After last weekend’s FA Cup win over National League North Blyth Spartans it was back to league action for Hednesford Town, as they faced Royston Town in the BetVictor Premier Central. The Crows were sat in tenth place at the start of play, five points behind the second placed Pitmen with a game in hand. Pitmen manager Gary Hayward gave a league debut to Elliott Hodge while fellow new signing Andre Brown started on the bench.
The hosts took an early lead when Sam Griffiths made a superb run which saw the left back dancing past numerous Royston players before delivering a precise ball to the far post for Tom Elliott to blast into the roof of the net. The Crows came close to an immediate equaliser from a corner, Reece King cleared the initial ball as far as Adam Murray who hit an effort from long range which skimmed the crossbar. James Hurst’s intelligent ball sent Osebi Abadaki free on the right, delivering an inch perfect cross for Danny Glover to head past Joe Welch to double the Pitmen’s lead in the 17th minute.
With the Pitmen cruising, Royston scored against the run of play. A quickly taken freekick found Brandon Adams who produced a neat finish past Daniel Platt. Adams came close to an equaliser when through on goal, shooting wide after Griffiths had tracked back to narrow the angle. Glover hit a shot into the side netting after Elliott and Hodge combined well to create an opportunity for the Hednesford striker just before the break.
The second half continued as the first had ended; a tight physical battle with both sides looking dangerous. Hurst headed on Griffiths’ cross from the left setting up Glover whose overhead kick was saved by Welch. Elliott shook off two challenges as he advanced into the Royston area to set up Glover who hit the post on the hour mark.
The turning point came in the 74th minute, when Royston’s Murray, who had already been cautioned in the first half went elbow first into an aerial challenge with Kieran Morris and was rightly dismissed. Following the sending off, the industrious Elliott played Kris Scott through on the right of the visitors’ area, forcing Welch to leave his line and haul down the Pitmen midfielder. Danny Glover grabbed his brace from the penalty spot finishing with a low shot to the keeper’s right. Substitute Andre Brown put the result beyond doubt in the 87th minute dispatching an assist from Reece King with a cool finish into the corner of the net.
With Rushall Olympic losing, Hednesford Town returned to the top of the league after a hard fought win at Keys Park.
Hednesford Town; Platt, Curley, Griffiths, Bailey (c), Morris, Hurst, Hodge (Scott 70),King, Glover (Wells 82), Elliott, Abadaki (Brown 53).
Subs not used; Fry, Gatter.
Royston Town; Welch, Scott-Morriss, Brathwaite (c) (Taylor 80), Bridges, Murray, Crowther (Martin 57), Asufu-Adjaye, Green (Joseph 61), Adams, Bateman, Ofosu.
Subs not used; Costin, Knight.
Attendance; 491 + Bailey (canine supporter).