Chasetown defeat Halesowen Town in play-off semi-final

Jack Langston’s controversial penalty in the final minute of stoppage time saw Chasetown beat Halesowen Town in a dramatic Northern One Midlands semi-final play-off.

The Scholars will now host Belper Town on Saturday with the chance to claim promotion back to the third tier of non-league after 10 years away after a chaotic finish in front of 2,573 supporters at the Grove, writes Matt Maher.

Most of those went home unhappy after referee Liam Corrigan pointed to the spot following an off-the-ball incident between Halesowen skipper Paul McCone and Josh Mansell, just when extra-time looked inevitable.

Langston kept his nerve to convert and Chasetown, on the back foot for the whole second half, claimed victory.

Halesowen substitute Brad Birch, on the pitch for just five minutes, then saw red for a challenge on Oli Haywood as tempers flared.

The visitors ultimately got their reward for a dogged display with Halesowen left to lick their wounds after another season which ended in disappointment.

The crowd was the biggest at the Grove since Tranmere visited for an FA Cup tie in 1990 and the energy generated from the terraces was soon replicated on the pitch.

Barely four minutes elapsed when a ricochet fell the way of Richard Gregory to put Halesowen’s top scorer through on goal. The shot was hit hard but too close to goalkeeper Curtis Pond, who saved brilliantly. Soon after Pond’s opposite number was given no chance of getting near Langston’s hooked half-volley from the edge of the box, the ball crashing back off the bar before hitting an unwitting Joey Butlin and bouncing back into the arms of the home keeper.

It was an open game but both teams lacked composure around the box, Dilano Reid hammering a good chance wide for the visitors, before the pace began to slow as the gravity of the occasion seemed to become apparent.

Langston sent a low drive straight at Platt early in the second half, while Chris Lait did the same at the other end but clear-cut chances remained at a premium. When Bunn came close to playing Kyle Finn in on goal, Ryan Wynter was there to make a sliding challenge.

Yeltz boss Paul Smith replaced Lait with Simeon Cobourne on the hour mark and it almost paid quick dividends, the latter firing wide on the stretch after latching on to McKauley Manning’s through ball.

Cobourne’s pace added more intensity to the home side’s attacks and he went close again with a long-range effort which Pond watched just clear the bar.

The home side were getting closer. First Kyle Finn was unable to force the ball home at close range after Pond could only parry Bunn’s shot and then, when Cobourne tried to square the ball to an unmarked Gregory, Luke Cox was on hand to clear over his own bar.

Into the final 10 minutes and another bursting Cobourne run ended with the winger firing a low shot which Pond turned away at the near post.

Chasetown were defending superbly and as the clock ticked into stoppage time a combination of Pond and Harry Cunningham denied substitute Michael Taylor as he looked to go through.

Then came the drama. Platt beat Mansell to the ball but as play continued the Chasetown man was sent flying by McCone and referee Corrigan pointed to the spot, possibly prompted by an assistant’s flag. Langston slammed home the spot-kick to spark wild scenes among the travelling support and anger in the home, with Birch dismissed when he flew through Hayward in an angry finale.

Yeltz (3-5-2): Platt, Morris, McCone, Kelly, Holmes, Finn, Bunn, Hawker (Birch 89), Manning, Lait (Cobourne 60), Gregory (Taylor 71). Subs not used: Evans, Ali.

Scholars (4-1-4-1): Pond, Mansell, Cox, Wynter, Evans, Hayward, Melbourne (Burroughs 77), Langston, O’Callaghan, Butlin Reid (Cunningham 71). Subs not used: Slater, McGinnell, Perry.

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