FC Halifax Town have dropped three points in an underwhelming display at Bower Fold against Vanarama National League North strugglers Stalybridge Celtic.
Sitting second from bottom prior to the game, the relegation candidates defiantly defended wave after wave of attack from Billy Heath’s side, with in-form talisman Adam Morgan missing a penalty in the second half.
It was substitute forward Chris Baguley who nicked it at the death for Celtic after a lapse in concentration from the away side.
The early parts were mostly FC Halifax, a lapse in concentration saw Lee Gaskell bear down on goal on ten minutes, but his touch took him away from goal.
At the other end, there was a huge chance for Richard Peniket, playing on the left wing to score when Matty Kosylo found him at the far post. His header going wide of the post.
Immediately after, Kosylo carved a chance out for himself following a Josh Wilde cross. The winger checked onto his weaker left foot and had ‘keeper Grant Shenton beaten if it wasn’t for his near-post.
The referee was busy in the first fifteen, with Danny Clarke receiving a yellow card for a foul on midfielder Gary Gee. The former North Ferriby player was frustrated after losing the ball and fouled the young midfielder.
Stalybridge skipper Matty Hughes entered the book on just under thirty-minutes when he left a mark on Peniket.
You could really begin to see why they struggle for goals at Bower Fold as the surface and conditions made it difficult for either side to get their foot on the ball.
It was mostly half chances in the opening half, with FC Halifax having the majority of them. A couple of strong crosses into the area from Kosylo and left-back Josh Wilde put the Stalybridge Celtic back four under pressure.
But it was on thirty-one minutes where FC Halifax got a real breakthrough, Wilde played a lovely through ball for Clarke, he cut the ball back for Morgan but the pass was cut out.
Town had their first real attempt on the stroke of half time, when in-form striker Morgan fired his individual effort at Shenton. It was the first time the new signing really penetrated the Stalybridge defence but his chance to make it five goals in three games was denied by the ex-Ashton United goalkeeper.
The away side will have felt hard done by going into half-time after numerous chances to take the lead. But when referee Glen Hart awarded Town a penalty ten minutes into the second half, manager Billy Heath must have been convinced it wasn’t his day.
Shenton was there again after Morgan’s attempt from 12-yards, shifting across to save the strikers attempt from the spot. A player who Town will have been counting on to come up with the goods.
Following the miss, Stalybridge went up the other end and forced an outstanding save from Nicholson after a long range effort from Gaskell was destined for the top corner.
Despite currently being the club’s third choice goalkeeper, Nicholson made some vital stops in a confident and assured performance.
Tempers frayed following the incident as Kosylo got involved in some handbags with a number of Stalybridge players. But it was on sixty-eight minutes when the game swayed inStalybridge’s favour.
Centre-half Danny Hone was chasing down a ball over the top with French attacker Florian da Silva, an alleged elbow from Hone sent da Silva to the ground and Hone was penalised as the last man.
Stalybridge also made a change of their own as Gaskell was replaced with Chris Baguley, who took the subsequent free-kick. His strike was saved awkwardly by Nicholson in the FC Halifax goal, but saved nonetheless.
In order to aid the depleted back four, gaffer Heath dragged off in-form talisman Morgan for Cliff Moyo who filled in at centre half.
Baguley then raced to meet a Danny Wisdom cross, with his initial effort being matched by Nicholson, he then poked the ball home in-front of the FC Halifax away end.
The result leaves Town lengths away from the play-off positions going into Tuesday’s visit of Chorley at the MBi Shay.
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Stalybridge Celtic:1. Shenton, 2. Hughes, 3. Mather, 4. O'Brien, 5. Horsdall, 6. Chalmers (Wisdom 46), 7. McKnight, 8. Gee, 9. Wilkins, 10. Gaskell (Baguley 69), 11. Da Silva (Dickinson 82)
Subs Not Used: Morning, Dunbar
FC Halifax Town:1 T.Nicholson, 2. K.Roberts, 3 J.Wilde, 4 D.Clarke, 5 N.Hotte, 6 D.Hone, 7 M.Kosylo, 8 D.Lynch, 9 T.Denton, 10 A.Morgan (Moyo 70), 11 R.Peniket (macDOnald 84)
Subs Not Used: 12, J.Hibbs, 13, A.Simmons, 14, L.King
Yellow Cards:D.Clarke 13, Hughes 28, Wilde 59, McKnight 65, Gee 72, Wilkins 85
Red Cards:Hone 68