DATE  1.4.2017
COMPETITION   Evo-Stik Premier League
Mickleover Sports   MICKLEOVER SPORTS (0) 0
Hednesford Town  HEDNESFORD TOWN (0) 1
 Ballinger (56)
MoTM  Joe Ballinger
TOP SCORER  Danny Glover (12)
FORM GUIDE  L  L  W  W  L  W  L  D  L  W  W
1st Blyth Spartans 41 88
2nd Nantwich Town 41 74
3rd Stourbridge 41 72
4th Spennymoor Town 39 71
5th Warrington Town 42 71
6th Whitby Town 41 69
7th Buxton 40 68
8th Matlock Town 41 68
9th Grantham Town 41 67
10th Workington 39 64
12th Ashton United 40 60
The Pitmen make it two wins in a week this afternoon, as they edge out struggling Mickleover Sports at the Don Amott Arena to move themselves back into the top half of the league table

Monday night's win over Ilkeston had halted a three match winless run for the Pitmen, who had dropped as low as fifteenth in the table for a short spell before last week's 3-1 win over the struggling Robins. For the trip to another side in danger of relegation, Gary Birch had again shuffled his pack as he brought back Remao Hutton, Darren Campion and Tony Clarke to the side, with Danny Glover, Lewis Wright and Louis Danquah all making way for the trio

Mickleover have spent much of the season nervously looking over their shoulder at the plight of other clubs below them. They started play just five points above the drop zone, with only six games remaining in April to save themselves. Player/manager John McGrath could still call upon the considerable experience of former Derby County and Hednesford triallist Pablo Mills in defence and former Crystal Palace and Eire striker Clinton Morrison up front

On a bumpy pitch and in front of a sparse crowd, the Pitmen started well with Joe Ballinger heading just over the crossbar from a David McDermott cross on seven minutes

Three minutes later, neat play down the Hednesford left saw McDermott cross for Clarke, whose low shot was turned just wide at his near post by Nick Draper in the Mickleover goal

The game was lacking any real cutting edge in the opening quarter of the game, with both defences on top as chances were at a premium. Ballinger in particular was impressing for the away side, dealing with plenty of high balls well and organising his defence well alongside youngster Bradley Peace-McDonald

Sports' first real shot in anger came ion twenty minutes, as Dan Crane made a good save to deny Tyler Blake from close range

The home side went close to opening the scoring midway through the first half, as Jake Scott left Crane rooted the spot with a low drive that missed the post by a matter of inches

McGrath was next to test Crane's resolve on twenty six minutes, lifting his long range drive just over the crossbar as the Hednesford defence backed off him

Mickleover's Andy Dales had the final sighter on goal in a poor first half on thirty seven minutes, driving a low shot across the face of goal and narrowly wide of the far post, with no-one in red and black on hand to tap the ball home from six yards out

Dales wasted another good opening for the hosts with the first attack of the second half as he drove towards the Hednesford penalty area

The midfielder went even closer to giving Mickleover the crucial lead five minutes later, taking advantage of the Pitmen not clearing their lines to drive into the penalty area and hot a shot that came back off Crane's right hand post

This was to prove the turning point in the game for both sides, as the Pitmen responded well and started to exert pressure on the Mickleover defence with a number of set-pieces. A Thorley corner kick on fifty six minutes just missed the head of Peace-McDonald, but ell at the feet of Ballinger, who did well to get the ball out of his feet and fire into the roof of the net from an acute angle for his first ever goal for the club

The industrious Blake Thompson was forced from the filed two minutes later, with the Australian midfielder being replaced by Wright

Mickleover somehow failed to strike straight back with a leveller on fifty nine minutes, with Lewis Belgrave picking up a loose ball in the six yard box and somehow firing straight at Crane, who turned the ball onto the crossbar and out for a corner kick

The hosts resorted to a number of underhand tactics in an attempt to get back into the game, with a succession of Sports players going into the book for overly-aggressive challenges on Hednesford players, with Thorley coming in for particular attention in the centre of midfield. indeed, such had been the level of aggression on the talented Hednesford skipper, he had to be withdrawn on seventy minutes after limping away from yet another poor challenge on him. he was replaced by George Cater, which saw David McDermott drop into a more central role

Mickleover's poor luck was summed up in one free kick for McGrath on eighty three minutes, as the Sports player-manager hit a superb shot at goal, but saw his effort come back off both posts before being hacked away by the Hednesford defence

In an attempt to see the game out and protect their solitary goal lead, the Pitmen brought on the more defensively minded Danquah for McDermott with three minutes remaining

As had been the way at Frickley Athletic a few weeks earlier, the Pitmen had done enough in the ninety minutes to earn the three points against a struggling side but had probably not necessarily deserved it. Still, two wins in a week is nothing no mean feat in this league, wins that now lift the Pitmen back amongst the mid-table names. Play-off chasers Stourbridge will offer a far sterner test for the inconsistent Pitmen on Monday night when they visit Keys Park, before Stour's local rivals Halesowen make the same trip two days later on a busy week down at Hednesford
Stuart McNaught rises highest  Lewis Wright and Bradley Peace-McDonald  Blake Thompson heads clear  Goalscorer Joe Ballinger keeps his eye on the ball
No. Player Mins On On/Off For Goals
Dan Crane 90  
Remeao Hutton 90    
Darren Campion 90  
Blake Thompson 58 Wright
Bradley Peace-McDonald 90
Joe Ballinger 90 1
Stuart McNaught 90    
Tom Thorley 70 Cater  
Jordan Nadat 90  
Tony Clarke 90    
David McDermott 87 Danquah
Lloyd Ransome 0    
Lewis Wright 32 Thompson  
Danny Glover 0    
George Cater 20 Thorley
Louis Danquah 3 McDermott