Pitmen pressure proves pivotal for three points …
Hednesford Town could well look back on this game at the end of the season, as the one which helped propel them into an end of season play-off place after two late goals handed them all three points against a stubborn Lowestoft Town.
It looked as if the visitors were going to frustrate the Pitmen in the first ever meeting of the two sides as their goalkeeper Ashlee Jones made a succession of great saves before finally being beaten late on.
The game took a long time to get going with neither side really threatening either goalkeeper in the opening exchanges, and although Hednesford had the ball over the goal line at one point it was ruled out for a foul on the visiting shot stopper.
There were appeals for a penalty from the home side in the 18th minute as the ball bounced up and struck Joe Marsden on the arm, but the officials deemed it accidental and let the game go on.
With Lowestoft coming more into the game, it was some time before Hednesford could register their next chance. This came about with ten minutes of the first half to go when Steve Diggin fired over the bar from just inside the box following good link-up play.
The same player was soon involved again, only to see his speculative effort plucked out of the air by Jones when it looked to be heading towards the top corner of the net.
Lowestoft perhaps should have gone ahead right on the stroke of half-time when first Ross Jarvis headed straight at Hednesford’s Dan Crane and then Shaun Bammant fired over the bar from inside the 18-yard box.
Following a half-time pep talk from Rob Smith, the home side came out with a renewed vigour and were soon on the attack once again.
They were to be frustrated by Jones though as he made another smart save in the 54th minute, this time from Glenn Walker after the Hednesford man had manoeuvred himself into a goal-scoring position.
Hednesford were now really applying the pressure and the Lowestoft keeper once again kept his team in the game in the 65th minute with a good low save from Tom Thorley’s driven effort.
It certainly looked as if things wouldn’t be going Hednesford’s way as young Mansfield Town loanee Jack Thomas was then denied by a stunning one handed save by the goalkeeper with 15 minutes to play.
The home side kept knocking at Lowestoft’s door though and with five minutes to go, the game suddenly exploded into life.
Jamey Osborne made one of his trademark runs and was brought down inside the penalty area by Curtis Haynes-Brown, with the referee immediately pointing to the penalty spot.
Lowestoft’s Andrew Frisk was certainly not happy about the decision, accusing Osborne of diving inside the box. ‘Handbags’ followed and the game was delayed for four minutes as the officials sorted things out by finally dismissing Frisk for a second yellow and booking several others.
Despite such a long wait, striker Paul Sullivan composed himself and sent Jones the wrong way to make it 1-0, having just come on as a substitute minutes earlier.
That wasn’t to be the end of the scoring though, as deep into stoppage time the Pitmen made certain of all three points when Glenn Walker poked home after being set up by the lively Thomas.
Hednesford now prepare to make the long trip north this Tuesday evening as they travel to second-placed Barrow.
Hednesford Town: Crane, Hurst, Campion, Bailey, McCone, Thorley, Osborne (Westwood 90), Walker, Diggin (Sullivan 83), Thomas, Batchelor (Robinson 67)
Sub not used: Melbourne
Lowestoft Town: Jones, Ainsley, Smith (Okay 30), Fisk, Sowunmi, Haynes-Brown, Marsden (Mason 51), Jarvis, Reed, Bammant, Eagle (Woods-Garness 90)
Subs not used: Zielonka, Jessup
Entertainment Rating: Three Stars
Star Men: Glenn Walker // Ashlee Jones