Top of the table Hednesford Town faced AFC Rushden & Diamonds at the PRG Stadium, Keys Park in the BetVictor Premier League Central having won their last three games in all competitions. The Diamonds began the day in sixth place, three points behind the Pitmen having drawn their last three league games.
The visitors were quick out of the blocks with Tom Lorraine drawing a foul from Kieran Morris 25 yards out. Ben Acquaye stepped up to curl the freekick to the left of Daniel Platt to give the Diamonds the lead in the sixth minute.
Straight away the Pitmen fought to get back into game when Osebi Abadaki’s threatening run at the visitors’ defence ended when he was dispossessed in the area. James Hurst broke downfield as the search for an equaliser continued, setting up Enoch Andoh whose shot was deflected for a corner. Both Abadaki and Andoh were causing problems for the visiting defenders, switching wings and winning a series of free kicks. Hurst headed Tom Elliott’s freekick onto the roof of the net, before Zack Reynolds was booked for upending Andoh. The subsequent freekick was whipped in by Elliott evading Kieran Wells at the far post. After some frantic action in the Rushden box, Ben Heath pulled off an excellent saving Andoh’s shot from six yards out to keep the lead, going into the half time break.
The Pitmen kicked off the second period purposefully with Elliott bustling through the Rushden defence drawing another important save from Heath, Wells got to the rebound but scuffed his shot wide. Moments later Wells headed on into a dangerous area for Elliott with the ball just evading the midfielder.
The home side continued to pile on the pressure Matt Curley squaring a pass to Elliott, who was denied by another fine save from the impressive Heath. Reece King fired a shot wide, as it began to look like a frustrating afternoon for The Pitmen. The industrious Elliott lofted a threatening ball into the area from the right with full back Sam Griffiths arriving at the far post to fire in the equaliser in the 57th minute.
Hednesford pressed hard for a winner, maintaining the bulk of possession. The Diamonds defence worked tirelessly to limit the number of chances created by the home side. Heath’s excellent goalkeeping continued denying Hednesford a winner when substitute Danny Glover played a dangerous ball into the box for Elliott. The Pitmen continued to press in the closing minutes of the game with Abadaki having a good chance snuffed out by robust defending while King headed over. Rushden did have a chance to steal a late win, when they broke with three against two, however Hurst was able to break up the attack.
Hednesford Town; Platt, Curley, Griffiths, Bailey (C), Morris, Hurst, Andoh (Fry 77) King, K Wells (Glover 74), Elliott, Abadaki. Subs not used; B Wells, Gatter, Daniels
AFC Rushden & Diamonds; Heath, Reynolds, Brown (c) , Ashton, Collard, Gosnal-Tyler, Acquaye, Slinn, Lorraine (Bowen 78), Dove, Hicks. Subs not used; Akubuine, Mcdonald, Casey, Cooper