Fans were welcomed back to the PRG Stadium at Keys Park as the Pitmen took on Kettering Town from the National League North in front of a sell-out reduced capacity crowd.
The Pitmen had the best of the opening fifteen minutes with both Rhys Thompson and Danny Glover having close range efforts blocked during a sequence of corners. Louis Dodds’ thoughtful pass nearly threaded Dan Turner through on goal, before Lorne Bickley shot wide for the Poppies. The Pitmen were lucky to escape when a defensive mix up left Gary Stohrer facing an empty net, but his shot was wide.
An altercation between Josh Oyinsan and Rhys Thompson earned a booking each, before Wes Atkinson left the field of play on a stretcher, following an injury.
A lively start to the second half as both sides looked to break the deadlock. Bickley fired wide for the visitors while home skipper Ben Bailey made some timely tackles to frustrate Kettering’s attacks. A strong spell for the Pitmen saw a series of corners as the reward for some good team moves. Kettering’s Dan Holman did have the ball in the net late on but the flag was up for offside. The Pitmen’s triallist goalkeeper, on for the last ten minutes in place of Andy Wycherley, made two eye catching saves to ensure that an entertaining work out for both sides ended in a goalless draw. After the game Pitmen manager Andy Morrell commented;
“It was a good game for us and a stern test, which I felt we stood up to well. We were physical and aggressive in our play and more than matched a team from the league above. I believe we got caught up a little in that type of game and we need to keep the ball better when we get it back. On the whole a good workout and a positive step forward as we head towards the start of the season.”
On Wes Atkinson’s injury, Andy added;
“Wes looks like he has ruptured his Achilles and will be out for a while, which we are all gutted about. He had just earned himself a deal and had worked really hard in pre-season to get that. We all wish him a speedy recovery and will do all we can to aid him with that”.
Hednesford Town; Wycherley (Triallist 79), Atkinson (Mendez-Jones 40), Lycett (Triallist 79), Bailey, Preston (Kilford 46), Thompson, Cater (Triallist 65), Hallahan (Triallist 65), Glover, Dodds, (Davies 65) Turner (Triallist 79).
Kettering Town; Collin, Triallist , McGrath, Richens (Triallist 72), Chisholm (Holland 78), Froggatt, Stohrer (Triallist 59), Oyinsan (Holman 70), Bickley (Triallist) , Triallist (Triallist 72)