Official Site report:
Elliott Durrell was the hero as Hednesford Town opened their Zamaretto League campaign with a dramatic last minute win over Tiverton Town.
Richard Walker was dismissed on thirty-two minutes for aiming a punch at a Tiverton striker and Dean Edwards’ team battled to stay in the game until Durrell stepped up to the plate on ninety-two minutes; finishing clinically after his first effort had bounced back off the upright.
Ben Bailey opened the scoring for ’The Pitmen’ after thirteen minutes with a powerful header which was blocked on the line but then rebounded back off the unlucky Tiverton goalkeeper, Steve Book. The away side were by far second best until the sending off changed the game. The narrow but competitive Hednesford midfield dominated the game and the fit-again Ross Dyer and his prolific striking partner Tyrone Barnett linked up well on numerous occasions.
Tony Dinning had a free kick from distance blocked by the wall on four minutes, Dyer tested Book after a clever flick on by Barnett on fifteen minutes and Dyer came within inches of doubling Hednesford’s lead after twenty-eight minutes. He chased a flighted ball over the top by the impressive Platt, rounded the keeper but from a tight angle could only hit the post.
The game swung violently towards the away side in more ways than one when Walker saw red four minutes later. Mr Hayward shocked everyone in the ground when he dismissed the Hednesford captain and from the resulting free kick the Keys Park faithful had Bailey to thank for a brave block on the line to keep the score at 1-0.
Influential midfielder Tony Dinning moved into the back four as Dean Edwards was forced to re-shuffle his pack; in a brave move he decided to keep two in attack but Tiverton enjoyed the lion’s share of possession right through until the final whistle.
Dean Griffiths had Tiverton’s first opportunity with a man’s advantage when he cut in from the left, skipped past Bailey and forced Gavin Ward into a smart save low down to his right. ‘The Pitmen’ were lurching towards the half time whistle and were again over run with the ball eventually falling to Mike Booth who, from six yards out, stretched too far and skied the ball over the bar.
The second half was more of the same for Hednesford and their brave rearguard was severely tested on fifty minutes when Booth again forced Ward into a superb point-blank save. The Hednesford stopper was powerless to prevent the equaliser three minutes later when Dean Griffiths turned Bailey and was brought down by a desperate attempt to win the ball. Dave Morrissey stepped up and despatched the resulting penalty kick into the bottom corner.
Dean Edwards’ day got even worse as on the hour mark Carl Palmer came off worse in a fifty-fifty challenge and picked up a painful looking knock on the shin. Aaron Gibson replaced the midfielder and Keys Park sat uncomfortably back and prayed ‘The Pitmen’ could hold on.
Sam Aiston put in a sterling shift in the centre of midfield and came close to scoring a superb individual effort as he ran fully fifty yards, past four players and hit a right foot shot into the side netting minutes after the equaliser.
Tiverton then monopolised the ball and the attacking play but struggled to create too many clear cut chances. Griffiths tested Ward on two occasions but both shots were easily dealt with and Morrissey headed over from a Ben Cleverley corner on seventy-seven minutes.
With five minutes remaining and Hednesford supporters biting their nails Aaron Gibson made an outstanding saving tackle on Tiverton substitute Mike Humphreys to preserve parity in the score line. Hednesford’s rearguard action looked to have achieved a fighting point but it was Durrell who had the last word of the afternoon.
Barnett jumped like the proverbial salmon to flick the ball through and Durrell took it on, fired past Book and saw his attempt rattle the left hand post. Lady Luck smiled sweetly on him as the ball rebounded back and the striker dropped his shoulder, took on a defender and calmly drilled the ball into the net. ‘The Pitmen’ fans erupted and scenes of unbridled celebration in the Hednesford dug-out showed how much the three points meant.
On another day Tiverton would have easily won the game with a man advantage but Dean Edwards’ side proved that teams will need to be made of stern stuff to get a result at Keys Park this season. The result and especially the performance has sent a strong message out to Hednesford’s promotion rivals and ‘The Pitmen’ will be looking to build on this game when they face Stourbridge at Halesowen’s ground on Tuesday night.