Halesowen Town 1-2 Enfield Town
Match report by Charlie Baker
(editing by Andrew warshaw)
For the first time in six years, Enfield Town advanced to the FA Cup fourth qualifying round on Saturday, equalling our best run in the competition in an incredible Black Country atmosphere.
Town struck two incisive first-half blows, then mounted a determined rearguard action as we carried out the management’s game plan.
We always knew we’d be in for a tough afternoon. Halesowen sat third in the Southern League Premier Division Central after achieving promotion last season and were in formidable home form at The Grove.
Both teams were looking to bounce back after unbeaten league records were surrendered in their previous games so it looked to be a cracker.
And so it proved right from the start as we came out of the blocks quickly and caught the hosts by surprise.
Marcus Wyllie had already been presented with a decent chance when, with our first corner of the game after just two minutes, James Richmond leapt highest and directed his header into the corner, sending the Towners contingent behind the goal wild.
As the Yeltz grew into the game, winger George Cater twice went close and on the 18-minute mark, the home pressure told as Halesowen equalised through a brilliant individual goal from Jack Holmes who sidestepped his defenders on the edge of the area, then twisted the other way to curl a superb shot beyond the otherwise impenetrable Forster.
Far from sitting back, we responded positively as Wyllie was tackled while bearing down on goal. He had another chance a minute later but this time his attempt was blocked.
It looked like a case of déjà vu when Cater picked the ball up in our half and ran through half the team but, on his right foot this time, could only find the gloves of Rhys Forster.
Even though we were playing in purple, it was more reminiscent of the red arrows as we charged up the other end to restore our lead on 41 minutes. Ollie Knight beat his marker to whip in a wicked ball, picking out Wyllie who produced a superb side-foot finish.
There was still time for a flying save from Forster, who turned Cater’s shot on to the crossbar.
Half Time: 1-2
The outcome looked ominous as The Yeltz put the pressure back on instantly. Forster was forced into another worldie, tipping over a powerful shot from Caine Elliot.
The home corners were piling up but the partnership of Richmond and Kyle Bailey stuck firm in clearing everything thrown at them.
Despite not having many more scoring opportunities ourselves, we kept the hosts relatively quiet for about 20 minutes until another onslaught came.
Subs Kieren Donnelly and Ryan Boothe both went close and when Todd Parker fired over, it looked like it would be our day.
The final whistle was blown after an excruciating last few minutes and sent the 200 or so travelling Towners in a crowd of 1,130 into raptures (pictured)
The result put us into the fourth qualifying round – and one round from dreamland – for the first time since we were seconds away from beating National League Maidstone in 2017 before losing the replay at home. The draw takes place on Monday at 3pm on talkSport2.
Yeltz manager Paul Smith said his team missed a big opportunity and described our win as smash and grab but Gavin Macpherson heaped praise on everyone involved.
“I’m delighted for the club, the players but more than anything the supporters. They are the soul of this club and the welcome and support we all received yesterday was unbelievable,” said Gavin
“We knew we were playing a very good side, probably one of the best in the competition at this stage. It’s pleasing as manager when you put a plan into action and come away with a result. The players were unbelievable to a man, my management team also deserve massive credit especially after a difficult result last week.”
“I think we all extend nothing but best wishes to Halesowen and their fantastic support, both sets of supporters played their part in an amazing atmosphere. We’ll enjoy it briefly but my attention now switches immediately to our next significant hurdle in the shape of Chesham in the FA Trophy”.
Town: Forster; Parcell, Bailey, Richmond, Payne; Birch, Youngs, Thomas, Knight, Wyllie, Beckles-Richards (Keeya 63’)