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REPORT: Dronfield tough out third win on the bounce at Swallownest

A much-changed Dronfield Town side toughed out a 2-0 win away at near-neighbours Swallownest FC. First half goals from Kenan McKenzie-Grey and Max Rhodes secured the points for the Derbyshire side, who made five changes from the team that defeated Clay Cross Town in midweek. Hosts Swallownest, fighting for their survival in the division, put Town under a considerable amount of pressure, particularly in the second half, but once again Dronfield were resilient in taking victory. Despite the win, Town fall to ninth in the Northern Counties East League Division One table and now face a challenging run of fixtures, commencing with the visit of new leaders Shirebrook Town to the HE Barnes Stadium on Saturday.

Swallownest, currently in 22nd in the league, took the game to their visitors in the opening stages. Alfie Bakes ghosted into the area with just four minutes played but his sidefooted volley cleared the crossbar.

Bakes’ effort proved to be a wake-up call to Dronfield, who replied a minute later. Connor Chapell’s corner was headed back across goal by Jake Hatton as far as James Lindores, who found the woodwork with his effort.

Swallownest continued to press. Tom Gladwin came up with a crucial diving header to prevent the hosts threatening the goal but out of the resulting corner, Lewis Naylor turned Kam Jaftha’s attempt from the edge of the box round the post.

The game was a rather physical affair but once Dronfield settled down into a pattern, they went on to dominate the end to the half. The 24th minute saw Gladwin advance from his defensive duties to blast over at the back post from another accurate Chapell corner.

The goal eventually came in the 31st minute. A firm goal-bound header from Callum Mawbey was turned in by a crafty back flick from Kenan McKenzie-Grey to put Dronfield one goal to the good.

The lead was doubled five minutes later. A firmly-struck free kick from just outside the area by Max Rhodes went through the Swallownest wall and into the bottom corner of the net to make it 2-0.

A James Lindores diving header that narrowly missed the target concluded a much-improved spell of play by Dronfield as the opening 45 minutes came to a close.

Town were forced to re-organise early in the second half as lynchpin centre half Jake Hatton was forced to leave the field to be replaced by Nick Benson.

They continued their better approach to the game in the 52nd minute when top-scorer Rhodes first went outside his man and then back inside; his low shot just going wide of the target. Rhodes also attempted to feed strike partner Benson shortly after – Swallownest desperately clearing their lines under the pressure.

The home side emptied their bench for the final 25 minutes and caused Dronfield more problems as a result. Indeed, Town had to reorganise once again on 74 minutes.

Kenan McKenzie-Grey was sin-binned after an altercation with Swallownest keeper Tom Kirkland and as a result, Dronfield moved Benson to left back and kept Rhodes as a lone striker.

Despite playing with ten men in the latter stages, Dronfield held firm. Substitute Ash McEwan’s right footed strike from the left hand side of the area that went narrowly wide of the mark was Swallownest’s only serious chance of note.

McKenzie-Grey returned to be immediately replaced by substitute Charlie Stewart as the final six minutes were comfortably negotiated to send another three points back to S18.

Dronfield face promotion-chasing Wombwell Town and Parkgate in the next three weeks but begin the challenging run of games by welcoming league leaders Shirebrook Town to the HE Barnes Stadium on Saturday, which is also national Non-League Day.

Swallownest FC: Kirkland, Henry, Clarke, Skelton, Rudd, Marro, Bakes, Nix, Fretwell, Wonham, Jaftha. Subs: Lyon, Hooley, Bown, McEwan, Hardeman.

Dronfield Town: Naylor, Fereday, Wright, Knight, Hatton, Gladwin, Chapell, Mawbey, Rhodes, Lindores, McKenzie-Grey. Subs: Parfitt, Siddons, Stewart, Benson, Thorpe M.

Attendance: 142


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