By Chris Gibbs
Superb performance from McClenaghan not enough to stop Hednesford
Castle had a tough night at the office as visitors Hednesford Town claimed a fully deserved 1-0 win in a thoroughly dominant performance, which would have been rewarded with a wider margin of victory, but for a brilliant goalkeeping performance.
James McClenaghan – one of our summer signings – pulled off a number of superb stops including a first half penalty save to keep us in the game but, the truth was that the visitors were much the better side and were well worth the three points.
On what was a frustrating evening for ‘Castle, the sight of centre back Josh Jordan limping off in injury time was not helpful either.
Having said all that, we are finding what we knew already, which is to say this will be a tough competition and while we have started with two league defeats, we have remained competitive and but for a defensive slip may well have taken a point against a Hednesford side, who on this showing will be there or thereabouts this season.
But last night belonged to our man between the sticks. One of his best saves of the evening came in the third minute as he tipped a fine angled shot from Rivel Mardenborough just round the post.
And when Josh was adjudged to have handled on the byline, James denied the same player from 12 yards.
Our brightest moment in the first half came when Jack van der Laan had a shot blocked but James was to the fore on the stroke of half-time once again with another fine save from Mardenborough.
The second half started in a similar vein to the way the first ended, although a lovely piece of skill from Danny Edwards created an opening for Alfie Carmichael – the big striker denied by a fine save from Hednesford’s stopper Daniel Crane in a rare foray forward.
The decisive moment came in the 76th minute when the Pitmen’s no.10 Max Dixon headed home at the back post.
Castle threw bodies forward to try to retrieve something from the game, but it wasn’t to be.
It’s now time to look ahead to the FA Cup and a trip to Rugby and learn from this loss but move forwards.
Team: McClenaghan, Derbyshire, Ritchie, T. Van der Laan, Jordan, (Lake), Stubbs, Edwards, J. Van der Laan, Carmichael, (Mazurkiewicz), Thompson, (Holdham), Speed
Man of the Match: James McClenaghan