Hednesford Town safely progressed to a glamour quarter-final tie versus Premier League side Stoke City with a strong second half performance as Rob Smith’s side overturned a two goal deficit on a bitterly cold evening in Staffordshire.
Newcastle Town, a league below their opponents, were well worth a two goal lead after seventy minutes through soft set piece goals from Hednesford’s point of view. Andy Nicholls superbly ran onto a wide left free kick to head powerfully past Dan Crane and Adam Bailey’s early near post run beat The Pitmen’s goalkeeper to the ball with twenty-minutes remaining.
All looked lost for Hednesford until a James Askey own goal reduced the arrears and, with their tails up, and substitute Mark Danks on the prowl they overpowered their hosts in the final ten minutes.
Lewis Suckling hit the upright, Ben Bailey saw a shot cleared off the line before Danks superbly dummied the ball round Dave Parton to equalise.
Newcastle could have won it when Bailey headed over from six yards and Crane was forced into a low save by Nathan Sutton but Andre Landell, on his first start in a Hednesford shirt, emphatically finished a Kyle Haynes through ball to win the match on eighty-eight minutes.
The home side will be proud of their showing but tired towards the end and the skill and guile of Jamey Osborne, Chris Clements and Danks, along with the defensive strength of Cheyenne Dunkley ensured a safe passage for The Pitmen.
Parton, Askey (OG 77), Connor, Hutchinson, A Bailey (70), Carter, Diskin, Nicholls (36), Sutton, Whittaker (Ashman 78), Harrison (Ryder 67)
Subs Not Used
Crane, Haynes, Shaw, Dunkley, B Bailey, Denny (c), Osborne, Jevons (Clements 67), Quinn (Suckling 63), Landell (88), Durrell (Danks 62 (80))
Subs Not Used
Entertainment Rating – 4 Stars
Star Man – Cheyenne Dunkley
Attendance – 81
Words by Chris Brewerton