STILL ALL TO PLAY FOR
Folkestone 2 Yeltz 2
26 April 2003
Well it's all going down to the last game, but it's not looking great. Failure to beat Folkestone means we're very close to being relegated for the second time in three seasons.
It was a very disappointing game - see DJ's report for full details - but that's gone now so let's concentrate on one last effort next week. It's pretty clear now what has to happen: we'll stay up if we win at Grantham lose at home to Moor Green, or if they draw we need to win by three goals. Not impossible, but obviously it's out of our hands now.
Before that, we take a 2-1 lead to Crawley in the League Cup Final Second Leg. It's a real shame that we can't concentrate on this a bit more, but frankly it's a distraction before Saturday's showdown.
Match Report from DJ
Folkestone Invicta: Munden; Everitt, Larkin, Lindsey, Henry, Guest (Towse 21), Chandler, Chambers, Ayling (Maxwell 90), Blackman, Millar. Unused Sub: Morris
Halesowen Town: Clarke; Colwell (Gibson 80), Hines, Stone, Collins, Burnham (Spencer HT), Williams, Ashby, Leadbeater (Danks HT), Blackwood, Smith. Unused Subs: Trainer, Hateley
Referee: M. O'Keefe (Orpington) Attendance: 351
Halesowen's survival hopes were left hanging on a mathematical thread after only managing a draw against already relegated and rock-bottom Folkestone.
The game itself mirrored Halesowen's season - a slow start, some improvement, another slump in the middle followed by a strong finish that was not quite enough to undo the earlier damage.
In a cagey opening Richard Leadbeater headed on a long Jason Burnham throw in the 10th minute but Michael Blackwood volleyed straight at veteran goalkeeper Maurice Munden. Lee Blackman ran down the left for Folkestone in the 13th minute but Tim Clarke cleared for a corner and on 22 minutes Lee Williams volleyed over the bar from the edge of the box for Town. A minute later John Ayling raced into the area but Clarke made a fingertip save to earn the hosts a corner. Halesowen immediately broke up the field and Williams threaded the ball for Les Hines to strike the legs of Munden. Hines then hit a 25th minute free-kick from 18 yards straight at Munden.
Folkestone took the lead from the penalty spot on 27 minutes with Martin CHANDLER blasting past Clarke after Gavin Stone was harshly penalised for pushing Blackman. Halesowen were awarded a penalty of their own just six minutes later when Blackwood burst into the area and was tugged back by Michael Everitt. Munden saved Les HINES' spot-kick by diving to his left but the ball rebounded for the full-back to follow-up and equalise.
However, the goal failed to lift the Yeltz and they fell behind again in the 38th minute through sloppy defending with Chambers and Ayling exchanging a series of passes to set up James MILLAR to clip past Clarke from 6 yards. Two minutes before the break Clarke collected another chip from Millar after Ayling played the ball into Blackman.
Halesowen made two half-time substitutions and stepped up a gear in the second half, looking hungry for a win. Clarke raced off his line to clear from Folkestone's Ayling after Halesowen won an early free-kick and corner. Dan Larkin then turned a Hines cross for a 51st minute corner with the ball bouncing off Danks and falling just over the bar. Munden then fumbled an overhead kick from Blackwood in the 52nd minute with Ashby chipping the resulting corner just high.
ASHBY levelled for the second time for Halesowen in the 54th minute when he latched onto a long ball from Williams that was missed by Anthony Henry to slide the ball past Munden and slot into the net.
That set up a final half-hour of pressure with Folkestone's backs to the wall as Halesowen poured forward in search of a vital win. Williams hit a 65th minute free-kick over the bar and Munden saved a down-header from Stone in the 70th minute. A minute later Munden saved a Lee Collins header from a corner kick but Chambers broke down the other end to set up Millar to strike inches wide of Clarke's post in the 78th minute.
In an increasingly frantic finish Ashby cut in to hit wide on 80 minutes and Blackwood forced an 85th minute corner after Andy Spencer won the ball in his own box and played a long ball forward. Larkin headed a Collins header off the line on 86 minutes and in injury time Halesowen's final flourish saw them win three consecutive corners with two headed efforts from Collins and Stone cleared off the Folkestone goal-line.
With the Yeltz failing to find the elusive winning goal and Hinckley winning at Tivvy, Halesowen must beat Chippenham and hope that Grantham slip up at home to Moor Green on the final Saturday in order to preserve their Premier division status.