Hednesford Town faced local rivals Rushall Olympic in their latest friendly game, however the result and performance were not what Rob Smith’s men would have expected prior to the game, writes Joe Watson.
The game got off to a slow start as both teams looked much stronger defensively with chances few and far between. Jamey Osborne made a typical surging run from midfield in the 9th minute, which was eventually blocked, whilst three minutes later Neil Harvey had a flicked header comfortably caught by visiting goalkeeper Chris Gemmell.
Things began to heat up midway through the first half, with Rushall’s Jimmy Turner lucky to escape a yellow card for a heavy challenge on Hednesford trialist Nick Rogan. The deadlock would be broken in the 23rd minute though, when Craig Bannister was given too much space and clipped a ball over the top of the Town defence for Ahmed Obeng to lob goalkeeper Liam Mitchell.
Hednesford almost equalised when Lee Downes fouled Osborne just outside the box, but Kris Taylor saw his free kick tipped over the bar. Three successive corners then followed for Hednesford, with Alex Melbourne having a shot blocked and then Francino Francis heading over.
The scoreline would get worse for Hednesford in the 39th minute though, when after one unsuccessful penalty appeal Rushall were finally awarded one, when Sam Barnes felled Obeng. Bannister coolly converted the spot-kick.
The first half ended on a feisty note, as frustrations between several players boiled over. No-one was booked, but the handbags earned Darren Campion and Luke Bottomer a talking to from the referee.
As the second half kicked off Hednesford looked to be set to make a strong start as Harvey seized on a loose back-pass but Gemmell bravely saved at his feet. Four minutes later it was Rushall’s turn, as Francis’ back-pass didn’t reach Mitchell, and Obeng capitalised to make it 3-0.
54th minute substitute Elliot Durrell nearly made an instant impact, however his 18-yard volley flashed wide. Several substitutions then disrupted the flow of the game, which turned into the scrappy affair seen in the opening 20 minutes.
However that would soon change as Rushall substitute Kyle Haynes, a former Hednesford player, whipped a 70th minute free-kick across the box, and after a brief scramble Bannister made it 4-0.
Charlie Anagho-Ntamark and Aaron Rey were now introduced for The Pitmen and they injected some pace and fresh legs to the attack, with Hednesford starting to apply some pressure. This told in the 80th minute when Osborne’s mazy run was brought to an abrupt end, and the referee pointed to the spot. The ever-reliable Durrell converted the penalty, which was only ever going to be a consolation.
The game seemed to be petering out until injury time, when each team had one decent chance with Rey heading wide for Hednesford and Mitchell making a smart save at the feet of Obeng, who was hunting a hat-trick.
The game ended in a 4-1 defeat for Hednesford, who will be glad that it was only a friendly as they move onto Tuesday’s final home pre-season fixture against Chasetown, 7.45pm kick off at Keys Park.
Hednesford Town: Mitchell, Disney, Campion, Barnes (Townsend 60), Francis (Bailey 60), Taylor, Osborne, Melbourne, Harvey (Rey 73), Rogan (Anagho-Ntamark 73), Woolfe (Durrell 54)
Sub not used: Macpherson