Hednesford Town’s dream of an extended run in the FA Trophy, ten years since they famously lifted the trophy at Villa Park, were ended on Saturday following a 4-1 defeat at Skrill Premier side Gateshead, writes Scott Smith.
Although the hosts started well, with Dan Crane being forced into an early save in the Town goal, it was Hednesford who almost took the lead in the 11th minute. Gateshead goalkeeper Adam Bartlett cannoned the ball off Jamey Osborne, but the midfielder was unable to take control of the loose ball and the shot stopper claimed the rebound.
Just sixty seconds later the home side were ahead when the lively Colin Larkin picked out Josh Walker who swept the ball into the bottom corner of the net. Hednesford almost responded immediately though as Elliott Durrell saw his 30-yard effort rattle the crossbar, with Neil Harvey unable to stab home the rebound.
The game was very much end-to-end as the half wore on, with Gateshead exploiting any space that The Pitmen failed to fill. This was demonstrated when Larkin got away down the left and flashed an effort just wide in the 24th minute.
Hednesford continued to battle though, and they had a half chance after 35 minutes when good interplay between Kris Taylor and Durrell saw the latter break clear of the back line, but his shot was half-blocked by a Gateshead defender and was easily claimed by Bartlett.
Disaster would strike for the visitors right on the stroke of half-time though, as they conceded a second goal. A long ball down the middle wasn’t dealt with and James Marwood was able to capitalise by dinking the ball over the advancing Crane.
The second half saw Hednesford soaking up the pressure from the home side as they desperately tried to find a way back into the game. They were indebted to Crane for keeping the score to two in the 63rd minute as James Curtis’ point blank header was superbly tipped over the bar.
With eight minutes to go the visitors managed to reduce the arrears though when Durrell’s free kick into the box was spilt by Bartlett and Francino Francis was on hand to bundle the ball over the line.
The Pitmen now had the home side rattled and they almost found an equaliser a minute later when substitute and new boy to the club Greg Pearson found space on the edge of the box and his curling effort was easily claimed by Bartlett.
Walker should really have had a second in the 86th minute when he raced clear only to drag his effort wide from the edge of the box before Hednesford then gifted the tie to the home side with a sloppy third. From the resulting goal-kick Jon Oster pounced on Tom Thorley’s square pass to find Joe Tait for a simple finish. Sixty seconds later it was 4-1 as Marcus Maddison tapped home from three yards out after Crane had made a brilliant save from Tait.
The Pitmen must now put this behind them as they prepare to take on Walsall in the Birmingham Senior Cup on Tuesday 3rd December at Keys Park, 7.45pm kick off.
Bartlett, Baxter, Sirrell, Chandler (Maddison 72), Curtis, Clark (Magnay 60), Larkin (Tait 60), Turnbull, Walker, Oster, Marwood
Subs not used:
Crane, Disney, Campion, Bailey, Francis, Taylor (Melbourne 79), Osborne, Durrell, Harvey (Pearson 60), Riley (Lennon 70), Thorley
Subs not used
Man of the match: Tom Thorley
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Photos by Colin Rogers