Yeltz 2 Havant 2

26 April 2001

Only two games left now, and we're still tenaciously clinging on to that bottom place. In a typical home result, we could only get a 2-2 draw against a Havant team who have been playing every other day for weeks. All I know so far is that our goals were from old blokes Dennis Bailey and Ricky Otto.

Saturday is the last away game of the season down in the big smoke at Fisher. I don't think there'll be any of the usual fancy dress stuff going on, but I'm sure a good time will be had by all. If we can win we'll go above Fisher, and obviously the higher we finish the more likely we are of being saved by some reorgainsational fiddle, so it's slightly important we get the three points. Just to make it clear though, there's no sign of any of the potential promoted teams having any problems.

Match Report from James

On paper a 2-2 draw on Thursday may have looked like a poor result against a side playing virtually every other day. However, what you would not have seen unless you were there was an entertaining Halesowen side which passed the ball with accuracy and speed. After an accurate, if slow, shot from Denis Bailey from about 15 yards out across the keeper, Halesowen took a deserved lead in the first half only to see the ghost of poor defending leave them open to a sloppy equaliser. A lofted cross to the far post was left alone by the static Halesowen defence who unanimously looked like they had assumed the ball was going out. When a Havent player nipped in to head the ball back across the front of goal the Halesowen defence were in no position to react and Sidaway was given no chance to save the resulting shot. Halesowen continued to play good passing football, bypassing aerial threat of the experiencd Liam Daish in the centre of the Havent defence by generally playing the ball on the ground (a pleasant change from the usual mode of playing this year!).

The second half saw the replacement of Neil Smith and Jason Owen with Michael Crawford and Phil Wood. The contribution of Neil Smith just in front of the back four can often be overlooked and I have been among his critics in the past but his absence in the second half, and to a lesser extent the disruption to the back four with the loss of Jason Owen, resulted in Halesowen struggling to put together the passing game they employed with such ease and confidence in the first half. Having said that even when Havent took the lead with a well executed goal it was virtually the first time this season that I can remember feeling that we could come back from being a goal down and get something from a game. For most of the second half Halesowen resorted to floating high balls down the centre of the pitch towards Baily and the improving Spencer, the Havent defence led by Daish dealt with this effectively and stifled the majority of Halesowen's attacking play. In the last fifteen minutes of the game Halesowen returned to the passing game displayed in the first half and with about ten minutes to go won a free kick on the right hand side about midway between the box and the halfway line. Phil Wood hit an angled cross which fell to Ricky Otto (who with each game looks like he is enjoying playing even more) inside the box who, with three Havent defenders closing in on him rapidly, calmly controlled the ball and fired it home.

For the last few minutes of the game there were cries from the crowd for Halesowen to push on and score a winner - I can't remember the last time there were shouts like that with any degree of belief about them. When the whistle blew there were more smiling faces than signs of depression amongst the crowd and the players went off to applause rather than the all too familiar silence which has greeted the end of so many depressing games this year. One swallow doesn't make a summer but this was an entertaining performance with some glimpses of some fine football from Halesowen. There were many plus points and in particular the kicking and distribution of Matt Sidaway in goal and the running and tenacity of Spencer in attack. While you can argue that the opposition was in no state for this game do not let that detract from a display of good football and spirit from Halesowen.