Hednesford Town moved to within touching distance of the Vanarama Conference North play-off places with a dogged 2-1 win against promotion rivals Chorley, recovering admirably from conceding an eighth minute goal, thanks to a Marvin Robinson double.
The match pitted together two sides who had genuine ambitions of staying in touch with the current top four and Hednesford’s supporters were acutely aware that anything other than a win, with Chorley holding four games in hand over them, would be a backward step following Tuesday night’s hugely frustrating late defeat to Barrow.
Despite the importance of the game it was Chorley who started far the brighter as Chris Simm broke clear of a leaden-footed Hednesford defence inside the opening minute and lobbed the ball over the onrushing Dan Crane, only to see the ball bounce on the six yard line and land on the roof of the net.
Simm was involved in the opening goal seven minutes later when Crane made a hugely unfortunate misjudgement, as the usually reliable goalkeeper took a total air shot to present the big striker with an easy chance to score.
Hednesford had a mountain to climb after a nightmare start but to their credit they showed great spirit to bounce back immediately as James Hurst burst down the right wing to set up Robinson at the near post to equalise before, just five minutes later, Jamey Osborne epitomised the desire of the home side by winning the ball in midfield and playing a fantastic ball through to Robinson who finished well to turn the game completely on its head.
The Pitmen had the wind in their sails and showed immense hunger and desire to create a further three chances to score before half-time. With captain Darren Campion substituted due to injury Glenn Walker was a roving pacey replacement at left back and he skipped easily beyond Ross to set up Richard Batchelor who dragged his shot wide and then down the opposite flank Osborne brilliantly created an opening for Robinson who stabbed over the bar when off balance.
Paul McCone and Ben Bailey were competing very strongly with Chorley’s sizeable attack but were almost caught out when Simm broke free but could only scuff his shot across goal on 23 minutes.
Hednesford had the best chance of the half shortly before the interval when Osborne’s wonderful through ball found debutant Nick Rushton who was denied by an outstanding point blank save from Sam Ashton.
The second half saw Chorley putting increased aerial pressure on the Pitmen back line but, led by the immense Bailey, the home side looked solid throughout and, but for the upright and another superb Ashton save, Robinson could have had a hat-trick and young Birmingham City loanee George McGee could have made the game safe in the final minute.
Speaking after the game Hednesford boss Rob Smith waxed lyrical about the fantastic commitment and desire shown against a Chorley side who gave his side a real test and, should The Pitmen continue to exhibit the characteristics on show today who knows where this young, fit and clearly together team could end up.
Crane, Hurst, Campion © (Thorley 13), Bailey, McCone, Thomas (Melbourne 90), Osborne, Walker, Robinson (9,13), Rushton (McGee 63), Batchelor
Subs Not Used
Ashton, Ross, Mather, Teague ©, Smyth (Winter 44), Roscoe, Dorney, Whitham, Dean, Simm (8) (Hine 46), Cottrell (Hammond 79)
Subs Not Used
Bookings – Osborne, Teague
Star Man – Ben Bailey
Entertainment Rating – 3 Stars