Hednesford Town lost more ground on their play-off rivals with an uneventful stalemate at Keys Park as the defences of both sides came out the better and Nantwich Town left the Midlands with a point.
Rob Smith set up the home team with a 4-5-1 formation, Gary Hay at the top was expected to be supported by the midfield runners of Chris Clements, Liam Blakeman and Jamey Osborne but Hay limped off on thirteen minutes to be replaced by Andre Landell and the change in formation failed to bring the desired goal.
The Pitmen, to their credit, passed the ball efficiently throughout the match but Nantwich centre halves Matt Bailey and Rod McDonald dominated Landell in the air and were rarely troubled by the home side.
Nantwich played a counter attacking game admirably, hitting the out side of the post from a Simon Everall header early on but their strikers were largely marshalled well by Cheyenne Dunkley and Jermaine Johnson for Hednesford.
Clements saw a shot from the left angle of the area palmed away by Jon Brain on twenty-seven minutes and the home side enjoyed the vast majority of attacking possession in the opening half hour. Swift passing movements saw Nantwich struggling to win the ball back but, as has been the case in the past three months, The Pitmen lacked punch up front.
The away side came back into the game towards half time with Dan Crane being called into action to palm away a shot by Michael Lennon on thirty-seven minutes and Lennon again came close on the hour mark as Zak Foster got to the by-line and squared the ball only to see Lennon’s shot blocked on the line.
Elliott Durrell and Nick Wellecomme were introduced in the second half but, despite moving to a 4-4-2 formation the home side continued to face a wall of defiance from Bailey and McDonald.
The best chance of the game for Hednesford came on eighty-two minutes when Nick Wellecomme challenged the goalkeeper and found Landell who nodded home, only to be flagged for off-side.
McDonald headed over in the final minute for the away side but this game will not be remembered as a classic. Despite a solid Pitmen performance but the home side will rue the fact that they have lost a further two points on the other teams in the promotion shake up.
FC United, Chorley, Bradford Park Avenue and Marine all won comfortably in games around the league and Rob Smith’s team, playing so well and even threatening for the league title after their win against Chester in January, now realistically probably need to win all five of their remaining matches to sneak into the final play-off spot.
Crane, Haynes, Shaw, Dunkley, Johnson, Denny ©, Osborne, Clements, Blakeman (Wellecomme 67), Hay (Landell 14), Craven (Durrell 56)
Subs Not Used
Brain, Lowe, White, Hughes (Cooke 79), Bailey ©, McDonald, Urwin, MacPherson, Everall (Lane 72), Lennon, Foster (Flynn 64)
Subs Not Used
HT Score – 0-0
Star Man – Chris Shaw
Entertainment Rating – 2 Stars
Attendance – 425