NATIONWIDE CONFERENCE | Att: 1062
HEDNESFORD TOWN – 1 [Kimmins 22] SUTTON UNITED – 0
Before I start, this entry is dedicated to Claire & Angie at the Fermenter & Firkin, Wolverhampton. The West Midlands coolest barmaids. Cheers girls! Also worthy of a mention is the young lady in ‘Pennys’ Fish Bar, Oldbury. She not only gave us absolutely bang on directions to the pub we wanted to visit, but dished up some bloody good scoff too.
So after the complete fuck up at Forest Green on Wednesday, our journey to the deepest Midlands was now officially going to be our first away game back in the Conference. And with it being a Saturday, this meant pre-match pints were in order. So having found our way to the Midlands. stops are made at Erdington (No, I haven’t got a clue where it is either, look on a map..), Sutton Coldfield and Walsall knocking 3 more Firkins off the list for us drinkers. Although the Walsall stop is probably one too many on the old itinerary and this results in a mad late dash that sees us arrive at Hednesford’s impressive Keys Park ground with just 5 minutes to spare before kick off. Still, some would call it good timing and or use of VDT I guess?
Upon arrival, we see that the line up is pretty much standard, but with Brooker returning to right back and a fully fit Sammy Winston replacing Mark Watson up front. Hednesford are one of only 2 sides still with a 100% record so far this season, so we’re assumed today’s meeting wasn’t exactly gong to be a doddle. The game gets underway and it’s immediately apparent that our hosts are going to be one of the better sides we’ll meet for a while as the move the ball around confidently with some nice 1 touch play.
Our own lads do look a tadge limited in comparison at times, but as before they make up for it again in sheer hard work all over the park and Sammy’s pace is already causing the home defence some concern and he wins us a set of corners early in the half. Two of which are well met by Simpson and Mackie in turn and plucked from under the bar by the ‘keeper. Sal is working his arse off and Dacky is working well in partnership with Skelly on the left.
Sadly for us, having kept their neat one touch footy largely at arms length, it’s of course a poxy great hoof right down the middle that catches us out. The ‘keeper launches the ball, it bounces just over the halfway line and carries over the heads of our back four where the Hendesford No7, Kimmins races in, takes a touch and places the ball neatly inside the far post. Behind for the first time this season!
The boys respond and battle back to try and find an opening of their own. Sammy continues to cause problems and should have done better when free down the right, but his low ball aimed towards Simpson is cut out by the ‘keeper. Another opportunity arises after a corner. The ball appears in the box and drops to Paul Harford. He takes a touch and as he’s about to shoot, he inexplicably stumbles and the chance is gone. Just before the break and our luck today is summed up. Sammy races down the left, steps inside a defender and shoots. But somehow the defender manages to get the slightest touch and it’s enough to deflect the shot a gnats chuff over the bar.
So 1 down at the break, but we ain’t doing bad. All we need is a bit of luck. I also hear K’s and Woking are losing, so it’s not all bad news.
Nko replaces Dacky at half time, presumably to give us a bit more pace and width on the left to balance out Salako. Unfortunately it takes us a good 15 minutes to get going after the restart and this helps cement the home side’s position. When we do eventually get going, we’re again unlucky not to get some reward for our hard graft. Sammy sends a header wide from an excellent Ekoku cross and then minutes later takes a touch when in on goal when maybe a first time shot or maybe even a header from Sal’s delightful ball would maybe have been better. Our best chance of the half comes shortly after the introduction of Mark Watson, who replaces Skelly. Some battling and scrapping on the edge of the box sees the Harford retrieve the ball on the byline and knock it back to Salako. His first time cross eventually reaches Sammy at the back post and his powerful strike is well beaten out by the so far impessive ‘keeper.
We keep going, but we start to tire and the final ball to break through starts becoming harder and harder to find and if anything, in the last 10 the home side look more likely to snatch a second. But solid defending from Skelly, Mackie and Gwynne keeps ‘em at bay and the damage to just the one goal. Sadly, it means we end up with sod all at the final whistle, but again I’ve got to say, we didn’t look completely out of our depth at all. So far, we haven’t met anyone who is in any way hugely superior to us. Just a little better luck, a bit more incisiveness around the box and maybe a couple more decent signings and a mid-table finish hopefully won’t be beyond belief.
Sadly, for the second time in 3 days we hit the pubs with nothing more than a battling performance to cheer us. But to keep our minds busy we set about or Firkin collection challenge with some venom. First stop on the way home (sort of!) in the Forester, Stafford, where Col manages to minorly prang the car on a bollard on his way out of the car park (D’OH!), then it’s onto the Feline, followed by the Fermenter with those cool barmaids I mentioned earlier in Wolverhampton. Next up is a farcical drive round Oldbury looking for the next stop, which is only rewarded by that vital info at the chippy, before lastly we hit the Fellow in Perry Bar before calling it a night and heading home. So, once again, beer comes to the rescue of a day out at the football. Some things will never change!
Lady Luck is still not quite done with us yet though and a puncture in the pissing rain on the M4 outside Wycombe on the final leg home completes what’s turned out to be an eventful day.
That’s the one thing about this season so far I guess, not boring!
MAN OF THE MATCH : The team. A bit of luck and we’d have got at least a point.
ENTERTAINMENT : 8. Plenty of action. If we can just put those chances away.
TEAM : Howells, Skelly (80), Brooker, Berry, Dack (45), Harlow, Harford, Salako, Winston, Simpson. SUBS : Ekoku (45), Watson (80), Little, Rowlands.