Hednesford Town 1 Cleethorpes Town 1

Hednesford Town 1 Cleethorpes Town 1

By David Simpson
5 September
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The FA Cup dream remains alive for the Owls following a stirring fightback in a 1-1 draw against Hednesford Town on Saturday afternoon. Josh Smaller registered his first ever senior goal to take the tie to a replay at the Myenergi Stadium.

With injuries persisting, Dave Smith made 2 changes from the win at Bridlington. Jack McMenemy was cup-tied and in came the fit again Josh Batty. The other alteration saw Liam Dickens replace Harry Middleton.

The side lined-up as follows in a 3-5-2 formation:

Goal: Tom Jackson
Defence: Jordon Cooke, Paul Walker, Oli Donald
Midfield: Sam Topliss, Liam Dickens, Alex Flett (c), Josh Venney, Loz McKay
Attack: Brody Robertson, Josh Batty

Subs: Alfie Boswell, Tim Lowe, Josh Smaller, Harry Middleton, Andy Pettinger (gk)

Overcast conditions greeted the players at the splendidly appointed Keys Park. A bumper crowd in excess of 600, including the usual excellent away contingent, was in place for the keenly anticipated clash.

Hednesford were quickly into their stride. After a couple of early scares for the visitors, the Pitmen moved ahead in the 12th minute. An inviting cross from Tilt was confidently headed into the corner by the dangerous Andre Landell.

In truth, it could have got a whole lot worse for Clee soon afterwards. However, stopper Tom Jackson made a smart save with his feet to deny Tilt.

As the half wore on, the Owls started to get to grips with proceedings. Cleverly pressing high up the pitch led to a lot of possession and the chances began to be created.

Both of the front two were covering acres of ground and either of them could have been rewarded with the equaliser. Firstly, Batty turned inside his marker but his scuffed left-footer did not trouble keeper Webb. Then, Robertson was crowded out when about to pull the trigger.

HT Hednesford Town 1 (Landell 12) Cleethorpes Town 0

After their very bright beginning, the Pitmen were strangely lacklustre and now definitely second-best. Nevertheless, with a precious lead to defend, it looked increasingly likely to become “just one of those days” for the Owls.

Time and again Clee got into promising positions, only for the final ball to go astray. Walker had perhaps the clearest sight of the target but headed wide from a corner.

They say that patience is a virtue though, and eventually the richly deserved leveller was gained.

Substitute Josh Smaller, who had only been on the field for around 90 seconds, towered over his marker in the 73rd minute. The defender’s powerful header ricocheted in off a covering player.

Relief & delight in equal measure all round for the Owls, and the team set about their task of finding a winner. Tension was growing as the final whistle approached, with each side limited to half-chances.

The defensive wall stood firm when the Pitmen were awarded a dangerous free-kick and, at the death, scorer Smaller failed to get a clean connection when Webb missed a cross.

Generous applause at the conclusion – it had been an entertaining Cup-tie and we will do it all again in North East Lincolnshire on Tuesday evening!

FT Henesford Town 1 (Landell 12) Cleethorpes Town 1 (Smaller 73) Attendance: 606

Funny how things turn out!

Josh Smaller, who was last on the coach in the morning, was certainly quickly away when called upon. Well played, young man – a great header!

To be fair, we were unlucky not to win. However, when trailing at higher-ranked opponents, you are going to be happy to be in the hat for Monday’s draw. I bet there are a few aching legs this morning as well, an absolutely marvellous shift from the lads.

Thanks to our travelling fans, the ones behind the goal could certainly be heard from high up in the Main Stand. I know how much the players & management appreciate your backing.


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