A first-half brace from Miracle Okafor steered Halesowen to victory in their pre-season friendly over Northern Premier League Midlands newcomers Walsall Wood just a week ahead of the new Southern League Premier Central campaign, writes David Johnson.

Manager Paul Smith was in an upbeat mood as he summarised the pre-season.

He said: “We‘ve changed the squad around, adding nine new lads and keeping nine in a rebuild. We’re not the finished article yet but I’ve seen lots of pleasing stuff so far.

"They’re all challenging for their shirts. Leiston finished third last season, so next week’s first game will be a huge task, but one we’re excited about.”

Lively Halesowen took the lead after just 7 minutes through a sublime finish from Miracle OKAFOR who picked up McKauley Manning’s cross from the left and took a couple of neat touches to turn and beat goalkeeper Kieron Boucher.

Walsall Wood then almost put through their own goal in the 16th minute and Manning fired a 25th minute cross from Jack Holmes over the bar.

Influential Manning’s low shot from the left was blocked after 36 minutes and another Manning shot with the outside of his left boot was saved by Boucher five minutes later.

The Yeltz doubled the lead right on the stroke of half-time at the end of another smart move after Holmes advanced down the left and Jak Hickman’s shot was saved, but OKAFOR was on hand to turn home his second goal.

With Halesowen in control, home goalkeeper Dan Platt remained untroubled in the first period.

Just after the interval, a 47th minute shot from Josh Hawker drifted just wide but, after the usual batch of pre-season friendly substitutions, the visitors enjoyed a more equal share of the second-half chances.

A 59th minute effort from Kevin Monteiro landed on top of the net and Platt made a good save by beating the ball away from Owen Watkins. For Halesowen, Jack Byrne put the ball just wide from a right-wing cross and Alex Smith cleared another Yeltz effort off the line. Late on, Platt made another good 82nd minute save after Watkins met a through ball from Kaden May and at the other end Caine Elliott’s header from Jac Redhead’s cross was saved by Boucher.

Halesowen Town (First Half): Dan Platt (c); Josh Ezewele, Reece Mitchell, Josh Hawker, Ryan Wynter, Player A, Jak Hickman, Todd Parker, Miracle Okafor, Jack Holmes, McKauley Manning. Second Half Subs: Kieren Donnelly, George Cater, Caine Elliott, Jac Redhead, Jack Byrne, Nathan Hayward, Ryan Boothe.

Walsall Wood: Kieron Boucher; Liam Riley-Stewart, Alex Smith, Tyreace Brown, Carter Lycett, Joe Fitzpatrick, Kevin Monteiro (c), Alex Bradley, Kaden May, Hayden Purves, Owen Watkins. Subs: Phil McKerdy, Sam Unitt, Daniel Gyasi, Jordan Clarke.

Final score: Halesowen Town 2 Walsall Wood 0

Attendance: 586