Never Say Die Church Grab Deserved Point
By Alan Deakin
Alvechurch scored a stoppage time equaliser to deny struggling Halesowen a home win, having dominated play for much of this derby encounter.
Halesowen were boasting a line up boosted by a number of last minute loan signings, and Church were looking to get back on track after a disappointing game at the weekend as these midlands rivals locked horns for the first time in a competitive fixture in some years.
In fact, the last time Church visited the Grove in competitive action was in season 1990/91 when the Black Country side triumphed 8-0 in a Southern League Cup tie.
Halesowen were looking to halt a losing run of four consecutive games, and a run of seven games since their last win, whilst Church were looking to avoid incurring two consecutive league defeats for the first time this season.
Church began the game on the front foot, and with a high tempo, which, given the conditions, boded well for an entertaining night's football.
And after just three minutes Mitch Botfield latched onto an Ezewele pass before rifling the ball just wide of the far post from just inside the area to give notice of the visitors' attacking ambitions.
Church were stifling the home side's forward play with solid banks of resistance, and within two minutes had carved out another chance with Halesowen keeper Boucher acrobatically beating away a Landell effort from 25 yards.
But with the home side's first serious foray into the Church defensive third they carved out an opening goal. Just 10 minutes on the clock, and Taylor fed Reilly on the edge of the Church box, and after twisting and turning to make space for himself, fired hard and low into the bottom right hand corner, with keeper Evans diving despairingly too late.
The home side enjoyed their best spell of the game for a while, but neither side created a significant chance until the 24th minute when Church conceded a free kick on the edge of their own box, and Truslove curled the resulting set piece kick just over.
Good advantage played by the referee just before the half hour mark allowed Foster a sight of goal, but his angled drive was just off target, and in the next attack great interplay by Church through the midfield set up Turton for another attempt on goal, but again just off target.
Botfield drives over on 33 after being set up by Yates as Church continued to carve out the better chances, but yet to find that decisive breakthrough.
As half time beckoned Church went close again a corner was headed down into the ground and just wide by Morrison, and in stoppage time a Foster overlap and cross zipped across the face of the Halesowen goal with Landell inches away from a decisive touch, so for all the positives, it was the home side who still held onto their slender lead at the break.
Half Time: Halesowen Town 1 Alvechurch 0
Church dominated the second half with wave after wave of attacking play, and resolute defending when required.
On 57 minutes March and Yates both have shots blocked deep inside the Halesowen box, and from a resulting corner Morrison is on hand, stretching at the far post, but cannot get enough purchase on the ball to divert it goalwards.
Chances follow for Landell who sees his angled drive through a packed box again just flash wide of the far post, and as Church are camped on the edge of the Halesowen box March drives from 25 yards forcing Boucher into another acrobatic save to keep the Church hordes at bay.
Another chance goes begging as we reach the last minute of normal time, as an angled cross from Willets is met by Landell, who sweeps the ball just wide of the upright from a dangerous position.
But Church's "never say die" attitude finally wins out as in the second of four stoppage time minutes Josh March pounces on a flicked on ball at the far post, and hammers the loose ball in past Boucher to give some credibility to the scoreline.
Match Photos HERE