An outstanding left-footed free kick by Kris Taylor secured a vital win for Hednesford Town at Ilkeston on Saturday to keep The Pitmen neck-and-neck with North Ferriby United with two games left to play after a controversial Ben Bailey header had given them the lead in the first half.
The 2-0 victory leaves both teams locked on 87 points with Rob Smith’s team to play Stocksbridge Park Steels at home this Saturday and AFC Fylde away the following weekend with North Ferriby finishing with two home matches against Chorley and Ashton respectively.
For a fleeting half hour period The Pitmen were technically top of the league in the first half of the match as the travelling hordes of Hednesford supporters soaked up the gorgeous spring sunshine at the picturesque Derbyshire setting and greeted news that Marine had scored an early goal against the leaders with rousing celebration.
Ilkeston belied their mid-table league position in the opening 30 minutes as Hednesford looked somewhat tentative, perhaps summed up by the initial struggles of John Disney, solid as a rock at right back in the last four games, against the pacy Kane Richards on the left wing.
Dan Crane was called upon in the 35th minute to make his first and only save of the afternoon when James Reid fired in a shot from the angle which was brilliantly tipped over the bar but two minutes later it was the away side who took the lead.
An Elliott Durrell corner was headed towards goal by Francino Francis and Ben Bailey helped the ball on only for an Ilkeston defender to clear the attempt off the line, The Pitmen supporters directly behind the goal vociferously appealed and the linesman quickly signalled to the referee that the ball had gone in.
Whilst Ilkeston may have had a complaint about the goal line decision, The Pitmen once again showed why they are currently challenging for the title after the half time break with another solid defensive display and, but for some more luck, could have scored more than the one goal they eventually managed.
Lennon struck the inside of the post with a rasping drive from distance on 47 minutes and saw his follow up clawed away by the goal keeper after MacPherson had headed against the bar three minutes later but Hednesford’s second goal was truly worth waiting for.
Taylor stepped up after a foul had been committed on 84 minutes twenty-two yards out and curled a wondrous shot over the wall and the goalkeeper to cap yet another victory for his team and set up a two game shoot-out starting next Saturday for the title.
Crane, Disney, Campion ©, Bailey, Francis, Macpherson, Osborne (Melbourne 85), Durrell (Woolfe 64), Harvey (Rey 71), Lennon, Taylor,
Subs Not Used
Entertainment Rating – 4 Stars
Star Man – Kris Taylor
Attendance – 529
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