Bottom-of-the-table Eastwood played host to current leaders Halesowen on Saturday as both looked for crucial league points.
The clubs’ contrasting fortunes couldn’t be greater. Halesowen are top of the league and boasting a team containing former Mansfield players Neil Mackenzie and Iysden Christie, as well as and seasoned Skrill Conference players like Kyle Patterson and Asa Charlton, while the Badgers are rooted to the basement and having to scour the lower leagues for players.
As expected the visitors started the game brightly and built up an unassailable lead within the first ten minutes.
In the fourth minute a long ball into the Eastwood box saw Christie control, turn his marker and drive the ball into the corner of the goal.
Four minutes later a long ball over the defence saw Christie latch onto the ball, advance into the box and again drive the ball past the hopelessly exposed Daniel Dobbie in the Eastwood goal.
From that point on it was a case of how many would the visitors score.
Courtney Bartley cleared Patterson’s goalbound shot off the line and Jack Coulson denied Christie his hat-trick with a well-timed tackle as the striker shaped to shoot.
Joe Hull should have increased the visitors’ lead when the ball dropped to the defender following a free-kick but he blazed over.
Jean-Michel Gueyes’ mazy run ended when his shot was blocked on the six yard line and Christie failed to complete his hat-trick after Dobbie had lost the flight of a ball into the box, the striker putting his header over the bar.
The fog really started to drop at half-time and there were doubts whether the two teams would re-emerge after the break.
When the game did re-start the visitors were soon in the ascendency and a goalbound header was well saved by Dobbie.
Lee Barrow saw a good free-kick pushed to safety by Matthew Sargent and when Vijay Selvam returned the ball, Tyrone Burton lifted his shot over the bar for Eastwood’s one and only serious attempt on goal.
Christie again failed to get that third goal firing across goal when through on goal before Jacob Sturgess produced a great tackle to deny Tom Tonks and Eastwood debutant Sam Hawkins saw his shot on target saved.
Substitute Matt Martin forced Dobbie into a fine save with the rebound effort being scrambled off the line, while Nigel Penny was only denied by a last ditch tackle from Coulson and moments later wasted a glorious chance.
A late Eastwood attack almost gave Eastwood something to cheer about but Henry Sibenge’s header was easily saved and three more valuable points were lost.
Thursday, December 26, 2013:
Eastwood: 1 Dan Dobbie 2 Mark Hill 3 Jacob Sturgess 4 Tyrone Burton 5 Jack Coulson 6 Lee Barrow 7 Courtney Bartley 8 Sam Hawkins 9 Vijay Selvam 10 Henry Sibenge 11 Dan O’Donnell.
Subs not used: Tyler Witton, James Murphy, Jack Saunders
Halesowen: 1 Matt Sargent 2 Kristian Green 3 Asa Charlton 4 Neil Mackenzie 5 Joe Hull 6 Curtis Tilt 7 Jean Michel Gueyes 8 Tom Tonks 9 Iyseden Christie (Nigel Penny 80) 10 Kyle Patterson (Matt Martin 80) 11 Aaron Griffiths (Avun Jephcott 75)
Subs not used: Sam Pearson, Kelly Brendan
Att: 156 Ref: Alix Pashley
Best Badger: Jacob Sturgess
by Andy Cope