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Evo-stik Northern Premier League First Division South - Halesowen Town 1 Leek Town 0

By Leek Post and Times  |  Posted: March 05, 2014

Tim Grice wasted a scoring chance.

Tim Grice wasted a scoring chance.

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LEEK Town's promotion aspirations took a knock when they fell to a narrow defeat in a full-bloodied encounter against title rivals Halesowen at the Grove on Saturday.

Blues came in for some rough treatment at the hands of the fired-up Yeltz, who picked up three cautions in the opening half.

Leek victims included John Johnston, Jordan Johnson, Dicker, Karl Espley and Dan Shelley, as shuddering challenges went in.

The home side broke the stalemate just after the half hour with Leek temporarily down to ten men whilst Ryan Dicker's head wound was being assessed.

Dicker was unable to continue and he was replaced by Paul Donnelly.

Blues had a penalty turned down early in the second half and then went close to claiming a point deep into added time – but substitute Tim Grice lost out in a one-on-one situation with the keeper.

Leek had some defending to do throughout the game and Ben Chapman kept his side in with a chance by pulling off a string of outstanding saves, while the home side used their long throw tactic to great effect.

After the game, Blues' boss Lee Casswell said: "I was really disappointed with the result and our first half performance.

"But I was more disappointed with the referee. Halesowen's tactic seemed to be to bully us out of the game and, although he handed them three first half yellows, the referee should have stopped some of the things that were going on out there.

"It was a major factor to concede when we were temporarily down to ten men whilst Ryan was receiving treatment."

Casswell named the same starting line-up that produced a good win over Gresley earlier in the week after skipper Sam Hall recovered from a whack in the eye whilst Paul Donnelly and Niall MaGuire returned to the squad to win seats on the bench.

The first Yeltz player to enter the referee's book was Aaron Forde for a shocking challenge on Jordan Johnson, before John Johnston was also clattered and left in need of treatment.

In the 16th minute, the Leek defence came under attack again when a free kick was driven into the box and twice Blues were forced to clear off the line. Shelley was barged in the back in the 19th minute and from the free kick, Andy Kinsey got the slightest of touches but the keeper got down belatedly to turn the ball round the upright.

Johnston came in for more unwarranted attention from Halesowen defender Asa Charlton and had to be calmed down by Ryan Dicker – the offending player escaped a caution.

Unfortunately, that was Dicker's last contribution to the game as in the next piece of play, he was whacked on the top of his head by a flailing elbow and had to leave the field with blood seeping from the wound.

Blues had no time to replace Dicker before play was restarted in the 35th minute and with Leek now lacking height in defence, another long throw into Chapman's box caused panic before Haseley tapped home the loose ball from close range.

Halesowen then went on the offensive and Chapman was called upon to save from Iyseden Christie and Tonks in quick succession.

They went on to have two further players cautioned inside the final five minutes of the half before Espley went close with a diving header from Bell's free kick.

After the break. Halesowen continued to push forward and a Donnelly header back to his keeper almost let Haseley in.

The referee was presented with a major decision in the 52nd minute but it didn't go Blues' way.

Leek attacked the Yeltz box and Johnson burst into the penalty area, only to be brought down in full flow – but amazingly, the match official waved play on.

In the 57th minute, Forde tried his luck from 30 yards but Chapman was well placed to make the save while at the other end, Johnston took on three defenders before being crowded out on the edge of the box.

On the hour mark, Chapman saved from Christie and he then pulled off a stunning save to deny Forde.

Deep into added time, Leek had one last throw of the dice when Kinsey split the home defence to create the best chance of the game for Grice – but the latter's shot cannoned into the keeper with the goal at his mercy.

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