Express & Star

GALLERY: Halesowen win promotion in extra time thriller

Halesowen secured promotion with a last-gasp stoppage time equaliser and an extra-time winner to turnaround an exhilarating promotion play-off.


Jubilant Yeltz manager Paul Smith reflected on the huge triumph: “It was a tough game, difficult at times, we weren’t at our best but never gave up. I thought it was going away from us as we didn’t capitalise on a good start, it quietened the crowd and it all became very nervous. But somehow we found a way. I’m over the moon for everyone. This has been 4 years in the making.”

Halesowen started with all guns blazing and Spalding goalkeeper Michael Duggan produced three excellent first half saves to keep the Yeltz at bay. A 9th minute 25-yard drive from McKauley Manning was tipped over the bar by Duggan for a corner and Duggan then did well to keep the ball out after Tom Turton placed a low drive towards the bottom corner.

But the Tulips, with a mean defence, weathered the early storm and came into the game when Lewis Hilliard struck just over the bar at the end of a neat 17th minute move.

Strong Spalding spoiled the mood and silenced the bumper home crowd by taking a 38th minute lead when Hilliard’s left-wing corner was headed home directly at the far post by imposing captain Nathan Stainfieldwith Dylan Edge on hand to make sure.

Kieran Donnelly scores to take it to extra time

Towards the interval Spalding’s Duggan made another good save to turn Gregory’s 41st minute header over the bar from Turton’s free-kick.

The visitors proved hard to break down after the interval as Halesowen made a flat start to the second period and it was another Stainfield header that fell just off target from Spalding’s 61st minute corner. The Tulips continued to defend superbly with the visiting goal hardly threatened and they almost increased their lead when Stefan Broccoli struck past the post on a 65th minute break. A bullet header from James Clifton then forced a fine reaction save from home goalkeeper Dan Platt a minute later and Donnelly cleared Sam Cartwright’s header off the line with just four minutes remaining.

There was a remaining late dramatic twist as Halesowen finished with a final flourish and the Tulips wilted. Cobourne cut in to fire over the bar after 87 minutes and substitute Jack Holmes hit the side-netting a minute later. But the Yeltz saved their best for last to snatch an equaliser one minute into the six minutes of added time when a low shot from Holmes was spilled by goalkeeper Duggan and Donnelly was on hand to convert the rebound. Halesowen almost won it in the final minute of added time with substitute Jamie Insall close to turning in Donnelly’s shot.

Caution was the watchword for unlucky Spalding as Halesowen gained the upper hand in the half an hour of extra time and a 98th minute Donnelly drive from 20 yards out rattled the post.

With the game seemingly heading towards a penalty shoot-out, Halesowen found their all important extra-time winner. Holmes weaved his way through the visiting rearguard and although he couldn’t quite beat Duggan, the ball rolled for Insall to tap home in the 112th minute to turn the Grove into a scene of rapturous promotion celebrations.

Halesowen Town: Dan Platt; Josh Ezewele, Josh Quaynor, Tom Turton (Jamie Insall 62), Kieran Morris (c) (Rob Evans 76), Nat Kelly, Kieren Donnelly, Nathan Hayward, Simeon Cobourne, Richard Gregory (Jack Holmes 62), McKauley Manning. Subs Not Used: Oscar Tonge, Jak Hickman.

Spalding United: Michael Duggan; Connor Peters, Sam Warburton, Kyle Barker, Nathan Stainfield (c), Sam Cartwright, Stefan Broccoli, Danny Draper (Archie Jones 103), James Clifton (Elliot Sandy 106), Dylan Edge (Miguel Ngwa 78), Lewis Hilliard. Sub Not Used: Bradley Rolt, Dan Bucciero.

Referee: Elliot Bell Attendance: 3,250

Booked: Peters (59), Donnelly (69), Ngwa (90), Insall (100), Barker (107)

Frustration as Spalding take the lead
Halesowen fans react to Spalding taking the lead
Jamie Insall celebrates his winning goal
Halesowen celebrate Jamie Insall's winning goal
Fans invade the pitch at the final whistle
Fans invade the pitch at the final whistle
Fans invade the pitch at the final whistle
Fans invade the pitch at the final whistle
Fans celebrate with the players
Halesowen's winning side
Fans invade the pitch at the final whistle