Meir KA 1 Halesowen Town 1

Saturday 13th September 2008
Meir KA 1 Halesowen Town 1
FA Cup sponsored by e.on First Qualifying Round
At: Kings Park, Hilderstone Road
Kick-off: 3-00 pm
Attendance: 214
Weather: warm and sunny

I'd had a busy morning in the build-up to my first 'Match of the Day' for the local press. We went down to Alexandra Stadium in Birmingham for a junior athletics 'come and try it' kind of roadshow with star guest none other than Sally Gunnell.

It was back up the M6 to Meir and the afternoon couldn't have had a much better outcome. In a real 'David v Goliath' tie, the Midland Combination side forced a replay against a side three leagues higher on an enjoyable afternoon at Kings Park.

Meir certainly put in an awful lot of effort to ensure their big day went smoothly and, from what I could see, it did. I had a chat to the Chairman Des Reaney (Mr Meir KA) who said the club were expecting a crowd of 200-300.

Kings Park, Meir's home for almost 30 years, looked in great condition. The entrance was on the far side of the car park from the road when the programme (£1) was available. There was a gtreat friendly and happy atmosphere inside the ground. Entering the ground through the turnstile near one corner of the pitch, there was a red-painted pavilion to the left which houses the changing rooms and bar. Set back between the entrance and pavilion was a refreshment tent, staffed by helpers in black Meir KA shirts. To the right behind the near goal, was a seated stand (with two rows of red seats) and only the near touchline is an area of covered standing. Three floodlight pylons rose up along each touchline but obviously weren't needed on such a lovely afternoon.

Meir KA were formed in 1972 as a Sunday side which moved to Saturday football in the Longton League four years later. They progressed through the North Staffs Alliance League to become a founder member of the Staffs Senior League in 1984 and joined their present league, the Midland Combination, for the start of the 1992/93 season.

To set up this tie against BGB Southern League Premier Division opposition, Meir beat Goodrich on penalties in the Extra Preliminary Round and Nuneaton Griff in the Preliminary Round.

As is the norm this season, both sides came out together behind the match officials and lined-up on half-way. Meir then went down the line of Halesowen players and shook the hand of each of their counterparts in blue. Before kick-off, there was a minute silence in memory of Peter Hallett.

I opted to watch the game from the pavilion. Halesowen got the game underway, attacking the covered seats end of the ground and immediately put Meir under pressure. Home keeper was quickly called into action to block a shot from Dean Brennan with his legs. In the 6th minute, Brennan missed a simple chance when he lifted the ball over an unguarded net after Justin Rowe rounded Amison who left his line. Rowe also when close, flicking a shot past Amison and the left-hand upright.

But having survived the early pressure, Meir took a 12th minute lead. A mix-up between defender Tom Kemp and keeper James Russell allowed Ryan Miszkiel to get on the end of a throughball and fire low into an empty net. The visitors kept pressing forward and defender Tom Bryant volleyed over after Meir failed to clear a corner.

In fact, Halesowen forced no fewer than nine first-half corners as they forced the home side to work hard to maintain their one-goal advantage. As the interval approached, Nathan Chan-Shaw got down the right into the area and forced Russell to turn a low shot round his near post.

There was applause at the interval from the home fans – could 'David' hang on against 'Goliath' in the second half? Certainly, Halesowen's chances came less frequently in the closing stages of the first half.

Halesowen got back in level terms five minutes after the restart. In a good move down the right, Daryl Taylor crossed deep and Aaron Cornwall played the ball back for Justin Rowe to hammer into the back of the net. The visitors kept up the pressure and Amison emerged a hero with a series of fine saves. Just after the hour mark, he pushed over a flicked header by Rowe from Cornwall left-wing near-post cross and also got down to hold a low drive from Alex Cowley who got forward. Amison also did well to dive to his left to turn round Dwane Lee's curling right-foot free-kick.

Meir were pegged back but in the 74th minute, Chan-Shaw looked to latch onto a ball over the top but Russell left his line to head clear the danger. In the last ten minutes, substitute Andy Teague almost got on the end of another ball over the top but Bryant got in a vital saving tackle. At the other end, Amison beat away a well-struck shot from Jermaine Palmer and also held Kemp’s looping header under pressure.

With no injury time board, there was no knowing how long the referee was going to add. Meir almost won it as Russell had to hurriedly leave his line to clear a long ball just ahead of the advancing Chan-Shaw.

In the final few seconds, Darren Caskey crossed into a crowded area, Amison caught the ball and moments later the referee's whistle signalled a fame result for Meir.

As the Meir players came off, they got a deserved rousing reception.

Meir KA (amber/black/black): 1. Richard Amison, 2. Aaron Kelter, 3. Russell Gibbons, 4. Jonathon Barras, 5. Russell Leadbetter, 6. Darren Reaney (capt), 7. Steven Harrison, 8. Kieron Wooley, 9. Ryan Miszkiel, 10. Nathan Chan-Shaw, 11. Mark Philcock. Subs: 12. Andy Teague (for Miszkiel, 67), 14. Stuart Clegg (for Gibbons, 61), 15. Danny Riley (for Kelter, 71), 16. Lee Cooper, 17. Ben Buckley

Halesowen Town (blue/blue/blue): 1. James Russell, 2. Alex Cowley, 3. Tom Bryant, 4. Tom Kemp, 5. Michael Briscoe (capt), 6. Jay Denny, 7. Daryl Taylor, 8. Dwane Lee, 9. Justin Rowe, 10. Dean Brennan, 11. Aaron Cornwall. Subs: 12. Zema Abbey, 14. Darren Caskey (for Taylor, 67), 15. Jermaine Palmer (for Brennan, 60), 16. Mark Danks, 17. Jack Allward (for Rowe, 79), 18. Erik Hommell, 19. Dino Melitas

Referee: J. Simpson (Shropshire).

(see also 8/10/08)