Hednesford Town v Tamworth FC
After the 6-0 drubbing of in form Coalville Town at The CR MOT Centre Community Stadium had lifted The Lamb roof multiple times in midweek, Tamworth travelled to Keys Park for FA Cup 1st Qualifying Round action against local neighbours and rivals Hednesford Town who had been moved into the EvoStik Northern League in the summer.
Tamworth made one change to the side from Tuesday night with Paul Green coming in for Tristan Dunkley, while Rob Smith’s Pitmen featured two ex Lambs in their starting eleven – Matt Curley and Jed Davies.
The last time Tamworth played in the 1st Qualifying Round of the FA Cup was 1997-98 and the last time they won an FA Cup game was 1428 days previously, and the last away win came in December 2017, 266 days before Hednesford kicked off proceedings, so with both sides in search of the £6,000 prize money it would be a tough game.
Tamworth attacked the home terrace in the first half, with the Lambs fans segregated at the other end of Keys Park.
The Lambs defended strongly on 5 to clear the danger of a persistent Hednesford push upfield, and on 7 Fox’s cross deflected off Wright for a left sided corner which Green acrobatically cleared.
A deflected pass from Craddock nearly set up the Hednesford man on 13 but Singh was quickest out to smother the ball Davies was booked for a pull on Shaw on 15 and a Finn cross took a deflection for a right sided flagkick on 17 which came to nothing. Lait was bundled over on 20 and a left sided corner resulted which was drilled low and came to nothing again.
The home side were awarded a freekick on the right on 22 which Davies floated into the box and Green headed it away but Fitzpatrick drilled it in low from the left and Mendez-Jones touch flicked off Shaw and forced Singh to push the goalbound deflected strike over the bar for a corner.
Finn stuck low from 25 yards on 26 but it was easy for Brown the home goal and The Lambs penned the Pitmen back in the corner as the time pushed towards the half hour mark. Asante then popped the ball up for Lait on 30, but he couldn’t wrap his foot around his shot from the edge of the box and almost cleared the stand behind the goal.
Finn managed to get a shot away from 20 yards on 40 but it went wide of the right hand post and at the other end Davies chipped the ball for captain Galinski to volley but he put it high over the target from 18 yards.
A strong run and low ball in from the left from Cockerline forced The Lambs to defend strongly on 44 and then in added time Fitzpatrick floated a half volley towards goal, Singh prevented the ball going in at full stretch and falling backwards but it slipped from his grasp and he had to recover quickly to prevent Cockerline’s follow up and the whistle blew on a goalless first half.
HT: HEDNESFORD TOWN 0 0 TAMWORTH
Tamworth restarted proceedings as a fine misty rain descended on Keys Park again, and after the home side had made headway down the right it fell to Davies on the edge of the box and he struck right footed through the crowded box and past Singh to give the Pitmen the lead.
Upton slid in on the wet surface and took the ball and player to pick up a yellow on 54 while the home fans called for a red.
With the rain now coming down harder Tamworth made their first change with Beswick replacing Shaw on 59 and Dunkley replaced Finn 5 minutes later.
Davies forced a right sided corner on 66 which was met by Fitzpatrick and put behind by Upton for another which he cleared as far as Dunkley, but he was pulled back as he tried to make headway down the right earning Fox a booking.
The home side then found a renewed sense of purpose and stifled and pegged The Lambs back, forcing another corner on 72 which was cleared.
The Lambs made their third and final change on 73 with U21 Ofori replacing Wright, and then a push on Verma 25 yards out set up Lait with the freekick in the left channel but he curled his shot a couple of yards both high and wide of the top right corner.
Dunkley was punished for a push on Fox in the left corner on 78 and from the dead ball Archer’s overhead kick off an inviting header at the far post went wide of the mark.
With time ticking away, Tamworth started to play with more assertiveness in the final ten minutes but Hednesford continued to get a foot in, disrupt and generally frustrate The Lambs attempts at flowing football at every opportunity. Inside the final couple of minutes.
The Lambs pushed forwards but Hednesford had other ideas and from a quick break Howard received the ball on the edge of the box and drove his angled shot past Singh to double the advantage (0-2, 90+2)
In the 95th minute a foul on Asante set up Beswick but his freekick found Kettle offside as he went up to try and head the ball and the final whistle blew on The Lambs FA Cup campaign at the first hurdle.
Singh, Wright (Ofori 73), Upton, Green, Kettle, Shaw (Beswick 59), Finn (Dunkley 64), Verma, Waite, Asante, Lait
Subs: Jezeph, Thorne, Mpofu, Medford
YC: Upton 54
Hednesford Town Team:
Brown, Curley, Fox, Mendez-Jones, Galinski (c.), Griffiths, Fitzpatrick, Craddock, Cockerline (Howard 74), Davies (King 74), Archer (Dodd 84)
Subs: Gatter, Grimshaw, Veiga, Hollis
YC: Davies 15, Fox 68
Referee: Mr. S. Brown