The Emirates FA Cup returned to The PRG Stadium at Keys Park as Hednesford Town took on National League North outfit Boston United in the Fourth Round Qualifying stage of the competition. The Pilgrims are in tenth place in the National League North, following a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Darlington last weekend. The Pitmen were looking to get back to winning ways after a midweek league defeat at Bromsgrove Sporting.
The visitors got off to a threatening start with half a dozen corners in the opening 15 minutes. The Pilgrims’ Brad Abbott forced a good low save from Daniel Platt from a tight angle. The Pitmen weathered the opening storm and began to carve out some chances of their own. Tom Elliott teed up Danny Glover from a free kick; his blocked shot fell to James Hurst who was inches wide with his low strike. Jay Rollins found himself in space in the Hednesford area, but miscued his attempted volley, the half-cleared ball was swiftly returned forcing a sharp save from Platt.
Osebi Abadaki came close to opening the scoring; shaking off a challenge before forcing Peter Crook to tip his goal bound shot over the crossbar. Abadaki threatened again when he delivered a cross from the left for Kieran Morris whose header went agonisingly wide of the far post. When a Boston attack was halted by Ben Bailey on the edge of the box, Andi Thanoj stepped up to fire the free kick past Platt to give the visitors the lead in the 37th minute.
The Pitmen came out fired up for the second half with the first attack worthy of a penalty when Martyn Woolford appeared to handle in the Boston area. Rollins found himself in space on the right sending his shot wide after an intelligent ball through from Dominic Knowles.
Tom Fry, on as a substitute just before half time for the injured Sam Griffiths, fired just over the crossbar on the hour mark. Crook was forced out of his area to defend the numerous Hednesford long balls as they fought to get back into the game. With the Pitmen dominating possession and most of the play in the visitors’ half, the hosts were unable to carve out any clear-cut chances for an equaliser.
With Boston using every opportunity to run down the clock, The Pitmen became increasingly frantic in search of the goal needed to keep them in the competition. The best chance came when a superb chipped cross came in from Elliott on the right, requiring only the slightest of touches the ball evaded everyone going narrowly past the far post.
A long throw in the final moments from Ben Bailey was headed around the box by numerous players from both sides before finally being cleared. There would be no further goals in a hard fought encounter, which sees the visitors Boston United progress to the first round proper.
Hednesford Town; Platt, Curley, Griffiths (Fry 45+1), Bailey (c), Morris, Hurst, Reid, King, Glover (Wells 75), Elliott, Abadaki. Subs not used; Veiga, Gatter, Scott, Daniels, Hallahan.
Boston United; Crook, Jackson, Whittle, Platt, Gibbens (Middleton 5), Ainge (c), Thanoj, Abbott, Knowles, Woolford (Wafula 80), Rollins. Subs not used; Walker, Adebayo-Smith, Willis.