F.A. Cup 2nd Qualifying Round

Hednesford Town

Halesowen Town

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Callam Mendez-Jones



Coalville Town (H) 6.10.20

Halesowen win 5-3 on penalties

The Pitmen exit the F.A. Cup at the second qualifying round this afternoon at a sodden PRG Stadium @ Keys Park as local rivals Halesowen Town beat their hosts on penalties to move into the next round of this season's competition


The previous week had seen Andy Morrell’s side struggle to get their league campaign up and running, drawing 0-0 at Lowestoft Town last weekend before losing 2-0 at Banbury United in midweek to leave them still searching for their first win of the league season. Morrell was forced into four changes to the side that had started against Banbury due to an accumulation of injuries to some of his key players as Andy Wycherley, Louis Dodds and Jed Davies were all ruled out for today’s game. This saw veteran keeper Jose Veiga handed his first start in eighteen months as well as the inclusion of Kieron Dawes, Carter Lycett and Will Norcross as Wycherley, Dodds, George Cater and Ryan Campbell-Gordon made way


Halesowen - semi-finalists in last season’s F.A. Trophy and runaway leaders of the Southern League Division One Central last term until the season was voided - had started the season in fine form, winning 7-1 against Yaxley on the opening day of the season and remaining unbeaten thus far. Manager Paul Smith made five changes to the side that had drawn 1-1 at Kidlington in midweek as Bradley Catlow, James Bowen, Reece Hewitt, Robbie Bunn and Simeon Cobourne all returned to the side in place of Brendon Bunn, ex-Pitman Lewis Wright, Makauley Manning, Jack Holmes and Dan Westwood. Former Hednesford men Paul McCone and George Forsyth were amongst the Yeltz ranks, with former Stourbridge man McCone captaining today’s visitors


It had been a miserable couple of days of weather across the country with heavy rain and the remnants of Storm Alex crossing the British Isles towards the end of the week. The persistent rain continued at kick-off, but the fine Keys Park turf stood up to the conditions brilliantly throughout proceedings ahead of a busy week of games. In front of a 600 sell-out crowd, both sides made a bright start to the game as Norcross made a darting run down the left flank in the third minute but shot well wide from an angle, followed by a similarly wild effort at the other end by Cobourne


Sam Griffiths headed a corner kick from Norcross high and wide of goal in the fifth minute before midfielder Jack Hallahan received an early booking for a foul on Hewitt in midfield


The Pitmen’s first real effort of note came in the eighth minute of an end-to-end encounter as Norcross did well to win the ball from Josh Hawker and play Dan Turner in; his square ball found Danny Glover, who took a touch before firing in a goalward shot from the edge of the Halesowen penalty area that Catlow tipped over the bar for a corner kick


A scrappy period of play three minutes later saw the Pitmen come within inches of taking the lead as a long ball forwards from Ben Bailey saw McCone and Turner challenge for the bouncing ball. McCone's header back to Catlow lacked distance and saw the ever-willing Turner nip the ball off the keeper as he tried to cling on to the ball. Turner attempted to make room for the shot but instead, the ball ended up at the feet of Norcross, whose bundled effort at goal was cleared off the line by the recovering McCone


The Yeltz responded with a long-range effort from Bunn a minute later, trying his luck with a low drive on the greasy surface that Veiga touched wide of his right-hand post for a corner


Good build-up play from the Pitmen in the fifteenth minute saw Sam Griffiths cross from the right to find Turner, whose neat lay-off to Glover was returned to him by his strike partner. The former Port Vale man took a touch before striking a low shot narrowly wide of Catlow’s right-hand post from the edge of the penalty area


Neat play from the visitors down their right flank three minutes later saw Bunn and Hewitt link up to play the ball around a bemused-looking Lycett before Hewitt pulled the ball back into the danger zone, where no-one in grey could turn the loose ball home as it skipped across the Hednesford six-yard box and away from danger


The hosts were forced into a substitution on twenty-six minutes as Norcross went off holding his leg, forcing Morrell into bringing on midfielder Lee Smith in his place


Turner has impressed so far this season with his terrific attitude towards the game, chasing lost causes and creating openings from nothing. He carved out another chance for himself on twenty-eight minutes as he picked up Glover’s flick-on right on the edge of the Halesowen penalty area before skipping past two challenges and pulling his right-footed shot just wide of the post


The tall, lanky figure of Jamie Molyneux tested Veiga on thirty-two minutes, picking the ball up to the left of the Pitmen’s penalty area before attempting a curling shot into the far corner of the net, only for Veiga to make another good fingertip save to turn the ball away from danger


The Yeltz thought that they had taken the lead on thirty-seven minutes as Cobourne’s low shot was well saved by Veiga, pushing the ball wide of goal and into the path of Hewitt, whose rebounded effort from a tight angle appeared to have beaten the veteran at his near post as he scrambled the ball back into play. Despite Halesowen’s protests, the referee nor the assistant on the main stand side had a good enough view to see if the ball was over the line and play continued


At the other end, Lycett did well to collect a deep cross from Dawes and try his luck with an angled drive that Catlow parried away at his near post before McCone completed the clearance


With a couple of minutes of the half remaining, Rhys Thompson was the second player to have his name taken for a mistimed challenge in midfield to stop the Yeltz from breaking quickly through the centre of the park


It had been a fairly even and entertaining encounter thus far, although neither side had looked particularly convincing in the final third with several wasted chances at both ends


Cobourne went close for the away side just a couple of minutes after the restart, turning past Lycett down the right before curling a shot just wide of Veiga’s far post from the edge of the penalty area


Molyneux lifted a shot high and wide of goal for the Yeltz on fifty-two minutes after Hawker had played him through on goal down the right, only for the striker to fire over Veiga’s crossbar with an ambitious angled effort


The Yeltz somehow failed to take the lead two minutes later as Thompson conceded a free-kick right on the edge of his own box to allow Bunn to strike at goal from twenty yards out; his low shot was turned away a little fortuitously by Veiga but straight into the path of Hewitt, whose subsequent drive back across the face of goal was somehow missed by Cobourne from a yard out. A real let-off for the step three hosts


The Pitmen hadn’t really got going so far in the second half, with Glover and Turner feeding off scraps as the home side’s midfield was once again dominated by the opposition and provided little to no service for its front men. Thompson tried his luck with zippy, long-range free-kick along the ground on fifty-eight minutes that was easily saved by Catlow


Veiga was alert to the danger on sixty-one minutes to deny Cobourne a clear strike at goal, smothering a through ball at the striker’s feet after coming off his line to make the save


Three minutes later, Hewitt lifted a shot over Veiga’s crossbar after a neat period of play down the right-wing saw Forsyth pull the ball back into the midfielder’s path


The more defensively-minded Dawes had struggled to make an impact on the game for the Pitmen, playing in an alien position to him further up the pitch, and was taken on on sixty-eight minutes in favour of Cater


Turner and Glover linked up on the edge of the Halesowen box on seventy minutes to lay the ball off to Thompson, who, rather the take a touch, tried his luck from eighteen yards out with a first-time effort that sailed high over the crossbar. A poor effort from a promising position form the former Kidsgrove man


Glover attempted an ambitious effort from an angle two minutes later, shooting well wide of goal when a pass to the unmarked Turner in the centre may have been a better option


The Yeltz made a couple of changes to their personnel, possibly preparing for what felt at this point like the inevitable penalty shoot-out that was coming, such was the inability of both sides to offer anything in the opposition’s penalty area


A quick counter-attack from the Pitmen on eighty minutes saw Smith cross for Turner, only for McCone to intervene and stab the ball away from the feet of the striker. The ball fell to Hallahan, whose first-time effort was similarly off-target as Thompson’s as he launched the ball high and wide of goal


Three minutes later, Cater had a glorious chance to win it for the hosts as Lycett’s fine through ball sent his in behind the Halesowen defence. However, the former Chasetown man showed little confidence in his ability as he tamely side-footed his shot straight into the grateful arms of Catlow from fifteen yards out when he really should have made the keeper work a lot harder


Striker Dan Sweeney made a late cameo for the Pitmen as came on in place of the dreadfully out-of-sorts Hallahan with three minutes of normal time remaining


Neither side could muster up a chance of note in the final minutes as the game went to the lottery of a penalty shoot-out in front of the Heath Hayes terrace; Holmes, Manning, McCone and Cobourne all fired home confident penalties for the visitors, whilst Thompson, Turner and Glover scored for the Pitmen until Smith took their fourth penalty kick and tamely side-footed straight at Catlow.  Former Hednesford loanee Forsyth stepped up to score Halesowen’s fifth kick and send them into the next round of the competition


Another poor defeat for the Pitmen - their third of the season already in only five games - with no goals scored in three games and mounting problems for Morrell as he looks towards a tough week of games in the league against Coalville Town and Stratford Town. There appears to be little confidence or quality about certain positions in the side currently and no real game-changers of options in reserve either; Morrell will have to make some decisions on several squad in the coming days and weeks as it is becoming pretty obvious that a good percentage of the players at his disposal are simply to up the rigours of step three football. He will need to dig deep into his contacts book to find players capable of halting this alarming early-season slide and re-building a squad that has looked suspiciously unconvincing since the start of the pre-season programme if he is to make a success of one of the most demanding jobs in non-league football

Hednesford Town: Veiga, Norcross (Smith 26), Lycett, Bailey ©, Mendez-Jones, Thompson , Griffiths, Hallahan ▆ (Sweeney 87), Glover, Dawes (Cater 68), Turner        Sub Unused: Preston, Dodd, Woakes, Campbell-Gordon

Halesowen Town: Catlow, Forsyth, Bowen (Manning 79), Ali, McCone ©, Carter, Hewitt, R. Bunn, Cobourne, Molyneux (Gregory 60), Hawker (Holmes 74)      Subs Unused: Parsons, Westwood, Yates

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