Hednesford Town failed to learn their lessons from the FC United of Manchester defeat last weekend, when, in a match equally as important in their season as the eventual 2-1 defeat at home last Saturday, The Pitmen conceded a goal to Chorley within two minutes of the kick-off and found themselves 4-0 down at half time.
Despite playing relatively well in the second period the eventual score was 5-1. It was the heaviest defeat in Rob Smith’s successful rein and, following FC United’s victory at home to Worksop Town, The Pitmen have fallen out the play-off places for the first time in six months. On the basis of this result, they face an uphill struggle to return and simply must win all of their remaining four home fixtures.
The game, played in gorgeous Spring sunshine on the last day of British Winter, looked destined to go the way of the home side when a through ball beat the defence and Steve Foster finished well beyond Dan Crane.
Despite the shock of such an early opening goal, The Pitmen matched Chorley for the next twenty minutes with new signing Sam Craven showing some skilful touches on the left but the strike force of Gary Hay and Nick Wellecomme got little change out of the home sides’ centre-halves who won the majority of the aerial challenges.
Hay headed wide on twenty-five minutes before Matt Walwyn skipped through the Hednesford defence and slotted in past Crane to double the home sides’ advantage and really put pressure on The Pitmen. Unfortunately, in sight of the break where a re-shuffle could have sent The Pitmen out with renewed purpose in the second half, that pressure tolled twice as Chorley saw a header cleared off the line before Ciaran Kilheeney headed in on forty minutes and Christopher Denham smashed in a rebound five minutes later to put the game out of sight for the visitors.
Following the break the shell-shocked Pitmen supporters looked for a reaction from their team to at least salvage some pride from an awful situation and, to Hednesford’s credit, they duly did.
The second half was played with renewed purpose and a well measured shot by Chris Clements found the corner on fifty-six minutes to give The Pitmen the slightest glimmer of hope.
Andre Landell and Mark Beesley were introduced for the away side but, as the clock ticked by, the likelihood of an unbelievable come back faded and, despite both substitutes having decent chances to score on eighty-minutes, a breakaway goal by John Cunliffe put the game to bed with a minute remaining.
The Pitmen are now left to lick their wounds again however, in terms of the home matches remaining at Keys Park, this result doesn’t change too much. Rob Smith’s team must now win all four and get a result against relegation threatened Chasetown in a derby on Easter Monday which now takes on huge significance for both sides.
Saunders, Ross, Walwyn (36) (Williams 57), Teague (Brown 45), Russell, Vermiglio, Roscoe, Kilheeney (40), Denham (45) (Cunliffe 76 (89)), Foster (2), Ince
Subs Not Used
Maden, Jordan, Bowen
Crane, Haynes, Shaw, Dunkley, Johnson, Denny, Jevons (Blakeman 61), Clements, Wellecomme (Landell 72), Hay (Beesley 66), Craven
Subs Not Used
Attendance – 945
HT Score – 4-0
Entertainment Rating – 1 Star
Star Man – Chris Clements