Yeltz 0 Rugby 1

19 March 2005

It's been a very disappointing week, with three losses, no goals scored and our place in the playoffs looking a lot less secure. On Saturday we failed to score for the fourth game running and with Rugby getting one in the second half we're now down in 4th place . It's ridiculously close again, with 12th placed Chesham only 5 points behind us with a game in hand, so it's all down to form in the last seven or so games. Hmmm.

On Saturday we host our friends from Gloucester in a game that kicks off early (12.30pm) because of the England game, before a difficult visit on Easter Monday to Merthyr (that's a 3.00pm according to the Southern League website).

Match Report from DJ

Halesowen Town: Taylor; Johnson, Haywood, Preston (Amos 85), Pope, Skidmore (Smith 75), Cowley, Moore (Haarhoff 68), Lamey, Baker, Forsdick. Unused Sub: Cooper.

Rugby United: Beckwith; Moran, Williams, Hart, Herbert, Redgate (Matthews 65), Hall, Dutton, Beard (Douglas 73), Marsden, Squire. Unused Subs: Evans, Shepherd.

Referee: W. Ramsay (Coventry) Attendance: 468 Bookings: None Sponsors' Man of the Match: Simon Forsdick

The second home defeat of the week left Halesowen clinging onto a play-off position by a single point.

A disastrous run of three straight defeats and a goal-drought extending to four games has threatened to spoil a successful season and Halesowen again failed to create anything meaningful in a desperately disappointing first half.

Steve Pope managed the faintest of headers to clear a Jamie Williams cross in the 10th minute with Justin Marsden ready to pounce and two minutes later Danny Hall hit over the bar in a crowded goalmouth as Rugby made a confident start.

With Halesowen struggling to recapture their early season form, visiting goalkeeper Robert Beckwith dropped the ball from Alex Cowley's long throw-in after 17 minutes but recovered to dive on the ball with no Halesowen forward able to take advantage. Lewis Baker and Nathan Lamey then struck half chances wide on 26 minutes and Dave Haywood delivered Halesowen's first corner on 38 minutes but Baker flashed a header across goal.

Rugby finished the first half strongly and created the best chance of the opening period in the 42nd minute when Rory Squire met a right-wing freekick only to see his header rebound off the crossbar. Three minutes later Marsden was then put clear on goal after Karl Johnson lost the ball in midfield but Nicki Preston and Steve Pope defended well to clear the danger.

Chris Taylor collected a 46th minute effort from Craig Dutton from a free-kick before a back-header from Baker crept inches wide at the other end. With the visitors still engineering the better opportunities, Robbie Beard turned well on his return to the Rugby forward-line after a long-term injury but his 54th minute shot from 20 yards drifted just wide and a minute later strike partner Marsden struck the side-netting. On the hour Haywood found Simon Forsdick in the Rugby area but the ball was cleared for a corner as he clipped a shot towards goal.

Jamie WILLIAMS lashed home Rugby's decisive 67th minute goal from the edge of the area off the underside of the crossbar after a cross was only partly cleared to alleviate any lingering relegation worries for the visitors.

The Yeltz livening up late on but still struggled to find a breakthrough despite their urgency. Cowley's 74th minute shot was deflected wide after good work from Forsdick and on 77 minutes a clever Forsdick dummy allowed Haywood to hammer just wide from 25 yards. However, Rugby defended solidly with Pope smashing an 80th minute direct free-kick wide of the mark and on 88 minutes Beckwith saved from Lamey and substitute Jimmy Haarhoff from another long throw-in from Cowley. In the final minute Rugby substitute Dave Pearson's shot flew just over the bar.

Manager Paul Holleran remained in the dressing room with his Halesowen players well after the final whistle in a heart-to-heart session before the vital Easter programme.