Halesowen 0, Hitchin 0

TOOTHLESS Halesowen Town saw their relegation worries deepen as they failed to fire against Hitchin.

The Yeltz couldn’t find much-needed cutting edge under new boss Lee Hughes and had to settle for a frustrating goalless stalemate that does nothing to help their battle against the drop.

The clash was evenly balanced in the opening exchanges as both sides battled for a way on top early on.

It was the visitors that worked the first effort on goal after nine minutes but keeper Dan Platt easily gathered Noah Chesmain’s low effort from range.

The Yeltz settled into the contest themselves as they began to work the ball forward using Andre Wright’s strong hold up play.

They created their first chance on 15 minutes when Callum Coyle dragged a shot wide from the edge of the box after Wright’s ball over from the left.

Both sides continued to cancel each other out for large spells before Hitchin came within inches of breaking the deadlock on 24 minutes.

Chesmain’s powerful, dipping drive from 25 yards cannoned off the underside of the bar but bounced down and out with Platt well beaten.

Hitchin were suddenly looking the most likely to find the breakthrough as Isaac Galliford was kept out by Platt at his near post after more neat build up around the edge of the Yeltz box.

In contrast, the hosts looked short of ideas and energy in the final third as they failed to build any sort of pressure of their own.

They remained resolute at the back but couldn’t find a way to trouble Hitchin stopper Michael Johnson as the clash remained goalless at the break.

The second half quickly fell into the same pattern as the first as both sides struggled to build momentum.

The Yeltz did finally test Johnson on 53 minutes with Wright’s weak shot from distance. That was followed moments later by Dan Bragoli’s wayward drive over the bar.

Despite that flurry the hosts couldn’t maintain the tempo and it didn’t take long for game to return to a scrappy affair.

In an attempt to resolve the lack of cutting edge, Player-manager Hughes brought himself on as the game headed into the final 20 minutes.

Still the Yeltz couldn’t muster a late rally and instead it was Hitchin that looked to end the stronger.

Michael Cain’s dipping free-kick from 30 yards tested Platt on 82 minutes before the visitors came even closer to a winner just two minutes later.

Josh Bickerstaff’s glancing header from Isaac Galliford’s in-swinging free-kick again beat Platt but somehow came back off the inside of the far post.

Halesowen did almost snatched an unlikely victory in the third minute of added time but Hughes could only head Jack Kelly’s cross straight at Johnson to cap a frustrating afternoon.

Halesowen: Platt, Griffiths, Kelly, Lawton, Morris, Mendez-Jones, Bragoli (c), Nabi (Curley 60), Wright, Coyle (Fitzpatrick 73), Till (Hughes 67).

Unused subs: Charlton, Ekongo.

Hitchin: Johnson, Green, Chesmain, Dowie, Webb (c), Bickerstaff, Cain, Belgrove (Bird 70), Forde, Galliford, Cue (Penfold 63).

Unused subs: Didik, Max, Mensah.

Att: 517