MERRY XMAS!

Yeltz 0 Chippenham 1

22 December 2001

The weather was very Christmassy, but the festivities got off to a depressing start as the mighty Yeltz lost 1-0 to promotion rivals Chippenham at a freezing Grove.

It wasn't much of a game in the difficult conditions, although man of the match must have been the Chippenham keeper who made three or four outstanding saves. We had much the better of the first half, and although the second half was more even we didn't really deserve to lose in my completely unbiased opinion.

We're on holiday here at Yeltzland Towers for a few days, so I'm afraid the site (and especially ) will get updated even slower than usual . Despite Saturday's result, things are looking a lot brighter than last Xmas. We are still top of what's admittedly quite a poor league, but Brendan's excellent management has brought a wave of optimism not seen for some time now. We are still and in prime spot to get promoted, so let's not start moaning now.

Have an very Merry Xmas, and let's hope there'll be some happy Christmas jumper wearers at Redditch on Boxing Day.

Match Report from DJ

Halesowen Town: Clarke; Colwell, Burnham, N. Smith, L. Collins, S. Skidmore (G. Smith 77), Spencer, Hall, May, Taylor, R. Collins (Hines 64). Sub: Newall

Chippenham Town: Weaver; Vickerman, Dicks, Andrews, Rudge, Woods, Brown (Mings 89), Charity, Tweddle, Rawlins, Bent (R. Skidmore 90). Sub: Bright

Referee: S. Bratt (Walsall) Attendance: 912

Halesowen dominated with spells of neat passing play but failed to find the net and paid the price when Chippenham scored the winner on the break.

A bumper crowd saw few early chances as both sides slowly came to terms with a rock hard playing surface. Matty Hall swung in a 10th minute corner which Lee Collins headed over and Andy Spencer headed wide two minutes later when he met Richard Colwell's cross. At the other end Neil Smith cleared from Simon Charity after 20 minutes and Steve Brown swung in a dangerous corner which Tim Clarke temporarily lost.

Chippenham caused confusion with James Bent (11) and Steve Brown (7) swapping shirts from the numbers given on the official teamsheet.

Halesowen gradually gained the upper hand and Ross Collins headed over from Mark Taylor's 22nd minute cross. The Yeltz then enjoyed a purple patch before half-time but were kept at bay by the brilliance of Chippenham goalkeeper Steve Weaver and their own failings in front of goal.

Andy Spencer cleverly flicked the ball past the final defender before volleying high in the 32nd minute and seconds later Stuart Skidmore sent in a screaming 35-yard shot that Weaver saved athletically just under the crossbar. With the visitors pinned back, Leroy May met a 34th minute cross from Jason Burnham but his header was blocked on the line. From the resulting corner May headed against the crossbar and in the ensuing goalmouth scramble Neil Smith blasted well over from 8 yards out. Just before the break Matty Hall hit the side netting after good work from May and Spencer and in a rare counter-attack Chippenham's Matt Rawlins saw his 44th minute shot turned away in a crowded home goalmouth.

Weaver had to be alert two minutes into the second half to claw away a shot from Hall which bounced awkwardly off the frozen pitch as Halesowen continued to press with Chippenham content to play for the draw. Clarke beat away a 54th minute freekick from Grantley Dicks and Hall headed Richard Colwell's cross wide when well placed.

Disaster struck for Halesowen in the 70th minute when the visitors grabbed an unlikely winner after May allowed Nathan Rudge to head back across goal from a wide angle and hitman Rawlins had the simple task of beating Clarke from five yards out. Chippenham held onto their important winner although Weaver had to make a great save to deny substitute Gary Smith who turned in the box after being put through by Hall three minutes from time.