Under-fire FC Halifax Town
miss the chance to climb up to third place in the Skrill Premier after succumbing to a goalless draw against a cohesive Braintree Town
Rampant last Saturday to pedestrian this evening, Neil Aspin's side failed to create a catalogue of chances in front of an expectant 1,535 crowd.
Having recorded their highest win of the season away at Southport
48 hours earlier, Braintree began in buoyant fashion after participating in a gruelling ten Skrill Premier mathces a month earlier. By contrast Halifax recorded a fifth clean sheet in their last six matches.
With the encounter failing to compel, James Bolton's innocuous yet firm high boot was penalised for a foul on Dan Sparks. The latter picked himself up to swirl a probing cross into the heart of the FC Halifax Town
goalmouth. The back-pedalling Marc Roberts
cleared under difficulty, as Matty Pearson sprung the first telling counter attack of the half which resulted in Scott McManus
' drive zipping over the upright.
The lackadaisical feel to the opening quarter of proceedings was slashed amid protests from The Shaymen faithful. Acting as sweeper Braintree custodian Nik Hamann thundered towards the bouncing ball
Despite their heavy exertions on the road, The Iron bedded into the game assertively by stifling Halifax's offensive flow and conjuring up the first glorious opportunity of play, as a static FC Halifax back-line was undone by a routine looped ball forward. Bearing down on goal top scorer Dan Holman skewed his attempt wide of the far-post as howls for offside descended down on assistant referee Joseph Johnson.
After surviving a cumbersome corner ball that flashed across the face of goal, Holman struck wide from an acute angle following a neat flick by Sean Marks.
After nabbing the opener in the recent success over Champions-elect Luton Town
, Roberts tried to follow suit again but his header this time lacked accuracy as it bounced away for a goal-kick.
's stupendous marauding run proved the catalyst for a late Halifax siege on Hamann's goal. With his venomous strike arrowing towards the bottom right-hand corner Hamann's managed to fingertip the shot around the post. Soon after Paul Marshall
and Adam Smith
fired efforts into the barren North Stand as the half continued to peter out.
No sooner had fourth official Ian Johnston signalled for one minute of stoppage time, Ryan Crowther buccaneered forward through a combination of intricate feet and great acceleration as his curling cross was headed out for a corner. Hamann partially flicked the ball away with Roberts hurriedly swinging a right leg at the loose ball which sliced wide.
Dismayed by a lethargic first-half showing, the hosts began with an eagerness to claim the opening goal. Pearson dispossessed Sam Habergham on the byline, while assessing his options the impressive Matt Paine stole the ball from his toes to clear to safety.
Whilst beginning sprightly, the Essex outfit very nearly scored against the run of play as Holman tried to thread Marks through, unable to take it in his stride the former Heybridge Swifts forward unlawfully launched himself at Matt Glennon
While the Scott Spencer introduction was greeted with applause, the sight of Roberts hobbling off was greeted with alarm as Danny Lowe
came on for his first appearance since injuring himself at Hereford back in November 26th 2013.
Spencer, a recent acquisition from Hyde, audaciously volleyed over the upright. Inspired rather than undeterred Marshall shot from a similar position as Dean Wells crucially flung himself at the strike which deflected agonisingly over the bar.
With either side failing to pepper the goals with attempts, Luke Daley had a chance to give Alan Devonshire's troops the lead with a dangerous free-kick opportunity. But he fluffed his lines as the shot whistled woefully over the top, it proved to be his last contribution as he was hauled off for Alex Jakubiak.
Content with a share of the spoils the visitors continued to retreat deeper denying Gregory space to manoeuvre. With four minutes of stoppage time awarded Bolton stormed forward and clipped a rising attempt on goal but it sailed wide without causing Hamann any panic.
29 James Bolton
5 Matty Pearson
28 Ryan Crowther
40 Scott Spencer
31 Marlon Jackson
20 Nik Hamann
2 Ryan Peters
3 Sam Habergham
4 Chez Isaac
5 Matt Paine
9 Sean Marks (C)
10 Dan Holman
11 Dan Sparks (Josh Laurent 45)
12 Luke Daley (Alex Jakubiak 79 minutes)
15 Alan Massey
19 Dean Wells
1 Nathan McDonald
22 Jordan Cox
23 Josh Laurent
27 Alex Jakubiak
28 Jordan Holdsworth
Referee: Anthony Backhouse