Bradford Park Avenue 0 – 1 Hednesford Town
Heroic Pitmen Rear Guard Action Defends Dunkley Header
A superb opening day defensive performance by Hednesford Town secured an impressive 1-0 win against very well fancied Bradford Park Avenue as Cheyenne Dunkley’s early header proved enough.
Rob Smith’s men were looking to continue the outstanding run of form which took them to within inches of promotion last season but had their back to the walls for the vast majority of the game. The difference between the two sides was a perfectly flighted Chris Clements free-kick on three minutes which found Dunkley to power a header past Bradford keeper James Coates.
The defensive triplet of Dunkley and new signings Pedro Monteiro and Chris Shaw repelled attack after attack from last season’s play-off contenders and The Pitmen robustly defended no less than fourteen corners as the home side desperately searched for an equaliser.
Despite the near incessant pressure Bradford will no doubt feel they should have made more of their dominance as Dan Crane was only seriously tested on one occasion when, on twenty-one minutes, Nicky Boshell controlled a flick on and forced Crane to smother his shot at the back post.
Six minutes later a looping header from another Bradford corner beat Crane but dropped onto the crossbar and away to safety and, save from some hopeful long shots the home side failed to break down a resolute Pitmen defence, with the outstanding Monteiro at the heart.
Rob Smith’s side set up to defend throughout the second half and hit on the counter attack as Bradford pushed men forward. On fifty-four minutes that tactic very nearly came off but for a fantastic save by Coates after Mark Danks had broken down the right and crossed for Danny Quinn to flick the ball towards the corner.
Substitute Nick Wellecomme could also have secured the win with nine minutes to go as he battled through into the area and forced Coates to block his right footed shot.
As the clock ticked towards ninety minutes Bradford became more and more desperate in their search for an equaliser but all the time, whether it be through throw-in’s, numerous corners or long hopeful balls into the box, all they found was the tower of strength that was Dunkley, Shaw and Monteiro.
As the final whistle was blown and The Pitmen travelling fans celebrated an important opening day victory, Wellecomme was involved in an altercation with a Bradford player and was shown a red card for raising his hand – an unfortunate end to a very encouraging first win of the season.
The Pitmen now face another team who are expected to be challenging for promotion, in the shape of Buxton at Keys Park on Tuesday, before welcoming league-favourites Chester to their home patch next Saturday afternoon in a game which promises to create a superb atmosphere and further test both their attack and defensive mettle.
Bradford Park Avenue
Coates, Plimmer, Drury, O-Brien © (Graves 64), Denton (Daly 64), Clayton, Duckworth (Law 76), Hotte, Marshall, Savory, Boshell,
Subs Not Used
Crane, Monteiro, Campion ©, Shaw, Dunkley (3), Denny, Haynes, Clements, Quinn (Robinson 76), Danks (Wellecomme 69), Clarke,
Subs Not Used
Clayton, Hotte, Danks, Quinn,
Entertainment Rating – 3 Stars
Star Man – Pedro Menteiro
Attendance – 442