Elliott Durrell’s second half wonder strike secured a point for a below par Hednesford Town side at Keys Park as their fellow play-off chasers, Marine, did their promotion hopes no harm on a bitterly cold day.
Hednesford Town boss, Rob Smith, was frustrated at his sides’ average first half display but was encouraged by the reaction in a much improved second half performance and, but for a great save by Callum Williams, believed Mark Beesley could have scored a decisive winner.
‘Second half we had a real go but in the first half we made elementary mistakes and were as poor as I can remember. Elliott’s goal proves what he has in his locker but, after a poor team performance, Mark Beesley, who was superb today, forced their keeper into a brilliant save which denied us a winner.’
The first home game at Keys Park since January 7th was threatened by a deluge of rain and hail before kick off as several volunteers rushed to the ground at lunchtime to ensure the game could go ahead. The gusty conditions and heavy pitch were not conducive to an attractive game of football but despite a lack of technical quality, both sides fought hard with the away side threatening more often in the first half.
Marine had no less than seven corners in the opening half as The Pitmen failed to supply strikers Gary Hay and Beesley with service up front, registering only one attempt at goal as Marine deservedly took the lead on thirty-nine minutes when Thomas Moore’s free-kick from the left deceived Dan Crane and found the far corner to give the away side the advantage.
To their credit, The Pitmen emerged from the break with a far better performance and, after Beesley failed to connect with a Durrell cross, the diminutive midfielder picked the ball up thirty-five yards out, advanced towards goal and hit an unstoppable shot into the roof of the net past the helpless Williams to equalise.
The leveller galvanised the home side and Beesley battled through the Marine defence to force Williams into a superb reaction save on sixty-three minutes.
Two minutes later Durrell, causing real problems for the away side, forced Williams into an acrobatic save to tip another superb long range attempt over the bar to preserve the 1-1 score line.
Aaron Rey curled a shot just wide of Dan Cranes post for Marine before Beesley came closest to winning the match for Hednesford with a flicked header that fell onto the roof of the net on eighty-eight minutes.
Following victories in Saturday’ other games for Bradford Park Avenue, Northwich Victoria and Chorley, The Pitmen have now slipped to fifth place on fifty-seven points but still sit five points inside the play-off places with twelve games of their season remaining.
Crane, Bailey, Haynes, Dunkley, Johnson, Denny, Durrell (55), Clements, Beesley, Hay (Wellecomme 59), Blakeman (Jevons 78),
Subs Not Used
Landell, Benjamin-McFarlane, Grice,
Williams, Duff, Shaw, Barnes, Goulding, Brown (Fowler 75), Moore (Lundon 63), Rey, Harvey, Latham (Dawson 68),
Subs Not Used
Bookings – Jevons
HT Score – 0-1
Entertainment Rating – 3 Stars
Star Man – Elliott Durrell
Attendance – 448