A HALESOWEN equaliser deep into added time robbed Stratford Town Youth of all three points after they had put in a performance brimming with character and commitment in this closely fought MFYL Premier Division South clash at The Grove on Tuesday evening, writes Bryan Hale.
A Dan Atkins header from a corner had given Town a half-time lead, and when keeper Archie Donaldson saved a penalty late in the second half, it looked as if Nick Ballinger’s side would clinch the win until Halesowen’s last-gasp leveller.
Town began brightly with James Pomeroy and Tyrike Richards-Burke causing the Halesowen back line plenty of problems with their pace out wide, and the opening chance of the game fell to Bradley West, whose effort brought a smart save from the Halesowen keeper.
Halesowen responded with Donaldson making his first save in the 20th minute.
But it was Town who took the lead on the half-hour mark when both West and George Dawson had shots cleared off the line and from the corner Atkins climbed above everyone to head home.
Halesowen came back strongly after the break but with Josh Aspinall-Smyth, Sacha Everard, Tom Rowe and Lewis Timms putting in tireless shifts and Donaldson in his usual commanding form behind them, Town kept their lead intact and twice came close to extending it on the counter attack.
First Dawson was denied by the keeper when through one-on-one and then the keeper did well to deal with an audacious 30-yarder from Harry Hartin.
Then, with the minutes ticking away, Halesowen were awarded a penalty which was brilliantly kept out by Donaldson, and that seemed to have clinched the points.
But in the fifth minute of added time, a deep cross found La Marr Love at the far post and his pinpoint header meant that Town could only come away with a draw when their tremendous all-round effort surely deserved better.