Happy home manager Paul Smith said he was “delighted by a much improved performance as well as the result. We controlled large parts of the game and could’ve scored many more goals in the second half.” Nat Kelly also made an impressive debut at the heart of the home defence.
The Yeltz were gifted an early goal when Cambridge goalkeeper Daniel George made a terrible slip, watched by his captain Jordan Gent, allowing birthday boy Brad BIRCH to tap into an empty net for his first-ever Halesowen goal.
Rob Evans put Birch free to cross from the right after 15 minutes but the ball was cleared and a 25 yard shot from Kyle Finn was turned away by George two minutes later as the hosts started brightly. Richard Gregory was then blocked in the 18th minute after Chris Lait crossed from the left. With Halesowen creating plenty of chances, George held onto a low shot at the end of a weaving 24th minute run from Jack Holmes and Lait’s low shot was easily collected in the 29th minute. Jared Robson’s dangerous 31st minute cross came to nothing for mid-table Cambridge.
GREGORY doubled Halesowen’s lead in the 33rd minute when he side-stepped his last marker to turn and slot home calmly after Finn squared the ball from the left. As the Lilywhites tried to venture forward, Paul McCone made a vital 35th minute clearance and Ryan Ingrey then headed over the bar in the 39th minute.
Birch missed a great chance to increase the lead in the 40th minute when he was set free by Toby Scott’s quickly taken free-kick, but he failed to beat goalkeeper George in a one-on-one and just before the interval Holmes fired another chance wide.
At the start of the second half Robson screwed wide for the visitors and home goalkeeper Dan Platt collected from Jonas Kalonda, but it was Lait who rattled the Cambridge crossbar in front of goal after an hour.
Any Cambridge hopes were lost when the visitors were reduced to ten men in the 61st minute by Maximillion Ryan’s second yellow card. Halesowen could easily have added further goals but substitute Simeon Cobourne blazed over the bar in the 74th minute and was ruled offside a minute later after turning home a rebound. A 79th minute low Lait shot was tipped around the post for a corner by George and Lait fired wide again three minutes later. In the final minute another good chance from Cobourne was turned away for corner.
Halesowen Town: Dan Platt; Rob Evans, Lewis Wright, Toby Scott, Paul McCone (c) Nat Kelly, Jack Holmes (Harry White 77), Bradley Birch (Josh Hawker 77), Chris Lait, Richard Gregory (Simeon Cobourne 64), Kyle Finn. Subs Not Used: Dan Brookes, Ahmed Ali.
Referee: Neil Pratt Attendance: 754