Pitmen edge five-goal thriller against ten men Barwell.
The magic of the Emirates FA Cup came to the PRG Stadium at Keys Park as Hednesford Town faced league rivals Barwell in the Second Round Qualifying. The Pitmen had triumphed at Lutterworth in the previous round while the Canaries had recorded a 4-1 home victory against AFC Mansfield.
The visitors struck first after seven minutes when a good team move cut open the home defence, leaving Omotolani Omotola to fire into the roof of the net. The Pitmen responded well and dominated possession following the goal. A series of corners and Ben Bailey long throws tested the Canaries’ defence, without creating any clear-cut chances. Jayden Cotterill came close to levelling the scores with an own goal when he made a hash of clearing Kieran Wells’ deep cross from the right.
James Hurst headed against the crossbar from a corner in what was beginning to look like a frustrating day for the Pitmen. Thomas Bannatyne-Billson in the Barwell goal punched a corner out to Tom Elliott whose shot sailed inches over the bar.
Moments before half time Hurst equalised with a headed finish at the far post from Osebi Abadaki’s cross. In the closing seconds of the half, Henry Eze was fortunate to only receive a caution for a foul on Bailey during a Barwell corner.
The Pitmen maintained the pressure at the start of the second half taking control of the game. Dominic Brown-Hill was having a torrid afternoon in midfield, already cautioned in the first half, his afternoon came to an early end when he fouled Elliott twice in quick succession. The free kick awarded following his dismissal was whipped into a crowded Barwell area arriving at the feet of Hurst whose driving shot from the left doubled his tally for the day, giving the home side the lead for the first time in the game after 54 minutes.
With the Pitmen dictating the game, Barwell scored against the run of play, Omotola challenged Daniel Platt on the edge of the area with the ball coming loose to Barwell skipper Brady Hickey who fired into an empty net to level the scores on 61 minutes.
Following the equaliser, the Canaries launched a rear-guard action with the intention of taking the game back to Barwell for a midweek replay. Often with every player with the exception of Platt in the Barwell half, the Pitmen looked to unlock the visitors defence. Two minutes into the five added on, Reece King unleashed a ferocious shot through a crowded box to give the Pitmen a late winner. A minute later substitute Enoch Andoh was upended in the area, James Hurst stepped up to claim his hat trick but was denied by Bannatyne-Billson’s smart save in what would be the last significant piece of action of a memorable FA Cup afternoon at Keys Park.
Hednesford Town; Platt, Curley, Griffiths, Bailey, Morris, K Wells (B Wells 89) Hurst, King, Glover (Andoh 69), Elliott (Gatter 90+4) Abadaki. Subs not used; Fry, Daniels, Ezewele, Veiga.
Barwell; Bannatyne-Billon, Cotterell( McAteer 46)Putman, Percival, Eze, O’Sullivan (Edwards 65), Brown-Hill, Hollis (Evans 56) Omotola, Hickey, Towers. Subs not used; Thomas, Dunkley.