Tamworth Win At Death As Pitmen Rage at Referee …
Tamworth came out on top in a fiercely contested local derby but it will be Hednesford cursing their luck as the away side scored a highly debatable penalty in the first half and grabbed the winner in the third minute of stoppage time through captain Dan Preston.
Hednesford started the game in positive mood, despite losing influential defender Chris Westwood to an ankle injury early on, with Steve Diggin shooting speculatively from distance and Danny Glover heading a James Hurst cross over from 12 yards.
Former Tamworth defender Francino Francis headed in an 18th minute corner to give the home side a deserved lead as James Belshaw floundered on the six yard line as the tactical re-shuffle brought on by the suspensions of Darren Campion and Richard Batchelor, and the unlucky injury to Westwood, didn’t look to have affected the Pitmen greatly.
The most hotly debated moment of the game took place on 26 minutes when James Hurst executed a tackle on Reece Styche which looked to the huge majority of players and supporters in the ground to have been won fairly but, with no real protest from the Tamworth contingent, the referee controversially pointed to the spot.
To Styche’s credit, in the face of a barrage of abuse from behind the goal, the ex-Pitmen striker calmly slotted home the penalty and bravely celebrated in front of the baying home fans.
The Pitmen, rocked by the penalty decision, had Crane to thank for keeping the scores level as he first fumbled Brendon Daniels’ shot but then recovered superbly to smother the rebound from David Hibbert.
Two minutes later Tamworth took the lead through Hibbert when Ben Bailey hesitated for a moment after a quick throw on the right wing and the striker finished well past Dan Crane.
Hednesford reacted to an undoubtedly vociferous half time team talk from Rob Smith when Jamey Osborne finally found some space 30 yards out and played a wonderfully judged through ball to release Danny Glover down the left channel and he squared the ball for Alex Melbourne to fire the ball into the net to equalise for the Pitmen on 53 minutes.
The home side looked the most likely to win the game in the second half with Paul Sullivan first forcing Belshaw to tip over a rasping free kick from 25 yards and then cutting in from the left wing to again force the goalkeeper into a smart save.
Hednesford piled on the pressure and roused their supporters into song with the clock ticking down as Glover forced Belshaw to save at full stretch before substitute Marvin Robinson raced clear of the Tamworth defence only to be flagged offside.
Unfortunately for the Keys Park faithful Tamworth raised themselves for the finish as a shot horribly sliced towards the corner flag saw Tamworth win a set piece and the ball fell to Preston who guided the ball into the far corner to send the Tamworth supporters, subdued throughout the match, into rapturous celebration.
A defeat in such a big a game as this one for the Pitmen will undoubtedly prompt an enquiry from supporters, management and players alike but this result, coupled with last week’s three goals shipped against Stockport, labours the point that defending, as a team, not just individually, is costing the Pitmen dear at the moment as they face Halesowen Town in the Birmingham Senior Cup on Tuesday night before once again hitting the road to high flying Fylde in the FA Trophy Third Qualifying Round next Saturday.
Crane, Hurst, Westwood (c) (Sullivan 17), Bailey, Francis (19), Thorley, Osborne, Walker, Glover (Robinson 85), Diggin, Melbourne (53),
Subs Not Used: Love, Price
Belshaw, Smith, Trainer (Taylor 68), James, Preston (c) (90), Sampson, Adams, Clarke, Hibbert (33), Styche (26 pen) (Jackson 74), Daniels,
Subs Not Used: Wilkins, Morrell, Townsend,
Bookings – Hurst, Melbourne, Diggin, Simpson,
Entertainment Rating – 4 Stars
Star Man – Reece Styche
Attendance – 696