Halesowen 0, Stourbridge 3

STOURBRIDGE stayed top of the table as two goals from Luke Benbow saw them battle to a derby day victory over struggling rivals Halesowen.

A first-minute header from Benbow set-up the success before a late Kaiman Anderson strike and Benbow’s second handed Stour the Boxing Day bragging rights.

It also gives Hackett’s men their seventh win in eight games but leaves Yeltz boss Rob Smith still searching for his first win after five in charge.

It took the Glassboys just a minute to open the scoring when the unmarked Benbow headed home Robert Thompson-Brown’s free-kick from deep as the clash burst to life at a packed Grove.

However, the Yeltz reacted well to the early set-back and soon created chances of their own.

Lee Hughes passed up their first opening on 10 minutes when he was crowded out in the area after Dan Sweeney’s neat header down.

Left wingback Joel Taylor then curled a low free-kick inches wide two minutes later.

Chances were coming for both sides early on and Thompson-Brown fizzed an effort wide on 16 minutes after another quick Stour break.

Halesowen again came close to an equaliser from a free-kick on the edge of the box on 23 minutes when Sweeney drilled narrowly wide of Niall Maher’s far post.

The clash eventually reached a lull on the half hour mark but it was Stour that carried the greater threat.

They nearly doubled their advantage on 40 minutes after Benbow freed Greg Mills in behind the Town rearguard. He cut back onto his right-foot but saw his curling effort beat Dan Platt only to come back off the inside of the post.

Benbow then skimmed the outside of the upright from a free-kick on the edge of the area in the closing stages as the leaders had to be content with just the one-goal advantage at the break.

The second half started as a much more even affair with chances drying up compared to the frantic opening of the first period.

It was the hosts that worked the first effort on 55 minutes but Hughes could only head Joe Fitzpatrick’s near-post corner over the bar.

The Yeltz continued to battle against their higher-placed neighbours and forced Maher to tip over his bar as Fitzpatrick drilled a free-kick on target from 30 yards out just shy of the hour mark.

Benbow dragged an effort into the side netting just a minute later after a powerful run in behind but still the derby remained well poised.

The Glassboys bagged the vital second with a break away with 10 minutes left on the clock.

Aaron Forde switched play well to free former Yeltz player Anderson who finished first time under the outrushing Platt.

Sam Griffiths headed an in-swinging free-kick over as the chance of a quick fightback went begging.

Benbow bagged his second three minutes from time to wrap up the win as he pounced on a loose ball from eight yards after Platt had made a fine double save.

Halesowen: Platt, Curley, Griffiths, Mendez-Jones, Morris, Rea (c) (Bragolia 88), Fitzpatrick, Coyle (Bakare 45), Hughes (Kelly 75), Sweeney, Taylor.

Unused subs: Charlton, Higginson.

Stourbridge: Maher, Hayden, Christophorou, McCone (c), Westlake, Forde, Anderson, Broadhurst, Benbow (Steele 90), Thompson-Brown (Birch 75), Mills.

Unused subs: Pierpoint, Hawk, Evans.

Att: 1,994.