For the second season in succession Hednesford Town scored three goals on the opening day of a New Year only to end with no points to show for their efforts. After suffering defeat against Rushall Olympic in 2013 it would be AFC Telford United who would prove to be the victors at the start of 2014 in a game that edged one way then another, writes Scott Smith.
In a ding-dong top of the table Skrill North clash it was actually the visitors who started the better with Hednesford opening the scoring in just the seventh minute. Following some good interplay between Dave Macpherson and Nathan Blissett, the big frontman was able to calmly slot home for his second goal in as many games.
The lead would only last four minutes though as once again Town’s defensive frailties were shown up when Matty McGinn’s corner was headed home at the near post by Adam Farrell into the far corner of the net.
On a tricky playing surface following some awful weather in the previous 24 hours it would be The Pitmen who would strike next. Elliott Durrell’s superb free kick was powerfully headed home by Francino Francis to give his side the lead once again.
Back came the home side though and with a little help from some generous officiating they forced a number of free kicks and corners to test the Hednesford defence. From one of these the home side almost grabbed an equaliser only for Durrell to clear the ball off the line after an almighty scramble in the Town box.
Telford would find their leveller just five minutes into the second period though as a long throw into the Hednesford box wasn’t dealt with and Charlie Barnett was on hand to tap home. Three minutes later the home side were in front as the Town defence were cut open and Farrell was able to capitalise and slot home under Dan Crane for his second of the game.
Town almost dragged themselves level just a minute later though when Blissett flicked on for Durrell who was caught between crossing or shooting and chose the latter only to see his effort go harmlessly wide. This would prove to be pivotal as in a crazy first ten minutes of the second half Telford were able to edge further ahead, as another cross caused confusion in the Town box, and Mike Phenix lashed home at the back post.
The visitors weren’t quite done in the game yet though and with 13 minutes remaining they gave themselves a glimmer of hope as substitute Neil Harvey saw his header deflected into the net via a Telford defender. However any hope was soon extinguished as Farrell ensured he would take the match ball home with a clinical finish from the edge of the box past the helpless Crane.
Hednesford will now have to regroup quickly with old foes from the Northern Premier League title race of 2013 season North Ferriby United set to visit Keys Park on Saturday 4th January, 3.00pm kick off.
AFC Telford United
Young, Baynes, McGinn, Byrne, Preston, Grogan, Phenix (Booth 65), Barnett (Clancy 77), Owens, Farrell, Benjamin
Subs not used
Bailey, Pryce, Gray
Crane, Disney, Taylor, Bailey, Francis, McCone, Macpherson (Thompson-Brown 65), Durrell, Robinson (Harvey 71), Blissett, Thorley
Subs not used
Riley, Melbourne, Woolfe
Man of the Match: John Disney
Entertainment Rating: 4/5
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Photos by Colin Rogers