Halesowen were unable to recover from an early deficit in an even and entertaining reversed fixture against troubled but in-form Nuneaton, writes David Johnson.

There was always a sense that Halesowen were again chasing the game after falling behind to another early goal and Yeltz manager Paul Smith was left to reflect on the second home defeat of the week. “It was a decent game between two good sides. We talked about not making mistakes but then conceded another early sloppy goal.

"But we grew back into the game and it’s great to see Gregory back on the scoresheet. We were then in the ascendancy with Manning’s good chance. But again in both boxes we’re not doing the business. We’re victims of our own early success to a certain extent, but the reality was at some stages we’d lose games as there are very good sides in this division. It’s crucial we stick together now – it’s a good group and our first bad run for a while, so we have to pick ourselves up for Saturday.”

Halesowen conceded the early goal through a lapse when Josh Hawker’s back-header on his 100th appearance put on-loan Owen OSENI free on goal and he advanced to calmly slot past home goalkeeper Dan Platt to put Nuneaton ahead after just six minutes.

From that point Halesowen gradually worked their way back into the game to end the first half on top. In a neat 16th minute move Todd Parker found Miracle Okafor but his shot was easily collected by goalkeeper Daniel Jezeph. A 20th minute home corner was cleared and Jezeph punched away again after 27 minutes.

The Yeltz deservedly equalised in the 38th minute when a cross from the left was only partly cleared and Richard GREGORY cracked home from 15 yards out for his 50th Yeltz goal to end Nuneaton’s run of seven clean sheets in eight games. Seconds before the interval Jezeph did well to hold onto Gregory’s fierce low shot from the edge of the penalty area.

At the start of the second period McKauley Manning’s shot was saved and goalkeeper Jezeph made a great blocking save to deny Okafor. Nuneaton then went close on 52 minutes when Kacy Butterfield’s shot flew just past the angle of the crossbar and post.

Manning over-elaborated in front of goal and lost a golden 56th minute opportunity to put Halesowen ahead before Ryan Wynter cleared a corner from under his own crossbar a minute later.

The Boro’ struck their 62nd minute winning goal when veteran Leroy LITA glanced a great header over Platt into the top corner from Butterfield’s left-wing cross. Luke Redfern then made an excellent 68th minute defensive clearance.

Further goals always looked likely as the game opened up in the latter stages. A 71st minute Okafor shot was blocked and Halesowen then forced two consecutive corners four minutes later.Platt made a 77th minute goal-line block from Lita and Oseni blazed the rebound over the bar.

But a second Yeltz equaliser remained elusive as Scott McManus cleared ahead of Okafor from Manning’s 83rd minute cross and an 84th minute free-kick whipped in by Jak Hickman was tipped over the bar by Jezeph. As time ran out for the Yeltz, Okafor’s 87th minute header was then kept out from Redfern’s cross.

Final score: Halesowen Town 1 Nuneaton Borough 2

Halesowen Town: Dan Platt (c); Jak Hickman, Luke Redfern, Todd Parker, Ryan Wynter, Kieran Morris, McKauley Manning, Josh Hawker (Jack Holmes 68), Miracle Okafor, Richard Gregory (Simeon Cobourne 80), Reece Michell (Kieren Donnelly 68). Subs Not Used: Josh Ezewele, George Cater.

Nuneaton Borough: Daniel Jezeph; Camron McWilliams, Alexander Lafleur, Kyle Storer, Victor Nirennold, Scott McManus (c), Kane Richards, Leroy Bohari Lita, Owen Oseni (Matthew Stenson 88), Kacy Butterfield, Latheniel Rowe Turner. Subs Not Used: Callum Chettle, Beau Friel, Luke Curtlin, Elwalid Elhaghany.

Referee: Harry Tarrant             Attendance: 775

Booked: Storer (30), Gregory (66), Butterfield (78), Richards (90)

Tulleys Print HTFC Man of the Match selected by the Vice-Presidents: Todd Parker