Hednesford Town were given a stern test at the hands of Southern League Redditch United on Saturday afternoon as, despite the comfortable looking score line, the aggressive nature of the away side meant The Pitmen really had to battle for their third win from four pre-season fixtures.
Rob Smith’s side have found it relatively easy to create space and flourished in attack during two recent wins against AFC Wulfrunians and Eastwood Town but, with the heatwave which has scorched the country for over two weeks abating somewhat, Redditch were able to get much closer to Hednesford’s attacking players.
Jamey Osborne, once again superb in this match, was the man on the receiving end of a number of tough challenges but The Pitmen were also more than prepared to commit to 50/50 challenges with John Disney most notably giving everything in the tackle.
Despite the rather fractious nature of the game, it is fair to say that a football match also regularly broke out with young debutant Liam Mitchell’s first act between the sticks for Hednesford felling Edwin Ahenkora in the penalty area after four minutes.
The goalkeeper showed great character though in getting back up and saving the striker’s penalty brilliantly low to his right.
Three minutes later at the other end of the pitch, quick thinking by Elliott Durrell saw his free kick sail over the wall with Dan Payne still organising his defence only for the ball to cannon off the inside of the post and fall to Charlie Ntamark who was offside in the follow up.
Osborne, a revelation with the ball at his feet again, took two heavy challenges before scoring another fantastic goal as he glided and sailed past three tackles and then rifled a shot low into the far corner from twenty yards to open the scoring on 37 minutes.
The Pitmen’s second goal came on the stroke of half time when former Hednesford striker Kyle Patterson tried to shepherd the ball out of play only for Osborne to nip in round the back and then, as he advanced into the area, the midfielder was tripped by Payne’s desperate dive.
Durrell stepped up from the spot and, as expected, dispatched the ball into the corner with ease to convert what must be his 20th straight successful penalty kick in the last twelve months.
Patterson made amends for his defensive mistake on 53 minutes as he evoked the spirit of Osborne and just as easily skipped past three Hednesford challenges before playing a perfectly judged reverse pass into the path of Ahenkora to stab beyond the onrushing Mitchell.
The Pitmen restored their two-goal lead as Aaron Rey headed in from close range on 67 minutes and substitute Jermain Hylton, barely on the pitch for long, crudely pole axed Darren Campion and deservedly received a straight red card as The Pitmen passed a rather bruising test with merit.
Mitchell, Disney, Campion (c) (Diallo 82), Barnes (Bailey 45), Francis, Taylor, Osborne (37), Durrell (45), Rey (67), Anagho-Ntamark (Thompson – Brown 45), Woolfe (Melbourne 66)
Subs Not Used
Payne, Cain, Austin, Oshungbure, Conteh, Hins, Reece, Hands, Ahenkora (53), Patterson, Oliver,
Anderson, Price, Hylton, Jenkins, Ambulu, Headley
Attendance – 234
Bookings – Osborne, Hins, Conteh,
Sent Off – Hylton
Star Man – Jamey Osborne
Entertainment Rating – 4 Stars