Pitmen Rally To Avoid Defeat But Lose Ground on Ferriby –
Hednesford Town ‘s run of four straight victories came to an end on Saturday as a spirited Ashton United held The Pitmen to a draw which, with North Ferriby winning comfortably away at Witton Albion, leaves The Pitmen six points behind the leaders with two games in hand.
Manager Rob Smith will no doubt feel frustrated that his side dropped two valuable points in the title race, but on another day things could have been very different with The Pitmen having a vociferous penalty shout turned down and a goal disallowed at the death.
The first half was a relatively even affair with both sides struggling to adapt to the greasy surface caused by heavy rain before kick-off and the closest either side came was a Ben Bailey header over the cross bar in 35 minutes.
The drama began to unfold in the second half as Hednesford took the lead with Michael Lennon, being given the opportunity over Neil Harvey to impress from the start, side footing a low shot beyond Paul Phillips on 48 minutes.
The away side looked to be taking control of the game with Dave MacPherson volleying straight at the goalkeeper shortly afterwards, but, in the space of two minutes just after the hour mark, the game turned on its head and lurched in favour of Ashton.
First a cross from Scott Hogan, dragged back from the by line, found Matty Barlow free at the back post for him to tap the ball into the net for the equaliser and within 90 seconds Dan Crane came out of his goal but found himself high and dry after Hogan dispossessed him and finished superbly from a tight angle.
The two goal salvo came as a real shock to the Pitmen travelling faithful, but their team fought back admirably and proved why they will still harbour real hope of winning the title come April as, within ten minutes of going behind, Elliott Durrell scored his 19th league goal of the season, drilling the ball through the crowded area and into the corner to equalise.
The game was delicately poised going into the final fifteen minutes and Hednesford had a vociferous claim for a penalty controversially turned down when Jamey Osborne glided into the area in his usual threatening way and looked to have been felled only for the referee to award a goal kick and book the midfielder for diving.
The home side also looked for a winner and came within inches of securing one as substitute Dennis Sherriff scuffed his shot onto the inside of the post with only seven minutes to go but then, right at the end of the game, Francino Francis headed a corner towards the far post and Neil Harvey scrambled the ball into the net only for the celebrating Pitmen supporters to see the linesman’s flag correctly raised.
Hednesford now go into Tuesday’s home game versus Fylde knowing that only a win will do as they look to make up a six point deficit on North Ferriby at the top.
Phillips, Frost, Caldecott, Baker, Robinson, Lynch ©, Kosylo (Johnson 62), Moore, Burns (Sherriff 70), Barlow (64), Hogan (65),
Subs Not Used
Burke, Baguley, Harrop
Crane, Melbourne, Campion ©, Bailey, Francis, MacPherson, Osborne, Durrell (75), Rey, Lennon (47) (Harvey 76), Woolfe,
Subs Not Used
O’Connor, Barnes, Disney,
Attendance – 153
Entertainment Rating – 4 Stars
Star Man – Dave MacPherson