It was another afternoon to forget for the Hednesford Town management, players and supporters alike as the season fizzled out to a disappointing end at Brackley Town.
There were once again signs of what the team can do, but it would turn out to be a game of two halves with the home side securing their Conference North survival late on in the second period – condemning the Pitmen to their sixth defeat in their last eight games.
With the home side needing the points for survival it was they who had the first chance of the game when defender Stuart Pierpoint headed over the bar in the second minute.
This spurred the visitors into life and five minutes later Jamey Osborne saw a low shot saved from 25 yards, before being stopped in his tracks soon after by a late challenge.
Hednesford continued to probe forward at every attempt, with James Hurst seeing a low driven effort saved by the goalkeeper in the 17th minute before the home side’s David Moyo had half a chance, only to drag his effort wide from the edge of the box.
Rob Smith’s side should really have gone ahead in the 33rd minute when striker Nick Rushton got clear but he saw his shot blocked and Lloyd Kerry couldn’t turn the ball home from the edge of the box.
Right on the stroke of half-time the visitors had another half chance but Glenn Walker headed over the bar at the back post after finding half a yard of space.
Eight minutes into the second half and Pierpoint almost opened the scoring, only for Hednesford goalkeeper Dan Crane to make a wonderful save to turn the ball behind despite initially diving the other way.
Although the intensity from the Pitmen wasn’t quite the same in the second period, Osborne saw another low driven shot turned around the post for a corner after driving forward from the half-way line.
As Colwyn Bay, the team one place below Brackley in the relegation zone, continued to increase their lead, the home side knew they needed a goal and pushed four men forward.
The Pitmen back line, marshalled by stand-in defender Richard Batchelor, looked pretty comfortable with what the home side were throwing at them though, clearing a number of corners and free kicks.
Brackley’s forward movements eventually paid dividends with 14 minutes to go. Substitute striker Ryan Rowe managed to find half a yard inside the Hednesford box and he drilled home low and hard from 15 yards out to give his side the lead.
With three minutes to go Hednesford’s afternoon went from bad to worse with Batchelor being forced off with a rib injury, leaving the team with just ten men for the final few moments of the campaign.
As the home side played for every second they could, the visitors couldn’t really force any real clear-cut chances and the solitary goal would turn out to be enough for the home side, just as it was in the previous season.
Brackley Town: Snedker, Pierpoint (Sharpe 67), Fitzsimons, Odhiambo, Sinclair (Rowe 60), Austin, Story, Whittall (Green 60), Moyo, Kaziboni, McDonald
Subs not used: Carruthers, Farrell
Hednesford Town: Crane, Hurst (Todd 46), Campion, Westwood, Thomas (Diggin 70), Walker, Osborne, Thorley, Rushton (Robinson 70), Kerry, Batchelor
Star Man: Richard Batchelor
Entertainment Rating: 2 stars