FC Halifax Town
endured a frustrating afternoon at The Shay, as they were held to a 3-3 draw to Blue Square North strugglers, Histon
scored on his second Halifax debut as Town came back from two goals down to lead with less than ten minutes remaining, though were unable to hold on as a late Danny Fitzsimmons header snatched a point for Histon
Pleas were made at half time for help in clearing The Shay’s turf ahead of anticipated snowfall across the weekend, in a bid to guarantee Tuesday night’s match will go ahead.
The perceived worry is that it will not take a lot to make the turf unplayable, which was painfully evident today as the players walked out onto a patched-up pitch whose covering was more brown-beige sand than lush, green grass.
Not that this deterred Town from their play-off pursuit, as the Shaymen came out with a high tempo from the offset.
should have given Town the lead early on. With no particular threat imminent, Ryan Touslon, almost nonchalantly, lofted a cross deep into Histon
The visitors seemed oblivious to the inquisitive foray from Town’s left back McManus who, almost to his surprise, found his head on the end of the delivery though Callum Kitscha did well to stay big and block from close range.
then went close, a powerful drive from the edge of the Histon
area caused all sorts of problems for Kitscha, who acrobatically clawed away the swerving ball.
Town’s pressure did not wane. Lee Gregory
should have also given Town the lead as another cross floated in and the striker found himself with time to take down on his chest, though his boot met air rather than the ball from seven yards before Paul Marshall
, who did make contact, shot deep into the North Stand.
Then surprise for Town. A first attack from Histon
produced the game’s first goal for the side desperate for points at the Blue Square North’s foot.
Young full back Zac Mills strolled forward and, when eventually put under pressure, produced a lovely through-ball with the outside of his right boot that split Town’s defence.
His intended target latched on to the pass, for which even Jack Wilshire would have been proud, as Cluadiu Hoban took control and held off his marker before rolling the ball, via an arm from Matt Glennon
, into the net.
Town looked to reply straight away, though again the North Stand was the final destination for the effort from a Halifax shirt, Titchener was the guilty party this time.
Gregory hit a crossbar from a dangerously-delivered free kick by Marshall as the pattern of the match continued along the same lines as before Histon
’s untimely intervention.
However Town’s final product just was not up to standards. Marshall stuck well wide form outside the box before neat build-up from Chris Worsley
found McManus, who cut back to his midfield teammate, though Worsley’s shot was scuffed wide in ugly fashion.
Frustration spread throughout The Shay. Titchener drilled across goal after winning possession, forcing Kitscha to parry back into his box. The ball fell to Worsley who tried to lay off Gardner though the latter had advanced too far, leaving Worsley to pass straight to Histon
’s defence with the goal gaping.
A catalogue of almost comical defending from the visitors somehow did not help Town to break down the Blue Square North strugglers, their defence answered, somehow, everything that was thrown at them.
’s awkward 4-3-3 counter-attacking setup was showing signs of why they had managed to go five games unbeaten, including a triplet of wins, prior to this encounter.
Though they didn’t need to rely on their own form as Town gifted their visitors a second goal on the stroke of half time.
After another rare Histon
attack, Town had multiple opportunities to clear though failed on each account. Liam Hogan
took charge though lost possession in doing so before the ball was immediately swept right to Lewis Taffe, who made no mistake striking low into Matt Glennon
’s right-hand corner.
Words were exchanged between goalkeeper and defender amidst angry and frustrated chants from the home crowd, prompting referee Turner to call the two together, along with captain Danny Lowe
, to calm the situation.
Half time duly brought changes as the anonymous Tom Platt, a home debutant on loan from York, made way for new signing and fellow home debutant Sean Williams.
It was three minutes into the half that Town replied, and in style. The Shaymen surged forward from the half way line through Gardner. He passed to the similarly advancing Worsley, who played back to Gardner, who then played again to Worsley.
The one-touch build up brought a one-touch cross from Worsley onto which pounced Titchener with a one-touch finish to score on his second debut.
The Fleetwood man’s typically busy performance kept the intensity of Town’s attacking high as the young striker showed skill in knocking a Gregory flicked-on header over his marker and forcing a save from Kitscha on the volley.
’s defence continued to flounder, giving the ball away to Town. The ball was played long to Titchener who was clever to find space and touch away from Kitscha, who then brought the striker down.
Referee Turner pointed to the spot from which Gardner equalised, squeezing between post and goalkeeper. Kitscha might have considered himself fortunate to escape with only a yellow card for bringing down Town’s loan ranger.
Titchener was again in the midst of the action, picking up the ball on the left edge of the area and striking hard at goal. The ball bounced up off a Histon
defender and hit Gardner though the goal-bound deflection was saved sharply by Kitscha.
still posed a danger however, as a rare break brought large appeals for a penalty from the visitors. Histon
goal scorer Hoban was the man in question and was somewhat disappointed not be not to be awarded more.
If his pram had been full of toys, it wasn’t after his display of dissatisfaction toward referee Turner’s decision to award a goal, rather than penalty, kick.
It did not distract Town from their second half mission, which took a huge step to completion as Worsley put Town ahead for the first time in the game.
More neat build-up from the home side saw Worsley slipped through into the box on the overlap and, from a tight angle, managed to squeeze an emphatic finish in off the cross bar from a tight angle.
Town looked comfortable, back to controlling the match through scoreline as well as possession. It was not to last as Histon
grabbed an unlikely and sucker-punching equaliser.
A corner was swung in and Danny Fitzsimmons, Histon
’s tall number five centre half, rose highest to power home, despite the best efforts of the leaping Gregory on Town’s goal line.
The Shay was stunned, the Histon
cohort exuberant. A red and black dog pile including players and bench ensued, piling on Fitzsimmons who had reeled away, arm aloft, past the handful of ecstatic travelling supporters.
The goal gave Histon
a new wind, as the visitors suddenly played with vigour and with a confidence to keep the ball.
It wasn’t long until they were scrapping again though as Town pushed for a late winner. Marshall had a volley blocked on the line and Worsley fired over in vein as Town were left frustrated.
FC Halifax Town
: 1, Matt Glennon
; 2, Ryan Toulson
; 3, Scott McManus
; 4, Liam Hogan
; 5, Tom Platt; 6, Danny Lowe
(C); 7 Chris Worsley
; 8, Paul Marshall
; 9, Dan Gardner
; 10, Lee Gregory
; 11, Alex Titchener
. Subs: Phil Senior
, Gareth Seddon
(Gardner), Sean Kelly, Sean Williams (Platt), Jason St. Juste(McManus)
: 1, Callum Kitscha; 2, Zac Mills; 3, Harri Hawkins, 4; Remy Clerima (C); 5, Danny Fitzsimmons; 6, Grant Roberts; 7, Nick Freeman; 8, James Stevenson; 9, Lewis Taffe; 10, Ben Coker; 11, Claudiu Hoban. Subs: Jack Sessions, Barney McLaughlin, Jack Utteridge, Matty Waters, Harry Omalley
: Claudiu Hoban 17, Lewis Taffe 45, Danny Fitzsimmons 76