2016-17 SEASON REVIEW
The 2016-2017 season has come to an end, and there have been plenty of ups and downs over the last 253 days and 55 games.
Before we review the season, everyone associated with the club know that this season has not been good enough, no person goes home after a game thinking “that was great” if the team have lost or not performed as fans, the management or the players themselves would expect. Everyone wants the club to be successful and for one reason or another, this season hasn’t been.
With that in mind, the club would like to simply say thank you. Thank you to everyone who has come through the turnstiles this season home or away to support the club. Thank you to every man, woman and child, whether they be long-time fans or people who fell in love with the non-league game for the first time this season. Thank you to every person who has worked behind the scenes, whether that be selling programmes and season tickets, painting doors, preparing food, working on the pitch, arranging travel to games, working on the media side, or offering your time in any way possible. Thank you to John, Matt and the rest of the management team for your tireless efforts. Thank you to Jay and the rest of the players who have pulled on a Halesowen shirt this year. To you all; thank you.
Full of optimism, the club started the season with a core of the team who ended the previous campaign, along with a few new faces. Kaiman Anderson re-signed on loan from Shrewsbury and was looking to build on his good form from the second half of 2015-16. Travelling to Buxton on the first day was always going to be tough and we returned to the Midlands with nothing to show apart from a 2-0 defeat. Recently relegated Corby Town were the first visitors to the Grove and an Ethan Delaney goal earnt the Yeltz their first point of the season. Blyth Spartans made the long journey south and following a first half red card for Daniel Bragoli, the away side ran rampant after the break sealing a 5-0 win. After three games it didn’t look good, especially with a trip to Nantwich around the corner, however goals from Melvin and Anderson, a goal of the season contender, grabbed an unexpected 2-1 win. We couldn’t build on this though and defeats over the Bank Holiday weekend to Rushall and Hednesford meant only 4 points from the first 6 games.
Points = 4, Position = 20th
The start of September gave the management and players a welcome break from the poor league start when Coleshill Town travelled to the Grove for the 1st Qualifying Round of the FA Cup. The home side had the perfect start as Delaney headed home inside the first minute, and even though the same player was sent off before half-time, two goals from Anderson sealed the team’s passage into the next round. The priority returned to the league the following weekend as another double from Anderson and a first goal for Goddard gave us the points against Workington. Another home draw in the cup brought Belper Town to the Grove and it took a late Joe Colley goal to put us into the 3rd round, where Nantwich awaited us. Two days after the Belper game, saw the small matter of the No9 Derby against Stourbridge, moved from its usual Boxing Day to a Monday night, both clubs disappointment at this were proven unfounded as a massive 1,575 fans saw a thrilling game, the Yeltz storming into a 2-0 lead inside 6 minutes before Stour drew level thanks to a Benbow double and Platt heroics secured a well-earned point. We finished the month with a draw away at Barwell and a win over Ilkeston thanks to another two from Anderson.
Points = 12, Position = 15th
October started with Nantwich making the journey down the M6 for the 3rd Qual round of the FA Cup, as well as the trophy itself making an appearance following the club being awarded the FA’s Club of the Round for the promotion of our game against Belper by our Media department. A tight game resulted in a 1-1 draw as Anderson’s goal was cancelled out by a late deflected equaliser. Before we made the return journey for the replay, we knew that a potential No9 Derby at home awaited us but it was not to be. Whether it was the nerves or the fact we saw past Nantwich, we will never know but we fell 2-1 in the replay, ending our FA Cup hopes for another year. Ashton United were the next visitors to the Grove and despite leading 2-0 with 10 minutes left, the Yeltz were disappointingly pegged back and left with a draw, that felt like a defeat. Two away games were next against Mickleover and Grantham and everyone was delighted to come away with maximum points, an early Anderson goal in the first and a last minute Hancocks winner in the latter. The team were undoubtedly in high spirits as Matlock Town came to town, but everyone was shocked when three second half goals meant the visitors claimed a 3-0 win. Another goal of the season contender from Anderson sealed a 1-0 win over high flying Warrington and two cup triumphs against higher league Tamworth in the Senior Cup and away to table-topping Rushall in the trophy ended a hectic month.
Points = 22, Position = 12th
We made the short journey to Stafford Rangers to start November and the number of games in October clearly had had an effect on the players as we struggled and came away with a deserved 3-1 defeat. An Anderson penalty sealed a 1-0 win over Coalville Town and little did we know at the time but this would be our final win for a while, strangely echoing the previous campaign. The result that a lot of people feel was probably our performance of the season, especially second half, came a few days later as we made the long journey up north to take on Blyth Spartans in the FA Trophy. Going in at half-time 2-0 down, many fans would have expected the onslaught to continue after the break, however a tactical change to 3-5-2, a formation the side would return to later in the season, changed the tide as with 15 minutes to play the Yeltz found themselves 3-2 up thanks to goals from Denny and two from Delaney, a strike from long-range levelled the match and spurred on by the prospect of avoiding a midweek trip to the Midlands, the Spartans sealed the win almost at the death. The manner of defeat seemed to knock the players confidence and this continued after a defeat on penalties to Rushall in the League Cup, as Frickley came to the Grove, a goal at the end of each half giving the visitors a surprising three points.
Points = 25, Position = 16th
Possibly the low point of the season began the month of December, as we travelled to Marine and were well beaten by four goals to nil and played out a 1-1 draw at home to Grantham the following week, Kennedy Digie levelling for the home side. Walsall were the visitors to the Grove for the re-arranged next round of the Senior Cup and their youthful side proved too good for the Yeltz running out 4-1 winners. An Anderson opener at Coalville looked to revive some confidence in the side but the home side ran out 3-1 winners. We ended the year with goalless draws at home to Sutton Coldfield on Boxing Day and away at Corby, a game marred by a horrific injury to new signing Ezwele on his debut.
Points = 28, Position = 19th
The new year saw Buxton make the journey to B63 and the poor form continued, despite an early Anderson goal and the visitors going down to ten men, as we fell to a 4-2 defeat. The club were disappointed to lose Anderson early as his loan spell was cut short and the prospect of high flying Whitby coming to the Grove didn’t fill many with confidence. Despite this, the side dug in and came away with a deserved 2-0 win. A tough away game to Ashton ended in 2-1 defeat, despite the Yeltz dominating the second half and somehow coming away empty handed before we rounded out the month with one of our best performances of the second half of the season as we completed the double over Mickleover Sports, two from new signing Dunkley added to goals from Chilton and Delaney in a 4-2 win.
Points = 34, Position = 19th
Looking over their shoulders at the drop zone, the Yeltz travelled to Matlock Town and another game against ten men proved our downfall as a last minute winner gave them a 2-1 win. Stafford Rangers were our next opponents and with the worst start possible, being 2-0 inside 15 minutes, we somehow got to half-time with no more goals in the home net. The half time team talk worked as we camped out in the Stafford half for most of the second half but with little to show for it, that was until Clarke fired in a goal of the season worthy strike into the top corner and in the final moments of added time, Kartel O’Neill, recently promoted from the youth team, found the bottom corner and the Shed erupted. This showed the resiliency seen sporadically and at the final whistle, you could have been mistaken for thinking the home side had won the game. A potential banana skin was our next trip as we travelled to bottom side Skelmersdale, who with a new manager and a host of new players, were out to impress. The Yeltz were somewhat fortunate to come away with a 2-1 win, when on another day we could have come away with just one. The one step forward, two steps back form continued as we fell to a 1-0 defeat at play-off chasing Warrington. The month ended with a 1-1 home draw against Barwell, another example of the side holding a lead but struggling to see the game out.
Points = 39, Position = 18th
Following two postponements, there was no better way to start March than the No9 Derby as a league high 2,127 crammed into the Grove as the two sides, at opposite ends of the table, did battle. The Yeltz gave their opponents too much respect early on, in stark contrast to the reverse fixture, and an early corner was headed into the top corner by Benbow. The remainder of the match was probably even and despite pressure in the second half, the away side held on for three massive points and bragging rights, the Yeltz coming away believing they had matched their high flying neighbours and deserved to get something out of the game. Title chasing Spennymoor were the next visitors and deservedly ran out 2-1 winners on the day. An inconvenient trip to Whitby for a midweek game followed and despite taking an early lead, the home side dominated as soon as they found an equaliser, the final score 4-1. A massive six pointer at Frickley threatened to drag us into the relegation zone with a defeat however Bragoli’s header and some resolute defending meant we had given ourselves a massive boost while denting our opponent’s survival hopes. A quick reversal of fixtures found us on our travels to Spennymoor but the result didn’t play out the same way as the Yeltz hung on to a lead for most of the game but despite conceding a late goal, held on for a welcome point. In another relegation battle, we welcomed Marine to the Grove for the final game of March and terrible conditions produced a drab affair, the Marine winner the only real highlight.
Points = 43, Position = 19th
As the final month of the season started we were still at least seven points from safety but crucially with games in hand over our rivals, the Alfie Lund Fund Community Day saw us take on recently relegated Skelmersdale United. Nerves were abundant as the visitors matched the hosts, the key moments of the first half being an injury to recent signing Jon Moran, which would see him ruled out for 9-12 months, and the pitch invasion of Dusty the Dog, a moment that would see lots of media exposure for the club over the coming days. As we entered the second half, there was greater belief that a single goal would settle the game and before the hour mark one of the most unlikely scorers broke the deadlock, Brad Lewis heading in from a corner. It still took Daniel Platt saving a penalty a few minutes later to seal the win for the Yeltz and the team started to believe we could get the required points to seal survival. Little did we know how soon they would come, as we travelled to Hednesford Town the following Wednesday and thanks to a late Charlton goal, came away with a 2-1 win, the celebrations at full-time showed how much it meant to the players, management and fans. With the pressure of relegation seemingly removed we travelled to champions elect Blyth Spartans with a severely weakened side, despite this the young players who came in did themselves proud despite the 3-0 defeat. Our relegation fears were finally extinguished as we played out a 0-0 draw at relegated Ilkeston, the floodlights failing affecting the flow of the match and no-one was unhappy when the referee’s whistle blew for full time. Our final away games of the season saw consecutive 1-0 defeats at Workington and Sutton Coldfield over the Easter weekend. Our penultimate match saw Nantwich make the trip south, looking to seal their own play-off place, this was confirmed as we played out a 0-0 draw. The final game saw Rushall make the short trip across Birmingham to the Grove and edge an entertaining match 2-1.
Points = 51, Position 19th
Wins = 13
Draws = 12
Defeats = 21
League goals scored = 46
League goals conceded = 70