Hednesford Town turned in a performance truly fitting of a team chasing the league title with a dominant 3-0 win against a Grantham Town side who, despite showing admirable bite in the tackle, never really threatened in an attacking sense.
Following their 2-2 away draw with Ashton United last weekend The Pitmen were six points behind leaders North Ferriby going into the game and knew that nothing more than three points would suffice and a lively start to the game gave the home side a solid platform to build on.
Elliott Durrell curled a free kick just wide on four minutes before Ben Bailey, imperious throughout the match, took the ball down on his chest, turned the defender and hit a shot in off the post to open the scoring on five minutes.
Grantham showed commendable effort in fighting for the ball but The Pitmen looked a class above following a flowing counter attack started by Darren Campion on 21 minutes which almost brought a deserved second goal. The left back won the ball strongly, Durrell set Aaron Rey away down the right channel before Nathan Woolfe fizzed a left foot shot over the bar.
In the run up to half time the game took on a tempestuous tone as the home side took their foot off the pedal somewhat as The Gingerbreads showed how much survival in the Evo-Stik Northern Premier Division meant to them
The game was settled after the break however as first Aaron Rey on 47 minutes swept in past Grantham goalkeeper, Jake Turner, who failed to deal decisively with a cross and then secondly when Neil Harvey’s shot looped over the goalkeeper to make it 3-0 on 54 minutes.
The one drawback of a hugely successful day for The Pitmen was that they failed to go on and win the game by a higher margin, but the Keys Park faithful, able to relax with their team easily winning the match, celebrated with gusto when news filtered in that arch-rivals Stafford Rangers had equalised against league-leaders North Ferriby, so The Pitmen had done what they needed to do by closing the gap at the top to just four points.
Rob Smith’s high flying team welcome League Two outfit Port Vale to Keys Park in the semi final of the Staffordshire Senior Cup on Tuesday night as The Pitmen fight for glory on several fronts with the season entering its decisive final two months.
Crane, Melbourne, Campion (c), Bailey (4), Francis, MacPherson (Disney 75), Osborne, Durrell, Harvey (54) (O’Connor 80), Rey (47) (Lennon 80), Woolfe
Subs Not Used
Turner, Asher, Meikle, Hannigan, Hawes, Lewis, Watson (McGhee 45), Nwadike © (Elliott 75), McVicar (Troke 62), Nightingale, Smith
Subs Not Used
Bookings – Woolfe, Watson, Nwadike, Nightingale, Smith, McGhee
Attendance – 463
Star Rating – 4 Stars
Star Man – Ben Bailey