An enthralling Staffordshire derby played out at the Lamb Ground saw Tamworth equalise three times to earn a share of the spoils in a six goal encounter.
The playing surface suited the Pitmen’s passing play as they dominated the first half, targeting the left channel with an overload of players and giving former Pitman James Hurst a torrid evening, before being replaced shortly after the break. Centre back Harvey Portman showed great vision setting up George Cater to use his pace to exploit the space on the left, his inch perfect cross allowed Riley O’Sullivan to finish from close range in the 17th minute.
An almost identical ball from Portman to the left of the area, this time found scorer O’Sullivan who delivered a dangerous ball into the area, Cater saw an opportunity come and go before Kyle Bennett fired just wide of the far post. Tamworth had little to offer in the first half, with the majority of the possession with Hednesford, who could consider themselves unfortunate not to go into the break with more than a one goal advantage.
Tamworth were a different proposition in the second period, flying out of the blocks and putting the Pitmen goal under immediate pressure. The impressive Jack Concannon drew a foul in the area, and the home side were awarded a penalty just two minutes after the restart. Joe O’Shaughnessy saved Dan Creaney’s penalty, but the Tamworth number nine was able to scoop the loose ball into the net. With the game opening up O’Sullivan turned provider playing Cater into space in the Tamworth area, driving home a low shot into the bottom right corner of the net for the Pitmen to regain the lead in the 53rd minute. O’Sullivan had a good opportunity to extend the lead shooting over after a powerful run into the box.
Tamworth hit back within seven minutes, Henri Wilder produced a cross from the left finding Shaquille Whittingham who teed up Creaney to smash the ball into the roof of the net from nine yards out. With nine minutes of the game left O’Sullivan combined with Reece Flanagan to provide another inviting ball to the edge area, with Cater taking his time to set himself up before driving the ball into the bottom right of the net for the second time.
Tamworth finished the game directly and strongly, firing diagonal balls across the pitch and stretching the visiting defence. Tamworth substitute Jordan Clement had already shaved the crossbar with a rasping shot from outside the area, before fellow substitute Lucas Yeomans hooked home from a corner in the 88th minute to level the scores. The Pitmen were able to hold on for the four minutes of added time as Tamworth continued to pile on the pressure sensing the possibility of a late win.
After the game, Keenen Meakin-Richards commented; “There were lots of positives to take out of the game, we scored three goals and dominated the first half. We could have been two or three up at half time, and it is disappointing that we weren’t. We scored two more good goals in the second half and credit to the players for that. Our game management was naive, we should have been able to kill the game off in the last ten minutes, but we played into Tamworth’s hands and let them dictate the tempo. It is frustrating but it is a learning experience for this young squad.”
Tamworth; Singh, Hurst (Yeomans 57), Wilder, Beswick (Clement 70), Cox, Brown, Thomas (Tahra 87), Mussa, Creaney, Whittingham, Concannon. Subs not used; Fallows, Bradley.
Hednesford Town; O’Shaughnessy, Hayden (Ward 70), Lycett, Portman, Ison, Flanagan, Ebbutt (Tilt 61), Parker, O’Sullivan, Bennett (Atkinson 70), Cater. Subs not used; Kearno Brown-Jones, Williams.