A much changed Hednesford Town side succumbed to a 1-0 defeat on the final game of the regular Skrill North season following a controversial goal in the first half for the home side Barrow, writes Scott Smith.
With a place in the Play-Offs already confirmed, Town manager Rob Smith decided to make a number of changes to his side as he looked to best utilise his squad on offer. A solitary strike from Barrow’s Sam Sheridan would ultimately prove the difference on the day, although whether the ball actually crossed the line was a major talking point.
Town started the better of the two sides and they should have perhaps gone ahead in just the second minute when Charlie Anagho-Ntamark found room on the edge of the box but he dragged his effort wide.
Three minutes later, Kris Taylor’s quick thinking created a shot on target for Hednesford as he quickly took a free-kick from 25 yards which Tony McMillan was just able to push over the crossbar for a corner. Despite this good start it would be Barrow that would edge ahead in the 21st minute. Following a good save from debutant Town goalkeeper Dale Reaney, the ball was only cleared as far as Sheridan who unleashed a thunderous shot from 30 yards which hit the underside the bar, bounced down and seemingly away. However, the assistant referee deemed the ball had crossed the line, much to the dismay of Hednesford’s players.
Town almost responded immediately though when Michael Lennon slotted home under the advancing McMillan just 60 seconds later but his effort was ruled out for offside.
In the 33rd minute Barrow had a chance to make it 2-0 when Alex-Ray Harvey was through on goal but he blasted his effort over the bar. Meanwhile, at the other end, Town had two half chances as Taylor saw a freekick easily saved before Paul McCone had a header turned away.
The second half saw both sides having plenty of possession but doing very little with it. The closest Hednesford came was when Anagho-Ntamark headed wide from inside the penalty area. At the other end, Sheridan saw a low driven effort strike Gareth Arnison and comfortably bounce up into the arms of Reaney, as both sides produced little in the way of goalmouth action.
As the game entered the final ten minutes and with Guiseley winning 3-1, Hednesford knew that they couldn’t afford to concede a second if they wanted to claim fourth place and although Reaney had a low save to make in the final minute, the home side didn’t really threaten in the final stages.
In truth, neither side did too much in the second period and the game won’t go down as the most memorable one for Town, but in the end a fourth place finish was confirmed at the final whistle, setting up a Play-Off Semi Final against Altrincham. The first leg takes place at Keys Park on Wednesday 30th April, 7.45pm kick off with Hednesford visiting Altrincham on Saturday 3rd May.
McMillan, Burns, Cowperthwaite, Sheridan, Williams, Reynolds, Harvey, Davies (Mwasile 76), Corner (Rushton 80), Arnison (Marsh 80), Cribley
Subs not used: Edwards, Meechan
Reaney, Disney, Melbourne, McCone, Francis, Taylor, Anagho-Ntamark (Thorley 90), Riley, Lennon, Sullivan, Thompson-Brown
Subs not used: Johnson, Glover, Robinson, Campion
Star Man: Paul McCone
Entertainment Rating: Two Stars
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Photos by Colin Rogers