Hednesford Town did their clutch of former players and management, returning to the New Bucks Head for the first time, extremely proud as The Pitmen recovered from a goal down to prevail 3-1 and record a first away win against Telford United in over four decades, reaching the Third Qualifying Round of the FA Cup in the process.
It was clear from the build-up to the game that Rob Smith, Larry Chambers, Steve Wynn and Chris Brindley, were going to ensure their Hednesford side would compete for every ball and the defensive performance in the first half, then the superb character shown by all the team but most notably Elliott Durrell and Aaron Rey in the second, proved just how committed The Pitmen are to the cause.
The game started relatively evenly, Adam Farrell headed over after shrugging off the challenge of Alex Melbourne inside five minutes, but The Pitmen counter-attacked well at times with Jamey Osborne demonstrating his usual class and assuredness when running at the defence.
As the half wore on Telford began to look the more likely to score and, but for the astonishing desire of Francino Francis and Ben Bailey in central defence and the very impressive full backs, Darren Campion and John Disney, they may have gone in at the break a goal to the good.
Campion was called upon to hack the ball clear of the goal line when Dan Crane misjudged a deep cross and Neil Byrne headed towards the open net, and Francis and Bailey, on countless occasions, headed clear and fended off the home side’s long balls forward.
Kris Taylor almost marked his return to his old club with a superb left-footed free kick on the stroke of half time, only to see the ball strike the upright with Ryan Young beaten all ends up, but the game sprung to life seven minutes after the interval.
Jamey Osborne picked the ball up facing his own goal just outside of the area and found himself crowded out, the loose ball was picked up by Robbie Booth who skipped past two challenges and superbly rifled the ball into the roof of the net past Crane.
As an affront to the fact their team were now a goal down, almost immediately after the ball hit the back of the net, the Hednesford support in the Frank Nagington Stand sparked into song and within three minutes ex-Telford striker Elliott Durrell swept a superb free kick past Young to equalise and send the fans behind the goal wild.
With the scores level, Hednesford’s brilliant team spirit and togetherness came into its own and Aaron Rey added to his famous winning goals scored against Stafford Rangers and North Ferriby United last season, as he met a deep cross from Durrell and wheeled away in celebration as the ball looped, in slow motion, over Young and into the net.
Cue delirious scenes in the away terrace, matched once more when Durrell’s late deflected free kick made it 3-1 – his 100th goal in Hednesford colours – and sent The Pitmen into the next round, making certain ex-Telford employees very happy indeed.
AFC Telford United
Young, Baynes (Phenix 52), Lever (Cooke 85), Byrne, Grand, Owens, Booth (51), Barnett, Farrell, Gray, McGinn
Subs Not Used
Preston, Pryce, Moogan, Clancy, Jackson
Crane, Disney, Campion, Bailey, Francis, Melbourne (Macpherson 77), Osborne, Durrell (55, 88), Harvey (Lennon 90), Rey (79) (Thompson-Brown 81), Taylor
Subs Not Used
Woolfe, Anagho-Ntamark, Riley
Bookings – Byrne, Campion
Star Man – Elliott Durrell
Entertainment Rating – 5 Stars
Attendance – 1345
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Photos by Simon Faulkner