Hednesford Town’s encouraging new look squad were put through a serious test against impressive Conference outfit Mansfield Town on Tuesday night and manager Rob Smith, pointed to a very useful fitness test for his players despite losing 2-0.
‘We had to work very hard in that game and it was a great workout for the players, much more difficult than the previous two fixtures. You just have to look at the quality Mansfield had all over the park and remember that, with due respect to Frickley Athletic, we are not playing Mansfield in our first game.’
The Pitmen defended admirably in the first half with a barrage of attempts on goal from The Stags as the difference in divisions showed but goalkeeper Dan Crane made a string of superb saves to keep his team in the match.
Despite a scrappy opening goal by Lee Stevenson on nineteen minutes, top drawer blocks from Rhead and Green and another point blank save from Stevenson kept the away side at bay as The Pitmen battled well in midfield against the athletic Conference team.
The second half was a more even affair as Mansfield made a raft of substitutions but the second goal came on fifty-five minutes when Jamie Tolley fired a superb shot from twenty-five yards which gave Crane no hope.
Michael Lennon looked very lively in attack for The Pitmen and linked up well with Sean O’Connor to test Redmond in Mansfield’s goal and Jamey Osborne brought a save to match the heroics of Crane with a superb free kick with five minutes to go.
New signing from Northwich Victoria, Nathan Woolfe, a player who has a superb pedigree and was the subject of strong interest from the likes of Halifax and Stockport County, made his debut for the home side and Smith was keen to point out the quality his team showed in attack despite failing to register a goal.
‘We’ve got real quality and a combative midfield with MacPherson, Clarke, Durrell and Osborne and of course Woolfe, who will be a massive signing for us and one I have been chasing all summer long.’
The Pitmen move onto their next home game against Bedworth United on Saturday at Keys Park, 3pm KO, before travelling to Walsall Wood next Tuesday night, KO 7.45pm.
Crane, Disney, Campion, Bailey, Hoffmann, Clarke, Durrell, MacPherson, Rey, Harvey, Woolfe,
O’Connor, Lennon, Osborne, Melbourne, Crookes, Hendrie, Dunleavy,
Marriott, Todd, Pilkington, Jones, Owens, Clements, Hand, Howell, Stevenson (19), Green, Rhead,
Redmond, Beavers, Dempster, Sutton, Benjamin, Roberts, Tolley (55), Polu, Meikle, Dyer, Wright,