Halesowen crashed to a heavy defeat after conceding four goals in a nightmare first half at in-form St Ives, writes David Johnson.

Yeltz manager Paul Smith pulled no punches at the first-half performance. “Firstly, there’s a need to apologise to our brilliant fans. It was possibly the worst half of football in my time at the club.

"We were under pressure to put in a performance, but it was inept. I won’t take the brunt for the first half, it was disgraceful. Players need to understand what a lucky place it is to be at this club.”

St Ives went into the game on the back of four straight wins in all competitions in contrast fortune to Halesowen who were without a win in four.

An early mistake let in Jonny Edwards for St. Ives, but he was blocked in the 7th minute and Brandon Njoku also headed wide.

For lack-lustre Halesowen, Kieran Morris glanced a 14th minute header wide from Josh Hawker’s free-kick and home goalkeeper Eddie Brearey pushed away Todd Parker’s 17th minute shot.

But after the first half hour of few chances on the 3g surface, the Yeltz collapsed as St Ives struck four goals in a fifteen minute spell at the end of the first half. Long throw-ins by Aaron Smith from the left had already caused danger and a 31st minute throw-in from the left wasn’t cleared leaving Josh TOMLINSON to prod home the opening goal for the Saints.

Five minutes later the danger came from the right as captain Michael Richens crossed to find Edwards in space and although his shot was blocked, unmarked NJOKU had the simple task of converting the second goal from close range.

Although Halesowen’s Richard Gregory headed over the bar from a Jack Homes corner, worse soon followed for the Yeltz. EDWARDS was sent clear on goal in the 45th minute and he lobbed over goalkeeper Dan Platt to make it 3-0 to St. Ives.

Edwards then crossed from the left for NJOKU to head home to add a fourth goal in simple style in the third minute of first half stoppage time.

Shell-shocked Halesowen were much better in the second period and pulled back two consolation goals. Parker curled over the bar in the 57th minute and substitute Kieren Donnelly fired into Ives’ side-netting after an hour. McKauley Manning then fired just past the post in the 63rd minute.

Richens thought he’d added a fifth goal for St Ives when he volleyed home after 75 minutes but his effort was ruled out for offside.

Miracle OKAFOR finally headed home after Halesowen worked a short corner from the left in the 77th minute and there was still time for the Yeltz to reduce the arrears further at 4-2 in the 90th minute when substitute George Cater threaded the ball for fellow substitute Simeon COBOURNE to convert with a wide-angled shot from the right.

St Ives Town: Eddie Brearey; Luke Harris, Aaron Smith, Michael Richens (c), Jordan Williams, Paddy Casey, Dan Barton (Ed Hottor 12), Myles Cowling (Ben Mensah 76), Jonny Edwards, Brandon Njoku, Josh Tomlinson (Sam Tessler 65). Subs Not Used: Greg Kaziboni, Tiago Nassunculo.

Halesowen Town:  Dan Platt (c); Josh Ezewele, Luke Redfern, Todd Parker, Ryan Wynter, Kieran Morris, Jack Holmes (Simeon Cobourne 66), Josh Hawker (George Cater 46), Miracle Okafor, Richard Gregory (Kieren Donnelly 46), McKauley Manning. Subs Not Used: Jak Hickman, Reece Mitchell.

Referee: Elliott Mayer               Attendance: 482

Booked: Hawker (26), Cowling (68), Donnelly (76)

Report submitted by Halesowen Town