Jack Hallahan hat trick overshadowed by late collapse.
Hednesford Town travelled to Leicestershire to face Barwell in the BetVictor Premier Central, looking to continue their return to form following successive wins over Redditch United and Stratford Town. Barwell played their last two games against Bromsgrove Sporting, losing at home in the league before recording an impressive 7-2 win at the Victoria Ground in the FA Trophy. At the start of play the Canaries sat in 12th place in the league, six points behind the first placed Pitmen having played one more game.
Hednesford were rewarded for a strong start with the opening goal in the 6th minute, Danny Glover’s blocked shot fell to Jack Hallahan whose effort took a deflection on the way past Max Bramley in the Barwell goal. Andy Wycherley made a routine save from Tolani Omotola, while Bramley denied Glover at the near post following a dangerous ball in from Hallahan as the game continued on what was proving to be a tricky playing surface.
Jake Whitmore went in the book for a foul on Tom Elliott on the left of the home area, the whipped in free kick evading everyone at the far post. The Pitmen doubled their lead in the 41st minute when an advancing Glover struck the left post, allowing Hallahan to bag his second with a simple follow up. Hallahan came close to a first half hat trick when his effort from the edge of the Canaries’ box bobbled up, nearly deceiving Bramley.
Half time substitute Osebi Abadaki sent a ball over the top for Elliott who hit the post straight after the break as the Pitmen looked to increase their lead. It would be the home side next on the scoreboard as some ineffectual defending from the visitors forced Bailey to dive in with a wild tackle, Canaries’ skipper Brady Hickey stepped up to tuck away the penalty.
A fantastic team move involving King and Brown, set up a cross from Glover finding Abadaki who shot just over. A long throw from Bailey came back to him and as he crossed the ball back into the home area, Glover was hauled down and a penalty was awarded. Jack Hallahan converted the spot kick low to the right of Bramley to complete his hat trick.
It looked as if the Pitmen were easing to a comfortable win when Abadaki sent a looping shot into the net in the 82nd minute, although Glover was arriving at pace, the ball had crossed the line without the striker’s intervention.
The final eight minutes saw an unexpected horror show from Hednesford Town. Some slack defending following a block from Wycherley allowed Jamie Towers to pull one back for Barwell. With the Pitmen seemingly unable to retain possession, Tolani Omotola finished with a low shot in the 90th minute, what was surely going to be no more than a consolation goal for The Canaries. However three Barwell players sprung the offside trap in the final seconds setting up Sam Hollis for an equaliser that looked out of reach less than ten minutes earlier.
With Tamworth winning, The Pitmen dropped to second in the league leaving them to dwell on numerous missed chances and a costly nightmare final few minutes.
Barwell; Bramley, Whitmore, Putman, McAteer, Cotterill, Edwards, Evans (Brown-Hill 63), Dunkley (Hollis 69), Omotola, Hickey, Williams (Towers 56). Subs not used; Hakeem, Percival
Hednesford Town; Wycherley, Curley, Griffiths (Reid) Bailey, Morris, Hurst (Abadaki 46), Hallahan, King, Glover, Elliott, Brown. Subs not used; Gatter, Fry, Wells.