Honours even at Keys Park …
Hednesford Town were unable to make it three games won in succession at home as they had to settle for a share of the points against Stockport County. This despite an entertaining afternoon of football at Keys Park which saw nearly 1,000 people in attendance on Non-League Day, writes Scott Smith.
The home side continued to be riddled with injuries as Francino Francis was added to the latest list of casualties following training on Thursday evening. Manager Rob Smith managed to find a replacement at short notice though with former Walsall defender Chris Westwood arriving at the club and going straight into the starting line-up. Meanwhile there was also another new face as James McQuilkin was also named amongst the matchday squad after joining on Friday.
The visitors should really have gone ahead in just the second minute when a corner into the Town box found an unmarked Jack Ryan at the back post who side footed wide with the goal at his mercy, whilst nine minutes later Westwood had to react quickly to deny Scott Spencer a free shot at goal.
Hednesford were indebted to goalkeeper Dan Crane for keeping the score at 0-0 in the 23rd minute as he tipped Richie Barker’s header onto the crossbar before making sure Ryan was unable to get his follow-up shot away. Town would suffer a blow in the same minute as striker Marvin Robinson was forced to hobble off with an injury and was replaced by McQuilkin.
Ten minutes later though the home side would be in front. A delightful ball from James Hurst set Tom Peers away and his stinging shot was only palmed out as far as Danny Glover who chipped the ball home over County goalkeeper Danny Hurst and into the back of the net.
Three minutes before the break Hednesford almost doubled their lead when Alex Melbourne found room inside the box but Hurst made a fabulous save to deny him; whilst right on the stroke of half-time The Pitmen appealed for a penalty, however Glover’s claims of handball against a Stockport defender were turned away.
Town saw a glorious chance to make it 2-0 pass them by in the 55th minute as Peers got played in behind the defence and with Glover free in the middle the young striker chose to shoot with Hurst making a comfortable save before Tom Thorley blazed the follow-up over.
Hednesford would be made to pay for this by Stockport as the visitors levelled the scores just two minutes later. They had looked dangerous from corners all game and another flag-kick into the box wasn’t dealt with and Ryan was able to get up well and head home from six yards out.
The game was now very much end-to-end and County should have perhaps taken the lead in the 71st minute when substitute Kristian Dennis was put through on goal only to completely fluff his chance and shoot wide with just Crane to beat.
Three minutes later Town almost grabbed a second when Peers saw his flicked effort just turned behind for a corner. This was one of many corners and free kicks earned by the home side in the final quarter of the match but nothing would materialise from any of them and in the end both sides had to be content with a point.
Hednesford Town: Crane, Melbourne, Campion, Bailey, Westwood, Thorley, Osborne, Hurst, Glover, Robinson (McQuilkin 23), Peers
Subs not used: Ashmore, Melvin, McCone, Sullivan
Stockport County: Hurst, Belezika (Sharp 52), Duxbury, O’Halloran, Gregson, Lees, Churchman, Baker (Woolfe 85), Spencer (Dennis 46), Milligan, Ryan
Subs not used: Lofthouse, Ormson
Star Man: Chris Westwood
Entertainment Rating: Four Stars