Hednesford Town 3-2 Frickley Athletic
The Pitmen began their season against Frickley Athletic in impressive fashion in front of 418 expectant fans at Keys Park.
The last time Frickley Town visited Hednesford on the opening day of a season the Pitmen ran out 3-0 winners thanks to goals from Simon Forsdick and Ross Dyer.
Rob Smith described his players’ performance against Frickley as “Tremendous!”
He said: “We created about 15 chances today and scored three which is a huge improvement on last season.”
Hednesford began strongly with new recruit Nathan Woolfe whipping a dangerous ball in that Frickley just managed to clear. Then some clever link up play between Neil Harvey and Woolfe resulted in the former Bolton winger shooting just wide.
Hednesford continued their onslaught on the Frickley goal as Neil Harvey came agonisingly close to opening the scoring. A long ball over the top allowed Elliot Durrell to run clean through into the Frickley box but somehow the goalkeeper gathered the ball.
Against the run of play Frickley struck first on 29 minutes as the Hednesford Town defence failed to deal with a long ball over the top.
Chris Wood gathered the ball driving at the Pitmen defence and his shot, palmed out by Dan Crane, found Jimmy Ghaichem who tapped the ball home to make it 1-0.
Frickley only held the lead for six minutes, as some clever work from Harvey allowed Dave Macpherson to run into the box he was then hacked down by a defender.
The referee awarded the penalty and up stepped Elliot Durrell who slammed home the equaliser.
Hednesford almost took the lead before half time as Harvey raced clean through but Tom Woodhead blocked with his feet.
The Pitmen started the second half as they did the first in dominant fashion. Frickley could not cope with the pace of Harvey as he sent Rey clean through but again the goalkeeper gathered at his feet. Nathan Woolfe continued to steal the show as he unleashed a blistering shot that hit the post and bounced clear.
Eventually Hednesford’s hard work paid off as a Rey cross found Harvey who headed home to make it 2-1 on 50 minutes.
Great work again from Woolfe as the skilful winger cut inside and drilled the ball across forcing the goalkeeper to make a diving save.
The winger again had a hand in Hednesford’s third as his wicked free kick found the head of Harvey who made it 3-1 on 66 minutes.
With 10 minutes to go Frickley Athletic pulled a goal back as their corner dropped kindly to Tom Johnston who scored to make it 3-2.
The Blues then pressed for an equaliser with them coming close from 35 yards but Barnes and Francis held firm to give Hednesford the perfect start to their new campaign.
Crane, Disney, Campion, Barnes, Francis, Macpherson (C), Osborne, Durrell (36pen), Harvey (50, 66), Rey, Woolfe.
Subs used: Lennon for Rey (59), Clarke for Woolfe (73), O’Connor for Harvey (77)
Unused subs: Bailey, Melbourne.
Woodhead, Yates, Jeffs, Barwick, Hellewell, Johnston (79), McCormick, Bloor (C), South, Wood, Ghaichem (29).
Subs used: Hinsley for McCormick (59)
Unused subs: Freeman, Fennel, Stratford, Hallam.
Star Man: Neil Harvey
Entertainment rating: 4 stars
Report by Lewis Deakin