In an astonishing game at The Weaver Stadium Hednesford Town, despite being reduced to nine men, battled for a superb draw having taken the lead two players down in the second half and for three glorious minutes had dreams of gaining an improbable victory.
Cheyenne Dunkley topped a dominant defensive performance with two goals in the second half, the first a majestical header from a Chris Clements corner to equalise at 1-1 while his team had ten men, and the second, a tap-in from two yards which incredibly made it 2-1 to nine-man Hednesford with sixteen minutes remaining.
Unfortunately for Rob Smith’s side the numerical advantage tolled in the end and Si Everall turned in a cross to level the scores with thirteen minutes to play; cue desperate defending from Hednesford to hold onto a point.
Despite the performance of true grit and determination Rob Smith will no doubt be disappointed with his captain, Darren Campion, as the squad’s only left-back saw red for aiming an elbow at Michael Lennon after his team had fallen a goal behind on the half-hour mark.
Nantwich Town, sat in 10th before the start of play, belied their mid-table league position as they hassled and harried Hednesford’s midfield and regularly caught their opponents in possession. The early dominance showed and the home team deservedly opened the scoring on twenty-eight minutes when a through ball caused hesitation between Ben Bailey and Dan Crane and left Lennon to calmly lift the ball into the net for his 100th goal for The Dabbers.
Following Campion’s dismissal all looked lost for a Pitmen side who struggled to negotiate past the giant centre half Mat Bailey; the closest they came was a misdirected pass back by Bailey that rolled the wrong side of the post just before half time.
The beginning of the second half saw a similar story to the first but Crane, arguably at fault for the first goal, redeemed himself with two superb saves from Lee Steele, the first at full stretch to turn away a shot from distance and the second a brave dive at the feet of the advancing striker.
The equaliser for Hednesford came from nowhere to send the travelling support wild as a Chris Clements free kick saw Dunkley jump highest and power the ball beyond a helpless Jonny Brain on sixty-four minutes.
Jamey Osborne was given his marching orders three minutes after the goal for a second bookable offence, Tom Urwin flashed a shot across goal for the home team before The Pitmen sensationally took the lead as Brain failed to collect a long-ball when challenging with Dunkley and the ball dropped for the defender to tap in from a yard.
Nantwich equalised but The Pitmen defended superbly and move on to their top of the table clash away at Chester next Saturday only three points behind the league leaders, albeit with another two suspensions of important players looming.
Brain, Lowe, McDonald, MacPherson (Maguire 85), Bailey, Moss, Cooke, Flynn ©, Steele (Everall 64 (81)), Lennon (28), Urwin (Foster 76)
Subs Not Used
Mitchell, Solovjovs, Maguire
Crane, Haynes, Campion ©, Dunkley (66, 76), Bailey, Denny, Osborne, Clements, Landell (Blakeman 70), Hay (Wellecomme 77), Jevons
Subs Not Used
Beesley, Durrell, Robinson
Bookings – MacPherson, Cooke, Osborne, Haynes, Wellecomme
Sent Off – Campion, Osborne
Entertainment Rating – 5 Stars
Star Man – Cheyenne Dunkley
Attendance – 493