DATE  21.1.2017
COMPETITION   Evo-Stik Premier League
Hednesford Town  HEDNESFORD TOWN (2) 2
 Mukendi (35), Weir-Daley (37)
Rushall Olympic  RUSHALL OLYMPIC (0) 1
 Forde (72)
MoTM  Vinny Mukendi
TOP SCORERS  Carline / Glover (9)
FORM GUIDE  W  D  L  L  L  W  W  L  L  L  W
1st Blyth Spartans 27 56
2nd Whitby Town 29 50
3rd Spennymoor Town 27 49
4th Stourbridge 26 49
5th Buxton 29 49
6th Rushall Olympic 28 49
7th Workington 29 48
8th Grantham Town 30 45
9th Nantwich Town 26 44
11th Matlock Town 25 43
12th Barwell 30 41
Hednesford finally got back on the pitch - and back to winning ways - this afternoon, claiming revenge over local rivals Rushall Olympic for the 2-1 reverse back in October by beating the league's second-placed side

The Pitmen had been frustrated over the last fortnight, having had two league games postponed due to the cold and wet January weather. Manager Paul Casey had utilised the enforced break to make more changes to his squad, with centre back Dan Preston signing for the Pitmen on loan from AFC Telford United and left back Callum Roberts joining the club on loan from Shrewsbury Town. There had also been departures, with Ashley Sammons joining Solihull Moors and Kyle Rowley departing for Rugby Town

The Pitmen were dealt a blow just before kick off with news that Roberts had been forced to pull out due to injury, meaning youth team graduate Remeao Hutton stepped in to make his full debut for the club

Rushall's title challenge had taken a tumble in recent weeks, with the Pics overtaken by Blyth Spartans in recent weeks after John Allen's men had failed to win any of their last three league games. Allen named three players with Hednesford connections in his matchday squad, with Luke Bottomer, Jazz Luckie and Stan Mugisha all involved for the Pics this afternoon

The Pitmen made a bright start to the game, with Mukendi a constant threat to the Rushall defence in the opening exchanges after he was rewarded for his superb cameo against Spennymoor Town in the Pitmen's last outing

Luckie was called upon early on by the away side, coming on in place of former Stafford Rangers striker George Bowerman after the ex-Walsall striker had hobbled off

The Pitmen forced a number of corners in the first twenty minutes, but Tom Thorley's delivery failed to hit the spot and was easily dealt with by the stoic Rushall defence

Mukendi went closest to opening the scoring midway through the first half, as the big man wriggled clear of the Rushall defence, turning Eze before firing into the side netting from a tight angle

A great run from Kyle Haynes, against one of his former clubs, saw the right back send over a cross that was inches away from being headed into the net by the flying Mukendi before being cleared

Four minutes later, the tricky Mukendi found some space on the edge of the penalty area and curled in a shot that was turned behind by veteran keeper Jose Veiga

From the resultant Thorley corner kick, Mukendi rose highest but headed well wide of goal as the Pitmen piled on the pressure

The home side finally earned the breakthrough their efforts deserved on thirty seven minutes, as a Rushall clearance deflected off Iwan Cartwright and into the path of Mukendi, who took the ball forwards and fired low into the net past Veiga

With their next attack, the Pitmen took a two goal lead, with Mukendi again heavily involved; a cross from the left was headed down by Mukendi, who beat Veiga to the ball, allowing Spencer Weir-Daley to turn the ball home from close range

The Pics were stung into action after the break after a meek showing in the first half and threatened through Isaac Cooper, whose run and cross found Joe Hull in the middle. His shot was turned away by the reactions of Lloyd Ransome, who had had very little to do up to this point in the game

The ineffective David McDermott was taken off early in the second half, as he was replaced by Jamie Sheldon in midfield on fifty nine minutes

A great passage of play from the Pitmen on sixty four minutes saw them open up the Rushall defence with a neat passing move, playing Weir-Daley in on goal. However, the striker skewed his effort wide of goal when it looked easier to hit the target

That was to be the end of Weir-Daley's afternoon, as soon after he was taken off in place of Danny Glover

Weir-Daley's miss looked to possibly be a costly one for the home side, as they allowed Rushall a route back into the game on seventy two minutes; a high, hanging cross from the left wing was not cleared by the hesitant Hednesford defence, allowing Aaron Forde to loop a header over Ransome to reduce the deficit

Man of the match Mukendi continued to give Rushall problems with his movement and aggression. An attempted overhead kick on seventy seven minutes saw the big man catch Eze on the follow through, resulting in a booking for the Hednesford striker for dangerous play

The pacy Jamie Matthews was introduced into the game with eight minutes remaining, coming on in place of Nuneaton loan man Cartwright in midfield

As the game entered the closing stages, Rushall squandered a glorious chance to steal a barely deserved point through Sam Whittall; a bouncing ball fell kindly to the former Wolves man in the six yard box, but Whittall's shot lacked composure and he spooned his shot over the crossbar with only Ransome to beat

It was a welcome three points for the under-fire Casey and his team, their first win of 2017. With the play-offs still well within reach, Casey will be hoping this is a kickstart to the second half of the season. They visit basement club Corby town next weekend looking to make it back-to-back wins and complete a league double over the Steelmen
No. Player Mins On On/Off For Goals
Lloyd Ransome 90  
Kyle Haynes 90    
Remeao Hutton 90
Stuart McNaught 90    
Gavin Caines 90    
Dan Preston 90
Tom Thorley 90  
Iwan Cartwright 82 Matthews
Vinny Mukendi 90   1
David McDermott 59 Sheldon
Spencer Weir-Daley 69 Glover 1
Dan Crane 0    
Danny Glover 21 Weir-Daley  
Jamie Matthews 8 Cartwright  
Jamie Sheldon 31 McDermott
George Forsyth 0