Chasetown triumphed with two late goals in the showdown between two of the top three teams, writes David Johnson.

Halesowen manager Paul Smith didn’t hide away from the disappointing defeat and conceded “we were beaten by the better side and Chasetown deserved their win. I take responsibility for the wrong team selection, but the line-up should’ve been good enough to win the game. We now need to find a way back to form.”

It was all square at the break with few clear chances in a nervy, first period as both title-chasing sides cancelled each other out.

Chasetown won an early corner delivered by Kris Taylor in the swirling wind but Halesowen managed to scramble the ball clear. Halesowen’s leading scorer Richard Gregory then launched a speculative shot over the Chasetown bar from the halfway line.

Home defender Paul McCone did well to tidy up in the 24th minute after Joey Butlin threaded the ball through to Liam Kirton in the penalty area and Taylor’s 26th minute free-kick then drifted through the Halesowen area.

With Richard Gregory looking isolated up front for Halesowen, the home side had to wait until the 30th minute for goalkeeper Curtis Pond to be tested by Kyle Finn’s 25 yard shot. An excellent 31st minute move involving Finn and Brad Birch then ended with McKauley Manning’s low shot being saved by Pond.

Chasetown’s Oli Hayward turned to fire at goalkeeper Dan Platt in the 32nd minute before both Finn and Manning struck long range efforts wide for Halesowen. The Scholars went close to taking a narrow lead after 39 minutes when Paul McCone’s clearance found its way out to captain Danny O’Callaghan and he placed his shot just inches wide with Platt rooted to his line.

Halesowen improved in the first part of the second half and finally forced their first corner in the 52nd minute. Manning did well a minute later to set up Gregory but his low shot from a wide angle was saved by Pond. Home substitute Jack Holmes then took on the visiting defence in the 58th minute to fire a low shot at Pond. It was no surprise that Gregory was behind Halesowen’s best chance of the game when his 64th minute shot forced a fine save from Pond.

With the game seemingly drifting to stalemate, Chasetown took all three points with two late goals. A 72nd minute corner could only be cleared to Joey BUTLIN and his low shot from the edge of the area beat unsighted home goalkeeper Platt to find the net.

Chasetown soon doubled their lead in the 82nd minute following a dreadful defensive misunderstanding between Yeltz defender Nat Kelly and goalkeeper Platt when clearing the ball, leaving KIRTON with the simple task of slotting the ball into an empty net.

Halesowen were unable to respond as Chasetown comfortably held onto their crucial win to stay level with Ilkeston at the top of the table, while the Yeltz now fall three points off the pace.

Halesowen Town: Dan Platt; Rob Evans (Lewis Wright 64), Josh Ezewele, Kieran Morris (Michael Taylor 73), Paul McCone (c), Nat Kelly, Josh Hawker, Brad Birch (Jack Holmes 57), Kyle Finn, Richard Gregory, McKauley Manning. Subs Not Used: Chris Lait, Richard Smith.

Chasetown: Curtis Pond; Josh Mansell, Jordan Evans, Kris Taylor, Ryan Wynter, Oli Hayward, Liam Kirton, Jack Langston (Mitch Botfield 85), Joey Butlin (Kyle Perry 90), Danny O’Callaghan (c), Benjamin Lund (Dilano Reid 90). Subs Not Used: Luke McGinnell, Zack Foster.

Final score: Halesowen Town 0 Chasetown 2

Referee: Harry Warner             Attendance: 1,727

Booked: McCone (77)

‘Tulleys Print’ HTFC Man of the Match selected by ACE Embroidery: Paul McCone

Report submitted by Halesowen Town