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01 May 2008 POSF Halesowen Town 2-1 Chippenham Town PDF Print E-mail

Play-Off Semi-Final - BGB Football League Premier Division – Thursday, 1st May 2008

Halesowen Town 2 Chippenham Town 1

Inspirational Eldon Maquemba struck a magical winner to send Halesowen into the play-off final in an incredible night of Halesowen history witnessed by the biggest attendance for several seasons. Halesowen now meet Team Bath at Twerton Park on Saturday with a chance to win promotion to the Blue Square league after fighting back from behind in a tough battle that saw six yellow cards and a sending-off.

In early Yeltz pressure, Darren Caskey lifted a 3rd minute free-kick from the edge of the area just over the bar after Matthew McEntegart fouled Jay Denny. The Bluebirds felt confident after Tuesday’s abandoned game in their third play-off appearance and home goalkeeper Mark Osborn did well to tip the ball over the bar from Luke Gullick’s 6th minute effort with Ross Adams heading the resulting corner wide. Dean Brennan received a 9th minute booking for dissent and three minutes later he curled a promising free-kick wide from the edge of the area. McEntegart then slipped in the 15th minute to let in Brennan but after a good first touch he smashed his 15-yard half-volley just wide. Alex Cowley’s 17th minute throw-in was headed backwards by Stuart Pierpoint but goalkeeper Chris Snoddy collected the ball with Brennan about to pounce and when Brennan did finally hit the net with a 23rd minute volley, he was ruled offside.

Aaron Cornwall received a booking for a nasty 26th minute foul on Stuart Pierpoint, who proved to be a Colossus at the heart of Halesowen’s steady defence. After half an hour Eldon Maquemba fed Rodney Hicks down the left but Snoddy made a fine save to turn the ball away for a corner and a minute later Dennis Pearce’s header was cleared off the line by Kye Holly from Darren Caskey’s corner. Two following corners from the visitors came to nothing.

The game developed into a physical battle at end of the first half resulting in several uncompromising Chippenham challenges and Rodney Hicks was stretchered off in the 39th minute with an ankle injury.  On 44 minutes substitute Ikechi Anya combined well to allow Maquemba to cross from the left but Kevin Halliday did just enough to keep out Brennan’s effort with Jay Denny hitting the loose ball inches over the bar. In the five minutes of added first-half injury-time Maquemba skipped past both Ollie Price and Adams but struck wide and Brennan dragged another shot wide when free on the right.

At the break there was a feeling that Halesowen may pay for spurning their several good chances in the first half, even though the visitors had yet to create a clear-cut chance.

The start of the second period saw Snoddy gathering Caskey’s free-kick and Maquemba breaking down the right to lay the ball back for Andy Hall to shoot just inches over the bar. For Chippenham, Iain Harvey skewed the ball wide on 53 minutes and McEntegart escaped to receive his final warning for a 55th minute challenge.

The nervous tension increased with Snoddy holding onto a couple more Caskey free-kicks as the middle of the second period approached. Sam Allison replaced Scott Lye for the Bluebirds after 59 minutes and his impact was felt almost immediately as Halesowen rued their missed chances when Chippenham took a 66th minute lead. Pearce was robbed by David Pratt and he squared the ball for substitute ALLISON in front of goal to side-foot a volley into an empty net and put Chippenham ahead amidst great celebration.

But Maquemba was inspirational as Halesowen turned the game on its head in the final 20 minutes and he cut in from the right to blast high in the 69th minute and a home penalty appeal for handball was denied a minute later.

The Yeltz equalised when Maquemba broke from the halfway line to latch onto a long ball and was brought down by Adams as he entered the penalty area. Adams was shown the red-card and BRENNAN stepped up to net his 21st goal of the season from the penalty spot in the 72nd minute after a long delay due to an injury to the referee’s assistant. The gripping contest continued with Snoddy making an important snatch from Caskey’s 76th minute cross with two home attackers lurking at the far post.

MAQUEMBA settled the contest with a special goal worthy of any footballing stage as he jinked inside from the left to unleash a magnificent pinpoint goal-of-the-season with his 25-yard top-corner drive striking the net off the angle of the right post on 79 minutes.

Stunned ten-man Chippenham’s last real chance fell to defender Price who found himself free in front of goal but he shot straight at grateful goalkeeper Osborn and the Yeltz then professionally played out time with some neat football down the corner. Pierpoint’s giant performance was epitomised as he headed clear Holly’s free-kick by a full 50 yards with the clock ticking beyond the 90-minute mark and Osborn dived bravely at Luke Gullick’s feet with the three minutes of added time about to expire.

The final whistle was greeted by ecstasy and saw hundreds of Yeltz fans surround and cheer their heroes on the pitch in celebration of a fantastic, historical evening and the culmination of a superb season.

Halesowen Town: Osborn; Cowley, Hamilton, Pearce, Pierpoint, Denny, Hall, Caskey, Brennan (Abbey 90), Maquemba, Hicks (Anya 39). Unused Subs: Waite, Maynard, Dormand.

Chippenham Town: Snoddy; Adams, Halliday, Price, McEntegart, Harvey, Lye (Allison 59), Holly, Pratt (Metitiri 73), Cornwall (Seavill 85), Gullick. Unused Subs: Badman, Carr.

Referee: R. J. Martin (Weston-Super-Mare)  Attendance: 1,105

Booked: Brennan (9), Cornwall (26), Gullick (45), McEntegart (50), Denny (81), Harvey (84)

Sent Off: Adams (84)

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