Blair at the double to boost Hemsworth MW hopes

Two-goal Dom Blair on the attack for Hemsworth MW against AFC Mansfield. Picture: Andy May
Two-goal Dom Blair on the attack for Hemsworth MW against AFC Mansfield. Picture: Andy May

Hemsworth MW earned a precious three points when they came out on top 2-1 in a big promotion battle with AFC Mansfield in Division One of the Toolstation NCE League.

Two goals from substitute Dom Blair clinched a victory that allowed Welfare to stay within seven points of leaders Pontefract Collieries with two games in hand.

Hemsworth found it hard to get into their rhythm in the early stages against a physical hard working Mansfield team, with chances few and far between as both teams cancelled each other out.

Nick Guest broke away twice for Welfare only for the linesman to flag for tight offside decisions. But the visitors had the best chance of the half just inside the box only for Jack Bentley to save well with his legs.

The second half opened up a bit with Hemsworth having more possession than they enjoyed in the first 45 minutes.

Robbie Crapper weaved his way to the edge of the box and his shot was charged down by the Bulls defenders, then Adam Wilson put Guest through but he was closed down before he could get a telling shot away.

Mansfield pressed with long balls up to Craig Mitchell, whose rough and ready style of play caused the Welfare defence to be on their guard. They coped admirably, though, Rob Tonks, Sam Colbear, Jack Steers and Cameron Clark limiting the away team to scraps with big headers and timely challenges.

Jason Yates and Lee Swift began to control the central midfield area and it was Yates who had the next chance to break the deadlock. Clark received the ball on the edge of the area to the left and flighted an inch perfect ball to the back post to leave Yates with a free header, but his effort lacked enough power to beat the keeper who got down sharply to smother the danger.

Nash Connolly then got free in the box, but his cross-come-shot went just wide at the far post with Guest closing in.

On 65 minutes manager Wayne Benn replaced the tiring Crapper with Blair and the diminutive striker began to cause Mansfield all sorts of problems.

The breakthrough came on 75 minutes when Guest lifted the ball over the keeper as he came out and ran round to collect the ball. A covering defender got back to challenge but the ball ran free for Blair to side foot Hemsworth into the lead.

Mansfield pressed to get level and Welfare hit on the counter, Wilson hitting the side netting with a chance to double the lead after Connolly had got clear again.

That was to be the end of Wilson’s afternoon as Harry Viggars came on to shore the defence up for the final five minutes plus injury time.

Blair then latched onto Clark’s through ball in the 89th minute and coolly lobbed the onrushing keeper to double the advantage.

Almost while Welfare were still celebrating Mansfield quickly hit back as Tristram Whitman slid home from a Mitchell flick on with Bentley unlucky not to save.

The visitors then had a succession of corners in added time, but the Welfare defence held firm to seal all three points and keep their promotion hopes very much alive.

Hemsworth, who are still in fifth place, will be hoping to keep the pressure on the top teams this Saturday when they travel to play tenth-placed Penistone Church (kick-off 3pm).