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Evo-Stik League Northern Premier Division - Monday, 28th March 2016
Halesowen Town 2 Stourbridge 0
A bumper Bank Holiday attendance of 2,107 watched Halesowen hammer a huge dent in rival Stourbridge's play-off hopes, writes David Johnson.
In a lively, but tense opening, Aaron Griffiths' 2nd minute shot was beaten away by Stourbridge goalkeeper Matthew Gould. Halesowen's first corner of the game, just a minute later, then saw a confrontation between Danny Bragoli and Justin Richards, requiring a stern intervention from the referee.
The Glassboys featured five ex-Yeltz players in their squad and first threatened when a 10th minute long throw-in from Tom Tonks was headed on by Dan Scarr to Karl Hawley, but the ball was cleared on line. There was little evidence of the heavy overnight rain after early morning work on the pitch and the Yeltz went close again after 11 minutes when a long ball forward led to Michael Turner challenging Scarr in front of Gould with the ball ricocheting narrowly wide.
Stourbridge's first corner from Leon Broadhurst after 18 minutes was played back in by Matt Dodd from the left, only for Kristian Green to miss his header at the far post.
The frantic opening calmed somewhat midway through the first half as Bradley Lewis blazed a speculative shot high from 30 yards out.  Stourbridge's Tonks then hit a more promising long range lob from 30 yards but Dan Platt was well positioned to collect.
Jay Denny went close twice for Halesowen before the injured Turner was replaced by Dan Sweeney in the 35th minute.
The game truly burst into life again just before the interval when home substitute SWEENEY fired the Yeltz into a 38th minute lead from just outside the area in his first chance with the ball beating goalkeeper Gould to nestle in the bottom corner.
The Glassboys squandered a glorious chance to level just three minutes later from the penalty spot after Ashley Parsons-Smith fouled Hawley on the turn - but Hawley could only balloon his spot-kick high over the bar. Further Stourbridge chances to equalise went begging before the interval as Scarr's header from a 43rd minute corner was saved on line by Platt's reaction save and the rebound eluded Hawley in front of goal. In first half injury time, Hawley's cross along goal then escaped Matt Dodd at the far post.
Early in the second half, Dodd's 49th minute cross caused confusion between Griffiths and Platt. But Stourbridge's predictable approach play lacked the quality to unlock Halesowen's disciplined defence after the interval and it was Malcolm Melvin who clipped a 57th minute shot at Gould at the opposite end.
After an hour Dodd found Hawley with back to goal just a yard from goal, but the chance was again wasted and Sean Geddes dragged a long shot wide after 63 minutes with the visitors still unable to find their touch in front of goal.
With Halesowen threatening on the break, Sweeney headed onto the net after Bragoli helped on Griffiths's 66th minute corner and Melvin headed just high from Dumitru Chiriac's 70th minute cross. Kaiman Anderson and Sweeney swept forward again directly from a 73rd minute Glassboys' corner to force a corner at the other end in an end to end break and Sweeney headed Anderson's cross wide three minutes later. Stourbridge forced two 77th minute corners after substitute Ashley Vincent's shot was deflected away.
The Yeltz doubled their lead in the 80th minute when but substitute MARADONA marked his home debut by following up to score from the rebound after Gould saved Bragoli's shot from Anderson's lay-off.
Stourbridge continued to be wasteful with Richards nodding over from a yard out and it was Halesowen who went close again in the dying minutes as Gould saved at Sweeney's feet and Chiriac controlled to fire just past the post.  At the final whistle triumphant Halesowen - watched by their highest league attendance since 1990 - celebrated their hard earned win in front of outgoing Chairman Colin Brookes in the Harry Rudge Stand.
Halesowen Town: Dan Platt; Bradley Lewis, Aaron Griffiths, Jay Denny (c), Kyle Morrison, Ashley Parsons-Smith (Dumitru Chiriac 64), Asa Charlton, Danny Bragoli, Kaiman Anderson (George Forsyth 84), Michael Turner (Dan Sweeney 35), Malcolm Melvin. Subs Not Used: Luke Connolly, Luke Male.
Stourbridge: Matthew Gould; Kris Green, Dan Scarr, Sean Geddes, Brian Smikle (Ashley Vincent 64), Stuart Pierpoint (c), Matt Dodd (Chris Lait 69), Leon Broadhurst (George Bowerman 84), Karl Hawley, Justin Richards, Tom Tonks. Subs Not Used: Sam Whittall, Joe Hull.
Referee: Mark Howes
Attendance: 2,107
Booked: Bragoli (16), Griffiths (20), Melvin (68), Lewis (81), Platt (87), Scarr (90)
'Tulleys Print' HTFC Man of the Match selected by Fatboys Fireplaces: Dan Sweeney