Evo-Stik Northern Premier League

Halesowen Town

Finney (30), Udoh (35)

Hednesford Town

Graham (62)

(1) 2

(0) 1



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Jordan Graham


Workington (H) 14.10.17

The Pitmen's mini-revival ends at a chilly Halesowen Town this evening as a resurgent Yeltz side take advantage of a dreadful first-half display from Rob Smith's side to claim a crucial three points


The Pitmen arrived at the Grove off the back of three wins in a row, with confidence higher than at any point in this topsy-turvy season. Smith was forced into a key change to the side that had beaten Witton Albion, with goalkeeper James Wren ruled out through illness. Jose Veiga came in in pace of Wren. Smith was also forced to replace Sam Oji in central defence, with the centre-back limping out of Saturday's game and is likely to be ruled out of the next month. Joe Fitzpatrick came back into the side as Reece King dropping back into the third centre back position to cover for the loss of Oji. There was also the news of a return for Darren Campion, with the popular left-back re-signing for the club just in time to take his place amongst the substitutes for tonight's game


Halesowen's season - certainly up to the weekend - had been one of real struggle, with John Hill's side bottom of the table going into their No. 9 Derby with Stourbridge. However, an against-all-odds victory over the Glassboys had given the Yeltz redeemed hope of lifting themselves away from the drop zone ahead of tonight's local derby. Hill included former Hednesford players Asa Charlton and Kyle Morrison in his first XI, as well as the powerful former Rushall player Mo Diop, who was a thorn in the Pitmen's side for the Pics last term


The first ten minutes belonged to the in-form Pitmen, who pushed Halesowen back into their final third with a number of early set-pieces. A Danny Glover free kick tested the reflexes of Daniel Platt in the Halesowen goal on nine minutes, with Platt spilling the initial shot before claiming the loose ball ahead of Edji Mbunga and King


Halesowen's Daniel Udoh gave the crowd a taste of what was to come for the remainder of the half on seventeen minutes as a quick break from Halesowen caught the Pitmen napping, but the number seven's effort from the edge of the penalty area flew wide of Veiga's far post


Five minutes later, Oliver Finney wasted a glorious chance to open the scoring for the hosts as the ball fell to him inside the penalty area with acres of space around him. With perhaps too much time t think about it, Finney lifted his shot high and wide of goal when he should have scored with ease


The Pitmen failed to heed these warnings and fell behind on the half-hour mark; Finney tried his luck with a long-range effort that took a wicked deflection off the innocent party Jim Mutton, deflecting the ball beyond the reach of Veiga and into the net


The night got twice as bad for the Pitmen five minutes later, with Veiga culpable in gifting Halesowen a two-goal lead. The veteran stopper failed to effectively deal with a bouncing ball in his penalty area, allowing Udoh to out-jump him and slot the ball into the empty net for 2-0


it nearly got worse for the Pitmen five minutes later, as the Yeltz broke through once again at will, ending in Udoh pulling his shot wide of goal with an angled drive


Half time saw Smith make a double change to his misfiring side, with Jordan Graham coming for the limping Mbunga out wide and Joey Butlin replacing the ineffective Lewis Collins


This spelled a change in formation for the Pitmen, with Butlin playing up alongside Glover and Graham coming in from the wing to support the front two. This seemed to make the side more balanced from the off, with skipper Tom Thorley driving a low shot just wide of goal with the first attack of the half on forty-eight minutes


There was still the threat of Halesowen's counter-attacks, with full-back Roland Agbor getting in behind the Hednesford defence and firing a shot in that drifted just past Veiga's near post in the fifty-first minute of the game


Graham was having an immediate impact on the game, with his clever, rangy running causing the Halesowen defence issues. A slalom-like run from the Mansfield loanee on fifty-six minutes saw him escape the attention of the Halesowen defence, but his shot lacked power and was easily fielded by Platt


A great cross from Tyler Weir caused issues for Halesowen on fifty-eight minutes, with Butlin's goalbound header blocked on the line by a combination of Platt and his centre-backs


The Pitmen's pressure told on sixty-two minutes, as the impressive Graham got his side back into the game with a superb individual goal. After being played in down the left by Weir, Graham cut inside before unleashing a low shot beyond the reach of Platt and into the far corner of the net


The stocky presence of Butlin was also giving the Halesowen defence more work than they had been accustomed to in the first half, with a clever turn from the Walsall Wood man almost creating an opening, but he was to be denied by a last-ditch block by Yeltz skipper Charlton with twenty minutes remaining


Thorley - who had been getting closer and closer to scoring in the previous two games with long-range efforts - tried his luck with a rising shot from twenty five yards out on seventy-seven minutes, but dipped his shot just wide of the far post


The Pitmen turned the screw in the final ten minutes, with Butlin going close to breaking his Hednesford duck on eighty-six minutes with a header that was gratefully received by the arms of Platt


Despite a late flurry of set-pieces - including a series of long throws from Ben Bailey - the Pitmen could not find a way through a dogged Halesowen side, who celebrated their second win in four games that lifted them off the foot of the table and away from danger. For the Pitmen, it's a step backwards after making strides forwards in the previous three games. They face another tough test at the weekend when Workington arrive at Keys Park, looking to complete an early season double over the Pitmen after their win at Borough Park last month


Halesowen Town: Platt, Agbor (Lewis 65), Morrison, Finney, Smith (Hill 82), Charlton ©, Diop (Spray 53), Goddard, Udoh, McAtee, Kelly      Subs Unused: Steel, Parsons


Hednesford Town: Veiga, Melbourne, Weir, Bailey, Mutton, King, Fitzpatrick, Thorley ©, Glover, Mbunga (Graham 45), Collins (Butlin 45)      Subs Unused: Steele, Campion