Below par Pitmen narrowly defeated in a disappointing afternoon at Keys Park.
The Pitmen’s BetVictor Southern League Central fixture against Needham Market FC earned its place in the history books as the first ever meeting between the two sides. In-form Hednesford Town went into the game full of confidence following three consecutive wins without conceding a goal. The Pitmen were boosted further by the return of last season’s Player of the Year Reece King who had re-joined after signing for Leamington FC during the summer. The Marketmen made the journey from Suffolk, sat in 14th place after five games.
A lively opening 15 minutes saw a number of chances come and go for the hosts, with Liam Truslove shooting over in the first minute. Marcus Garnham, in goal for the Marketmen, saved a sweetly struck shot from Ben Bailey following a corner. Osebi Abadaki sent a shot just wide after a dangerous run on the left, before seeing another effort blocked moments later. Kieran Wells headed a Kris Scott free kick wide, while the visitors moved the ball around purposefully without creating any clear-cut chances.
The visitors struck the only goal of the game in the 17th minute when the Pitmen defence failed to deal with Callum Sturgess’ cross from the left, allowing Luke Ingram to finish from close range. The game descended into a rather scrappy affair as Hednesford tried to get a foothold back in the game.
After a decent spell of Pitmen pressure, Danny Glover headed just over from Bailey’s long throw. An off the ball incident just before half time saw yellow cards for Needham Market’s Daniel Morphew and Craig Parker while Hednesford’s Glover also went into the referee’s book.
Abadaki continued to look like the Pitmen’s most likely way back into the game with the visitors content to soak up the hosts’ pressure and attack on the break when the opportunity arose, leading to a couple of corners early in the second period. A threatening break by Wells ended abruptly when Sam Squire pulled the striker down earning a booking for his actions. A cross from the right by Louis Ezewele appeared to be passed back to Garnham by a defender but much to the frustration of the home supporters, nothing was awarded.
Daniel Platt ventured out of his goal to take a free kick on the halfway line creating an opportunity for Wells, whose header was acrobatically tipped over by Garnham to prevent a Pitmen equaliser.
Reece King joined the fray on the hour replacing Kieran Wells who was injured during the previous incident. The home side retained the bulk of possession and buzzed around the Needham half with the visitors able to keep them largely at arm’s length, with Truslove firing a free kick straight into the defensive wall.
Needham Market had the opportunity to put the result beyond doubt but Luke Ingram dragged his shot wide. The last chance of the game fell to the home skipper Bailey as the ball fell to him in space just outside the area; however, his shot was inches wide of the left post.
Hednesford Town; Platt, Curley (Ezewele 34), Griffiths, Bailey, Morris, Scott, Truslove, Abadaki (Reid 81), Glover, Elliott, K Wells (King 60). Subs not used; Gatter, B Wells.
Needham Market; Garnham, Dye, Sturgess, Short, K Morphew, D Morphew, L Ingram, Squire, Neal (N Ingram 80), Parker, Marsden. Subs not used; Collard, McLaughlin, Baker, Shorten
Attendance; 461 and 3 dogs