FC Halifax Town manager Billy Heath will be delighted with the way his team bounced back against Vanarama National League high-flyers Chorley FC, after the home side put on an astute tactical performance beating their Lancashire opponents 2-1.
With either side hosting contrasting records, Chorley came into the clash at the MBi Shay in relatively fine form, having lost only two of their previous fifteen league games.
On the other hand, Heath’s side have failed to record a win in their last ten games in all competitions, inviting some heavy pressure on the FC Halifax manager recently.
Heath put his neck on the line pre-match when he opted for an unusual 3-5-2 formation, dropping the ever-present striker Tom Denton in favour of a Richard Peniket and Adam Morgan partnership up top.
Town spent the first half in control, with very little in the way of chances for either side, Heath will have breathed a sigh of relief when his home side made their luck and won a penalty on the fifteenth minute.
Referee Gareth Rhodes pointed to the spot after David Lynch looked to find Morgan with a fine through ball.
Morgan latched onto the pass and checked onto his left foot, taking him past the flailing Chorley ‘keeper Ritchie Branagan getting fouled in the process.
After Heath chose the in-form Morgan in favour of Kosylo for Saturday’s penalty miss at Stalybridge Celtic, the winger made sure he was lining up to take this time. He duly delivered confidently converting the spot kick into the top left corner with power.
If FC Halifax made their luck in earning an opportunity to take the lead, the players will have been thanking their lucky stars when referee Rhodes waved away a hand ball appeal inside the Town area on twenty-four minutes.
Danny Hone valiantly got in the way of a Chorley effort from the edge of the area, the players in black and white raised their arms in appeal but to no avail.
In what appeared to be a stark contrast to the disappointing away defeat to Stalybridge, Heath made some impressive tactical decisions which saw Chorley limited to long-balls and possession in deep areas.
Starting with Lynch and Danny Clarke in holding midfield, the pairing gave forwards like Matty Kosylo and Peniket the license to press and roam inside the Chorley half.
Tom Nicholson, FC Halifax’s third choice goalkeeper, was to start his second league game in a row. The man between the sticks looked assured once again - being called into action on a number of occasions and making a handful of routine saves in the south stand goal.
Chorley forced some early corners onto the FC Halifax defence in the second half but it was on forty-nine minutes when the game sparked to life.
Defender Nathan Hotte played a long ball in the direction of Peniket, the striker was ruled onside and bared down on Branagan’s goal but his shot was stopped courageously by the former Macclesfield ‘keeper.
Early signs in the second half showed that Town were willing to kick on, with Kosylo free to roam, the former Nantwich man caused some serious problems for a Chorley side which had also opted for a three at the back formation.
It was on the hour mark when Town doubled their lead, Kosylo won a free-kick which he took himself, Peniket leaped highest in the area and nodded his header deep into the bottom corner making it 2-1 to Town.
The away side stunned FC Halifax when just ten minutes later after a speculative cross saw a number of free bodies in the penalty area, Chorley captain Dale Witham was under no pressure and headed the ball home.
Heath and his team worked tremendously hard to defend their lead.
The manager brought on 6’7 Tom Denton to do the dirty work and see the game through, as well as some fresh legs as Liam King replaced Kosylo who received a standing ovation from the home supporters.
The substitute King had the opportunity to put the victory to bed when he found himself through on goal with his first touch of the game but the club captain dragged his shot wide despite support from Denton and Morgan emerging across goal.
Next up for FC Halifax Town is Tamworth on Saturday 14th January at the Lamb Ground.
Catch all our pre-match build up on fcht.co.uk throughout the week, as well as reaction from Town’s first win in ten matches on Shaymen Player HD.
FC Halifax Town:1 Tom Nicholson, 2 Kevin Roberts (c), 3 Josh Wilde, 4 Danny Clarke, 5 Scott Garner, 6 Danny Hone, 7 Matt Kosylo (15 Liam King), 8 David Lynch, 9 Nathan Hotte, 10 Adam Morgan, 11 Richard Peniket (17 Tom Denton)
Subs Not Used:14 Alex Simmons, 16 Cliff Moyo, 18 Josh MacDonald
Chorley:1 Ritchie Branagan, 2 Matthew Challoner, 3 Adam Blakeman, 4 Scott Leather (12 Andy Teague), 5 Kieran Charnock, 6 Stephen Jordan, 7 Adam Roscoe (16 Will Beesley), 8 Dale Whitham (c), 9 Marcus Carver, 10 Josh O'Keefe (15 Waqas Azam), 11 Jake Cottrell
Subs Not Used:14 Nathan Sheron, 17 Paul Jarvis
Goals:Kosylo 16', Peniket 59' | Whitham 69'
Yellow Cards:Wilde 13', Morgan 22', Roberts 42' | Leather 53', Whitham 73'
Attendance:1389 (114 AWAY)
Assistant Referees:Joe Goodwin, Johnathan Bickerdike
Final score:FC Halifax Town 2 Chorley 1