Halesowen 0, Stratford 2

NEW boss Rob Smith failed to make a winning start to his Halesowen Town reign as Stratford secured a comfortable victory at the Grove.

A penalty from Wilson Carvalho and a Will Grocott strike gave the visitors all three points as the goal-shy Yeltz failed to fire.

Hales handed debuts to loan signings Callum Coyle and Liam Truslove as the new boss looked to quickly freshen things up.

It was Stratford that were quicker out the traps at the Grove and created the first opportunity after just three minutes as Jamie McAteer forced Kieran Boucher to push away his powerful effort.

However, the hosts worked their way into the contest with some neat build-up play. Lewis Reilly headed over on eight minutes before Tobias Hayles-Docherty fired wide moments later after Lee Hughes had played him in down the left channel.

The game then hit a lull with both side’s battling for supremacy in midfield as chances soon dried up.

When it finally came back to life on 25 minutes it was again young keeper Boucher, making his home debut, that foiled the visitors.

The 19-year-old former Villa youngster tipped Albi Skendi’s dipping shot from 20 yards onto the bar to keep the contest goalless.

Truslove and Reilly saw efforts collected by away stopper Ross Etheridge approaching the break before Will Grocott curled a free-kick over for Stratford.

The clash remained goalless at the break after Boucher this time denied Wilson Carvalho with his legs in added time.

The second period saw the Yeltz struggle to apply any sort of pressure to Stratford and it was the visitors that eventually broke the deadlock just before the hour mark.

Joab Wheatley dived in on forward Michael Turner and ref Neil Pratt quickly pointed to the spot.

This time there was nothing Boucher could do as Carvalho stepped up to fire home.

The home side remained too deep and couldn’t find a way to worry Etheridge, who remained a spectator for long spells.

Stratford bagged their second on 71 minutes when Grocott provided the finish after Boucher spilt a low ball in from the left.

Truslove eventually tested Etheridge on 80 minutes with a low near-post effort after a well-worked short corner.

That effort was all the home side had to show from a poor second half showing which underlined the big job Smith has on his hands.

He will be looking for much more when his side host Alvechurch on Tuesday night.

Halesowen: Boucher, Wheatley, Kelly, Lawton, Bragoli (c), Charlton, Reilly, Coyle, Hughes (Agbor 68), Truslove (Hawkshaw 83), Hayles-Docherty.

Unused subs: Rea, Tonks, Hill.

Stratford: Etheridge, Cox, Isaac, Fry (c), McAteer, Williams, Wilson, Skendi, Taylor, Grocott (Oulton 90), Carvalho.

Unused subs: Oulton, Olunkanmi, Dias, Cooke, Morrison.

Att: 412.