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Halesowen Town 3 Gresley 0
A ROUSING second half display helpes Halesowen Town past Gresley in the FA Trophy.
The visitors enjoyed the better of a disappointing first half and came closest to taking the lead when Richard Hanslow hit the post.
But the Yeltz came roaring back after the break and went ahead through Ben Haseley.
Two late Luke Corbett penalties sealed the win while the visitors also had defender Jordi Gough sent off.
The red card came after the award of the first penalty and was either for dissent or through mistaken identity, as referee Craig Taylor took centre stage in the closing minutes.
Already well known to Yeltz fans after giving Dudley Town a controversial spot kick in their FA Cup win at the Grove last month, the official had minutes earlier waved play on when home skipper Neil Barnfield was taken out by visiting keeper Gary Hateley but then mystifyingly pointed to the spot after Ben Haseley went down under pressure from defender Dan Douglas.
The contact appeared minimal and drew no appeal from the Yeltz striker but Taylor’s decision provoked plenty of ire from opposition players, management and fans.
Corbett hammered home the spot-kick to end any hopes of a Gresley comeback though in truth that already looked unlikely and the referee’s antics should not detract from a fine second half performance from the hosts.
Watched by new manager John Hill, they were deserved winners as Colin Brookes, Pete Denham and Neil Barnfield signed off their excellent caretaker spell in style.
Barnfield certainly delivered on the pitch as well as the dressing room, taking a game which had been drifting in the first half by the scruff of the neck in the second.
Gresley were left wondering where it all went wrong after they began to dominate in the final 15 minutes of the first period, following an opening half hour which was largely forgettable save for both sides making enforced substitutions – midfielder Ben Steane going off for Halesowen while defender Michael Nottingham departed for the visitors.
Marc Goodfellow fizzed a shot wide of Paul Evans’ upright as Gresley began to find more space, while the Yeltz began to look shaky at the back.
Evans was nearly left embarrassed after he came rushing out to clear and only succeeding in giving the ball to James Jepson, who rushed his attempt to find the open net from 20 yards out and could only shoot well over the bar.
Moments later Barnfield presented Hanslow with a golden opportunity after giving the ball away but Evans redeemed his earlier effort, narrowing the angle and blocking the striker’s shot.
Hanslow was then inches away from breaking the deadlock with what would be a fine goal. His first touch brought down a long punt from Goodfellow and shook off the attentions of Brendan Kelly, while his second sent a shot crashing off the upright.
Halesowen’s best chance of the half fell to Haseley but he uncharacteristically blazed over after a series of ricochets left him with just Hateley to beat.
Quite what was said at half-time in the home dressing room we will never know but it had the desired effect as the Yeltz kicked off the second period with far more intent.
Corbett had already sent a header just wide and Craig Milligan a shot blocked before Haseley broke the deadlock just past the hour mark.
Years from now, fans will describe strikes like this as a trademark Haseley goal. Nathaniel Caines launched a long ball over the top and the striker was quickest to react, showing strength to hold off the attentions of Douglas before sending a neat finish past Hateley with the outside of his right foot and inside the far post.
The Yeltz were now rampant and both Ben Smith and Jean Gueyes forced the visiting keeper into smart saves. Gueyes should then really have made it two but shot wide after being put through by Haseley, who then also played in Corbett only to see the same result.
Then came the first moment of controversy, as Barnfield was brought down in the box by the increasingly kamikaze Hateley. But to the disbelief of almost all 262 spectators, referee Taylor waved play on.
Eight minutes later he did point to the spot, once more provoking the mass raising of eyebrows with the decision and the subsequent dismissal of Gough. Once Corbett had despatched the penalty it was game over and Gresley mentally checked out, allowing the striker to add a third with three minutes to play when Milligan was brought down and Taylor once again had the chance to perfect his hand signals.
YELTZ: Evans, Lycett, Caines, Brooks, Kelly, Milligan (Oatley 87), Steane (Smith 23), Barnfield (c), Corbett, Haseley (Evans 82), Gueyes Subs not used: Powell, Flower.
Goals: Haseley 61, Corbett 81, 87 both pens.
GRESLEY: Hateley, Barrett, Gough, Strzyzewski, Nottingham (Douglas 18), Langford (Lyons 70), White (Spencer 85), Jepson, Oliver, Hanslow, Goodfellow Subs not used: Turville, Massingham.