Shirebrook Town ………. 1 (Savage 82’)
Gedling MW……………….. 5 (Harrison 10’, Piliero 33’, Meakin 55’, Hastings 63’, Roberts 76’)
Gedling Miners Welfare returned to winning ways after comfortably beating Shirebrook Town at Langwith Road.
With the hosts languishing near the foot of the table, and with only two league wins to their name all season, Welfare made their longest journey of the season in hopeful spirits after a capitulation against Belper United last time out and they started brightly in this one.
After only two minutes, Courtney Hastings, hoping for a resurgence in his form, pounced on a loose pass by former Rainworth winger Liam Jepson, though his shot on the uneven surface at Langwith Road bobbled harmlessly through to Piotr Strycharz.
Three minutes later and the dangerous Paolo Piliero found himself with only Frankie Kuncyusz to beat before delivering a tempting cross for Felix Hogg’s firm header to arrow narrowly wide.
Gedling maintained the pressure as they sought an early breakthrough and may have fancied their chances against a defensively suspect Town and with ten minutes gone, they were rewarded for their efforts.
After Hastings was tripped by Luke Morton on the far side, Ross McCaughey’s exquisite delivery was perfect for Kieran Harrison to powerfully head home despite the valiant one-handed attempts of Strycharz.
Whilst the efforts on goal subsided, Miners were in complete ascendancy and were textbook in controlling tempo and possession against their ever-chasing opponents.
22 minutes had gone when Liam Corrigan and Hogg combined to set up Piliero, but Strycharz was on hand to deflect his effort to safety before Harry Farnsworth cleared to alleviate any further threat.
To their credit, Shirebrook did grow into the half and, on occasion, looked promising between the lines with Jepson spearheading any opportunity to test an otherwise untested Keaton Sharpe, though lacked any real quality in front of goal to worry the young ‘keeper.
Robbie Savage’s skewed effort from range on the half-hour mark ballooned high and wide over Sharpe’s goal to sum up a poor first half for Jordan Johnson’s men and things got worse a minute later when Miners deservedly doubled their lead.
With pin-point accuracy, Joe Meakin’s superb pass out left to Piliero allowed the winger to skip past Chesterfield loanee Kian Tansley with ease before firing past Strycharz at his near post to give Gedling a commanding half-time lead.
Things may have bettered for the visitors just before the break when Ross McCaughey did well to dispossess Billy Simpson in the middle of the park before his rasping shot was palmed away by Strycharz.
Moments later, Piliero’s header back across goal fell kindly for Hogg, following up his initial supply, who saw two attempts excellently blocked by Morton on the line before the danger was halted by Wayne Mason’s whistle for a purported foul amidst a scrambled melee.
Offering very little throughout, the home side came out for the second half with newfound urgency and Jepson’s cross-cum-shot from a rare corner clipped the top of the crossbar to warn Gedling of any complacency.
The chance did nothing, however, to put the visitors off their stride as they continued the onslaught and, in rather fortuitous circumstances, added a third ten minutes after the restart.
From the right, Meakin’s high cross was seemingly under Strycharz’ control, but a lapse in concentration saw the ball spill from his grasp and trickle over the line before nearside assistant Jason Hayes compounded the ‘keeper’s misery as a sheepish Meakin took the plaudits.
With all three points headed back to Plains Road, the visitors went for the jugular and set about reclaiming the difference in goals conceded at Belper two weeks ago and only eight minutes later, Hastings got in on the act.
McCaughey’s chipped pass caused Farnsworth some confusion and his hesitancy allowed the striker to nip in front of the defender and slot through the legs of Strycharz to notch his 25th of the campaign and Gedling’s fourth.
Facing a fourteenth successive loss in all competitions, Shirebrook battled hard but were always second best to a relentless Welfare side who impressed throughout.
A rare venture forward with 20 minutes remaining allowed Ben Burbanks to find half a yard when faced by Luke Smith, but the substitute lacked the composure and precision needed to trouble Sharpe who, six minutes later, saw his side tally a fifth.
Piliero’s dangerous cross from the left bypassed the returning Jack Jepson and went all the way through to Roberts who cut inside and curled a deflected effort into the far corner past a stranded Strycharz.
A five-star performance from Gedling on the day, marred only by Robbie Savage’s late consolation eight minutes from time who tapped home after capitalising on a deflected pass from Jepson.
Five different goalscorers to boot, pleasing managers Andy Clerke and Chris Marks who recently called on the dressing room to source goals elsewhere and reduce any reliance on leading marksman Hastings.
Welfare are back in action on Wednesday (22 January) when they face Hucknall Town at Watnall Road in the fourth round of the Nottinghamshire Senior Cup, kick off 19:45.
Clerke shared his thoughts after the game: –
“We’re delighted to get back to winning ways. In the first half, in particular, we thought we played some really good football and should have had more for our efforts. Second half we lost our shape a little, so we definitely have things to improve on, but the lads got the job done”.
Gedling Miners Welfare Man of the Match – Paolo Piliero
Match Attendance – 68
Assistant Referees – Thomas Buhse & Jason Hayes
Shirebrook Town – Piotr Strycharz, Frankie Kuncyusz (Jack Lyons 14’), Luke Morton, Harry Farnsworth, Brandon Clarke, George Simpson, Kian Tansley, Billy Simpson (Ben Burbanks 54’), Robbie Savage, Will Dodds (c), Liam Jepson
Unused Substitutes – Mitchell Wilton
Cautions – Savage (foul 67’)
Gedling Miners Welfare – Keaton Sharpe, Charlie Roberts, Luke Smith, Kieran Harrison, Liam Corrigan, Ross McCaughey, Joe Meakin (Dwayne Brown 64’), Josh Thornton, Courtney Hastings, Felix Hogg (Jack Jepson 64’), Paolo Piliero (Curtis Millward 77’)
Unused Substitutes – Dean Gent, Matt Newton