After the highs of a victory against Tamworth on Saturday, Hednesford Town were brought back down to earth with a bump on Tuesday evening after suffering a home defeat against Worcester City that leaves the Pitmen on the brink of relegation from the National League North.
Hednesford were already without defender Jack Fitzwater for the game and were then forced into a late team sheet change when Shelton Payne was injured in the warm-up – leading to Francino Francis replacing him on the substitutes’ bench.
The game got off to the worst possible start for the home side when they conceded in just the third minute following a Lee Hughes flick-on which saw Jordan Murphy then take the ball past Adam Thomas and fire home low into the bottom corner from the edge of the box.
Daniel Nti then stung the palms of Hednesford goalkeeper Dan Crane before the home side finally got going when Danny Glover fed Sean Williams but he fell at the crucial moment inside the penalty area.
There was a lull in proceedings in the 18th minute as Crane received treatment and ten minutes later the goalkeeper was forced off with a calf injury with Lloyd Ransome coming on to replace him.
Hednesford finally managed their first shot on target in the 31st minute but Glover saw his effort easily saved by Nathan Vaughan.
The best chance of the half for the Pitmen would fall right on half-time as Jack Truelove got down the left-hand-side and his cross picked out Tom Peers, but the striker headed wide at the near post.
The home side made a change at half-time with Mo Cham replacing Phil Trainer and Hednesford visibly stepped things up at the start of the second half with Glover and Peers being denied shots on goal and Cham firing into the side netting.
Glover would see another goalbound effort somehow blocked by Vaughan in the 61st minute after Stephane Ngamvoulou worked hard down the right wing before Sean Williams saw a free-kick easily saved.
A big talking point arrived midway through the half when, after already receiving a yellow card for deliberate handball, Wayne Thomas was seemingly set to be dismissed after slapping his arm into the face of Glover, only for the referee to change his mind – despite initially reaching for a second booking. Instead the big defender just received just a talking to.
Hednesford suffered another injury in the 72nd minute as defender Jack Truelove was forced off with Francis replacing him.
Worcester almost doubled their lead in the 79th minute when Alun Webb was played in but Cham got back to put a tackle in and Ransome was able to clear up.
Five minutes later Murphy saw his first shot blocked away on the edge of the box before Ransome made a smart low save with Hughes firing the rebound horribly wide.
In the end though, the early goal would be enough for the visitors as the Pitmen were left knowing that their fate had all but been sealed.
Hednesford Town: Crane (Ransome 28), Thomas, Truelove (Francis 72), Bailey, Digie, Royle, Peers, Williams, Glover, Ngamvoulou, Trainer (Cham 46)
Subs not used: Ennis, Robinson
Worcester City: Vaughan, Minihan, Weir (Burton 57), Gudger, Thomas, Jackman, Nti (Webb 68), Sharpe, Hughes (Morris 89), Gater, Murphy
Subs not used: Ologu, Ross
Star Man: Ben Bailey
Entertainment Rating: Two Stars