After a frustrating lay-off due to storm Eunice the ninth placed Pitmen were back in league action as they travelled to the Arden Garages Stadium at Knight’s Lane to face thirteenth placed Stratford Town. With games in hand over all of the play-off chasing clubs, Hednesford Town were in need of the maximum three points to begin to close the gap.
An even start to the game saw former Reading striker Leroy Lita cause problems for the Pitmen defence, although it was the Pitmen who enjoyed the majority of possession as the game moved past the then minute mark. The home side came close to taking the lead from a well worked freekick, however the chance was glanced wide at the near post. The Pitmen were slow to clear their lines presenting an opportunity for Lita, whose shot was comfortably saved by Joe O’Shaughnessy.
Carter Lycett combined with Todd Parker to send George Cater flying down the left wing to the bye line, his cross was met by Reece Flanagan who forced a superb save from Luke O’Brien in goal for the Bards. This turned out to be the best opportunity for either sides to take the lead in the first half.
Within five minutes of the restart the Pitmen re-established the pattern of the first half, maintaining possession and playing largely in the Stratford half. Andre Landell played a dangerous ball into the area for Cater, who fired over the bar from a marginally offside decision. A low drive from Lycett required a sharp save from O’Brien to prevent the Pitmen taking the lead that their display deserved.
It became apparent that good fortune was not with the Pitmen as Cater laid on an inch perfect cut back for Landell, unfortunately the lone striker went for power rather than placement from close range and lashed his shot wide of the goal. The miss would prove costly when former Pitman Ash Sammons scored a superb effort from 30 yards out, with the ball hitting a post and deflecting past O’Shaughnessy into the side netting on the other side of goal in the 73rd minute. Despite maintaining their work rate for the remainder of the game and five minutes of added time, the Pitmen never really recovered from the blow and fell to an unlucky defeat.
After the game Keenen Meakin-Richards commented; “It was a good display from the lads, they put in the work and created enough chances to win the game. We were unlucky, Ash Sammons is a player who can produce a wonder goal like that. We need to take our chances, but I am not unhappy with the rest of the performance.”
Stratford Town; O’Brien, Vann, Bushaj, Oulton (Lafferty 40), Turner, Williams, Wilson (James 62), Sammons, Lita, Grocott (C), Dawes. Subs not used; Fry, O’Regan, Beresford.
Hednesford Town; O’Shaughnessy, Atkinson, Lycett, Portman, Ison (Endall 88), Flanagan, Tilt (Hayden 55), Parker, Landell, Bennett (O’Sullivan 70), Cater. Subs not used; Ebbutt, Williams.