hand side of the penalty area before unleashing a wonderful curling effort that beat Will Packham in the Worthing goal by finding the far corner of the net

Worthing came back into the game strongly in the following ten minutes as top scorer Sam Francis fired a warning shot across the face of Ryan Young's goal with an opportunistic effort from eighteen yards out

Right winger Ben Carrington threatened with his pace down the flank on fifteen minutes, beating Les Hines as he drifted inside to collect a pass from skipper Paul Rogers and shooting narrowly wide of goal. Close from the visitors


Danks and Anthrobus linked up well to play Dean down the left wing on twenty minutes in behind Chris Dicker; Dean's deep cross to the far post found Charie lurking only for Beech to throw himself in front of the youngster's low shot and deflect the ball away from danger


Full-back Sean Edwards came to Packham's rescue four minutes later after the Worthing keeper had fumbled a cross-cum-shot from Charie and allowed the ball to squirm towards goal, prompting Edwards to get himself back onto his own goal line and acrobatically clear the ball

The step two Pitmen continued to press their lower-league opponents, with Danks forcing Packham into a fine save on twenty-nine minutes as he received the ball from Steve Palmer before shooting from distance


At the other end, Young kept Hednesford in front on thirty-three minutes with a diving stop to his right to turn Mark Knee's shot away from goal with a fine save

Dean's return to the side was brought to a premature end on three minutes later as he limped off with what appeared to be an ankle problem and was replaced by Anthony Maguire

Danks was denied by Packham once more on thirty-eight minutes as the young striker raced not a through ball from Carl Palmer before lashing his shot straight down the throat of the onrushing away keeper

Despite having the better of the chances in the first period, the Pitmen went in at half-time on level terms as Worthing levelled matters two minutes before the interval; a pin-point pass from the influential Carrington found Francis in behind the flat-footed Hednesford defence, who coolly turned and slotted past Young from twelve yards out

The visitors suffered a blow at the break as Carrington was forced off with what appeared to be a knee injury sustained in added time after a clash with Hines. He was replaced by Gavin Geddes down the right flank for the second period

The returning Simkin drove a shot narrowly wide of Packham's right-hand post a couple of minutes after the restart following a free-kick from Hines that was only cleared as far as the former Wolves man on the edge of the Worthing penalty area

A lung-busting run from Worthing's Mark Pulling on fifty-two minutes saw the midfielder make a forty yard dart into the Hednesford half and fire straight into the arms of Young from twenty yards out

Three minutes later, Chris Brindley made one of his first forays forward to meet a Hines corner kick only to head high over the crossbar as he was put under pressure by Beech

On the hour mark, an incisive pass from Pulling - taking the creative duties from Carrington  - found Geddes clear of the Hednesford defence just to the right of the penalty area. His cross was aimed at Francis, who was denied by a fine save from Young as the Hednesford keeper beat the Worthing goal scorer to the cross

Five minutes later, Geddes was presented with a fine chance to give the away side the lead as Pulling crossed well for the substitute, only for his header to narrowly clear the crossbar from ten yards out

The visitors were very much on top at this point in the game as the Pitmen struggled with the movement and pace of Francis, Pulling and Geddes going forwards. Geddes was denied a chance to score on sixty-eight minutes as his run in behind a static home defence was pulled up by a late and tight offside call against him. It was a controversial call as it appeared the Lee Barrow appeared to be playing the winger onside in the middle of the pitch

Young made a superb instinctive save on seventy-four minutes to firstly deny Geddes from close range and then somehow get across his goal to turn Francis's rebound away from a certain goal

The Pitmen's best chance to deny Worthing a replay came with twelve minutes remaining as Maguire broke down the right and played a one-two with Danks before sending over a fine cross that Brindley volleyed goalwards; Packham was equal to the defender's goal bound effort and turned the shot around the post for a Hednesford corner kick

Simkin was replaced by the younger, pacier Steve Evans with nine minutes remaining as the hosts looked to force home a winner and avoid a trip down to the South Coast next week

Worthing were now protecting what they had and dropped back into their own third to soak up the inevitable Hednesford pressure in the remaining minutes of the game. The Hednesford supporters called on Powell to bring on Nathan Lamey to add to the striking options, but they were roundly ignored by the Hednesford manager

Deep into stoppage time a Danks cross from the left found Charie, who met the cross at the far post but was denied a late winner by Dicker's timely block from a couple of yards out. Anthrobus, Brindley and Carl Palmer all tried to force the ball home but were denied by some last-ditch defending by the visitors

Worthing had earned the right to have another crack at their step two opponents on their own turf after an impressive attacking display and will probably consider themselves favourites to go through when the two sides meet again in seven days time. For the Pitmen it is another game without a win, now dating back to their win against Gresley Rovers in the last round a full nine games ago. A return to league duty intersects these two games against Worthing as Powell's team make the long trip to Kent on Saturday to face mid-table Welling United for the first time this season desperately looking for a break in a season that is rapidly coming apart at the seams

Hednesford Town: Young, Simkin (S. Evans 81), Hines, Charie, Brindley, BarrowC. Palmer, S. Palmer ©Anthrobus, Danks, Dean (Maguire 36)      Subs Unused: Goodwin, Lamey, P. Evans

Worthing: Packham, Edwards, Dicker, Beech, Lutwyche, Pulling, Carrington (Geddes 45), Rogers ©, Francis, Knee, Hill       Subs Unused: Mateos, Keehan, Pook, Standen