Express & Star

Halesowen Town 0 Needham Market 1 - Report

High-flying Needham snatched a late victory after their frugal defence soaked up all Halesowen’s pressure.


Yeltz manager Paul Smith reflected on a bitter pill to swallow. “I feel for the players, we dominated from start to finish. It was a fantastic performance and we won all the personal battles but they’ve done a smash and grab. It’s a tough one to take, but I’m very pleased with the performance. We didn’t get what we deserved but it’s important to take the positives.”

Prior to the kick-off, a one-minute silence was held in remembrance of former manager Paddy Page from the successful 1980s FA Vase era, who passed away recently.

Halesowen made a lively start and Needham goalkeeper Marcus Garnham was forced to clear with his foot when Kieren Donnelly burst forward after just 20 seconds. Nathan Hayward’s 2nd minute shot was then deflected over the bar for a corner and Todd Parker’s effort was blocked a minute later. As the early pressure continued, Josh Ezewele played an excellent forward ball for McKauley Manning to set up Richard Gregory in the 7th minute.

Needham’s first chance saw Jacob Lay fire over the bar in the 10th minute. But the Yeltz continued to enjoy a good first half as Jack Holmes weaved through and threaded the ball for Gregory to strike over the bar after 15 minutes. Holmes made another fine run forward in the 32nd minute, only for his low shot to drift just wide of Garnham’s post as the Yeltz tried to break through the best defence in the league.

The well organised Marketmen ventured forward towards the interval but goalkeeper Dan Platt rushed out to make a great 40th minute blocking save to deny Tevan Allen. The visitors came close in the 43rd minute when Allen delivered a free-kick near the corner flag and the ball fell to Nico Valentine in front of goal but Tom Taylor made an excellent goal-line clearance.

Halesowen continued to construct some excellent approach play in the second half but just could not find the vital breakthrough as the Marketmen’s well organised, frugal defence continued to absorb everything the Yeltz threw at them.

Ezewele turned near the post in the 46th minute but Gregory couldn’t find the net and Holmes did well to earn a 59th minute corner. Another chance went begging in the 80th minute when Donnelly crossed for substitute Miracle Okafor and goalkeeper Garnham gratefully collected from Okafor in the 85th minute after Holmes made a lightning break forward straight from a Needham corner.

But Needham delivered their sucker punch to win the game in the 86th minute when Allen’s corner was flicked on by Luke Ingram for Dan MORPHEW to nod home from close range to break Halesowen’s hearts.

Halesowen Town: Dan Platt (c); Josh Ezewele, Reece Mitchell, Todd Parker, Ryan Wynter, Thomas Taylor, Jack Holmes, Nathan Hayward (Simeon Cobourne 88), Kieren Donnelly, Richard Gregory (Miracle Okafor 65), McKauley Manning (Caine Elliott 75). Subs Not Used: Rob Evans, Isaac Adegoke.

Needham Market: Marcus Garnham; Jake Dye, Thomas Smith, Kyle Hammond, Keiran Morphew, Daniel Morphew, Luke Ingram, Jacob Lay, Jamie McGrath (Seth Carroll-Chambers 75), Nico Valentine (Dylan Williams 75), Tevan Allen. Subs Not Used: Callum Page, Emmanuel Okunowo.

Referee: Thomas Staten Attendance: 809

Booked: Holmes (67), McGrath (71), Allen (90)