Hastings at the double again as impressive Miners form continues
Gedling Miners Welfare ……………………… 2 (Hastings 17′, 78′)
Shirebrook Town ………………………………… 1 (Darby 8′)
Courtney Hastings’ brace extends Gedling Miners Welfare’s winning run to four in all competitions following a 2-1 victory over Shirebrook Town at Plains Road on Saturday afternoon in the East Midlands Counties League.
Following their FA Vase exploits last week, Miners returned to league action hoping to continue their unbeaten form and certainly looked in the mood from the onset.
Only two minutes in and Courtney Hastings found ample room in the visiting area but couldn’t capitalise on some early Luke Morton uncertainty as he fired a warning shot over Piotr Strycharz’s crossbar.
Unbeaten themselves in their last three outings, including a 3-2 FA Vase win over Arnold Town last time out, Shirebrook arrived at Plains Road in buoyant spirits and after only 8 minutes took the lead.
A high cross-field pass wasn’t approached with real conviction by Charlie Roberts and his header, intended for ‘keeper Keaton Sharpe, fell short and Kieran Darby, still with plenty to do, forced his way through two and poked the ball past Sharpe much to the delight of the travellers.
The visitors continued with momentum spraying it around with purpose as Gedling looked sluggish and failed to make the most of any early possession.
Hastings’ registered his side’s first shot on-target with 16 minutes played but couldn’t trouble Strycharz with an effort that was pickings for Town’s custodian. However, only a minute later, he played a key role when Miners were given a chance to equalise.
Driving forward with purpose, Hastings, avoiding the challenges of Ben Burbanks and Jack Cornell, rounded Carter Widdowson but was foiled by the skipper, who had inadvertently handled on the ground, and referee Alec Simpson had no choice but to award the hosts a penalty.
The striker stepped up and despite seeing his initial attempt saved by Strycharz, duly dispatched the rebound with certainty to level the scoreline.
Showing resolve and grit to overcome an early setback, Gedling looked the more promising of the two teams. 3 minutes after drawing level, Tony Law nearly latched on to a delicate Matt Newton cross from the right, but the outstretched efforts of the experienced centre forward were in vain and the chance went begging.
As the interval neared, the home side became the more likely to score and yielded plenty of chances amidst a solid spell of dominance.
Just after the half hour, some dogged perseverance down the right from Hastings provided Newton with a fine opportunity to put Gedling in front, but the full back could only spoon his effort high and wide when it was arguably easier to score.
4 minutes later and Hastings, a prominent figure for the home side all afternoon, dispossessed a hesitant Widdowson but after bearing down on Strycharz’s goal at pace, could only drag his effort wide.
In a rare foray forward with 42 played, Darby may have put the visitors ahead at the break, however after finding space in behind Dean Gent and Felix Hogg, his lob over an advanced Sharpe bounced the wrong side of the post as referee Simpson sent the teams in all square.
Undeterred by the interval, the home side continued to pressure a Shirebrook defence living on borrowed time as they underwent a relentless spell.
6 minutes after the restart, Jimmy Spiers’ goal bound strike hit the hand of a committed Burbanks, but as referee Simpson waved away all home protestations, the midfielder’s second effort was thwarted by Strycharz as questions were asked.
A minute later, substitute Cameron Thurgood did well to evade Widdowson’s challenge down the right, however a slight bout of indecisiveness in the area allowed the retreating defender to recover and eventually clear his lines.
The onslaught continued with chances aplenty and it seemed only a matter of time before the hosts secured the go ahead goal.
Shortly before the hour, Welfare had another viable shout of a penalty waved away after Widdowson’s handball when aerially challenging Josh Thornton, but with Simpson uninterested, Thurgood’s volley, on the end of Newton’s deep cross, flew inches over the crossbar as the feeling of indignation was evident.
A few minutes later, Thornton and Law combined well down the right and the latter’s deep cross found Hastings who couldn’t generate enough power on his downward header to trouble Strycharz.
The ‘keeper had to be alert once more after a poor clearance fell to Hastings, but after electing to provide Law with an opportunity to shoot, Strycharz gratefully clutched the effort to his chest as he saved well and offered a tiring Shirebrook side some much needed respite.
Chances subsided for Gedling as the second half ticked toward it’s close and seemingly the chance to prolong their winning run had gone. However, they continued to push and with 13 minutes remaining, they finally found the goal that put them ahead for the first time in the match.
From the left, Thornton’s excellent cross was tempting for Strycharz to punch clear but as a thunderous header from an onrushing Stephen Cox, unforeseen to most, came crashing back off the crossbar, Hastings waited patiently to fire the rebound into an unguarded net and finally give Gedling that elusive lead.
Town committed bodies forward in the latter stages, but were never going to trouble a composed and untroubled Gedling defence, with Darby cutting a lonely figure up front as Simpson drew the game to an end and continue the home side’s impressive run.
A solid, dominating performance from Chris Marks’ and Andy Clerke’s men who will be pleased at how they controlled proceedings throughout. Attention reverts back to the FA Vase next week as they travel to Central Midland League (North) side Clay Cross Town in the second qualifying round, kick off 15:00.
Gedling Miners Welfare Man of the Match – Josh Thornton
Match Attendance – 114
Referee – Alec Simpson
Assistant Referees – Derek Spray & Micah Mrozek
Gedling Miners Welfare – Keaton Sharpe, Matt Newton, Dwayne Brown (Cameron Thurgood 46′), Charlie Roberts, Dean Gent, Felix Hogg (Jordan Knight 45′), Ross McCaughey (c), Josh Thornton, Courtney Hastings, Jimmy Spiers, Tony Law (Stephen Cox 72′)
Unused Substitutes – Matt Fowler, Alex Houghton
Cautions – Gent (foul 56′), Newton (foul 71’)
Shirebrook Town – Piotr Strycharz, Luke Morton, Frankie Kunsyusz (Daniel Murdock 84′), Connor Williamson, Carter Widdowson (c), Ben Burbanks, Will Dodds (James Matthews 68′), Jack Cornell, Kieran Darby, Aaron Williamson (Ben Smith 79′), Liam Jepson
Unused Substitutes – Mitchell Wilton, Jack Lyons
Cautions – Jepson (dissent 63′)