HALESOWEN TOWN 1-1 MATLOCK TOWN
Matlock were well worth their draw at The Grove and would probably feel they had done enough to win this FA Trophy clash at the first time of asking.
Danny Holland had given them the lead six minutes into the second half but Halesowen’s Kristian Green gave the Yeltz a second bite of the cherry with a leveller five minutes from the end,
Injury problems were a problem for Dave Rushbury and Martin Foster’s first game in charge
Phil Roe, Micky Harcourt and Jason Stokes were all ruled out having started the midweek home win over Frickley, so Lawrence Gorman, Josh Meade and Corey Gregory started, with the visitors naming just three substitutes including reserve striker Matt Andrews and Harcourt.
Halesowen had the slope in their favour in the first half and started on the front foot with a Ben Haseley header drifting wide and Robert Thompson-Brown firing into the side netting.
But the Gladiators were gradually making their mark with a Holland effort being deflected wide and from the corner play was halted with goalkeeper Matt Sergeant adjudged to have been impeded.
A Gregory header and a James Ashmore shot were both off target as it became clear there would be no repeat of the 4-0 drubbing handed out by Halesowen in their visit to Matlock a month earlier.
A probing run from Joe Leesley ended with Sergeant, named as Halesowen;’s man of the match by the sponsors, turning aside the finish before an ambitious attempt from Holland flew over the bar.
Matlock looked the more dangerous now and another Leesley attempt struck the post and was deflected wide before Holland also went close in the run up to half time.
But HOLLAND was to break the deadlock six minutes after the restart when Gregory was fouled four yards outside the penalty box. Ashmore’s beautifully struck free kick thudded against the post but Holland was more alert that anyone to fire in the loose ball.
Holland was then provider for Ashmore, the two combining for Ashmore to shoot narrowly too high from Holland’s knock-down.
There was little threat at the other end and Halesowen were to use all three of their permitted substitutes as they strove to save the tie.
Jon Kennedy did not have a lot to do thanks to being well protected by his defence. He held a 71st minute strike from Aaron Griffiths which was straight at him and it looked increasingly likely that Holland’s goal would be enough to put Matlock in the next round.
Sergeant then probably kept Halesowen in the competition with a fine save to deny Gregory, pushing aside the midfielder’s well struck shot, and it took on added significance whe from a free kick on the left, GREEN scrambled the ball home to set up a tense finish.
A Haseley effort was deflected on to the top of the bar and had that gone in it would have been rough justice on a solid and hard working Matlock side.
HALESOWEN TOWN: 1 Matthew Sergeant 2 Kristian Green 3 Asa Charlton (15 Joel Kettle 81) 4 Neil Mackenzie (16 Elliott Turner 66) 5 Joseph Hull 6 Curtis Tilt 7 Tesfa Robinson 8 Thomas Tonks 9 Robert Thompson-Brown (12 Iyseden Christie 66), 10 Ben Haseley 11 Aaron Griffiths Other subs: 14 Aaron Forde 17 Daniel Bragoli
MATLOCK TOWN: 1 Jon Kennedy 2 Lawrence Gorman 3 Josh Meade 4 Adam Yates 5 David Haggerty 6 Oscar Radford 7 Niall McManus 8 James Ashmore 9 Danny Holland (15 Lavell White 76) 10 Joe Leesley 11 Corey Gregory Other subs: 12 Micky Harcourt 14 Matt Andrews
REFEREE: D Gratton (Stone) ATTENDANCE: 293 BEST GLADIATOR: James Ashmore