Hednesford Town overcame a plucky Chasetown side in attrocious conditions at The Scholars Ground as the heavens opened but it was the Pitmen’s play-off hopes which were resurrected by an eighty-first minute Andre Landell winner.
With rivals FC United Of Manchester sensationally losing 1-0 away to Ashton United Rob Smith’s men are now level on points, albeit significantly behind on goal difference, going into the final three games of the season.
The game, played in torrential rain throughout, had the crackle of a local derby and the home side started far quicker out of the blocks, hitting the woodwork in the opening exchanges.
Ben Jevons and Jay Denny shot wide for The Pitmen before Chasetown took the lead on ninteen minutes as, following a Mark Branch corner, Asa Charlton fired home into the roof of the net.
The one goal lead was no more than Chasetown deserved and the turning point in the game from their point of view was a strong penalty shout as Dean Perrow sprinted through on goal and was brought down by Dan Crane on the half hour mark. The referee waved play on despite the strong protestations of Chasetown boss Chris Brindley and the home supporters although The Pitmen faithful will claim the keeper got a touch on the ball.
Crane was again involved when he was called upon to save a Branch free kick on thirty-seven minutes before, as half time approached and Hednesford had their first period of concerted pressure, Nick Wellecomme nodded in an equaliser from an Jamey Osborne cross to level the scores.
The second period was a more cagey affair than the first half on the now sodden pitch but the away side looked the more threatening throughout.
What could prove a hugely significant goal in both clubs’ season came with nine minutes to go when an Elliott Durrell corner caused havoc in the box. Lee Evans blocked an initial shot superbly but was powerless to prevent Landell sweeping the ball in to send the travelling throngs behind the goal wild.
Hednesford’s up and down season looked all but doomed prior to kick off but the victory will no doubt have given renewed impetus to the squad and, concievably, The Pitmen could be three points inside the play-off places when FC United take to the pitch versus Matlock Town next Saturday.
The obstacle preventing such a turn around is the difficult test of second placed Northwich Victoria in a game scheduled for Friday night, 7.45pm KO, at Leek Town’s Harrison Park ground.
Crane, Haynes, Shaw, Dunkley, Craven, Denny (c), Clements, Wellecomme (45), Blakeman (Landell 67 (81)), Jevons (Durrell 45)
Subs Not Used
Campion, Ordish, Grice
Evans, Turner, Branch, Slater, Charlton (19), Hands (Bridgwater 90), Smith (Archer 83), Lycett, Birch (c), Perrow (Wright 75), Pitt
Subs Not Used
Star Man – Jay Denny
Entertainment Rating – 5 Stars
Attendance – 543