Spalding’s Gregg Smith smashed home a 75th minute winner to spring a surprise and end Halesowen’s long unbeaten run, writes David Johnson.

Despite being injury-depleted, honest Halesowen manager Paul Smith made no excuses at all. “It was very flat and after a good week we didn’t see that coming. We lost all the individual battles on the pitch and it was not a performance to win leagues.”

Halesowen earned two early corners but it was otherwise a scrappy start to the game. The Tulips gradually eased into action and leading striker Jordan Macleod hit a good chance high over the bar after Toby Scott was dispossessed in the 18th minute.

The Yeltz found it difficult to create chances and had to wait until the 25th minute when goalkeeper Michael Duggan collected Kyle Finn’s looping effort. McKauley Manning’s 32nd minute free-kick then drifted straight through the Spalding penalty area.

Mid-table Spalding created the best chance to date in the 35th minute when the ball was threaded straight through the centre to Macleod, but home goalkeeper Dan Platt raced out to make a superb blocking save.

With the Yeltz continuing to struggle, two more home corners came to nothing and already booked Stefan Broccoli was possibly fortunate to stay on the pitch for Spalding after a challenge on Toby Scott. Halesowen’s best chance of their disjointed first half came when Chris Lait’s 42nd minute curling effort was tipped away by goalkeeper Duggan.

The second period continued in a flat manner from the home side’s perspective as Spalding’s Macleod beat Josh Ezewele in the 51st minute, leaving Paul McCone to make a great block to concede a corner. Three minutes later, Finn ran down the centre but his low shot was easily saved by Duggan as Halesowen struggled to find a breakthrough. Duggan then made a good 63rd minute save after substitute Richard Gregory laid the ball off to fellow substitute Simeon Cobourne.

Macleod forged two more chances for the visitors before the Tulips hit their 75th minute winner when the ball was played across the front edge of the penalty area for Smith to unleash an unstoppable shot down the centre of goal.

Platt made another 80th minute low save near his post from Spalding substitute Ben Seymour-Stove, but the visitors continued to defend well for the final ten minutes with Duggan grabbing the ball under his bar after Cobourne played the ball to Finn. Cobourne was then denied in the last minute with the ball held deep in Spalding’s penalty area.

Final score: Halesowen Town 0 Spalding United 1

Halesowen Town: Dan Platt; Josh Ezewele, McKauley Manning, Toby Scott, Paul McCone (c), Nat Kelly, Chris Lait (Simeon Cobourne 61), Brad Birch (Ahmed Ali 74), Richard Smith, Jack Holmes (Richard Gregory 61), Kyle Finn. Subs Not Used: Dan Brookes, Joe Palmer.

Spalding United: Michael Duggan; Scott Floyd, Gianiuca Bucci, Liam Marshall, Nathan Stanfield, Sam Cartwright, Archie Jones, Stefan Broccoli, Gregg Smith, Jordan Macleod (Chris Ward 89), Ben Starkie (Ben Seymour-Shove 68). Subs Not Used: Abdul Korma, Ryan Flitton.

Referee: Luis Martin                 Attendance: 1076

Booked: Stanfield (22), Broccoli (31), Scott (38), Jones (57), Birch (73), Cartwright (88)

Report submitted by Halesowen Town