Halesowen’s FA Cup dreams ended after incisive Enfield struck two first half goals and mounted a determined rearguard action to thwart the Yeltz, writes David Johnson.

Yeltz Manager Paul Smith addressed the disappointment. “We played well but they’ve done a smash and grab raid on us and defended brilliantly. We stayed patient, but credit to them, we weren’t sharp enough to cause them problems. Defensively, it was not good enough - we’ve given sloppy goals away. We’ve missed a big opportunity here today.”

It was an intriguing contest against the Isthmian Premier League visitors with both sides theoretically playing at the same level of the pyramid structure.

The Towners started like a train and were quickly out of the blocks to take an early lead. Mikey Parcell made a robust challenge to win the ball on the right and ever-threatening Marcus Wyllie just failed to convert his first minute cross. Louis Birch’s cross was then turned away but James RICHMOND powered home a free header from Oliver Knight’s resulting corner to give Enfield a 3rd minute lead.

The Yeltz gradually settled and George Cater ran into the area to win an 8th minute corner. Reece Mitchell soon crossed along goal and Cater also fired over the bar after 16 minutes from Todd Parker’s incisive cross.

Halesowen equalised after 18 minutes through a brilliant individual goal from Jack HOLMES who sidestepped his defenders on the edge of the area and then twisted the other way to curl a superb shot past goalkeeper Rhys Forster. A 23rd minute long range shot from Holmes was then collected by Forster.

But Enfield continued to look dangerous going forwards and Mitchell had to make a fine recovering tackle to stop Wyllie who was clear on goal after 27 minutes. Wyllie was again in space just a minute later but was again blocked in the area.

For Halesowen, Holmes scooped the ball onto Luke Redfern after 33 minutes, but his shot was blocked for a corner by Joe Payne. Cater then burst forward in a mazy run from midfield but Forster held onto his final low shot.

Enfield regained the lead in the 41st minute after Knight delivered an incisive cross from the left and picked out WYLLIE to finish superbly. In the final minute of the first half, Cater cut in from the left and Forster produced a flying save to turn the ball onto the top of the crossbar.

After the break Enfield defended their lead well in depth as Halesowen huffed and puffed to try to find a breakthrough in vain. After forcing two corners, McKauley Manning’s 57th minute long range effort was parried away by Forster and Forster then tipped Cater’s 59th minute shot onto the bar.

In-form Forster then collected a 67th minute shot from home substitute Richard Gregory. With time running out for the Yeltz, Holmes managed to find an inch of space in a crowded area to unleash a great shot, but once again Forster pushed the ball away after 83 minutes.

Substitute Ryan Boothe fired just over the bar in the 89th minute as Halesowen’s FA Cup dreams slipped away.

Final score: Halesowen Town 1 Enfield Town 2

Halesowen Town:  Dan Platt (c); Jak Hickman, Reece Mitchell, Todd Parker, Ryan Wynter, Luke Redfern, George Cater (Kieren Donnelly 60), Caine Elliott (Richard Gregory 60), Miracle Okafor, Jack Holmes, McKauley Manning (Ryan Boothe 78). Subs Not Used: Kieran Morris, Josh Ezewele, Josh Hawker, Nathan Hayward.

Enfield Town: Rhys Forster; Mikey Parcell, Joe Payne, Scott Thomas (c), Kyle Bailey, James Richmond, Louis Birch (Dylan Adjei-Hersey 75), Sam Youngs, Oliver Knight, Marcus Wyllie, Reece Beckles-Richards (Josh Keeya 63). Subs Not Used: Adi Connolly; Ekow Coker, Gucci Souiha-Osekanongo, Sami Bessadi, Obi Onyeagwara.

Referee: Jack Hill                     Attendance: 1,130

Booked: Birch (70), Forster (90), Okafor (90)

Tulleys Print HTFC Man of the Match, selected by the HTFC Vice-Presidents: George Cater

Non-League Paper Man of the Match: Rhys Forster (Enfield)