Hednesford Town safely secured their passage into the First Round Proper of the FA Trophy with a goal in each half from Dave MacPherson and substitute Aaron Rey ensuring Romulus, a league below the away side, did not cause an upset.
Speaking after the victory Pitmen boss Rob Smith stated that he was simply happy with progressing having seen his side, now on a six game winning streak, perform below their recent high standards.
‘It was a scrappy affair, we made it a little uncomfortable for ourselves in the second half but we’re through which is the most important thing. We didn’t reach the level of performance we have shown in the past couple of weeks but I think everyone at the Club now is looking for one of the big teams in the draw.’
Hednesford, playing on a difficult and unfamiliar artificial pitch, were the better side in the opening forty-five minutes and had numerous attempts on goal but until Lewis Exall spilled a Jamey Osborne shot straight to MacPherson the scores stayed level.
Nathan Woolfe and MacPherson shot over and wide from distance in the first fifteen minutes before tricky wing play by Osborne down the right set up Luke Bottomer who blazed over from twelve yards on twenty-one minutes.
Bottomer was having his most impressive game for The Pitmen since signing from Tamworth earlier in the season but it was Neil Harvey who had Hednesford’s best chance of the half when he shot inches wide after MacPherson’s initial attempt was blocked.
Exall was fully extended by Osborne on forty-two minutes with a curling shot from distance before the deadlock was broken on the stroke of half time when MacPherson reacted quickest to Exall’s mistake and slammed the ball into the roof of the net from six yards.
The home side, bereft of any attacking threat in the first half, came out after the break with renewed purpose and looked to capitalise on a Pitmen performance that lacked the cutting edge shown in the opening forty-five minutes.
Romulus still struggled to break down Hednesford’s solid defence however and only former Pitmen centre-half Liam Francis got into a position to threaten Dan Crane’s goal but shot over the bar on seventy-one minutes.
The goal that secured the victory for the away side came with nine minutes remaining when Ben Bailey made a rare venture up the right wing and crossed for Rey whose first shot was blocked but his second found the corner.
A free kick by Dexter Ravenhill found Dan O’Callaghan to sweep in an eighty-fifth minute consolation for Romulus as The Pitmen safely saw out the victory with Sam Barnes to thank for clearing a loose ball off the line in stoppage time.
Smith and no doubt all Hednesford supporters will be keeping a keen eye on the draw for the First Round on Monday lunchtime, hopeful of a Conference big boy at home to continue a so far successful FA Trophy run for The Pitmen this season.
Exall, Robinson (Wynter 34), Meakin-Richards, Folkes (Munday 4), Francis, Jackson (c), Ravenhill, Walker (Facey 65), O’Callaghan (85), Campbell, Jackson,
Subs Not Used
Crane, Disney, Campion, Bailey, Barnes, MacPherson (c) (45) (Melbourne 77), Osborne, Bottomer, Harvey (Rey 60 (81)), Lennon (O’Connor 90), Woolfe,
Subs Not Used
Star Man – Luke Bottomer
Entertainment Rating – 3 Stars
Attendance – 224