With Steve Burr newly installed as manager, Hednesford Town headed to Alvechurch in the Southern League Premier Central. The Pitmen were not only boosted by a new man in the technical area but also welcomed back Ben Bailey reclaiming his number four shirt at the heart of the defence, Mason Birch also made his debut in the right back spot.
The Pitmen made a strong start with Joe Cuff forcing an early save from Dan Jezeph in the home goal. A dream return for Ben Bailey was thwarted when his powerful strike was somehow kept out of the net due to a wonder save from Jezeph. Cuff continued to torment the home defence during the first period linking up dangerously with Leroy Lita on a number of occasions. Riley O’Sullivan’s shot was saved and Lita was flagged offside as the Pitmen were unable to convert their dominance into a goal. Inevitably the good work was undone two minutes before the half time break, when Jack Concannon broke down the left side and delivered a short cross to Ethan Sephton who finished from close range.
The Pitmen pressed for an equaliser after the break, however the game turned on the hour mark. A wild challenge from Jamie Willets on Harvey Portman gave referee Luke Scott no option other than brandishing a red card at the Alvechurch skipper. Cuff forced another save from the impressive Jezeph as Alvechurch set up defensively to play out the remaining 30 minutes of the game with defender Ben Cassidy replacing the goal provider Concannon. Tireless running from the Alvechurch forwards Danny Waldron and Tyrell Skeen-Hamilton along with intelligent play from midfield allowed the home side to use the pitch effectively and run down the clock. A late freekick 25 yards from goal, taken by Cuff cleared the ground, in a clear sign that despite a much improved performance it was not going to be the Pitmen’s evening.
Alvechurch; Jezeph, Burton, Waldron, Edge, Abbey, Sephton, Williams (Ngbeken 37) , Willets, Carter, Concannon (Cassidy 60), Skeen-Hamilton (Olaloko 90+1). Subs not used; Texiera, Brown.
Hednesford Town; Brooks, Birch (Ebbutt 69), Portman (Riley 74), Bailey, Ison, Rowe, O’Sullivan, Parker, Lita, Bennett (Wilding 76), Cuff. Subs not used; Hirst, Clayton