Hednesford Town boss Rob Smith hailed his team’s achievement to finish in fifth place after 0-0 draw with Worksop Town and a difficult run-in which has seen The Pitmen struggle over the line after a dip in form after Christmas but the manager is confident that his squad can progress in the end of season shake up.
‘We have limped over the line in the end but make no mistake; it’s a great achievement for the team to finish fifth in the league. Our end of season form has meant we’ve made it hard for ourselves but that all goes out the window now.
I would expect us to face Bradford Park Avenue in the semi final, we have beat them away this season but, make no mistake, they are a quality side. The fact we are underdogs takes the pressure off us so let’s see where we can go from here.’
In a rather uneventful first half The Pitmen troubled Mario Ziccardi only once as Chris Clements dispossessed Chris Wood but saw his shot fizz inches over the cross bar.
The away side forced Dan Crane to block a shot from Ash Burbeary in the opening exchanges and saw consecutive shots from Matt Young and Jamie Jackson roll wide as they looked to force an opening goal.
Worksop looked more likely to break the deadlock as the lively Jackson shot wide on the half hour mark and Massiah McDonald forced Crane to palm away a deflected shot just before half time.
With FC United of Manchester comfortably winning against Northwich Victoria a nervous hush fell over Keys Park in the second half as Hednesford toiled against the solid Worksop defence of Kern Miller and James.
Darren Campion made a rare foray down the left hand side to force Ziccardi into a save at the near post with ten minutes remaining as The Pitmen supporters looked on, conscious that a late mistake could cost their side dearly.
Jermaine Johnson let Jackson squirm clear of the defence with three minutes to go and brought him down for his second bookable offence, but, from the resulting free kick, Worksop failed to capitalise on their opportunity.
Dependant on Northwich ‘s appeal to be heard on Tuesday The Pitmen, who looked down and out of the play off race three weeks ago, can now look forward to a semi final versus the Cheshire side or Bradford Park Avenue next Saturday.
Despite their inconsistent end to the year, Hednesford Town have emerged victorious against league winners Chester, Bradford and Northwich so The Pitmen faithful have reason to believe that, in one off knock out matches, this could be their year for glory.
Crane, Haynes, Shaw, Dunkley, Johnson, Denny ©, Osborne (Bailey 87), Clements, Beesley (Landell 75), Jevons (Wellecomme 45), Campion
Subs Not Used
Ziccardi, Wood, Warlow, Young, Miller, Cotterill ©, Beeson (Nightingale 80), Melton (Sharry 68), McDonald, Jackson, Burbeary (King 73)
Subs Not Used
Booked – Warlow, Johnson
Sent Off – Johnson
Star Man – Kern Miller
HT Score – 0-0
Entertainment Rating – 2 Stars
Attendance – 582