A man of the match performance by Nathan Woolfe, culminating with two wonderfully executed goals in either half, successfully secured Hednesford Town’s place in the Second Qualifying Round as they eased past Redditch United in gorgeous late summer sunshine at The Valley.
The Pitmen went into the game as favourites after an unbeaten start to their league campaign but Redditch acquitted themselves well in the opening twenty minutes with both teams trading chances in an absorbing game.
Ex-Pitman Mark Danks skewed his shot wide after cutting in from the right wing for the home side on three minutes before Neil Harvey twice brought the best out of Niall Cooper in the Redditch goal as the Pitmen continued to threaten.
Hednesford were enjoying the majority of midfield possession but Redditch were certainly still in the game as Connor Deards skipped past Ben Bailey and raced towards Crane’s goal only to meekly side-foot wide of the post on eighteen minutes.
As the half wore on The Pitmen’s technical superiority began to show with Neil Harvey and Sean O’Connor working hard in attack, ably assisted by Woolfe and Elliott Durrell. Jamey Osborne should have scored when he latched onto a long ball from Crane but couldn’t quite elevate his lob over Cooper and O’Connor powerfully headed Durrell’s sumptuous cross wide when he should have hit the target on the half hour.
Woolfe saw a superbly executed left footed volley parried by Cooper before Dave MacPherson crossed after quality build up play on the right wing for Woolfe to arrow a left footed half volley into the far corner on thirty-nine minutes.
The second half performance from The Pitmen proved beyond doubt their superiority and their passage to the next round was confirmed when Woolfe played a clever one-two with Harvey and, this time with his weaker right foot, side-footed the ball calmly past the flailing Cooper into the corner to send the travelling hordes of Hednesford fans into sun-drenched rapture.
Durrell added a third just after the hour mark but Cooper was badly at fault as he totally misjudged the flight of a deep free kick which sailed into the top corner without looking to trouble the young keeper.
Rob Smith’s team were in a position to relax a little in the final twenty minutes and the game fizzled out somewhat as The Pitmen supporters were left to dream of possible bigger games to come in further rounds, the manager will simply look at concentrating on the Second Round tie before the bigger fish from the Conference North and South enter the draw in the Third Qualifying Round.
Cooper, Stringfellow, Charlton, Midworth, Flannegen, Bridgwater, Cresswell, Richards, Danks (Agbonlahor 63), Deards (Wilding 63), McDonald
Subs Not Used
Crane, Disney, Campion, Bailey, Francis, Macpherson (Barnes 69), Osborne, Durrell (62) (Clarke 69), Harvey, O’Connor (Lennon 59), Woolfe (41, 56)
Subs Not Used: Melbourne, Rey, Dunlevy, Shearer,
Bookings – Macpherson
Star Man – Nathan Woolfe
Entertainment Rating – 4 Stars