Two second half goals from Elliott Durrell and Sean O’Connor turned the game in favour of The Pitmen as Rob Smith’s side recovered from 2-1 down to extend their unbeaten away record to six matches and keep pace with the leading pack at the summit of the Evo-Stik Northern Premier Division.
Durrell could have opened the scoring within two minutes for Hednesford as Harvey laid the ball off to the midfielder but James Lindley made a quality save low to his left.
Ben Bailey headed over from the resultant corner and Michael Lennon dragged a left footed shot wide before, largely against the run of play, The Pitmen defence gave Grantham too much space and Connor Higginson broke through forcing Dan Crane to parry a shot which fell invitingly to Paul Grimes who finished into an empty net on nineteen minutes.
Grantham continued to enjoy the freedom of the pitch after the goal as they outfought a Pitmen side uncharacteristically sluggish with Martin Ball shooting over from distance with Crane beaten and Jamie McGhee forcing Crane to smother his shot at point blank range.
It was a surprise then when the away side equalised on thirty-five minutes through Neil Harvey as the Barbados striker headed in Durrell’s perfectly judged free kick.
Parity lasted barely two minutes however as John Disney and Francino Francis concentrated on the ball as opposed to the darting run of Lee Potts as he met McGhee’s cross unchallenged to head into the top corner.
Pitmen manager Rob Smith needed a reaction from his team in the second half and, short of a Lennon half volley saved smartly by Lindley on forty-nine minutes, a comeback looked unlikely until Aaron Rey and Sean O’Connor’s introduction with twenty-three minutes to go saw Hednesford attack Grantham with vigour.
The key aspect to the change of Hednesford’s fortunes was the improved delivery from the flanks as Nathan Woolfe curled a superb ball in from the left but Harvey weakly skied his effort over the bar on seventy-two minutes.
Four minutes later The Pitmen had their equaliser when another Woolfe cross found Durrell who had sneaked in between the hitherto impressive Deon Meikle and Phil Watt and slotted into the corner.
The winner came with eight minutes remaining as Durrell crossed for Sean O’Connor to volley past the helpless Lindley and, despite Grimes heading inches wide for Grantham on eighty-five minutes, The Pitmen stood firm to move up one place into eighth alongside five other teams on twenty-one points.
Early pace-setters North Ferriby United are five points clear at the top but, with The Pitmen welcoming third placed Witton Albion to Keys Park on Tuesday night in what is undoubtedly one of their biggest games of the season so far, Saturday’s three points could act as a vital springboard for Rob Smith’s team to launch a mid-season tilt at the Humberside club.
Lindley, Purcicoe, Magee (Battersby 89), Lewis, Meikle, Watt (c), McGhee (Nwadike 81), Ball, Grimes (19), Higginson (Demidh 62), Potts (37),
Subs Not Used
Crane, Disney, Campion, Bailey, Francis, MacPherson (O’Connor 68 (82)), Osborne, Durrell (76), Harvey (35) (Melbourne 85), Lennon (Rey 68), Woolfe
Subs Not Used
Entertainment Rating – 4 Stars
Star Man – Neil Harvey
Attendance – 228