Former Shaymen Alex Johnson’s deflected strike inflicted FA Trophy elimination and a first home defeat of the season for FC Halifax Town.
Whole-hearted and rigorous, Johnson’s display earned him a warm standing ovation from the home faithful who acknowledged his stellar performance.
With FC Halifax lacking zip in their offensive play, Guiseley probed the channels with Johnson gliding and hustling the make-shift centre-back pairing of Lois Maynard and Simon Ainge">Simon Ainge. With little leigh-way given by either side, the game’s best opening fell to Johnson who failed to plant a telling header at goal, as it trickled harmlessly to Matt Glennon following neat wing-play by Wayne Brooksby.
Whilst Johnson was making a noteworthy impression on proceedings Kevin Holsgrove, a summer acquisition from Guiseley, was subjected to taunts by the contingent of away fans. As he twice shot in frustration dragging both attempts wide.
Up the other end Johnson was becoming an increasing nuisance for Maynard and Ainge to thwart as his persistence drew a foul from Ainge. The resulting free-kick from Wayne Brooksby swirled just past Glennon’s near-post.
Soon after Maynard tried to sheppard the ball out of play but to no avail as Johnson tenaciously nipped in and drilled a cross-cum-shot at goal.
Josh Wilson another former Lion produced an intricate lofted through ball for Joe Ironside to latch onto, but custodian Steve Drench performed diligently as sweeper. Moments later and a ripple of applause turned
to outrage from the Shaymen supporters as referee Darren Handley waved away claims for a Halifax penalty despite Holsgrove’s pass appearing to brush the arm of Adam Lockwood.
Just as the final stages of the first-half were meandering into a stalemate Johnson’s tireless application was rewarded with a goal, all be it a fortuitous one.
Springing away from Ainge, Johnson spun and shot in one movement to see his deflected strike loop over the hapless Glennon and into to the left-hand corner.
At the turn of the interval the introduction of Dan Gardner appeared to gee up his below-par team-mates as his first early touches of the ball showed the finesse which was lacking in the first-half.
Yet Guiseley continued to look menacing on the counter-attacks with Johnson leading the line superbly.
However Halifax almost restored parity only for the under-worked Drench to acrobatically repel a powerful Ainge header from a delightful Gardner corner-kick. But the match continued to irritate Town as
possession lacked incision with chances still at a premium.
On the other hand Guiseley were churning out opportunities as Rhys Meynall coaxed his way past debutant Sam Patterson only for his curling shot to flash beyond the far-post. Nevertheless Craig Hobson a replacement for Johnson, cannoned the ball against the post with the rebound rolling gratefully into the hands of Glennon.
The visitors soon gave Neil Aspin’s troops another reprieve as Lockwood could only glance his free header wide of goal much to his angst. As precious minutes were beginning to evaporate for FC Halifax Town.
Adam Smith’s marauding run ended with a sliced effort on goal, Scott McManus then stroked a delicious low ball across the six-yard box with no colleague in support.
As fourth official Adam Burgess signalled four minutes of stoppage time a Gardner cross was hacked away by Lockwood along with a dangerous Wilson nod down with John Worthington flinging himself at the loose ball.
FC Halifax Town
Matt Glennon, Sam Patterson, Scott McManus, Simon Ainge">Simon Ainge, Matty Pearson, Archie Love, Joe Ironside, Adam Smith, Josh Wilson, Kevin Holsgrove & Lois Maynard
Substitutes: Kevin Holsgrove replaced by (Dan Gardner 45 minutes) Matty Pearson off (Jon Worthington 53 minutes) & Joe Ironside off (Paul Marshall 68 minutes)
Steve Drench, Andy Holdsworth © Rhys Meynall, Jack Rea, Adam Lockwood, Danny Hall, Wayne Brooksby, Danny Boshell, Alex Johnson, Danny Forrest & Gavin Rothery
Substitutes: Alex Johnson (Craig Dobson 76 minutes)
FC Halifax Town: Archie Love 62 minutes
Guiseley: Rhys Meynall 28 minutes, Danny Boshell 39 minutes, Danny Hall 49 minutes
Referee: Darren Handley
Attendance: 935 (98 Guiseley fans)