With scheduled opponents Witton Albion in FA Cup action at Lancaster City, Hednesford instead travelled to Bower Fold to face Stalybridge Celtic in a league fixture. Celtic have made a decent start to life in the NPL West Division, picking up eight points from their opening five games which saw them in sixth place in the table. Their only league defeat came on Bank Holiday Monday when they went down 3-2 at Avro, the Pitmen were looking to build on their draw with second placed Chasetown.
Stalybridge Celtic 3-2 Hednesford Town
The hosts got off to a flying start when Matty Bryan latched onto a ball over the top from Michael Brewster, driving into the box and forcing a corner. Jordan Burton’s corner was met by Connor O’Grady who headed the ball across goal allowing Greg Wilkinson to nod in to the net in the sixth minute. In reply for the Pitmen, Rivel Mardenborough found some space outside of the home box and shot narrowly over the crossbar. The lively Bryan went close for Celtic, firing over after a dangerous looking run when he cut in from the right hand side. Hednesford rallied as they forced a series of corners and despite a goalmouth scramble the Pitmen were unable to find a goal. However, The Pitmen did not have long to wait as Mardenborough did well to beat the Celtic defence from a wide angle and net a deserved equaliser in the 23rd minute from twelve yards with a low drive. Aaron Dwyer caused some problems in the Pitmen box with a mazy run, however his final ball did not connect with any Celtic players. An evenly balanced and competitive first half saw no more goals.
Stalybridge created the first opening of the second period when Bryan pulled the ball back to Max Harrop who forced a save from Dan Crane. A minute later Star Mayemba headed against the post for Hednesford as both teams traded opportunities. The advantage swung back to the home side in the 55th minute when Aaron Dwyer scored with a spectacular volley at the far post from Burton’s cross. Hednesford equalised for the second time in the 66th minute when Mayemba headed home from a corner, Luke Hewitson in goal for Celtic did manage to catch the ball, however the referee deemed that it had crossed the line.
As both sides pushed on for a late winner Dwyer sent a long range effort over the bar for Celtic, before turning provider and picking out Bryan who saw his header go wide of the goal. A late red card was shown to Desean Martin as the tempo of the game heightened in the closing minutes. Three minutes into stoppage time Harrop popped up to claim a late winner for Stalybridge Celtic as an eventful game ended 3-2 in favour of the hosts.
After the game Danny Glover commented; “Overall I thought we were the better team, however we did not take our chances when we were on top. After conceding the first goal we had six or seven chances and only one hit the target. The last couple of minutes were backs to the wall and the result is tough to take but I will take the performance.”
Stalybridge Celtic; Hewitson, Brewster (Kenny 46), Burton, Newell, O’Grady, Wilkinson, Byrne (Marsh 73), Harrop, Bryan, Dwyer, Mugalula (Edwards 63). Subs not used; Jones, Cook.
Hednesford Town; Crane, Gwilt, Kelly, Martin, Williams, Paddock, Sang, Thorley (Andrews 78), Mardenborough, Mayemba (Glover 75), Dixon. Subs; Bower, Wright, Richards.