Yeltz 1 Grantham 0

19 April 2003

A crucial winner from Les gained all three points in a game we had to win to have any chance of staying up.

It was a difficult day for playing football, with a very strong wind and a hard, dusty pitch making it difficult for both sides. The first half was pretty poor and pretty even, although both teams were battling hard. It was still 0-0 with half the second half gone, so Brendan changed to three up front and in the 71st minute we got a priceless winner when Williams crossed to the near post, Rich flicked it on and Les was at the far post to knock it in. Hurrah!

It was an unbelievably tense finish to the game - we had at least two great chances to clinch it - but eventually it was over in the hardest game to watch I can remember. With Hednesford beating Hinckley and Folkestone beating Hastings we're still in the bottom four but only a point behind with three games left.

So on to Newport on Easter Monday in a game we need to pick up something from. If we can show the fight we did against Grantham, we can take all three. Come On!

Match Report from DJ

Halesowen Town: Clarke; Colwell, Hines, Bauress, Collins (Danks 65), Stone, Williams, Ashby, Leadbeater, Gibson (Spencer 65), Smith. Unused Subs: Trainer, Blackwood, Hateley

Grantham Town: Ziccardi; Hall, George (Wilkins 75), McDaid (Last 81), Speed, Gowshall, Marshall, Bull, Ranshaw, Wenlock (Hallows 79), Wilson. Unused Subs: Bowater, Hawley

Referee: L. Hodson (Nuneaton) Attendance: 501

Halesowen gave themselves a great chance of avoiding the drop by narrowly winning the vital 6-pointer against the fifth from bottom Gingerbreads. Quality football was never high on the agenda with the blustery wind and the perilous league positions of both sides producing a predictably hard-fought scrap.

Straight from the kick-off Grantham goalkeeper Mario Ziccardi raced out to head clear and seconds later Lee Collins robbed Lee Marshall in the Halesowen area. Les Hines then drove over the bar from 20-yards in the 3rd minute. Halesowen won three corners in quick succession without troubling Ziccardi while at the other end Gavin Stone headed a Gary Bull free-kick clear. Collins then headed over his own bar in the 18th minute for the first of four Grantham corner kicks from which Tim Clarke saved a 19th minute Brendan McDaid header. A good left wing cross from Neil Gibson was headed away for a Yeltz corner on 28 minutes which Ziccardi cleared against his own player but Jason Ashby could only chip the loose ball over the bar.

The best chance of the first half fell in the 40th minute when Gibson escaped his marker at the far post to meet a Lee Williams cross but then screwed wide from 10-yards out. A minute later Rick Ranshaw missed a good opportunity for Grantham at the other end.

Halesowen applied early pressure in the second-half and won a 46th minute corner when Ziccardi saved a 25-yard Neil Smith volley. Gavin Stone then forced another corner with Gibson side-stepping his marker to drive inches wide from 20-yards. Grantham's Stuart Wilson flashed a 49th minute header into the side-netting from Bull's corner and on 58 minutes Ranshaw crashed a 20-yard free-kick high over the bar after Gary Bauress had handled on the edge of the box.

HINES hit the crucial winning goal for Halesowen in the 71st minute when he headed home from close range at the far post as Richard Leadbeater headed-on a right-wing cross from Williams. In a tense finish Clarke collected a tame 20-yard shot from Wilson a minute later but it was Halesowen who had the better chances to increase the lead. On 85 minutes Ashby broke down the left and cleverly crossed across goal but the unmarked Leadbeater blasted over the bar from 6 yards out. A minute later Ashby broke again but this time hit straight at Ziccardi. The final whistle brought relief and renewed hope in a game that the result meant much more than the performance.