On today`s showing the future’s bright for Halifax Town, the side who nearly died. But the community and the money men rallied just as they have done in Grimsby this summer. Ok the Shaymen dropped a league or three, before returning as phoenix club with the prefix ‘FC’, but last year they bounced back one and as champions to boot. Good luck Shaymen from one Town to another, we feel your pain we share your pride. Two towns passions clearly still burn brightly for the peoples game.
Keeper Kenny Arthur returned in goal, with Wood at right back, Ridley on the left and Garner and Watt in the middle. In midfield Samuels took the right, Eagle the left, with Hudson and Cummins in the engine room. Then finally up front, the irrepressible Captain Peacock, alongside young Dixon; with Connell clearly in cotton wool until Crawley.
For the Shaymen in their own lyrics, a motivating rhythm of the light, as Taylor and Vardy made welcome returns after injury. Thus Simon Garner switched to left-back, and Scott Phelan missed out again. The Phoenix club are clearly on the rise, their bright new stand very much a reflection of their start to proceedings. They more than matched us early doors with perspiration and inspiration matched by a desire with a physical edge. So just the test then.
But to the game shipmates.
The defences did their jobs in a shot shy opening quarter; Hogan looked a very intelligent and composed centre back and mopped up everything, including Eagle’s pinpoint corner. Wood then received some treatment at the other end before Vardy, the left winger, who looks a box of tricks, linked well with Holland. His piquant flick put Vardy through on goal but he miscontrolled and blew it.
Eagle too could have put a bit more power behind a 20 yarder that keeper Hedges gathered with glee. Holland headed well over after a very slick three man move down the Halifax right showing that we were not the only side who could play. We had been were showing some nice footwork again but flattering to deceive until midway though the first half. Another wonderful corner from Eagles saw Watt head narrowly over from close range before electing successfully to take the direct route.
We went route one alright on 23 minutes, with a long clearance out of defence, illustrating the need to keep two up. Dixon in one movement sprung the trap, flicking the ball superbly into Peacock`s path. And with nowt but grass and the potential to put a keeper on his?. he duly strutted-his-stuff at a canter, before playing penalty box roulette to coolly convert.
The Shaymen hit back like a wounded matriarch protecting her young. For three minutes they really stretched us before Taylor latched onto a clever ball, found himself onside, rounded Arthur with some nifty footwork, touched home and bowed before the crowd on 26. Mind you midfield musketeers Mark Hudson and Micky Cummins certainly know how to spray it about with Eagle a more than willing gopher. They do expose the back four however which made for an exhilarating game of opportunities at both ends that an already greying Woods could well do without this season.
A poor Arthur clearance almost gave Taylor a second but his angled drive was saved beneath the bar as Kenny claimed well. On 36 Dixon showed how to finish, taking a peach of a ball from Eagle in his stride to the edge of the box, before rifling low into the corner, giving Hedges no chance. Beware the wounded Shaymen as Riley headed a corner onto the underside of the bar, Vardy saw his rebound blocked before Hogan fired wide in a real old school ping pong penalty box melee. Having ridden the storm we earned the right to play and dominate as the half drew to a close.
The hosts made three changes at the break, with Phil Senior, Richard Marshall and Scott Metcalfe all coming on. The shape of the game had clearly changed with Town getting a wake up call 90 seconds in as Riley bludgeoned the bar with a searing strike. The hosts had more corners than a dodecahedron with Metcalfe, a tidy player seemingly at the root of everything hitting the post. Garner took one for the team with Vardy clean through, as they rattled us.
Cummins was mugged in the middle but Metcalfe shot straight at Arthur from 18 yards. Marshall wasted a cross from Vardy, heading over on 54 minutes and then touched a grass cutter cross against the post; as the Mariners defence continued to operate on the ‘more luck than judgement` mantra. Vardy has unlucky with a curling effort from the edge of the box as Corner replaced Peacock and Colgan came on for Arthur for the last fifteen.
Halifax continued to threaten as the Mariners sat back on our lead Baker firing wide from close range. Clearly Crawley was uppermost in the Codfather`s mind as Corner apart he did not attempt to change things. Eagle had a last gasp freekick well blocked but that would have been unjust on the Shaymen who deserved a draw.
FC Halifax Town:
Hedge (Senior 45), Hardy, Garner, Baker, Riley, Hogan, Gray (Plummer 80), Winter (Metclafe 45), Holland, Taylor (Marshall 45), Vardy. Subs Not Used: Heffernan
Goalscorers: Taylor (26)
Shots On Target: 4, Shots Off Target: 6, Corners: 4
Arthur (Colgan 77), Wood, Ridley, Cummins, Garner, Watt, Samuels, Hudson, Dixon, Peacock (Corner 75), Eagle. Subs Not Used: Gray, Hegarty, Rhoades, Leary
Goalscorers: Peacock (23), Dixon (36)
Shots On Target: 2, Shots Off Target: 4, Corners: 6