division alight. The Yeltz's last victory coming in February whilst the Glassboys had also only managed a single win in their last 15 matches. With the form of the two teams in mind it is testament to the support of both clubs that almost 1,750 people turned out to watch this match.
The Grove is not an entirely new ground to me having been there a few times before. however, it is a new ground in terms of the BotP website, so a little background on the stadium before the match report. The Grove is a fabulous example of a non-league stadium. It has been the home of the Yeltz since they were founded in 1873 and much like rivals Stourbridge, the ground was originally shared
with the cricket club and was three sided. However, unlike Stourbridge, the ground is no longer shared and is now a four-sided stadium with a capacity of around 5,000. The former open side is now an uncovered terrace that runs the whole length of the ground and continues behind the Stourbridge Road end of the ground. Opposite the uncovered terrace is the covered seating area, The Harry Rudge Stand. At the far end from the Stourbridge Road end is the Shed, a covered standing area running behind the goal area. This is where the majority of the home support tend to congregate.
Unlike the rain, sleet and blizard conditions of Boxing Day the teams were greeted by blue skies and bright sunshine as they made their way onto the pitch from behind the Shed End goal. This was about as close as Stourbridge were to come to this goal in the first half.
Halesowen started the game kicking down the slight slope towards the Stourbridge Road end and set about the game as if it it were a title decider. Within the first 15 minutes, a period in which Stourbridge didn't really manage to get out of their own half, the Yeltz forced numerous corners and throw-ins (as good as a corner with their long throw). It was a minor miracle that the Glassboys survived this initial onslaught unscathed. Dean Coleman produced a good save from one of these long throws and a combination of wayward finsihing and some good Stourbridge defending kept it at 0-0.
Just after the 20 minute mark Stourbridge did have a chance of their own when Chris Lait got a shot away that was easily saved by the Halesowen keeper. If the Llama Army thought that this was a turning point they were wrong. A few minutes later Stourbridge gave away a free-kick around 30 yards out on their right side. Yet another ball was fizzed into the Stourbridge box and, this time, it was met by home skipper Joe Hull who powered an unstoppable header into the top corner. 1-0 to Halesowen and, to be fair, it was completely deserved.
The goal did nothing to spur on Stourbridge and they remained on the back foot for the rest of the half. A Drew Canavan free-kick that hit the wall being their only other attempt on goal. It was Halesowen who looked the more likely to score again. Stourbridge could consider themselves lucky to be just a single goal down at the break.
Four minutes into the second half Halesown struck the goal that effectively killed the game off. The lively Ben Haseley, who had been causing the Glassboys defence problems all game, cut inside and beat the Stourbridge back line way too easily before feeding Christie in the box. The striker was taken down before he could get a shot away. A clear penalty. Christie picked himself up and stroked the ball past Coleman for an unassailable 2-0 lead. Stourbridge did improve slightly on their first half performance (or did Halesowen ease off?) but, in truth, Halesowen completely bossed this game from the first to the last minute.
It's always a little more difficult to write a blog entry for a Stourbridge game because I have an attachment to the club. Combine this with the fact that both Stourbridge and Halesowen have excellent websites that will cover the game in far more detail than I ever could, I am keeping the entry short this week.
Take a look at www.stourbridgefc.com and www.ht-fc.com for full match reviews and possibly even some video (look out for Yeltz TV @yeltztv).
Depsite the result it was a good day out. Great weather, good banter between the fans, a bumper crowd and a great stadium (well worth a visit for any groundhopper reading this). Also, good to see Ben Billingham out on the pitch having a kick around with his lad during half-time. Let's hope we see him back on the pitch come next season.
Halesowen Town - @halesowentownfc
Stourbridge FC - @sfcofficial