Hednesford Town 1-2 Wolves U21

Pitmen Pipped By Young Wolves

As new manager Liam McDonald continues to search for the right blend in his formative squad with four weeks to go until the season kicks off, Hednesford faced a challenge of a different kind as Wolves’ Under 21s arrived at Keys Park, and ultimately the Pitmen fell just short despite matching their opponents for most of the game.

On a splendid playing surface, Wolves started brightly and earned two early corners but then Hednesford began to dominate possession with the pace of Wright and Bramall down the flanks and Dunkley up front troubling the Wolves defence, although neither keeper was forced into any difficult saves until Flatt spilled a Sammons 20-yarder on 16 minutes.

An acrobatic Dunkley volley was cleared off the line on 26 minutes, but he was subsequently injured in a clash with the Wolves keeper, who went on to make two more comfortable saves from Sammons.

Bramall beat two defenders on the left and advanced into the box where he fired just over the bar under challenge. Dunkley was then heading for goal but chose to square the ball which went just behind Singh and Thorley’s follow-up was blocked.

Ransome had only one fairly easy save to make in the first half which ended with Sammons losing control on six yards after a good Hednesford move.

Wolves started the second period with more purpose and, after beating Wright, Randell cut in from the left and shot just over. Ransome then made a comfortable save from Collins before Flatt almost made a hash of a back pass from Simpson which nearly went through his legs.

The young Wolves broke the deadlock, though, on 51 minutes with a Herc snapshot across the keeper from eight yards into the far corner.

Dunkley was then again injured in a challenge after Wright had beaten four defenders with a surging run from the halfway line and this time he could not continue: Luckie replaced him and the experienced McGrath came on for Sammons to make his Pitmen debut.

Wolves doubled their lead on 62 minutes when Herc forced in at the post after the ball had cannoned to and fro across the six-yard box. Ransome then made a fine save to tip round the post from 18 yards.

The Pitmen were still giving as good as they got though and Carline should have done better than to head wide from three yards; Brown then netted but only after the assistant referee had flagged for offside.

Hednesford were finally rewarded for their efforts on 87 minutes when Brown tapped in after great work down the right from man of the match Maye who, having performed superbly in the holding midfield role, had switched to right back and advanced to provide the ammunition.

In one last Hednesford attack Bramall advanced yet again down the left, exchanged passes with Thorley but his attempted cross went into the side netting.

The Pitmen were far from outplayed but will be looking to find the killer touch in front of goal as five more friendlies remain before the serious action gets under way. Next up at Keys Park are Solihull Moors this Wednesday, 20 July at 7.45pm – they were champions last season of the National League North from which the Pitmen were relegated, despite a late win at Damson Park, but a tough test can certainly be expected – former Keys Park favourite Jamey Osborne, who played under McDonald at Redditch last season, could feature for the Moors.

The Teams

Hednesford Town: Ransome, Wright (Martin 67), Bramall, Maye, Mutton, Flanagan, Carline, Thorley (capt), Dunkley (Luckie 61), Sammons (McGrath 61), Singh (Brown 70 (87)).

Substitutes not used: Crane, Glover, Francis.

Wolves Under 21s: Flatt, Ekpolo, Breslin, Levingston, Doble (Simpson 46), Johnson (Olofinjana 73), Armstrong (Delacoe 70), Finnie, Collins, Herc (51, 62), Randell (Hunte 61).

Substitute not used: Burgoyne.

Attendance: 374

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