DATE  12.11.2016
COMPETITION   F.A. Trophy 2nd Qualifying Round
Hednesford Town  HEDNESFORD TOWN (0) 1
 Maye (85)
Stafford Rangers  STAFFORD RANGERS (1) 1
 Geddes (15) 
MoTM  Tom Thorley
TOP SCORER  George Carline (9)
FORM GUIDE  L  W  L  W  L  L  W  W  W  W  D
1st Whitby Town 18 37
2nd Blyth Spartans 18 36
3rd Rushall Olympic 19 36
5th Buxton 18 34
6th Spennymoor Town 16 32
7th Matlock Town 17 31
8th Warrington Town 20 30
9th Nantwich Town 15 28
10th Ashton United 20 28
11th Workington 18 27
12th Stourbridge 17 26
A week can be a long time in football, as the last seven days have proved at Hednesford Town Football Club. This time last week, the Pitmen were enjoying a fourth win on the bounce and a move to within three points off top spot in the Evo-Stik Premier League. This week, they have dealt with a potential double blow to their hopes and ambitions - the loss of influential winger Joel Logan to Vanarama National League side Guiseley, and the potential departure of manager Liam McDonald after a midweek approach from another step one side, Solihull Moors

The potential/imminent departure of McDonald was on many people's minds as they arrived at Keys Park for this big local derby, with the decision likely to come at the start of next week. McDonald's potential final Hednesford side saw Ashley Sammons return to the side in place of the departed Logan, with Danny Glover passed fit enough to take his place amongst the substitutes

Rangers - on an excellent run of form themselves after a ropy start to life back at step three - named a large number of familiar faces in their starting line-up for this tasty clash, with Sam Griffiths, Kris Taylor, Kyle Perry, Sean Geddes and Richard Batchelor all named in the starting XI by Neil Kitching

The rain that had crossed the country overnight had left the Keys Park pitch in a poor, heavy condition, cutting up in places as the game progressed. Stafford made the better start of the two sides as they got to grips with the underfoot conditions better early on, with Taylor seeing an early free kick deflected wide of goal on seven minutes

A great run from Michael Williams on eleven minutes saw the former Stafford man cross for Gurjit Singh, but former Hednesford triallist Michael Townsend cut the cross out just before Singh could connect with the ball

Geddes went close to opening the scoring against his former employers on thirteen minutes, firing just wide of Dan Crane's right hand post with a driven effort

Two minutes later, Geddes was to grab the first goal of the afternoon, albeit in fortuitous circumstances; a deep cross from Elliott Hodge found Geddes unmarked at the far post, with the midfielder mistiming his shot and scuffing the ball into the ground. Fortunately for Geddes, the ball bounced up and over the outstretched hand of Crane, who was flat-footed by the misplaced effort, with the ball bobbling into the net despite James Mutton's best efforts to keep the ball out

A typical derby day bout of handbags ensued in front of the benches on eighteen minutes, as Cohen Bramall and Josh Gordon were both booked for clashing down the Hednesford left

indeed, Stafford appeared to have executed the perfect game plan in the first quarter of the game, breaking up the play at every opportunity through a variety of tactics and generally stopping the Pitmen from getting into their passing game. The pitch was also aiding Stafford's cause, as well as a weak referee who allowed himself to be surrounded by the likes of Perry and Batchelor every time a marginal decision was to be made

Gordon was lucky not to receive another yellow card on thirty four minutes, as his overly high kick on the ever-impressive Tom Thorley caught the Hednesford skipper in the chest in the centre circle

Top scorer George Carline had struggled to get into the game, having been well marshalled by the Stafford defence. His only chance of the first half came on thirty seven minutes, when a lofted free kick from Sammons found the head of the midfielder, whose goalbound effort was turned away for a Hednesford corner

An inch-perfect free kick from Taylor set up a great chance for Gordon on thirty nine minutes, as the playmaker clipped the ball up to the far post from the edge of the Hednesford penalty area onto the head of Gordon, who somehow headed the wrong side of the far post

The home side finished the half strongly, with Singh forcing Adam Whitehouse in the Stafford goal into a good save on forty two minutes. Jamie Matthews fed the ball to Singh, who turned sharply and fired in a low shot that Whitehouse turned away from goal

Whitehouse was in action once again just before half time, as a swift counter attack from the Pitmen culminated in Sammons turning the ball towards goal, only to be denied by the legs of the Stafford number one

The second half got underway with a quick break from Stafford, ending with a weak header from Perry that was easily saved by former team-mate Crane

Mathews - playing in an unfamiliar left wing/forward position - made a superb run through the Stafford defence on forty nine minutes, cutting inside two challenges before lifting his shot from an acute angle over the crossbar, rather than crossing for the onrushing Singh of Carline

Singh's game ended just before the hour mark, as he was replaced by Glover to give the Pitmen more presence up front

The Pitmen were enjoying the better of the possession in the second half, but were struggling to create clear cut openings. Thorley's deep free kick was easily saved by Whitehouse, whilst Bramall was wasteful with his cross on sixty eight minutes as he failed to pick out a man in white in the six yard box

Youngster Myles Phipps was given another chance to impress in the first team on seventy two minutes, as he came on in place of the luckless Matthews

The final ten minutes saw the Pitmen start to turn the screw, spending more and more time inside the Stafford third of the pitch as they urgently searched for an equaliser

Carline was denied once again by Whitehouse on eighty four minutes, as a stand-up cross from Glover found Carline at the far post, with Whitehouse turning Carline's goalbound toe-poke away from the corner of the net for a Hednesford corner

From the resultant corner kick from Sammons, Simeon Maye rose highest to head the ball into the roof of the net and send Keys Park into raptures with an equalising goal

With their tails up and Stafford seemingly dead on their feet, Hednesford went after an unlikely winner in the last few moments, with Sammons going within the width of the woodwork of sealing a famous late win; a pass into his path from Carline saw Sammons get in behind the Stafford defence down the left, only for his swerving shot to clip the crossbar and sail into the Heath Hayes terrace with the final chance of the game

All in all, a pretty dismal game for the neutral, and not one likely to make the end-off-season showreel. The two sides will try again on Tuesday night, but will the Pitmen still have McDonald at the helm by then? His post-match interview suggested very little either way as we move on to the latest midweek action
George Carline and James Mutton  Ex-Pitman Richard Batchelor challenges George Carline  Ex-Pitman Kris Taylor sees the funny side alongside Jamie Matthews  Another former Hednesford man - Sam Griffiths - against Carline
No. Player Mins On On/Off For Goals
Dan Crane 90  
Michael Williams 90    
Cohen Bramall 90
Simeon Maye 90   1
James Mutton 90    
Calum Flanagan 90    
Gurjit Singh 58 Glover  
Tom Thorley 90    
Jamie Matthews 72 Phipps  
Ashley Sammons 90    
George Carline 90    
Reiss Wagstaff 0    
Danny Glover 32 Singh  
Desean Martin 0  
Remeao Hutton 0  
Myles Phipps 18 Matthews