BetVictor Southern Premier Central
Hednesford Town 1 (Glover 70 pen)
Stratford Town 0
Report by Bryan Hale
THERE was little in the way of Christmas cheer for Town at Keys Park, as Hednesford Town gained revenge for their defeat in the reverse fixture last month with a workman-like performance.
The decider came from Daniel Glover’s 70th-minute penalty which caretaker boss Paul Davis later described as ‘debatable at best’.
Town’s starting line-up showed two changes from the Bromsgrove Sporting game a fortnight ago.
Bristol Rovers loanee Tom Mehew replaced Jordan Clement in midfield while Will Davidson, who featured under Tommy Wright in pre-season, came in at right-back, with the reshuffle resulting in Dan Vann switching to left-back and Kai Woollard-Innoncent moving forward into midfield and Kyle Ambris dropping to the substitues bench.
The Pitmen were looking to reinforce their challenge for a play-off spot and went close to taking the lead in only the fifth minute when Elliott Hodge had his low drive cleared off the line by Kyle Rowley.
When play switched to the other end Chris Wreh found space in the penalty area to make room for a shot which was deflected behind, but Hednesford were soon back on the attack, with Town keeper Sam Lomax pulling off a smart save at the foot of his right-hand post from an Osebi Abadaki and then recovering quickly enough to beat away Reece King’s effort from the rebound.
Another King attempt fizzed inches wide and apart from an occasional run from Wreh, most of the action was taking place in the Town half.
Town, though, gradually began to settle and in the 25th minute Mehew showed his quality with a break from halfway to play in Wreh, who was promptly crowded out.
Mehew was certainly not lacking in confidence and on the half-hour mark he tried his luck with a shot from all of 30 yards out which wasn’t all that far wide.
But the Pitmen continued to have the better of the possession and only some resolute defending by Matt Bower and Rowley made sure that Town reached half-time with the afternoon still goalless.
Town then had a great chance to take the lead in the opening minute of the second half when skipper Lewis Wilson’s driven-in cross from the right reached Mehew, whose shot ricocheted behind off keeper Andrew Wycherley.
Hednesford soon regained their composure, but as they struggled to create a clearcut opening against Town’s well-organised defence, their frustration increased both on and off the pitch.
Glover had a 67th-minute shot on the turn flash inches over followed by James Hurst firing straight at Lomax from 25 yards out, but it all went wrong for Town in the 70th minute when Osebi Abakadi surged into the penalty area down the inside left channel and was upended by Lomax as he raced out to challenge.
The referee immediately pointed to the spot and Glover lashed it past Lomax with the minimum of fuss.
It was always boing to be uphill for Town from then on and Glover should have added a second with ten minutes to go when he escaped down the right before blazing wide with only Lomax to beat.
But Town had the sniff of an equaliser a couple of minutes later when Wreh’s free-kick was deflected behind and from the resulting corner, Bower’s header glanced off a defender to clip the bar for another corner from which Rowley powered his header narrowly wide.
Hednesford, though, hung on to secure the three precious points which moves them up to fourth in the table while Town’s sufferings which have seen them take only four points from their past 11 games continue on to Boxing Day at least.
PITMEN: Andrew Wycherley, Matt Curley, Sam Griffiths, Ben Bailey, Kieran Morris (Charlie Gatter 63), James Hurst, Elliott Hodge, Reece King, Danny Glover, Izak Reid (Ethan Jones 78), Osebi Abadaki. Unused subs: Tom Fry, Jack Halleran, Jose Veiga.
TOWN: Sam Lomax, Dan Vann, Kai Woolard-Innocent (Kyle Ambris 87), Courtney Richards, Matt Bower, Kyle Rowley, Lewis Wilson, Foday Nabay (Matt Campbell-Mhliope 78), Chris Wreh, Tom Mehew (Jordan Clement 87), Will Davidson. Unused subs: Dan Atkins, Jack Bennett.