FC Halifax Town climbed out of the relegation zone with a vital 1-0 win over Macclesfield Town, as Shaun Tuton’s second half strike extended The Shaymen's unbeaten run to nine matches.
Having controlled much of the first half, Town's attacking prowess paid dividends in the 77th minute, when Tuton latched onto Kingsley James’ through ball and calmly slotted home his 11th goal of the season, handing The Shaymen a first win at Moss Rose since 1999.
The result sees Jim Harvey’s side move up to 19th in the Vanarama National League, marking the first time this season that Town have been out of the bottom four. Harvey named an unchanged side for the third successive game, as James Bolton and Hamza Bencherif both faced their former side.
A frantic start saw chances go begging for both teams. Andy Halls steamed down the right hand side before he pulled the ball back to Kristian Dennis, who couldn’t get a shot away cleanly. Town instantly countered down the other end and won the first corner of the match after Tuton burst into the box but saw his effort turned behind.
From the resulting flag kick James tried his luck with a half-volley, but his effort was charged down and cleared. The pulsating opening few minutes set the tone for the majority of the first half, with Macclesfield next to threaten. Danny Whitaker fired a low drive towards goal, but Sam Johnson was equal to it and held firm.
Danny Rowe then blazed over after a promising opening, while at the other end Nicky Wroe had an effort gathered by Ritchie Branagan. A clever lofted ball over the Macclesfield defence from Wroe nearly found Sam Walker, before a diagonal cross from James was met by Scott McManus, whose effort was forced behind for a corner.
An excellent ball in from Tuton couldn’t be forced goal-wards by James, as Town began to dominate a fascinating midfield battle between the two sides. George Pilkington’s header from a rare Macclesfield corner flew a few yards wide, while Rowe’s low drive was dealt with by Johnson. The Silkmen looked most threatening down the left hand channel, with Rowe and David Fitzpatrick linking up particularly well and posing plenty of danger.
The Shaymen’s pressure intensified at the half hour mark as Wroe slammed a low shot from 20-yards against the post. Town thought they had the lead on 36 minutes when James Bolton’s in-swinging cross was met by the head of Tuton, who guided the ball into the net. The offside flag brought premature celebrations to a close and denied the away side what would have been a much deserved opener.
Buoyed with confidence, two chances in quick succession could have given Town a half-time lead, but both Bolton and Jordan Burrow failed to place their respective efforts on target as The Shaymen were forced to settle with the score line at 0-0 come the break.
Town began the second half in much the same fashion as they had finished the first, but the home side came on strong as the match descended into a cagey spell. Paul Turnbull’s long-range strike flew harmlessly wide, before Johnson kept the Silkmen out with a strong save.
The on-loan goalkeeper was nearly made to pay when he spilled a cross not once but twice, only for referee Stephen Ross to spare potential blushes as he blew for a foul. Just as the game looked as though it might peter out into a stalemate, Tuton’s third goal in as many games sent the away end into rapture.
A superbly-timed through ball from James found its way to Tuton, who charged into the area and fired home with aplomb to give Town the lead with just thirteen minutes remaining on the clock. The Shaymen had to dig deep in order to preserve their slender one-goal advantage, as Macclesfield piled on the pressure in search of an equaliser.
He may be the league’s top-scorer with 20 goals, but Dennis squandered the hosts’ best chance when he smashed over from close-range, while Town nearly scored a goal-of-the-season contender at the other end. Burrow’s exceptional cross picked out Kevin Roberts, who thundered a first time volley into the palms of Branagan.
Macclesfield continued to push forward deep into the additional four minutes of stoppage time, but Town held out for a fifth league win in their last eight to claim what could prove to be a hugely important three points come the end of the season.
Man of the Match: Kingsley James