Hednesford Town continued their positive preparations ahead of the new season on August 9th with another encouraging performance against higher placed opposition, this time versus Wrexham of the Football Conference.
Assistant Manager, Larry Chambers was content after the game with the work-out his players had in the blistering mid-summer heat, with a 3-5-2 formation incorporating a central defence of Ben Bailey, Francino Francis and Paul McCone working very well.
‘Today, along with the two other games this week against Kidderminster and Burton, proved to be a decent work-out for the lads as they have come up against three strong teams. Granted we have struggled to create lots of chances because of the standard of the opposition, but all in all it was a very positive game.
‘Specifically I thought our shape was good, defensively we were solid, apart from the goal conceded and the players acquitted themselves very well in the difficult conditions.’
The Pitmen had the game’s first shot on goal within 60 seconds as Steve Diggin worked hard down the left channel and set up debutant Glenn Walker who fired his shot over the crossbar.
Within 12 minutes the home side were deservedly in the lead as Darren Campion curled a superb free kick into the penalty area and Ben Bailey rose highest to powerfully head home beyond the stationary Dimitar Evtimov.
Many fans present at Keys Park were delighted to see the return of last season’s goalscoring phenomenon Elliott Durrell after his transfer to The Dragons in January and, following a warm welcome before kick-off, the striker very nearly repaid the Hednesford fans with an equaliser for his new team on 21 minutes.
Dean Keates hit a low free kick from 30 yards which Dan Crane had to stoop low to keep out at full stretch, Durrell was quickest to the rebound but he scuffed his left foot shot which allowed the Hednesford keeper to make another smart save.
With Connor Jennings particularly lively for the visitors The Pitmen fought hard for the remainder of the half to keep their lead, which Diggin could have doubled but miskicked when given a sight of goal on the edge of the area on 36 minutes, but the equaliser came shortly afterwards when a Keates corner fizzed across the goalmouth and Ross White was left in space to volley into the net.
The incessant heat took its toll on the pace of the game in the second half but both teams had realistic chances to nick the game, albeit with Wrexham on top in terms of possession.
Jamey Osborne set up Diggin in the left hand channel to cross well, only for Francis to head wide for the home side and Crane was again called into a quality low save with 10 minutes to go as Jay Harris shot from the edge of the area.
The Pitmen now move onto facing Wolves Under 21s at Keys Park on Tuesday night, 7.30pm KO and then West Bromwich Albion on Saturday, 3pm KO.
Crane, Ashmore (Johnson 74), Campion ©, McCone, Francis, Bailey (13), Osborne, Melbourne, Robinson (Glover 59), Diggin (Sullivan 70), Walker (Griffiths 67)
Evtimov, White, Ashton, Smith, Hudson, Keates (Bailey-Jones 76), York (Clarke 76), Harris, Bishop (Nti 76), Jennings, Durrell
Subs Not Used
Gray, Stephens, Tomassen, Royle, Evans, Weaver, Rushton,
Star Man – Francino Francis
Entertainment Rating – 3 Stars
Attendance – 445