Hednesford Town returned to league action at Keys Park following the FA Trophy midweek disappointment at Cleethorpes Town, facing a Stalybridge side managed by former Pitman Steve Burr.
Ben Bailey wore the captain’s armband in Tom Thorley’s continued absence, while manager Rob Smith handed a debut to recent signing from Tamworth, right back Matt Curley.
The Pitmen, seeking a much needed league win, started strongly with a handful of corners and long throws from Ben Bailey asking questions of the Stalybridge defence. The breakthrough came in the 11th minute when the tricky James Fitzgibbon went round Joe Slinn in the Stalybridge goal and rolled his shot into the net.
Stalybridge’s best chance of the half came from a corner, initially palmed away at the near post by James Wren only for the ball to be driven back in and strike the upright. A further chance from the subsequent rebound was fired well wide.
Bailey’s long throws continued to cause problems for Stalybridge with one effort needing a goal line clearance to keep the score at 1-0.
The second half proved to be a much more competitive encounter with Stalybridge maintaining possession for extended periods of time and putting the Hednesford defence under pressure. Joey Butlin worked tirelessly to hold up play and distribute the ball when the Pitmen gained possession.
However, a promising run from Jordan Graham ended when he lost control of the ball, allowing Stalybridge to break at speed. Oliver Roberts found himself in yards of space and fired past James Wren from the left side of the area. Hednesford almost regained the lead immediately when a series of shots were blocked at close range by the Stalybridge defence.
In the final 20 minutes the game really opened up with chances coming and going at both ends. Then, in the dying moments of the game Danny Glover made a decisive run from the centre of the park, before striking a ferocious long range effort into the back of the net to claim the three points and a deserved home victory for the Pitmen.
Hednesford Town: Wren, Curley, Campion, Bailey, Oji, Fitzpatrick, King (Lawrie 44), Glover, Graham (Gatter 90), Butlin, Fitzgibbon. Subs not used: George, Mbunga, Veiga
Stalybridge Celtic: Slinn, Crowley, Honeyball, Brown (Wilkinson 57), Ashworth, Killock (Morton 16), Chapell (Bailey-Jones 61), Roberts, Dickinson, Wolfenden, Hughes.
Subs not used: Charles, Cofie