Hay Strikes Killer Blow As Pitmen Thank Crane
Two heroes emerged from Hednesford Town’s impressive victory against a much fancied Bedworth United in the form of goal scorer Gary Hay who struck two minutes before the end of the first half, and under fire goalkeeper Dan Crane, who produced a wonder save in the ninety-second minute to deny the home side a replay.
Bedworth had a one-hundred-per cent record on their own patch so, despite the fact they were a league below Rob Smith’s team, the tie was a proverbial ‘banana skin’.
The match was played on a bowling green of a pitch in warm autumnal sunshine and Darren Campion saw an early header hacked clear from the goal line for The Pitmen. Ian Roper did superbly well to block Nick Wellecomme as he advanced on goal on twenty minutes and two minutes later Wellecomme should have scored with another opportunity.
Bedworth looked confident in their own surroundings and Hednesford twice had to desperately clear the ball from the six yard line on twenty-seven and thirty minutes respectively.
Wellecomme completed a hat-trick of missed chances on forty-one minutes when a wonderful through ball by Chris Clements laid the ball perfectly for the ex-Stafford Rangers striker to score but his relaxed finish found Tom Gutteridge equal to it.
The deadlock was finally broken on forty-three minutes when Wellecomme fairly challenged the goalkeeper and Hay made no mistake in lashing the ball into the roof of the net.
Bedworth searched in vain for an equaliser in the opening twenty minutes of a relatively quiet second half before Gutteridge was called upon to beat away a fine shot by Clements after seventy minutes.
Ashley Spencer hit a stinging half volleyed shot straight at Crane with twelve minutes to go before the goal scorer Hay saw his header cleared off the line by Kyle Baxter on eighty minutes.
The home side’s golden chance came when substitute Matty Brown hit a superb half volley which looked destined to fly into the top right hand corner before an acrobatic jump from Crane, guilty of two glaring errors in the FA Cup, restored his confidence with a game saving block.
The Pitmen successfully go forward to the Second Qualifying Round where they will be looking for a favourable draw to set them up for an opportunity to draw Conference North and South teams who enter the competition at the Third Qualifying Round stage.
There are further big cup games to be expected throughout November as The Pitmen plan to welcome Walsall FC to Keys Park on Tuesday 1st November, KO 7.45pm in the Birmingham Senior Cup and, should they emerge victorious against Newcastle Town in the Staffs Senior Cup, Tony Pullis’ Premier League Stoke City could also come calling to Keys Park.
Gutteridge, Dean, Haines, Cartwright, Roper © (Moore 87), Tullin (Davies 84), Baxter, Spencer, Robinson (Brown 72), Piggon, Bates,
Subs Not Used
Crane, Haynes, Shaw, Bailey, Monteiro, Denny, Osborne (Durrell 68), Clements, Wellecomme (Robinson 75), Hay (43) (Jevons 89), Campion,
Subs Not Used
Star Man – Dan Crane