Report by Rod Hadley:
Celebrations after Lee Whittington puts Hednesford ahead
When you join a new club you want to make a good impression, debutant Lee Whittington signed from Harrogate Town 24 hours earlier certainly did just that when he scored a David Beckham style first half goal from 40 yards.
With a number of changes due to injuries picked up in the weekend encounter against Ossett Town it was expected that the Pitmen would take time to settle but they began the game confidently and took the game to Matlock playing good attacking passing football.
After Gordon Simms had been winded when he blocked a Matlock shot the Pitmen broke up field with Steve Palmer playing the ball out right to Dominic Heath. The ball was then played infield for Linden Dovey who was tackled from behind by Ryan Davis. Tom Marshall took the centrally placed free kick and hit a firm shot which went just past the left hand post.
In the 10th minute Dominic Heath forced Andy Richmond the Matlock keeper into a one handed save when his cross from the right nearly drifted under the crossbar.
The first corner of the game came in the 11th minute after Steve Palmer’s 20 yard shot was heavily deflected wide of the goal. Mario Pedro’s corner kick was headed by Marshall to Palmer who in turn headed the ball back into the 6 yard box which the defenders scrambled away.
Mario Pedro squandered a great chance to give the visitors the lead when Ross Adams sent a great pass from the left into the middle where Pedro was unmarked. Unfortunately he made a complete hash of controlling the ball and with only the keeper to beat he allowed the ball to hit his knee and the ball went backwards allowing the defenders to clear the ball.
The Pitmen continued to pile on the pressure and in the 15th minute Steve Palmer hit a first time volley from a Dovey pass which went just over the crossbar. Palmer was shortly after involved in a clumsy looking challenge on Matlock’s Dean Cropper which left both players lying on the floor. The Referee allowed play to continue but after the ball had gone out of play he returned to caution Palmer.
Dovey was again tackled just outside of the box and on this occasion the Referee booked Steve Circuit. Ashley Woolliscroft took the resulting free kick which flashed inches over the crossbar with Richmond rooted on his line.
Richmond left his area to clear the ball up field but he pulled his kick to his right wing where Lee Whittington was standing. The former Harrogate player saw the keeper was struggling in getting back and with a well hit shot he placed the ball over the full back and the keeper to score a goal from 40 yards. His 23rd minute goal will be talked about for many years to come.
Matlock pushed forward in an attempt to draw level and Cropper was unlucky when his 27th minute effort hit the post when he only had Rene Gilmartin standing in his way. Neil Ashley then got behind the Pitmen’s back line to send a shot from 20 yards over the crossbar and Simon Barrowclough shot wide when well placed by Rene’s right hand post.
A chance fell to Linden Dovey straight from the kick off for the second half but as he was about to shoot a defender managed to put a foot on the ball and concede a corner. Heaths corner kick was headed away but only to Tom Marshall standing on the edge of the penalty area. The Pitmen Captain hit a first time shot which like a number of efforts on the night sailed just over the crossbar.
Marshall was well placed to keep Matlock out in the 54th minute when he headed clear from under the crossbar a dangerous cross sent in from the left wing.
With one eye on next Saturdays match at Rushall, Phil Starbuck took Linden Dovey off in the 57th minute and gave a run out to Danny Blair who was in need of match practice after a couple of weeks on the sidelines.
Blair was soon in action when he slipped a ball through for Steve Palmer, as he went for the ball the keeper came rushing out but Palmer managed to get a toe onto the ball and as he clattered into the keeper he could only watch his effort hit the side netting.
Mario Pedro took the ball into the box from the right but was closed down by three defenders and possession was lost, Whittington was put through minutes later but his shot was off target then Blair attempted to repeat Whittington’s first half goal but on this occasion his effort was well wide.
Matlock drew level in the 88th minute when Woolliscroft scuffed his clearance, the ball fell to Matlock substitute Steve Taylor who hit a shot across Gilmartin which hit the post and rebounded back into play to Steve Warne who only had to hit the ball into an empty net.