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Halesowen Town 1 Dudley Town 2
6:15pm Saturday 25th August 2012 in Football
RION Francis-Mills got the winner as Dudley Town stunned Halesowen Town in the FA Cup.
The substitute pounced on an error by Yeltz skipper Brendan Kelly to fire home 11 minutes from time and send the Robins into the first qualifying round.
Grant Joshua had earlier put the visitors in front from the penalty-spot but Kelly levelled for the hosts with a free-kick.
Ben Haseley and Ben Steane missed golden chances to put the Yeltz ahead before the late drama.
For the Robins this was a huge result for both competitive and financial reasons and this was borne out by the celebrations on the pitch, in the dugout and the director’s box at the final whistle.
For the same reasons, this was a disastrous day for the Yeltz, who were dumped out of the cup at the first hurdle by lower league opposition for the second year running.
But this will hurt much more than last season’s loss at Rocester.
Drawn at home in the preliminary round against a side ranked two levels below them in the West Midlands Premier and with a favourable looking tie awaiting in the next round, this seemed the perfect opportunity to boost the coffers at the Grove. Instead it was a chance wasted.
Dudley lead at half-time after an even first period and then held on after Kelly had levelled early in the second period, finally getting their reward thanks to the clinical Francis-Mills.
Halesowen simply didn’t do enough to hurt the visitors, not least during a quiet first period in which the Robins were given and took the chance to get comfortable.
Nathan Jones fired an early snapshot which visiting keeper Tom Harper did well to hold but otherwise chances at either end were few and far between, until the game sparked into life seven minutes before the break when Dudley were awarded a controversial penalty.
Ant Cox latched onto a neat through ball from Jon Watkins and was felled by onrushing Yeltz keeper Paul Evans, who seemed to get at least part of the ball.
But referee Craig Taylor wasted no time in pointing to the spot and Joshua showed cool nerves to plant his left-footed penalty into the bottom corner past an unmoved Evans.
The Yeltz were suddenly stung into action and Ross Love was required to make an excellent block from Ben Haseley to ensure his side went into the break with the advantage.
There was more brilliant defending on show within 30 seconds of the restart but this time at the other end, as Sam Brooks got back to block from Dreniz Bala after the Robins striker had dawdled on a great chance to make it two.
Halesowen were soon back on the front foot, Craig Milligan shooting just wide from distance but when they did pull level, referee Taylor was again involved.
Love miscontrolled on the edge of his box and the ball hit his hand, Taylor immediately blowing for a free-kick which Kelly lashed hard and low past the wall into the net via the post.
With parity restored, the Yeltz looked favourites to win but for once usually reliable Haseley was struggling to find his radar.
He looked certain to score after beating the visiting defenders to a long ball but with just Harper to beat, fired wide of the post.
The Robins keeper was again the hero when he beat the Yeltz striker to a loose ball, before denying him for a second time with a point blank save following a nice move involving substitutes Jean-Michel Gueyes and Warren Brookes.
As the pressure increased, Haseley failed to make proper contact with an inviting Steane cross and there followed a double miss, as Harper once again denied Haseley before Steane fired the rebound over the bar from ten yards out with the goal gaping.
The cost of those misses became apparent 11 minutes from time. Francis-Mills stole the ball off a dawdling Kelly on the edge of the box and fired his shot first time under the advancing Evans and inside the far post – a beautiful finish on a beautiful day for the visitors.
YELTZ: Evans, Lycett, Caines, Brooks, Kelly, Milligan, Steane, Barnfield (c), Jones (Gueyes 58), Haseley, Griffin (Brookes 58) Subs not used: Smith, Flower, Drake, Mulholland, Huckfield.
Goal: Kelly 53.
ROBINS: Harper, Edmunds, Watkins, Love (Weston 61), Whitley, Cowley (Perry 69), Cox, Milligan, Bala, Joshua (Francis-Mills 53), Gardner Subs not used: Faux, Warner, Arnold, Whittaker.
Goals: Joshua 38 pen, Francis-Mills 79.