Leading Yeltz striker Miracle Okafor fired a fine hat-trick against Sudbury to put Halesowen back up to second-place in the league table, writes David Johnson.

Yeltz manager Paul Smith was quick to praise the opponents. “First of all, credit to Sudbury, they’re a young side but a very good outfit. I feel for them. We worked hard with good substitutes in a workmanlike performance”.

Asked about hat-trick hero Okafor, Smith said “There are not enough good words for Miracle, he was brilliant again today with three good finishes and he could’ve had two more. In our first season back in this division we’re doing really well.”

It was the first meeting against AFC Sudbury after the club was formed from one of Halesowen’s previous opponents Sudbury Town.

Halesowen were almost caught cold when Romario Dunne slotted wide of an open goal in the 2nd minute following confusion in the home defence. Sudbury soon paid the price when Okafor was put through in the 10th minute and although his first attempt was saved by James Bradbrook, OKAFOR followed up to put the Yeltz ahead.

Kieren Donnelly went close from George Cater’s 15th minute cross and Bradbrook then collected from Kieren Morris after Ryan Wynter headed on from a corner a minute later.

OKAFOR doubled Halesowen’s lead from the penalty spot in the 19th minute by slotting to the left of Bradbrook with his unique penalty technique after Jack Holmes was brought down by Olumide Oluwatimilehin.

With the Yeltz in control, George Cater’s 22nd minute curling shot was caught by Bradbrook.

Okafor was sent free on goal by Todd Parker to try to complete his first half hat-trick but he slotted wide after 38 minutes and Holmes was desperately unlucky three minutes before the interval when his low shot from the right struck both posts before rebounding out to safety.

Halesowen made a more low key start to the second period and Joe NEAL reduced the arrears for the Yellows with a 48th minute close range finish assisted by Malachi Napa making his on-loan debut. After the quieter spell, home substitute McKauley Manning burst forward in the 64th minute only for Sudbury goalkeeper Bradbrook to make another blocking save.

OKAFOR was given a sight on goal in the 73rd minute and finally completed his hat-trick and 14th goal of the season by placing home a difficult angled 15 yard shot to make it 3-1.

Substitute Richard Gregory volleyed just high when fed by fellow substitute Simeon Cobourne in the 84th minute but GREGORY went on to complete the scoring at 4-1 when he collected Nathan Hayward’s deep free-kick and converted into the top of the net three minutes into stoppage time.

Halesowen Town:  Dan Platt (c); Josh Ezewele, Reece Mitchell, Todd Parker, Ryan Wynter, Kieran Morris, Kieren Donnelly, Nathan Hayward, Miracle Okafor (Richard Gregory 77), Jack Holmes (McKauley Manning 58), George Cater (Simeon Cobourne 58). Subs Not Used: Jak Hickman, Josh Hawker.

AFC Sudbury: James Bradbrook; Oliver Caley-Brown, Joe Tarpey, Olumide Oluwatimilehin, Charlie Lewis, Thomas Dickens, Philip Brown-Bampoe (Reuben Swann 69), Ben Hunter (Billy Walsh 88), Joe Neal, Romario Dunne (c), Malachi Napa. Subs Not Used: Jamie Eveleigh, Lloyd Wicks (GK).

Referee: Jason Porter               Attendance: 1,303

Booked: Oluwatimilehin (18), Dunne (24)

Tulleys Print HTFC Man of the Match selected by the Vice Presidents: Miracle Okafor

Non-League Paper Man of the Match: Miracle Okafor