FC Halifax Town have collected a point after drawing 1-1 with AFC Telford United at the MBi Shay Stadium in the Vanarama National League North.
A dramatic late goal from Josh Wilde cancelled out an outstanding volley from former Worcester City midfielder Joe Fitzpatrick.
Winger Alex Simmons spoke about putting in a ‘good performance’ prior to the game, as Town looked to revitalise their form after a string of recent bad results. Billy Heath’s side were knocked out of three different cup competitions recently, so the gaffer was keen to put the Shaymen’s recent form right.
Considering the recent form of both sides, the game started in quite a subdued manor, as referee Paul Brown gave plenty of decisions preventing the game to flow. This was a theme throughout the game as Brown gave plenty of free-kicks either way.
The game sparked to life, though, just before the twenty-minute mark as Telford were extremely fortunate to still have eleven men on the field. A through ball from left-back Ben O’Hanlon was played towards Steven Drench’s six-yard box, Drench collected the ball before striker Bradley Reid slid into the Halifax ‘keeper late with no intention of playing the ball.
Some handbags ensued in the Halifax penalty area and Reid pushed Matty Kosylo to the ground, an offence that this time went surprisingly unpunished by the referee. O’Hanlon was booked following his involvement in the melee and shortly after, Reid, currently on loan from Wolves, was penalised for a blatant push on Nathan Hotte.
Referee Brown made a bold decision in keeping both sides at eleven men, something that Halifax will have felt hard done by when David Lynch entered the book for a strong tackle on halfway.
There was extremely little in the way of goal mouth action throughout the game, but right on the forty-fifth minute Town had one in the back of their net.
‘Keeper Stephen Drench comfortably came off his line to collect a deep cross, before the AFC Telford forward knocked the ball out of his hands and across the line. The assistant referee on the far side put his flag up immediately.
A battle of the toughest developed during the first hour, as Town’s latest signing Danny Clarke, playing in the ‘number ten’ role put in a real physical shift against on-loan defensive midfielder Jonathan Royle.
Currently at New Bucks Head from Stockport County, Royle was replaced on ’60-minutes by Joe Fitzpatrick due to a suspected groin injury.
Following the halftime break, there was a distinct change of wind as FC Halifax shot towards the South Stand. Both wingers in Kosylo and Simmons put dangerous crosses into the box despite the Shaymen struggling to get a shot on target.
A couple of huge chances came midway through the second half, with Kosylo going close two times in quick succession.
Danny Clarke being the supplier, the ex-North Ferriby midfielder played a through ball for Kosylo who found himself free of the Telford backline. He tried to slip the ball under James Montgomery, a ‘keeper who has attracted attention from Premier League side Sunderland, but the 22 year-old did everything right.
It was the substitute Fitzpatrick who made the difference though, when on eighty-two minutes the midfielder hit an absolute rocket from twenty-five yards out, a goal that was worthy to win any game.
The goal came after Drench pawed a deflected long range effort over the bar routinely, the subsequent corner wasn’t dealt with properly and the 19 year-old from Worcester City hit an unstoppable volley.
It was left-back Josh Wilde who had the last laugh, though, the defender placed an effort into the right hand top corner. The chance came following an unbelievable save from the ‘keeper Montgomery after Jake Hibbs thought he’d secured a point late-on.
This result leaves FC Halifax Town 8th place in the Vanarama National League North going into the Shaymen’s Boxing Day clash away at Darlington.