FA Cup, Second Qualifying Round
Halesowen Town 4 (Gibson 25 67 88, Parsons 44)
Stratford Town 1 (Morrison 30)
Report by Bryan Hale
IT may have been a different game in a different competition on a different day at a different ground with different players involved, but the outcome was the same as Halesowen knocked Stratford Town out of a second cup in less than a fortnight.
And Town could have few complaints as on a gloriously sunny afternoon at the Grove, as they were blown away by a slick Yeltz side, with Montel Gibson bagging a match-winning hat-trick.
Tommy Wright had said beforehand that he didn’t believe the League Cup clash, which saw the Yeltz end Town’s defence of that particular trophy thanks to a Luke Yates strike, would have any bearing on the outcome of this afternoon’s meeting.
And as if to reinforce that view, both team line-ups were pretty well unrecognisable from that League Cup encounter, but it was the Yeltz who were once again far superior.
Town went into the game with one change from the Alvechurch mid-week game, as Ivor Lawton came in for the cup-tied Luke Rowe.
Both sides made a tentative start, with Halesowen the first to threaten when Yates’ persistence earned a sixth-minute corner and when play switched to the other end Joe Curtis fired well over from some way out.
Robbie Bunn then tested Elliott Taylor with a firmly struck right-footer which the Town keeper held at the second attempt, but Yates was already causing problems with his pace and his deep right cross in the 15th minute reached Gibson at the far post whose shot rebounded away off Tom Fishwick.
The Yeltz went even closer five minutes later when Taylor had to plunge to his left to push away a James Bowen free-kick and their pressure told when they took the lead in the 25th minute.
A long ball down the right saw Yates shrug off a desperate challenge from Charley O’Keefe to whip in a low cross which again reached Gibson and he swivelled to drill the ball past Taylor into the bottom corner.
But their lead was to be short-lived as on the half-hour mark Kurtis Revan worked his way to the byline down the right and his low cross beat Yeltz keeper Bradley Catlow to be turned in by Luis Morrison from a couple of yards out for his first Town goal.
Town were almost gifted another goal soon after when Catlow’s weak clearance from a back pass was seized on by Lawton, who drove into the penalty area only to shoot narrowly wide and as Town began to push forward Lewis Wilson had an on-target shot blocked at point-blank range.
But the Yeltz hit back to regain the lead a minute before the break when Andrew Parsons crept into the penalty area unnoticed from a right-wing corner and he had all the time and space he needed to steer his header beyond the helpless Taylor.
Dan Vann replaced O’Keefe who had a bit of a chastening time in the first half, but the Yeltz could soon have added a third when Bunn escaped down the inside right channel only to be eventually crowded out by a combination of Taylor and Linden Dovey followed by a Yates cross fizzing just beyond the reach of the stretching Gibson.
Town were trying to push up in search of the equaliser, but in so doing they were vulnerable to quick breaks when possession was lost and both Ashley Sammons and George Forsyth went close with decent efforts as the Town defence frantically backpedalled.
And on 67 minutes they were fatally caught out when Parsons lofted the ball forward and Gibson ran on to slide it past the advancing Taylor.
If that wasn’t game over, it certainly was three minutes later when Nabil Shariff tangled with Jordan Piggott and was shown a straight red card by referee Gareth Davis.
In a rare Town attack, Joel Gyasi fired off target after breaking down the left, but Halesowen knew they had it won and only a tremendous Taylor double save from Bunn with four minutes to go prevented them adding a fourth.
But the Yeltz weren’t done with and a minute later they did just that as Gibson ran through a bedraggled Town defence to complete his hat-trick.
Taylor parried his first shot, but could do nothing as Gibson smashed home the rebound.
The final whistle couldn’t come soon enough, but there was still time for Town to avoid further embarrassment as Taylor made last-ditch saves from Yates and Bunn before mercifully for the traveling Town faithful, it was all over.
HALESOWEN: Bradley Catlow, Jordan Piggott, James Bowen, Ashley Sammons (Reece Hewitt 62), Paul McCone, Andrew Parsons, George Forsyth (Lewis Wright 68), Robbie Bunn (Jamie Ashmore 90), Montel Gibson, Luke Yates, Jamie Molyneux Unused subs: Josh Hawker, Jamie Lewis, Ethan Jones & Brendon Bunn.
STRATFORD: Elliott Taylor, Linden Dovey, Charley O’Keefe (Dan Vann 46), Luis Morrison, Tom Fishwick, Ross Oulton, Lewis Wilson, Ivor Lawton (Joel Gyasi 59), Nabil Shariff, Joe Curtis, Kurtis Revan (Callum Ball 68). Unused subs: George Heaven, Mitchell Glover, Chris Wreh, Sam Lomax