It was back to Keys Park for a third home game in a week as the Pitmen faced Warrington Town in the Evo Stik Premier League. This encounter marked manager Rob Smith’s 350th match in charge of Hednesford Town.
The visitors started the stronger of the two sides, creating the best chances in the opening stages with Bursik tipping the ball over following a fierce Tony Gray shot from the edge of the area. A number of committed challenges from both sides led to an exchange of free kicks without any clear-cut chances being created. The Pitmen’s first opportunity came when Sweeney fired wide following a searching cross from Matt Curley.
Sweeney was involved in the next chance for the home side when his cross was headed back by Dan Cockerline to Hednesford skipper Josh Craddock whose shot was tipped over the bar by Albinson in the visitors’ goal.
Rudy Misambo got on the end of a Pitmen free kick almost finishing at the near post before Bohan Dixon saw his header beat Bursik and come back off the crossbar, however the linesman had already flagged for offside.
The second half was a fiery encounter littered with a number of controversial incidents. Dan Sweeney would be involved in many of these, going close to breaking the deadlock when his neat cut back was nearly tucked away for an own goal early in the second period.
The Pitmen were knocking on the door with Cockerline heading wide before good work from Matt Curley teed up Nathan Fox who saw his long-range effort blocked.
Sweeney made a powerful run from his own half into the Warrington area where it appeared that his cross was handled by a visiting defender. The referee disagreed and despite vociferous protest from the home side, he awarded the Pitmen a corner. Perhaps justice was done as Dan Cockerline rose highest to head Sweeney’s delivery down and then following a goalmouth scramble, tap the ball past Albinson to give the home side a deserved lead in the 70th minute.
A clash of heads in the Pitmen area led to a long delay as Misambo and David Raven both received treatment before ultimately being able to play on. An on-going feud between Adam Carden and Dan Sweeney boiled over into an unsavoury off the ball incident; another lengthy delay ensued during which the referee consulted his assistant. Subsequently Warrington’s Carden received his marching orders while the Hednesford forward escaped with a yellow card. Rob Smith wisely withdrew the clearly agitated Sweeney immediately, introducing Jules Haabo into the fray for the closing stages.
During eight minutes of added time, the Pitmen held on comfortably despite the visitors throwing men forward, to claim all three points in a hard-earned victory.
Hednesford Town; Bursik, Curley, Fox, Mendez-Jones, Misambo, Griffiths, Gatter, Craddock ©, Cockerline, Sweeney (Haabo 80), King. Subs not used Abadaki, Howard, Lycett, Veiga
Warrington Town; Albinson, Carden, Whittle, Garrity, Hughes, Raven ©, Mackreth, Beeley (Evans 97), Gray (Amis 78), Dixon, Kirby (Vassallo 64). Subs not used Duggan, Roberts