Hednesford Town successfully navigated a potentially tricky away tie against Trafford in the FA Trophy Second Qualifying Round on Saturday with second half goals by Elliott Durrell and Jamey Osborne giving The Pitmen a convincing 2-0 victory.
The home side, with their scoring record of over fifty goals already this season, were always going to cause problems for Hednesford but a change to 4-5-1 with Sean O’Connor the lone man up front in Rob Smith’s team made the away side far stronger in midfield.
The more direct playing style employed by Hednesford, albeit successfully, in recent weeks was replaced by a more measured and all round confident display, especially in the second half when Darren Campion shackled the dangerous Shelton Payne and Dave MacPherson controlled the midfield in imperious fashion.
O’Connor was almost the benefactor of Hednesford’s positive start on three occasions in the first ten minutes as he miskicked a Luke Bottomer cross, powered in front of his marker to head narrowly over and also saw a shot blocked.
Trafford rode the early storm and came within inches of an opening goal on eleven minutes when Payne curled a free-kick which was saved at full stretch by Dan Crane and from the resulting corner Alex Melbourne hacked Nia Bayunu’s header off the line.
The home side, clearly following their strict policy of passing on the ground, continued to keep the ball well and The Pitmen were a little guilty of allowing them too much space to play. Another Payne free kick was superbly tipped over by Crane on twenty-four minutes but as the half ended Osborne ran onto a loose ball from a Nathan Woolfe cross and forced Tom Read to tip the ball over the crossbar.
Rob Smith felt aggrieved at the referee waving away a penalty shout when Bottomer was felled as he ran towards goal on the stroke of half-time but The Pitmen came out in the second half with renewed purpose.
The away side dominated the opening ten minutes with Durrell hugely unlucky when he hit a curling half volley which somehow hit the inside of the post and bounced across the line and out for a goal kick.
Durrell wasn’t to be denied on fifty-eight minutes when Woolfe played a cute ball inside and the midifleder took a touch and drilled the ball past Read into the bottom right corner.
Trafford lost their cutting edge as Hednesford took control after the opening goal, Aaron Rey cut inside and curled a right footed shot which was pushed away by Read just past the hour mark before, with nine minutes of the match remaining, the home side backed off Osborne who hit an unstoppable shot into the corner to wrap up the victory despite Trafford hitting the post in the final minute.
The draw for the next round takes place on Monday 29th October and The Pitmen will go into Tuesday’s massive league game against Marine in continued high spirits.
Read, Collier, Halligan, Mason, Bayunu (c), Schofield, Payne, Andrews, Oates (Heron 83), Landregan (Keightley 60), Wright (Umokoro-Emu 83)
Subs Not Used
Crane, Melbourne, Campion, Bailey, Barnes, MacPherson (C), Osborne (81), Durrell, O’Connor (Harvey 66), Bottomer (Disney 78), Woolfe (Rey 66)
Subs Not Used
Bookings – MacPherson, Melbourne, Bottomer, Durrell,
Star Man – Dave MacPherson
Entertainment Rating – 4 Stars
Attendance – 188