Pitmen tumble to defeat at Bradford …
It would certainly be an afternoon to forget for everyone involved with Hednesford Town as they fell to their first league defeat in seven games and also saw manager Rob Smith dismissed, along with midfielder Richard Batchelor, in what was far from a feisty affair.
On a bog of a pitch it was the home side that adapted better to the conditions and they could have been ahead in just the fifth minute when Billy Priestley headed home, only for the effort to be ruled out for offside.
Avenue wouldn’t have to wait long before they did take the lead though, as five minutes later they scored what would be the only goal of the game. Midfielder Nathan Hotte was played in and, despite the attentions of Ben Bailey, he slotted home from just inside the box.
Hednesford really struggled to get going in the first half and apart from a couple of blocked efforts from Steve Diggin and Richard Batchelor, along with a couple of corners, they rarely troubled the home goalkeeper.
In fact they could have found themselves 2-0 down when, from a Town corner, the home side broke and after the ball was played back into Paul Walker he dragged his shot wide of the upright, injuring himself in the process.
Right on the stroke of half-time came what would be the first of a number of bemusing decisions from the officials as Hednesford won a free kick close to the by-line, after firstly being allowed to play-on. Despite there being time to get everyone into the box, as soon as the ball was struck the referee blew for half-time, much to the frustrations of the visitors.
Four minutes into the second period, Town were indebted to goalkeeper Dan Crane for keeping them in the game as he made a smart low save from the lively Chib Chilaka to to keep the score at one-nil.
Then in the 51st minute, one of the strangest decisions ever seen off the field took place. With the Hednesford bench fed up of the time it was taking for the ball to be returned every time that it went out of play, due to the running track around the pitch at Avenue’s ground, they decided to keep hold of one to return at the next available option and keep the game moving.
Bradford’s kitman took exception to this and taking matters into his own hands, he encroached into the away side’s dugout. With the Town’s backroom staff keeping hold of the ball, the assistant referee also felt obliged to get involved and it all ended with manager Rob Smith being dismissed to the stands by the referee, despite him (the ref!) allegedly stating that he didn’t know what he had sent Smith off for!
Back on the field and despite plenty of pressure from Town, they were forced into mainly long range efforts which were either blocked or stopped by home goalkeeper John Danby.
Crane was forced into a smart low save in the 70th minute as he dealt with a free kick and two minutes later Craig King shot into the side netting for the home side.
In the 78th minute a low Batchelor shot flew straight into the arms of Danby before James Hurst and Tom Thorley saw efforts blocked inside the penalty area.
In all though it was a frustrating afternoon for the away side, which was tempered further in stoppage time as, following a missed offside by the assistant, Batchelor had too much to say to the referee and he was dismissed.
The Pitmen will be looking to put this behind them as they host AFC Fylde at Keys Park on Tuesday evening, 7.45pm kick off.
Bradford Park Avenue: Danby, Pursehouse, Howarth, Dean, Qualter, Priestley (Patterson 36), King, Price, Chilaka, Hotte, Walker (Colbeck 45)
Subs not used: Colley, Boothman, Barlow
Hednesford Town: Crane, Hurst, Campion, Bailey, Kerry (Thomas 46), Thorley (Strain 86), Osborne, Walker, Diggin, Rushton, Batchelor
Subs not used: Robinson, Todd, McCone
Star Man: Ben Bailey
Entertainment Rating: Two Stars