Pitmen undone by trio of Rangers’ set pieces …
The Pitmen renewed the rivalry with their close neighbours from across Cannock Chase, with local pride at stake in an early season Evo-Stik Premier League clash. Adding to the occasion was the presence of numerous players who have represented both clubs, most notably former Hednesford Town skipper Tom Thorley lining up for the visitors.
A scrappy opening 10 minutes preceded a good spell of pressure for the home side. The deadlock was broken in the 19th minute when a Mike Howard strike was the perfect finish to a delightful cross from the industrious Nathan Fox on the left.
The visitors equalised in the 36th minute when former Pitman Kyle Perry went down theatrically on the edge of the area. His claims for a penalty were dismissed by the referee; however, Izak Reid’s sweetly struck free kick found the bottom right corner of the net.
Six minutes later Perry who was now revelling in his role of pantomime villain, found the deck again, convincing the referee a foul had been committed. Louis Briscoe struck a thunderous low shot, which beat Daniel Eccles in the home goal to give the visitors a fortunate half time lead.
Half time: 1-2
A series of a substitutions and fouls from both sides disrupted the flow early in the second half. Jack Sherratt went into the book for hauling down the advancing Jed Davies.
As the game opened up and opportunities came and went for both sides, it would be Sherratt though who put the game beyond doubt with a third goal for the visitors, volleying home from close range a free kick from Reid, delivered from the left of the pitch adjacent to the penalty area.
Sherratt’s evening would end unhappily when another late challenge meant that Stafford would play out the final ten minutes a player down as he was shown his second yellow of the game. Despite the numerical advantage the Pitmen were unable to find a foothold to get back into the game. Perry inevitably tested the referee’s patience once too often receiving a late booking for persistent fouling.
Hednesford Town: Eccles, Mendez-Jones, King (Grimshaw 58), Hollis (Dodd 46), Galinski, Gatter, Davies, Cockerline, Howard (Archer 58), Fox
Subs not used: Craddock, Griffiths
Stafford Rangers: Whitehouse, Banks, Askey, Jones, Coulson, Sherratt, Briscoe (Benns 62) Thorley, Perry, Reid (Green 80), Cuff ( Bailey-Jones 56)
Subs not used: Reeves, Marshall