Second-placed Halesowen reeled off a fifth straight victory after taking a three goal lead at the interval and finally overcoming fifth-placed Stamford in a feisty five-goal thriller, writes David Johnson.

Paul Smith admitted he was “a proud Halesowen manager after a tough but good game of football. We were brilliant in the first half in a complete performance with great desire and work-rate. It was a deserved win, although tense towards the end.”

At the start of a game of high intensity, Richard Gregory put two early half-chances just wide - firstly from Simeon Cobourne’s first-minute ball in to the near post and then when stretching to meet McKauley Manning’s ball from the right in the 3rd minute.

But the Yeltz soon took control with two goals within a four minute spell. COBOURNE danced and wriggled down the left wing to the by-line and managed to beat goalkeeper Daniel Haystead from an acute angle after six minutes. GREGORY then doubled the lead with his superb 9th minute volley beating Haystead from 20 yards out.

New home goalkeeper signing Andrew Wycherley tipped Jake Duffy’s fierce 11th minute free-kick over the bar and Wycherley did well to grab the resulting corner with confidence. As the fast and furious pace continued, Rob Evans made an outstanding 13th minute tackle in the penalty area when Tendai Chitza was ready to pull the trigger at the end of a good move from the Daniels.

As the action continued, Gregory’s header was cleared off the Stamford line and home defender Nat Kelly did well to clear for a Stamford corner in the 26th minute.

The game became increasingly ill-tempered as the first half progressed but Halesowen had the better of the tough battle and made it 3-0 in the 43rd minute when MANNING curled the ball across goalkeeper Haystead into the corner of the net.

At the start of the second period Kelly made another terrific block to deny Harry Vince on the edge of the penalty area before the Daniels pulled a goal back in the 56th minute when James HICKS slid home past Wycherley after Jack Duffy flicked on with a header. Visiting captain Michael Armstrong flashed a 58th minute shot wide and Cobourne blasted wide at the other end three minutes later. As the game entered its final stages, Stamford goalkeeper beat the ball away from Cobourne’s shot from the left and Cobourne then fired a 77th minute low shot just wide.

Stamford made it a nervous final few minutes for the Yeltz by reducing the arrears further with a cheeky second goal in the 87th minute when substitute Rodrigo GONCALVES diverted a ball from the right into the corner of the net with a clever back-heel flick.

Final score: Halesowen Town 3 Stamford AFC 2 

Halesowen Town: Andrew Wycherley; Rob Evans, Lewis Wright, Josh Hawker, Paul McCone (c), Nat Kelly, Chris Lait (Joe Palmer 65), McKauley Manning, Simeon Cobourne, Richard Gregory (Richard Smith 68), Kyle Finn (Ahmed Ali 78). Subs Not Used: Toby Scott, Jack Holmes.

Stamford AFC: Danny Haystead; Michael Armstrong (c), Connor Bartle, Harry Vince, Joe Burgess (Jamie Chisholm 73), James Blunden, Tendai Chitiza, Jake Duffy (Rodrigo Goncalves 81), Jack Duffy, James Hicks (Jon Challinor 68), Cosmos Matwasa. Sub Not Used: Michael Frew.

Referee: Jamie Conde Attendance: 934 Booked: Jake Duffy (16), Hawker (35), Jack Duffy (35), Armstrong (73), Finn (75) ‘Tulleys Print’ HTFC Man of the Match selected by Darren, Will and Eva Burke: McKauley Manning

Report submitted by Halesowen Town FC