Hednesford Town made it twelve months undefeated at Keys Park with a strong second half performance against a spirited Whitby Town side who, to their credit, attacked with vigour in an open first half.
Home debutant Ben Jevons opened the scoring for The Pitmen inside five minutes as he latched on to a well judged through ball to finish confidently into the far corner past David Campbell.
The away side responded positively to the goal and equalised on eight minutes when Andrew Leeson tapped in from close range after Dan Crane had made a point blank save from a header at the back post.
Hednesford didn’t let the goal break their stride as striker Gary Hay scuffed his shot wide after being put through by a superbly won header from Nick Wellecomme on fifteen minutes and, sixty seconds later, Ben Bailey flicked on a cross by Chris Clements which landed agonising wide of the post.
As the half wore on it was Whitby who made the better chances and they will feel disappointed not to have scored as the home sides’ defence creaked and allowed both Matthew Tymon and Leeson space to head wide in the penalty area.
However their best chance came on forty-two minutes when the impressive Callum Martin capitalised on indecision down the right flank and laid the ball square for Tymon but the striker side footed wide with the goal gaping.
Hednesford manager Rob Smith made a bold change at half time to bring on striker Mark Danks for defender Chris Shaw and will have no doubt told his side to stay tighter on Martin to prevent Whitby’s best player causing any further danger.
Smith’s team talk had the desired effect as Darren Campion and The Pitmen’s defence in general succeeded in nullifying any threat from the right wing in the second half and looked the stronger and, crucially, the fitter of the two teams.
Hednesford should have taken the lead on fifty-eight minutes when Clements charged down a defensive clearance, advanced with the loose ball and, perhaps too unselfishly, squared for Danks to drill a shot which was beaten away well by Campbell.
Marvin Robinson was introduced into the fray on sixty-six minutes and caused Whitby problems but it was centre-half Ben Bailey who forced the breakthrough, scoring with a powerful header from a deep Clements free kick with fourteen minutes to go.
Both Clements and Campion saw long range left footed shots fly over the crossbar as The Pitmen took control of the game until subsitute Danks, making his first league appearance since recovering from a knee injury sustained early on in the season, drilled a superb half volley past Campbell on eighty minutes to secure the three points.
Substitute Elliott Durrell looked lively when he came on in the last seven minutes and could have added a fourth when his shot was deflected just wide of the post with Campbell beaten.
The Pitmen now have a Birmingham Senior Cup game against League One outfit Walsall FC on Tuesday at Keys Park to look forward to before welcoming fellow Evo-Stik Northern Premier outfit Matlock Town in the FA Trophy Second Qualifying Round next Saturday 5th November.
Crane, Haynes, Shaw (Danks 46 (80)), Monteiro, Bailey (76), Denny, Jevons (5), Clements, Wellecomme (Robinson 66), Hay (Durrell 82), Campion ©,
Subs Not Used: Gomes, Grice
Campbell, Marron, White, Hassan, Burgess, Hawkins, Martin, McTiernan, Tymon, Leeson (8), Robinson ©,
Subs Not Used: Dunford, Williams, Courtney
Bookings – Danks, White, Burgess
HT Score – 1-1
Entertainment Rating – 4 Stars
Star Man – Chris Clements
Attendance – 491