AFC Telford United 0-0 Halesowen Town - Report
A goalless stalemate that was anything but stale ended the Bucks’ 100% home record, although a return of one point from two Bank Holiday games is a disappointing one for Kevin Wilkin’s side.
In truth, given the positivity shown by the visiting Halesowen side, this will probably be viewed as a point gained rather than two lost. The Yeltz won promotion to the division last season and having made an unbeaten start to the campaign arrived full of confidence and were backed by a noisy following.
They dominated the second half of this game, and the Bucks had to commit to a rearguard action to keep the visitors off the score sheet. The lack of offensive opportunities wouldn’t have pleased the home crowd, and it didn’t please Wilkin, although likewise the manager felt that the way his team recognised the threat they were under and responded was creditworthy.
Wilkin had to make a couple of changes to his team, Brad Bood making way for the return of Steffan Jones and George Forsyth included in midfield in place of the injured Byron Moore.
They started the game positively, and Twariq Yusuf had a shot deflected wide when he picked up the pieces following a Ricardo Dinanga surge. Jordan Piggott then narrowly failed to make contact with his head to a Yusuf cross, as the Bucks appeared to hold the advantage but were mindful of the Halesowen threat.
In the second half, that threat intensified significantly, as the Bucks faded in the final third. Miracle Okafor, the Yeltz no.9, was a real handful but was policed well by Fraser Kerr and Orrin Pendley. Midfield substitute Nathan Hayward was far more influential than the player he replaced, Josh Hawker, and he stroked a shot wide to serve warning to the Bucks.
McKauley Manning then rattled the crossbar, Okafor heading the rebound over with Hall prone on the deck, and Halesowen’s belief began to surge.
They won corners that put the Bucks back line under almost ceaseless pressure, and in one crazy period they had four goal attempts blocked by some last-ditch, bodies on the line defending from the home side.
Halesowen continued to force the issue, and the Bucks began to recognise that leaving this game with a point might be the best they could expect. They did successfully keep the Yeltz out, but balancing the defence and attack appears to be Wilkin’s big challenge.
AFC Telford United: Hall, Myles, Jones, Piggott, Kerr, Pendley, Dinanga, Yusuf, Gibson, Webster (Mitford 81), Forsyth (Hodgkiss 70).
Substitutes: Bood, Walker, McQuilkin.
Halesowen Town: Platt, Hickman, Manning, Morris, Wynter, Redfern, Parker, Hawker (Hayward 45), Okafor, Cobourne (Holmes 76), Elliott.
Substitutes: Cater, Boothe, Gregory.