FA Cup qualifying - Hednesford 2-0 Tamworth - Report and pictures
Hednesford midfielder Jed Davies came back to haunt former club Tamworth in their FA Cup first qualifying round tie today.
The diminutive No.10 gave the Pitmen the lead ten minutes after half-time with a thumping finish before substitute Mike Howard wrapped the game up in stoppage time.
Davies was fortunate to stay on the pitch after his goal, flying into an unnecessary challenge while already on a yellow, although Tamworth could have also been reduced to 10 men.
Rob Smith's Northern Premier League side were well worth their victory over the visiting Southern Central League outfit who arrived at Keys Park unbeaten in four and brimming with confidence after putting six past Coalville in midweek.
And with £6,000 up for grabs, Hednesford's first home win of the season came at the perfect time for the club's bank balance.
The hosts started on top with the influential Joe Fitzpatrick keeping possession at the base of the midfield, and he had an early shot well blocked following good work in the right corner by striker Dan Cockerline.
Ten minutes in, Cockerline found Sam Griffiths's burst into the box with a clever pass round the corner, but the ball bobbled away from the midfielder and Tamworth keeper Jasbir Singh collected.
The visitors, on the other hand, were only threatening from the left boot of 19-year-old Kyle Finn, who is on loan at Tamworth from Coventry City.
As well as sending dangerous set-pieces into the box, he finally called the Pitmen's new goalkeeper Jonathan Brown into action with a long range shot after 28 minutes.
But it was Hednesford's Fitzpatrick who was stamping his authority on the game, and soon after he set up a chance for ex-Albion academy defender Callam Mendez-Jones with a cross to the near post, but Singh pushed the deflected shot over his bar.
Tamworth started to grow into proceedings after that with the improving Finn firing an effort just wide of Brown's post shortly before the break.
But the hosts ended the first period strongly and nearly took the lead on the stroke of half-time with a late flurry of goalmouth action.
Firstly, it took a superb last-ditch tackle from Nathan Fox to deny Aman Verma in the box, and then Fitzpatrick nearly chipped Singh from 30 yards out.
The goalkeeper looked to have caught the ball safely, but he dropped it at the feet of Cockerline before reacting quickly to kick the striker's effort over the bar.
But on the whole, both sides' finishing left a lot to be desired in the first half, with four balls clearing the grandstand, two at either end.
The game was crying out for some clinical shooting, and 10 minutes after the break Davies delivered it, thumping home a left-footed shot from the edge of the area that flew so fast over Singh's head, that it hit the net before he could react.
Davies had just had a penalty shout turned down after colliding with Regan Upton in the box, and so he celebrated the goal against his former club with extra vigour.
Upton was obviously riled, because the former Wolves academy player was fortunate to stay on the pitch soon after when he cut young Mendez-Jones in half with a flying tackle that sparked a 22-man shovefest in the middle of the pitch.
Mike Fowler made two substitutions in an effort to find an equaliser but strangely, he took off teenager Finn, who was easily Tamworth's most threatening player.
And the Pitmen remained on top. Fitzpatrick nearly turned in Davies's clever corner before Cockerline almost caught Singh out of position with a long-range effort.
But then Davies nearly turned from hero to villain with 15 minutes to go when he jumped into a dangerous challenge on the greasy surface.
Although he missed both man and ball, having been booked in the first half, the goalscorer was incredibly lucky to stay on the pitch, and Smith sensibly brought him off straight after.
Lewis Archer nearly made it two with 12 minutes to go in acrobatic fashion, but his overhead kick went wide.
Tamworth's late barrage never really came, but when they threw men forward they left gaps at the back.
And that meant that in injury time, Howard wrapped up the tie after being found in space by fellow substitute Matt Dodd.
Hednesford Town (3-5-2): Brown; Mendez-Jones, Galinski (c), Griffiths; Curley, Craddock, Fitzpatrick, Davies (King 78), Fox; Cockerline (Howard 78), Archer (Dodd 85).
Unused subs: Gatter, Grimshaw, Veiga, Hollis .
Tamworth FC (4-4-2): Singh; Wright (Ofori 77), Upton, Kettle (c), Green; Finn (Dunkley 69), Verma, Shaw (Beswick 63), Lait; Waite, Asante.
Unused subs: Thorne, Mpofu, Medford, Jezeph.
Referee: S Brown
55' Hednesford 1-0 Tamworth - Jed Davies
90+2 Hednesford 2-0 Tamworth - Mike Howard