DOWN TO THE WIRE
Newport 1 Yeltz 1
21 April 2003
We're still fighting for our Premier Division lives with a battling 1-1 draw at Newport. A late goal from Jason means we're still in the bottom four , and with Grantham beating Hinckley it's the latter who are the team to catch now.
The strugglers' fixtures are:
Obviously 3 points against Folkestone on Saturday are more or less essential, but it's all very close and you would hope two wins would make us safe.
Before then, it's the second leg of the Worcester Senior Final at Evesham on Wednesday, where hopefully our 2-0 lead will be enough to clinch the trophy.
Match Report from DJ
Newport County: Wesson; C. Collins, Benton, Clark, Perry (Dupres 21), Fowler, Rose, Dimond, Plant (Dickeson 79), Shephard (Davis 24), Davies. Unused Subs: Stevenson, Fox
Halesowen Town: Hateley; Colwell, Hines, Bauress (Danks 58), L. Collins, Stone, Williams, Ashby, Leadbeater (Blackwood 79), Gibson (Trainer 73), Smith. Unused Subs: Spencer, Clarke
Referee: K. Buller (Bridgwater) Attendance: 604 Booked: Williams (89)
Halesowen kept the relegation battle bubbling to the end of the season with a fully deserved point at Newport.
There was a blow before the kick-off when goalkeeper Tim Clarke failed to show up on time after failing to do his geographical homework. Despite eventually arriving to take a place on the substitute's bench Clarke will have suffered the disciplinary consequences as well as the damage to his reputation.
Playing conditions again proved difficult in a swirling wind on the hard surface and in the first minute Newport's Matt Rose hit a half-volley just wide. Neil Gibson won an eighth minute corner for Halesowen but Billy Clark headed behind for a second Halesowen corner kick.
Reserve goalkeeper Gary Hateley made an all-round competent performance punching a 12th minute corner from Michael Fowler clear and then made a fine save low down from Steve Benton's 16th minute bobbling shot. However, Hateley could not prevent the unmarked Billy CLARK from simply heading home the resulting 19th minute corner from Kristian Dimond.
Halesowen responded well and in the 21st minute Gibson was put through but Rose intervened in the box. Lee Williams then played a neat one-two but his cross was taken out by goalkeeper Gareth Wesson. Steve Benton hit a 28th minute dipping shot over Hateley's bar but the Yeltz continued to create chances playing against the wind. Substitute Josh Dupres blocked when Richard Leadbeater turned to shoot in the area on 34 minutes and five minutes later Leadbeater then shot straight at Wesson. Three minutes before half-time Gibson appealed for a penalty after going down in the box from Neil Smith's cross and on the stroke of half-time Richard Colwell broke down the right to cross for Williams to strike over the bar.
The Yeltz continued to assert themselves in the second period although Raith Plant burst through from the left for the Exiles on 48 minutes beating Gary Bauress before hitting wide. Wesson then beat away a 52nd minute corner from Williams and saved a quickly taken free-kick from the same player two minutes later. Williams made a crucial interception on Rose at the other end in a Newport breakaway on the hour as the game opened up with Halesowen going for goal. Jason Ashby latched onto a long Lee Collins ball on 61 minutes but lobbed just high from 25 yards and five minutes later Stone headed a Les Hines corner kick just high. Substitute Mark Danks shot at Wesson on 74 minutes and five minutes from full time Wesson made a fine save from Michael Blackwood's free kick from the edge of the area.
Halesowen's hard work was justifiably rewarded two minutes from time when a long Stone throw-in found its way to Hines and although his shot was blocked the ball fell for ASHBY to prod home against a static home defence.