With a hectic Christmas programme of games soon to be upon us, Paul Casey took this opportunity to rest a few senior players and to give opportunities to others to stake a claim for a place in the starting line up.
James Mutton was back in the team having recovered from his foot injury and, with Tom Thorley rested, it was Calum Flanagan who wore the captain’s armband for this one.
Much of the first half was a very tight affair with both defences well on top and with little to trouble either goalkeeper.
As the half time interval approached, a ball over the top of the Pitmen defence was headed backwards towards the goalkeeper by Dan Brenan but as Lloyd Ransome came out to gather, he took the legs of the incoming Leek striker, giving the referee little option than to award a penalty kick.
The keeper composed himself though and pulled off a very smart save, diving low to his right, but as the home side pressed the Pitmen failed to get the ball clear and it came to Sam Grimshaw on the edge of the box who fired a curling shot into the bottom corner of the net.
Half Time: 1-0
The visitors started the second half the better of the two sides and in the 47th minute Luke Shearer came close, pulling out a smart save from Ben Chapman,
As the hour mark approached, Spencer Weir-Daley was brought on for Jamie Matthews and shortly afterwards, Jamie Sheldon came on for Reece Leek. The changes brought a bit extra quality into the final third and midfielders George Forsyth and Stuart McNaught started to have a much greater influence on the game.
In the 76th minute after an excellent passage of play, Spencer Weir-Daley was on hand to fire the ball home at the back post but was inexplicably ruled offside.
On 79 minutes Montel Gibson was substituted for Luke Shearer and the Notts County FC youngster immediately showed some nice touches.
In the final ten minutes it was nearly all the visitors on the attack although Leek were still looking dangerous on the break.
Dan Brenan had a goal bound header cleared off the line and Spencer Weir-Daley got up to a high cross but could not direct the header into the net. Montel Gibson hit a scorcher from the edge of the box which hit a Leek defender full on when a goal looked a certainty.
On 89 minutes Leek Town’s impressive goalkeeper Ben Chapman again reacted quickly to deny Jamie Sheldon an equalising goal and to secure the home side’s passage into the next round of the competition and a home tie against Glossop North End FC.
Leek Town: Chapman, Faulkner, Morris, Danylyk (Ward 60), Mullarkey, Curley, Stevenson, Feeney, Bott, Budrys ©, Grimshaw (Lazenby 60).
Subs (not used) Johnson, Grice, Martin.
Hednesford Town: Ransome, Hurren, Flanagan ©, McNaught, Brenan, Mutton, Leek (Sheldon 62), Forsyth, Matthews (Weir-Daley 56), Sammons, Shearer (Gibson 79).
Subs (not used) Wagstaff, Rowley.
Star Man: Mutton
Entertainment Rating: Three Stars