Crane Sending Off Spirals Pitmen To Freak Defeat
Hednesford Town, pre-game favourites to overcome struggling Stocksbridge Park Steels and close the gap at the summit of the Evo-Stik Northern Premier Division to just one point, saw the football gods strike them down on a stormy day in Yorkshire.
The Pitmen had won the last seven straight league matches, including a superb, season defining victory against Chorley last weekend, and despite initially struggling on a greasy pitch in squally showers, they dominated the opening period in terms of possession.
Elliott Durrell and Darren Campion shot wide from distance and Mark Danks initially looked like scampering clear of the defence before failing to capitalise with a heavy second touch.
The home side, struggling at the bottom of the league, threatened only intermittedly with a run of corners which culminated in Richard Haigh heading over.
The game turned on its head after thirty-five minutes as Jack Muldoon outpaced Pedro Monteiro and, as goalkeeper Dan Crane rushed out to close the angle, the strikers’ split second hesitation meant the Hednesford goalkeeper made a superb block outside of his area with his hand.
The referee had no option but to show a red card and Rob Smith’s side were left without a substitute goalkeeper to deputise.
Left-back Darren Campion stepped forward to take the gloves and from that point on the loyal Pitmen supporters could only look on in dread at what was very likely to unfold.
To their credit, The Pitmen were the better sider until the half time break and were very much in the game until the fifty-fourth minute when they switched off in defence, looked for an offside flag which never came and allowed Brian Cusworth space to slot the ball past Campion.
Stocksbridge’s lead was doubled eight minutes later when a slick passing move saw a wicked cross whipped in from the right and despite Campion reacting well he diverted the ball into Cusworth to bundle the ball into the net.
The second goal effectively ended the game as a contest and despite the introduction of Marvin Robinson and Nick Wellecomme Hednesford struggled to make up the one man deficit.
Youth prospect Lewis Suckling was given his first-team debut for the away side before, as frustrations boiled over, Robinson saw red for dissent.
The nine-men of Hednesford struggled to bridge the widened gap in numbers on an increasingly heavy pitch and Jack Muldoon and Mark Ward added two further goals in stoppage time to pile on the misery for Rob Smith’s side.
Despite this freakish set back Hednesford still sit in third place on forty-one points, four behind joint-leaders Chester and Northwich Victoria with two games in hand. They travel to bogey team Matlock Town on Wednesday night before welcoming Ashton United to Keys Park next Saturday.
Stocksbridge Park Steels
Scott, Glarvey, Davies, Haigh (Ring 74), Lovell (c), Tansley, Stirrup, Telling, Muldoon (89) (Noubissie 90+3), Cusworth (54,62) (Ward 74 (90+4)), Outram,
Crane, Haynes, Shaw, Monteiro, Dunkley, Denny, Durrell (Suckling 80), Clements, Danks (Robinson 60), Hay (Wellecomme 60), Campion (c),
Subs Not Used
Bookings – Wellecomme
Sent Off – Crane, Robinson,
Entertainment Rating – 2 Stars
Star Man – Darren Campion
Attendance – 141