Jekyll and Hyde Pitmen Held To Draw At The New Windmill Ground..
There’s always a danger of falling into a cliché when referring to a game of football as one of two halves but, following Hednesford Town’s 1-1 draw with rivals Leamington on Saturday afternoon, never before has an expression been so apt for both teams.
The Pitmen, going into the game on the back of two straight league defeats which have served to derail their push towards the play-off places, knew how important a victory was and started with a clear intention to win the match.
The atmosphere at the New Windmill Ground had a very competitive edge to it as both sets of supporters vocally encouraged their prospective sides on, but it was the Pitmen’s travelling band of fans who celebrated first when, within three minutes of the kick-off, their side took the lead.
Darren Campion made good ground down the left wing and sent in a superb cross which begged former Leamington hero Richard Batchelor to bury his header from six yards, but although Connal Trueman was equal to the attempt, he could only push the ball out for Glenn Walker to slam into the net from close range.
Danny Glover hit a free kick narrowly over the bar before Osborne again showed why he is such a dangerous player as he slalomed past four challenges into the Leamington box, only to see Trueman make a superb low save to his right.
Osborne then swung in a brilliantly judged free kick from the left wing, which left the Leamington defence in no man’s land between the penalty spot and six yard line as James Hurst headed the ball on and forced Trueman into another sprawling save.
The home side found their feet somewhat towards the end of the half, twice creating chances which failed to trouble a hitherto untested Dan Crane, but in the second period the tables turned completely as the Brakes came out a different team and laid siege to the Pitmen’s goal.
Crane did well to tip over a rasping drive from Lee Chilton on 53 minutes and from the resulting corner, hesitant defending from Hednesford left Dan Newton with enough time six yards out to control a dropping ball and inconceivably stab it over the bar when it looked easier to score.
Steve Diggin broke the defensive line and finished well past Trueman only to see the linesman’s flag rightly raised as the Pitmen tried to get a foothold in the game, but the equaliser rightly came on 64 minutes when more slack defending gave Newton the chance to stab home past Crane.
Newton forced Crane to parry a swerving shot from just inside the area for the Brakes before the Pitmen almost grabbed a dramatic 93rd minute winner when Osborne shifted the ball onto his right foot and sent a wonderfully-judged chip over the goalkeeper which seemed to hang in the air as all in the ground held their breath and hit the inside of the post before being hacked away on the line, much to the disappointment of the Hednesford fans.
A late winner for the Pitmen may have been a little undeserved thanks to the complete change around in performance either side of half-time, a point is a point but Rob Smith and Larry Chambers were no doubt hoping for three.
Trueman, Fry, Morley ©, Magunda, Tank, Mace, L Moore (Dodd 85), Edwards, S Moore, Newton (56), Chilton
Subs Not Used – Wint, Pierpoint, Connolly, Hill,
Crane, Hurst, Campion ©, Bailey, McCone, Melbourne (Danks 80), Osborne, Walker (3), Glover (Robinson 74), Diggin, Batchelor,
Subs Not Used – Sullivan, Thorley, Price,
Bookings – Edwards; Hurst, Osborne,
Star Man – Jamey Osborne
Attendance – 558
Entertainment Rating – 3 stars