"Bucks prepare for bank holiday battle with the unbeaten Yeltz"
Match Date : August 28th, 2023 3:00 pm
Competition : Southern League Premier Central
Ground : New Bucks Head
Kick Off : 15:00
After defeat at Barwell on Saturday, the Bucks are looking to bounce back immediately with a home game against Halesowen Town on bank holiday Monday.
The Yeltz are last season’s Northern Premier League Division One Midlands playoff winners. Having finished 2nd behind champions Stamford, they beat Coleshill Town 3-1 before dramatically overcoming Spalding United 2-1 after extra time in the final – Halesowen leveling the game in the last minute of normal time.
Boss Paul Smith has overseen a revival in Halesowen’s fortunes after the Yeltz endured a miserable 2018/19 campaign, in part under the watch of former Bucks duo Rob Smith and Larry Chambers. Former Redditch boss Paul Smith was then tasked with returning Town to step 3 as soon as possible, but two Covid-affected campaigns (during which the Yeltz were within striking distance of top spot) slowed down Halesowen’s return. A 3rd-place finish followed in 2021/22 before promotion last season.
During his first season in charge, Smith oversaw Halesowen’s remarkable run to the FA Trophy semi finals, which was in part powered by the goals of current Bucks forward Montel Gibson. And the Yeltz can consider themselves hard done by that year as the previously two-legged semis were replaced with one-legged affairs for the first time due to the pandemic – Halesowen ultimately losing 2-1 at Concord Rangers.
Smith added non-league stalwart Gary Whild to his coaching staff this summer, while also keeping much of his promotion-winning squad together. But the Yeltz have still made a number of additions too. New recruits Reece Mitchell (Rushall), Caine Elliott (Rugby Town), Josh Hawker (Stratford) and Jak Hickman (Banbury) have all featured regularly so far, but it’s forward Miracle Okafor who has made the biggest impact since his summer arrival. Okafor bagged 26 league goals for Sporting Khalsa last term, and the dangerous forward wasted no time in endearing himself to the Yeltz faithful as he scored twice on the opening day to seal a 2-1 over Leiston.
Okafor has five goals in five games so far, and he bagged a brace in Saturday’s 5-0 over fellow new boys Long Eaton. That result moved the Yeltz on to nine point, lifting them to 7th in the table. What’s more, Halesowen are one of just three teams in the division who are yet to lose this season (high flyers Mickelover and Stamford being the other two).
Monday will be the first competitive league game between the sides since the Bucks reformed in 2004. And while Kevin Wilkin’s men have struggled on the road so far this term, the Bucks have won both home games, running in ten goals without conceding in the process. And the Bucks will be looking to continue that impressive sequence on Monday.
Tickets for Monday’s fixture will remain on sale up until kick-off and are available for purchase online.