It was one step forward and one step back for Hemsworth MW this week in their promotion bid in Division One of the Toolstation NCE League.
After a brilliant win over fellow promotion hopefuls AFC Emley on Saturday, Wayne Benn’s men suffered a surprise setback when they lost their first away league game of the season, 3-1 at mid-table Hallam on Tuesday night.
Welfare made a dream start to a game they knew they needed to win when Nash Connolly struck after just nine minutes.
But Michael Blythen levelled on 22 minutes and it was 1-1 at half-time.
The next goal was massive and it went to Hallam on 68 minutes as Daniel Flynn found the net. As Hemsworth chased the game, they were caught out again when Blythen added his second nine minutes from time.
The result left Welfare down in sixth, nine points behind leaders Pontefract Collieries with a game in hand.
Hemsworth gave their promotion hopes a huge boost on Saturday when they outplayed long-time pacesetters AFC Emley on their own turf and came away with a fantastic 3-0 victory.
In front of a big crowd swelled by the non-league Ground Hop Day, an initially tight game turned Welfare’s way with Nash Connolly’s goal just before half-time and two more in the space of nine minutes early in the second period from Dom Blair and Nick Guest gave them control.
They could even afford to see a penalty by top scorer Guest saved by Emley keeper Adam Lawlor.
Emley also missed a penalty and finished with 10 men after Ruben Jerome was sent-off.
Hemsworth started the day nine points behind second-placed Emley with two games in hand and knew it was a must not lose game as they looked to protect their unbeaten away record in the league.
They had to defend well in the early stages in a fast and furious start in which neither team gave an inch.
But Emley struggled to create any clear chances and it was the visitors that had the best opportunity when wide man Adam Wilson fired over.
Welfare went ahead on 45 minutes as Wilson’s corner was met by Connolly, who powered a header past Lawlor into the net.
Wayne Benn’s men then started the second superbly and after Connolly had an effort saved by Lawlor they doubled their advantage within six minutes of the restart.
Jason Yates’ quickly taken free-kick sent Blair through and he tucked the ball into the net in confident style.
Things went from bad to worse for Emley as Jerome ‘s mistimed tackle on Sam Colbear earned him a straight red card and the hosts were down to 10 men for the remainder.
Welfare quickly made the most of their man advantage and on the hour Blair turned provider as his cross set up Guest to score with a clever header that ended his mini goal drought.
Guest had a great chance of adding further to his impressive tally for the season , but saw his penalty saved low down by Lawlor.
To their credit, Emley kept going and had some late chances with Ash Flynn hitting the post with a header and a penalty being awarded as Steven Kenworthy was adjudged to have been brought down.
But it summed up their day when Flynn attempted to be clever with his spot-kick only to see his chip down the middle easily gathered by keeper Jack Bentley who had stood still.
Hemsworth will be looking to keep the pressure on the top teams this Saturday when they travel to play mid-table Rossington Main (kick-off 3pm).
They then face a huge game next Tuesday with a local derby against in-form Pontefract Collieries who have gone top of the table in recent weeks. Kick-off at the MDC Stadium is 7.45pm.