Halesowen Town 0-1 FC United of Manchester
Saturday 14 March 2015
Northern Premier League
A bumper crowd of 1478 – the best at The Grove since 1999 – watched title favourites FC United of Manchester soak up all Halesowen’s pressure before snatching victory with a late Craig Lindfield header.
But the league leaders had to defend eight first half Yeltz corners before grinding out their vital three points in a hard fought game between the two best defences in the league.
The Yeltz pushed forward from the start and two early corners were cleared before visiting goalkeeper David Carnell saved a low shot from Aaron Griffiths through a crowded penalty area in the 5th minute. Another shot from Griffiths was deflected away for a third Yeltz corner three minutes later and captain Joe Hull headed a cross from Tom Tonks wide in the 11th minute.
FC United captain David Birch hobbled out of the game in the 17th minute to be replaced by Joe Fox but Halesowen kept up the pace as Carnell cut out both a 27th minute low cross from Ben Haseley across the penalty area and a cross from Griffiths three minutes later. In between, Kris Green headed away for FC United’s second corner delivered by Lindfield.
Green then went close at the other end in the best chance to date when his header was turned away at the foot of the post by Carnell for a seventh Yeltz corner. Tonks soon delivered an eighth corner and a long throw-in from Tonks just escaped Haseley in the 36th minute after Iyseden Christie headed on.
But, ominously for the Yeltz, FC United started to find their feet going forward after soaking up all the first half pressure and the visitors finally went close in the 41st minute when Greg Daniels flicked on for Thomas Greaves to strike just over the bar.
After the break a dangerous cross from Griffiths was helped away for a 46th minute corner and Carnell raced sharply out of his goal to cut off Haseley wide on the right in 51st minute. Seconds later, Carnell palmed away another set piece from Griffiths as Halesowen’s corner tally reached into double figures. Yeltz goalkeeper Matt Sargeant saw action by diving on a 54th minute corner and then watched Matthew Wolfenden hit a fierce 20 yard shot over the home bar on the hour mark.
Ben Haseley worked into a great position as he finally broke free of the solid FC United defence in the 70th minute but waited just a split second too long, allowing a combination of Jerome Wright and Chris Lynch to make a vital block before Asa Charlton headed Halesowen’s 11th corner of the game just wide after 72 minutes.
But FC United showed their title credentials by grabbing all three points to prompt mass celebration from the visiting fans with their late winner. Lindfield notched the vital 76th minute goal with a close range header as substitute Joe Fox crossed the ball back in from the left after Lindfield’s initial effort was blocked in front of goal. The visitors saw out the rest of the game in a professional manner although Carnell had to be alert to keep out another injury time chance from Haseley with a good block.
Photo courtesy: Dave Hawley