Aaron Rey gave Hednesford Town a well-deserved victory over Stafford Rangers, scoring the only goal in a fiery local derby on 76 minutes, as The Pitmen kept pace with leaders North Ferriby at the summit of the Evo-Stik Northern Premier Division.
The match was played out on a sodden, cut-up pitch which was far from conducive to flowing attacking football but the victorious Hednesford manager, Rob Smith, was pleased with the character of his side to fight through the mudbath for the win.
‘We showed real character today despite the struggles with the pitch, we know that everyone will try to knock us down but we were the better side and deserved the win.’
Rangers boss, Greg Clowes, was magnanimous in defeat citing the fact that his goalkeeper Adam Alcock pulled off three superb saves before his defence let in Rey for the winner.
‘The conditions were far from ideal but the game was a proper local derby. Hednesford were denied by Alcock three times but after all our hard work it was disappointing to concede the goal like we did.’
The Pitmen started strongly in the opening 15 minutes and could have been three goals up were it not for an outstanding display by Alcock as he denied Nathan Woolfe’s free-kick with a finger-tip save onto the post on seven minutes.
Neil Harvey pounced on a loose pass by Christain Dacres two minutes later and forced Alcock into a block before Rey was thwarted by the goalkeeper once more as The Pitmen pushed for an opening goal.
Following Hednesford’s bright start, both teams proved how much the Chase derby meant to them as a string of aggressive tackles flew in and the referee was called upon to clamp down in slippery conditions.
Ex-Pitman, Danny Quinn, forced Dan Crane into a smart save at his near post on 32 minutes but the second half failed to live up to the action of the first as the heavy pitch sapped the energy of the players.
Alex Melbourne heroically cleared a goal bound lob by Kasiama off the line with 17 minutes to go before Rey latched onto a well-judged, back-heeled through ball by Elliott Durrell to score a vitally important winning goal for the away side.
There was not to be a rousing Stafford comeback as The Pitmen held firm in the final ten minutes and, as yet another squally downpour rained down on the Hednesford faithful, the referee blew his whistle to signal the end of a derby that may not go down as a classic, but sent their raucous fans home happy.
Alcock, George, Davies, Walshe, Bolton, Dacres, Carr (Reid 68), Downes (c) (Heler 78), Ashton, Quinn, Kasiama (Kinsella 83)
Subs Not Used
Crane, Melbourne, Campion (c), Bailey, Francis, MacPherson, Osborne, Durrell, Harvey (O’Connor 78), Rey (76) (Craven 88), Woolfe (Lennon 70)
Subs Not Used
Bookings – Dacres, George, Downes, Durrell, Francis,
Star Man – Adam Alcock
Entertainment Rating – 3 Stars
Attendance – 1124