Nantwich Town 2 – 2 Hednesford Town
Nantwich Town Man of the Match: Dave MacPherson
Entertainment Rating: *****
By Ashley Houghton
JIMMY Quinn described his side’s defending as ‘very poor’ after Nantwich failed to beat nine-man Hednesford Town. The Pitmen had their captain Darren Campion sent off in the first half and also Jamey Osborne was sent for an early bath in the closing stages for a second bookable offence. Michael Lennon had given Nantwich the lead with his 100th goal for the Dabbers but two goals for Cheyenne Dunkley gave the Staffordshire side the lead before Simon Everall equalised for Nantwich late on.
The early stages were played in midfield with neither side creating many opportunities but Lennon gave the Dabbers the lead with the first real opening. Matt Lowe’s long ball wasn’t dealt with by Ben Bailey and Lennon ran through to chip his 100th Nantwich goal past Dan Crane.
Five minutes later and Hednesford were down to ten men. An innocuous challenge from Lennon on Campion drew a fierce reaction from the Pitmen’s captain who seemed to push Lennon in the face leaving referee David O’Rourke with no choice but to show the red card. Nantwich debutant Lee Steele went close to doubling the home side’s advantage just minutes into the second half. Good interplay between Lennon and Sean Cooke gave Steele a golden opportunity to open his Dabbers account but his left footed shot was pushed wide by Crane. The equaliser came just after the hour mark as Chris Clements corner was powerfully headed home by the unchallenged Dunkley, much to the anger of the Nantwich boss.
He said: “I said at half time the only way they are going to score is a set piece so let’s not give them away or give them the opportunities. “We’ve let that happen and their centre-half has got a free header, what we put that down to I’m not sure but some lads haven’t trained this week and that’s not helped us practice set pieces.”
Almost immediately after the equaliser Hednesford were down to nine men. Osborne’s sliding tackle was late on Lennon and there was no doubt in the referee’s mind that it warranted a second booking for the winger. The Pitmen took a surprise lead with only 15 minutes to go as another Clements free-kick was prodded home by Dunkley although Jimmy Quinn was aggrieved there was no foul given for a push on keeper Jon Brain. Quinn added: “There was a foul given and we’ve seen them given time and time again but the referee has allowed play to go on. “We can’t put it all down to that though, even with nine men they were winning all the second balls, we just weren’t at the races today.”
Nantwich did equalise with ten minutes to go when substitute Zak Foster beat two defenders to get to the by line and cut back for Simon Everall to flick home his first league goal for Nantwich.The Dabbers could have nicked it late on when Cooke’s 25 yard drive look destined for the top corner only to be thwarted by a top draw save from Crane.
Despite Nantwich’s late onslaught they couldn’t find a winner and Hednesford manager Rob Smith was delighted with his side’s character. He said: “The character and commitment the lads showed was outstanding considering we had two men sent off. “In fact we were quite disappointed to come away with a draw which shows just how far we have come.”
Nantwich: Brain, Lowe, McDonald, MacPherson (Maguire, 86), Bailey, Moss, Cooke, Flynn (C), Steele (Everall, 68), Lennon, Urwin (Foster, 77). Subs: Mitchell, Solovjovs.
Hednesford: Crane, Haynes, Campion (c), Dunkley, Bailey, Denny, Osborne, Clements, Landell (Blakeman, 71), Hay (Wellecombe, 78), Jevons. Subs: Durrell, Robinson, Beesley.
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