Hednesford Town goalkeeper Dan Crane has made some big saves in his Pitmen career, but the one he pulled off to deny Ciaran Toner in the 94th minute of this game will go down as one of best and certainly one of the most important.
With the final kick of the match the keeper, who had just seen the ball hooked over his head and onto the post, had to show unbelievable reactions as the ball fell to Toner, his shot deflected off the desperate lunge of Dave Macpherson and looked to all and sundry to be flying into the net only for Crane throw himself across goal to block the ball on the line.
The ball was hacked clear and the referee subsequently blew his whistle, leaving the travelling band of Hednesford supporters aghast with relief and delighted with another win for their team which now leaves them five points inside the play off places with four games to go.
Gainsborough had recently beaten The Pitmen 3-1 at home, so Rob Smith’s side went into the game knowing they would face a test, but a positive start allayed those fears as Charlie Anagho-Ntamark, markedly more confident and a better user of the ball since his elevation into the starting line up in recent weeks, set up the irrepressible Marvin Johnson with a perfectly weighted through ball as the winger toe poked the ball into the corner of the net on 11 minutes.
The Pitmen were looking comfortable but just four minutes later the scores were level when Ben Bailey misjudged the bounce and pace of a hopeful through ball and let Tom Davie skip through on goal and finish past a stranded Crane.
Trinity were a threat going forward but with Johnson continuing his barnstorming start to a Hednesford career that had already yielded two vital assists, the away side always looked a good bet for a second goal.
A header over the top of the defence by Macpherson set up Danny Glover to lob Phil Barnes but to his credit the keeper got the slightest touch to the ball at full stretch and diverted it onto the upright.
Crane had to be on guard to beat away a shot by Toner before Anagho-Ntmark forced the same reaction by Barnes just before half time but the teams went in to the break on level terms.
Marvin Robinson replaced Anagho-Ntamark at half time to give The Pitmen more height up front but it was Johnson who was again the threat as he skipped wonderfully past three Gainsborough defenders and saw his shot across goal palmed away and then he dug out a superb cross from the by-line to set up Macpherson but Barnes was equal to it.
With 18 minutes to go another Johnson cross was sliced up in the air by the Gainsborough defence and Wayne Riley pounced on the loose ball to nod The Pitmen into the lead to leave Crane to his heroics that keep Hednesford well and truly in the promotion hunt.
Crane, Disney, Campion ©, Bailey, McCone, Macpherson, Riley (72), Johnson (11) (Lennon 77), Glover (Sullivan 58), Anagho-Ntamark (Robinson 45), Thorley
Subs Not Used
Barnes, Roberts, Roma © (Davis 50), Young, Lacey, Wootton, Russell, Toner, Davie (Winfarrah 54), Stamp (Bateson 69), Margetts (Davison 77)
Subs Not Used
Bookings Robinson, Disney; Toner
Star Man – Dan Crane
Attendance – 343
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Photos by Colin Rogers