Impressive team display as Pitmen surge to the top.
It was third against fourth as Hednesford Town faced Banbury United in the BetVictor Southern Premier Central. Both sides were equal on 15 points after making strong starts to the season, with the Pitmen sitting one place above the Puritans having a superior goal difference and a game in hand over the visitors.
The Pitmen were unable to capitalise on a strong start when James Hurst’s far post header from Osebi Abadaki’s cross was scrambled to safety. The visitors began to play themselves into the game, moving the ball with threat and purpose. Banbury’s John Mills found himself through on goal with just Daniel Platt to beat but a brilliant reflex save from the Hednesford stopper kept the score line even.
With both sides playing attractive football, the first half was an even contest with the Pitmen enjoying a greater share of possession and Banbury looking lively when they broke up field. With the game heading towards the half time break Tom Elliott took centre stage, firstly earning a booking for a tackle made as the visitors played on while Kris Scott was on the ground injured. Seconds later Elliott drove forward into the area, under pressure from two defenders, it looked like the ball had travelled too far ahead of him before Banbury keeper Jack Harding needlessly came out and hauled down the Hednesford midfielder. James Hurst stepped up, sending a ferocious spot kick high into the net to the right of the goalkeeper on the stroke of half time.
The second half began with sustained pressure from the home side, a long ball into the visitors’ area caused panic amongst the defence, who bundled the ball out of play. The subsequent corner caused a goalmouth scramble and as numerous Hednesford players celebrated what looked like a goal, the assistant referee indicated that the ball had not crossed the line.
Hednesford continued to search for a second goal to finish the game off with the back four snuffing out any threat from Banbury on the counter attack. Reece King saw a good effort charged down before Elliott forced Harding into making an excellent one handed save. Eventually the breakthrough game in the 84th minute when substitute Danny Glover raced behind the Puritans’ defence before rounding Harding and doubling the lead.
With Stourbridge losing heavily and Rushall conceding a late equaliser at Bromsgrove, the Pitmen moved above both teams to go top of the league.
Hednesford Town; Platt, Curley, Griffiths, Bailey ©, Morris, King, Hurst, Scott (B Wells 46), K Wells (Glover 72), Elliott (Fry 93), Abadaki. Subs not used; Daniels, Gatter
Banbury United; Harding, Roberts, Okito (Johnson 77), Westbrook ©, Hawtin, Rasulo (Villarroel 30), Dias, Ngaah Bosio (Gordon 46), Henderson, Mills, Haysham. Subs not used; Odihiambo, Silva