Hednesford Town came very close to a late victory which would have moved them to within three points of leaders North Ferriby at the top of the Evo-Stik Premier Division, but a combination of the cross bar and the Marine goalkeeper, Ryan McMahon, preserved parity although in truth a victory may have flattered Rob Smith’s team.
After an even first half Hednesford, much like their previous game versus Kendal, came out in the second half and pushed for a winner with Michael Lennon once again impressive from the bench and the striker almost scored a winner when Darren Campion’s left footed shot was blocked and, as the entire ground looked to the linesman for an offside flag that never came, McMahon got a hand down low to block his attempt on 82 minutes.
Marine struggled to clear the ball and 30 seconds later Kris Taylor measured a wonderful shot which sailed over McMahon only to strike the crossbar as the Hednesford supporters behind the goal held their heads in their hands.
The Pitmen had started the game with real intent as Jamey Osborne, again dangerous when running from deep with the ball, powered a shot which was beaten over the bar by McMahon then Elliott Durrell fired a free kick over and a shot just wide within the opening ten minutes.
Marine’s marquee signing, Lee Trundle, was kept quiet by the solid defence of Ben Bailey, Francino Francis and Sam Barnes and it was actually the former Swansea striker’s partner in attack, Will Jones, who looked most threatening in a first half regularly disrupted by soft free-kicks and fouls awarded by the referee.
The second half was played in glorious sunshine and, whilst the Grand National was run just a couple of miles away, Hednesford looked the most likely to win the match, despite Jones seeing a deflected shot loop on to the crossbar for the home side.
The Pitmen supporters’ hopes of a vital winner were raised as news came through that North Ferriby had fallen a goal behind at Ilkeston and, while they were loudly encouraging their team, Neil Harvey and John Disney saw their shots blocked superbly by the Marine defence before Taylor hit a right footed shot well over the bar with fifteen minutes remaining.
Lennon and Taylor were denied before Crane tipped over a late Nick Rogan header to preserve a draw for the away side, but Hednesford were left cursing the referee as he stopped the game for a head injury to players from both sides in the last minute just as Disney looked certain to latch onto a Taylor cross.
Despite the frustration, Marine would have felt hard done by had The Pitmen escaped with three points and, with North Ferriby scoring another late equaliser, the situation hasn’t changed at the top of the league; Hednesford need their rivals to draw twice or lose once in their final five matches if the league is to be claimed by Rob Smith’s side.
McMahon (c), Dowling, Shaw, Brown, Grannon (Devine 43), Goulding, Johnson (Ordish 85), Rice, Jones, Trundle (Rogan 85), Doherty
Subs Not Used
Crane, Disney, Campion (c), Bailey, Francis, Barnes, Osborne, Durrell, Harvey (O’Connor 81), Rey (Lennon 74), Taylor
Subs Not Used
Patterson, Wright, Anaghd-Ntamark
Bookings – Osborne, Jones
Star Man – Francino Francis
Entertainment Rating – 3 Stars
Attendance – 323