INTO THE BOTTOM FOUR -(
Tamworth 3 Yeltz 2
06 January 2001
A crucial game - and after coming from behind to lead 2-1 we ended up with nothing.
With Steve Pie-arce back on loan for a month, we travelled slightly more hopefully than in recent weeks, but were deservedly 1-0 down at half-time. We then finally started to play a bit of football and unbelievably took the lead through two excellent John Ford goals - a shot from the edge of the box and an excellent header when left unmarked. Unfortunately we couldn't hold on; they equalised not long afterwards and then got a sickening winner from a free-kick in the 94th minute.
Desperately looking for something good to say, I suppose Pie-arce looked pretty sharp with very little service and new signing Costas Xiourouppa (pronunciation to be determined) made a promising debut. However the bad news is we've slipped back into the relegation zone and really are in dire straits (a pun may be added here if/when I cheer up a bit).
Next Saturday, it's now been confirmed we're back at "Fortress Grove" for the rearranged game at home to Ilkeston .
Match Report from DJ
Halesowen Town: Quy; Corns (Xiourouppa 38), Hines, Owen (Ford 55), Lloyd, Collins, Cartwright, Piearce, Bowen (Sutton 72), Smith, Crisp
Referee: D. Adcock (Long Eaton) Attendance: 602
With both teams enduring a troubled season, this crunch meeting promised a repeat of the recent history of dramatic games and goals between the two sides at the Lamb. The game was given added spice with Halesowen enthused by the return of Yeltz-hero and goal-ace Steve Piearce from Hereford Utd and Tamworth's Caretaker Manager Caretaker Manager Tim Steele taking charge for his first game following the insensitively timed dismissal of Paul Hendrie so soon after his brutal street attack.
However, a forgettable first half of little creativity or tactical awareness revealed why both teams are surprise strugglers at the foot of the Dr Martens Premier this season and the game was only brought to life when Tamworth took the lead in the 22nd minute with right fullback Rob Warner lashing home a cross from David Foy from 15 yards.
Stuart Corns picked up an early injury and after signalling to the bench for several minutes was finally replaced by the splendidly named new capture Costas Xiourouppa from Bolton Wanderers who went on to reveal some neat first touches. Tamworth then almost wrapped up the game when a speculative shot caught out Andy Quy but rebounded off his right-hand upright. Despite a frail looking Tamworth defence, it was nearly halftime before the potentially potent strike force of Sam Bowen and Piearce combined with Piearce sending over a right-wing cross for Bowen to head into the side netting from an acute angle.
A sizzling second half began with Quy making an excellent point blank save in front of goal, before Halesowen staged a remarkable fight back. The injured Jason Owen was replaced by Jon Ford who was only on the field for a few moments before scoring two goals within four minutes. In the 61st minute Ford collected the ball on the edge of the penalty area and his 20 yard shot beat Darren Acton to creep into the corner of the net. With renewed self belief Halesowen went ahead when Xiourouppa cleverly took two defenders out of the game before laying off the ball, allowing the resulting cross to be powerfully headed home by Ford.
However as the strong contingent of travelling fans found their voice and contemplated the prospect of opening up some daylight between themselves and Tamworth in the league table, Halesowen once again lacked the resilience to hold onto a vital lead and conceded another two late goals in this must-win game. In the 76th minute, the ball was lost cheaply on the right wing, and ex-Stourbridge forward Christie McKenzie whipped over a cross for Mark Hallam to equalise from close range. Kicking down the slope, the goal inspired Tamworth who pressed forward and were awarded a late freekick on the edge of the penalty area which Foy cracked home for the winner with 94 minutes showing on the stopwatch.
Ominously, with half the league programme now complete, Halesowen have only won four games and would seem to require ten more victories to ensure safety in what is arguably a more difficult second part of the season. Individually, Halesowen would seem to have enough talent and experience in the current squad for the task ahead but it's not happening for them as a team at present and it's time for everyone to pull together and understand their own role in the arduous but mouth-watering task ahead.