6:24pm Saturday 12th April 2014
Halesowen Town 1, Loughborough Dynamo 0
HALESOWEN'S title chances looked to be petering out until a moment of magic from midfielder Tom Tonks gave them a crucial win against Loughborough.
As the season draws to its conclusion and the Yeltz continue to fight for top spot, it seemed as if the occasion might have got the better of the home side.
That was until Tonks found space 25 yards out and hit a rocket into the bottom corner to keep his side firmly in the title hunt.
A stuttering start at The Grove helped Loughborough settle the better of the two teams.
They had some joy down the right hand side through lively wide-man Luke Smithson and the clever runs of forward Nathan Watson.
It was also Halesowen's keeper Matt Sargeant that was the busier in the early exchanges. He was called upon to deny Smithson's long range effort after the winger cut in from the right.
Town's strike duo of Haseley and Christie put efforts just wide of the Loughborough post in what was otherwise an underwhelming first period.
The second half started much the same as the first. On 49 minutes, it was Smithson again that got clear of the defence and was presented with the best chance of the match, only for Sargeant to smother his effort.
The Yeltz midfield constantly found it hard to get on the ball and the game went flat mid-way through the second half as the home team's title chances seemed like they were ebbing away.
Halesowen were either going to need a slice of luck or a moment of magic if they were to pick up all three points from what was proving a frustrating contest for the hundreds that turned up for what they hope will be the last home game of the season.
That will be the case if Town go on to bag top spot and avoid having to play again in the play-offs.
They got their magic moment when Tonks found space outside the area and made no mistake with his well-directed strike as the game went into the last 10 minutes.
Hales had to overcome some nervy moments as Loughborough pushed forwards for an equaliser but held on for a vital win, which was made all the more important due to rivals Leek dropping points away to Scarborough Athletic.
Halesowen: Sargeant, Green, Charlton, Mackenzie (Gueyes 79), Hull (c), Tilt, Griffiths, Tonks, Christie (Turner 73), Haseley, Botfield (Danks 73).
Unused subs: Kelly, Pearson.
Loughborough: Pycock, Phesant, Gent, Attenborough, Betts (c), Williams, Smithson, Langham, Watson, Bowles (Westcarr 83).
Subs: Norris, Parkinson, Morris, Harley.
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