Stafford Rangers 0-1 Hednesford
Hednesford Town laid the ghost of their Boxing Day defeat to Chasetown firmly to rest with a superb win against their biggest local rivals, achieving a league double and away league win at Marston Road for the first time in several decades.
The winning goal, while hardly vintage, came from the boot of Rangers’ nemesis Marvin Robinson who added to his cult status following his hat-trick in The Pitmen’s 5-4 victory at Keys Park earlier in the season.
On a heavy pitch which, following torrential rain over the New Year period, resembled a grassy bog and with a howling wind freezing the very bones of the one-thousand-one-hundred-and-twenty-three present the match was never going to be a free-flowing classic but had the feel of a passionate local derby.
In a crackling and venemous atmosphere created by a vociferous Hednesford travelling support of over five-hundred, Robinson shot against the side netting early on before Dan Crane was forced into action as Rangers striker Harry Clayton had his sides first goalbound effort.
Ben Jevons, Jay Denny and especially the magnificent Campion harried and rushed the Stafford midfield in the opening period and the decisive goal came on thirty-six minutes to send the travelling Pitmen hoardes into delerium.
A Jevons ball in wasn’t cleared well enough by a panicky Stafford defence and as the ball dropped at the back post Robinson was there to rifle his shot past Danny Read.
In a scrappy second half Rob Smith’s side had to withstand heavy bombardment of their defence as Kevin Street conducted a series of attacks from midfield but the imperious Ben Bailey, epitomising the passion of a Cannock Chase derby was on hand, alongside his fellow team mates to stem the tide.
Jevons could have doubled his sides’ lead on the counter as a well won flick on by Nick Wellcomme put through the midfielder but his shot was smartly saved by Read.
Both Rob Smith and Dorian Garner were asked to leave the touchline in the final ten minutes as tempers frayed on and off the pitch but a handball in a scramble in stoppage time gave Chris Clements the opportunity to put the game to bed for The Pitmen from the penalty spot.
His kick was well saved low to his right by Read but Clements and Hednesford didn’t come to rue the miss as the referee blew for time shortly afterwards to send their supporters into wild celebration.
The Pitmen now go into a near season-defining run of fixtures during January where they will clash with top sides Northwich Victoria and Chester, promotion hopefuls Marine and FC United of Manchester and welcome Bradford Park Avenue to Keys Park for their first home game of 2012 on Saturday 7th January.
Crane, Bailey, Campion, Dunkley, Monteiro, Denny, Haynes, Clements, Robinson (36) (Landell 86), Wellecomme, Jevons (Osborne 85)
Subs Not Used
Durrell, Danks, Shaw
Read, George, Brown, Espley, Dicker (c), Carr, Heler (Sheldon 74), Street, Clayton, Thompson, Bell
Subs Not Used
Stevenson, Rogers, Patrick, Alcock
Hednesford: Bailey, Campion, Robinson, Jevons, Shaw
Stafford: George, Sheldon, Carr
Entertainment Rating – 4 Stars
Star Man – Ben Bailey
Attendance – 1123