Worcester City V Hednesford Town
Vanarama Conference North
Jonny Bonell reports from Aggborough
WORCESTER City’s last home game of the calendar year with Hednesford Town had to be abandoned with just 15 minutes remaining after referee Andy Hendley deemed the pitch was unplayable.
A combination of heavy rain and snow had caused problems on the Aggborough surface all afternoon but it was only as the final whistle neared that a decision was finally reached.
The news will come as somewhat of a relief to the Blue and Whites who were trailing 3-0 at the time, that after Graham Hutchison had put into own net before Richard Batchelor and Glenn Walker made it three in a quick-fire second half double.
But it was Hendley who made himself the centre of attention after 75 minutes, when the ball was held up one too many times he postponed the game, a decision which was met with absolute fury by Hednesford players and staff.
Assistant manager Matt Gardiner said: “I think if you look at the conditions the ball wasn’t rolling properly at the end of the first half, but they (Hednesford) have played it better than us, they’re 3-0 up, he’s made the call when he’s made it and it is the referees decision.
“From a performance point of view they’re 3-0 up so they have played it better than us but we like to play football and move the ball and obviously it wasn’t possible, but you don’t really expect to have to play on pitches like that at our level.”
The surface caused all sorts of difficulties in the first 15 minutes with both sides guilty of miss-placed passes and neither able to gain a foothold in proceedings as the ball failed to move fluidly on the soggy surface.
Ellis Deeney managed to curl an effort which Dan Crane beat away before ex-Worcester captain Tom Thorley fizzed a 25-yard free-kick which viciously dipped just over the bar in a half hour devoid of any real quality.
And just as the clock struck the 30 minute mark the visitors did manage to break the deadlock. Batchelor got the ball on right, whipped a dangerous ball in which Hutchison tried to hook clear but it hit the defender’s outstretched leg and looped over Nathan Vaughan into the back of the net.
The surface represented more of a mud-bath than a football pitch at times, the ball stopping more than a metre short of its intended destination but both teams were committed to the cause of adding three points to their festive fixture lists.
Daniel Nti was close to getting Worcester back on level terms two minutes before the break when he pounced on indecision from Ben Bailey and Paul McCone but his touch to take the ball round Crane was heavy and enabled James Hurst the chance to get back in time and nick it away from the striker.
Hurst was in the thick of the action once more minutes after the restart as he firstly managed to divert the ball away from Nti as he was about to pull the trigger, before he threw himself in front of Jordan Murphy’s goal-bound strike after Sean Geddes’ initial effort was well saved.
And then just as Carl Heeley’s men were looking to grab their equaliser, 60 second-half seconds appeared to have put the game to bed.
With just over an hour on the clock Thorley’s corner was cleared only as far as Walker who rifled a half-volley from the edge of the box which was deflected home off Batchelor, before Walker did get his name on the scoresheet as he quickly charged at the City back line moments later and fired past Vaughan from 20-yards.
But as Tyler Weir made a run through the middle of the park with 15 minutes left the ball was held up once again and referee Hendley was left with no choice but to end the game early.