First half goals from Jon Parkin and Elliot Frear inflicted a 2-0 defeat on FC Halifax Town in the Vanarama National League, marking the first loss of manager Jim Harvey’s reign.
Parkin converted from the penalty spot despite having his initial effort saved by Sam Johnson, while Frear added a second with a clever finish on the half hour mark to seal the three points for the away side, ending The Shaymen’s remarkable 13-match unbeaten run.
Jim Harvey made just the one change from Town’s midweek FA Trophy victory over Chester, with James Bolton returning to the side in place of Richard Peniket.
Town started brightly and defended resolutely, with Scott McManus firing wide early on. Bolton played an excellent through ball for Jordan Burrow, but he couldn’t beat his man and possession was lost.
Forest Green’s first real opportunity came when the bright Keanu Marsh-Brown crossed for Parkin, who headed behind with the aid of a defection. Darren Carter was next to test Town’s defence, firing a low shot into the arms of Johnson.
Sam Walker curled a 25-yard free-kick goal bound, but saw his effort gathered by Steve Arnold. The game then turned on a controversial decision when referee Ian Hussin awarded Forest Green a rather innocuous looking penalty, as Burrow was adjudged to have handled in the area, leaving the home crowd incensed.
Johnson did brilliantly to keep out Parkin’s first effort, but Rovers’ top scorer made no mistake with the rebound, firing home his 11th goal of the season. The Shaymen went straight down the other end in search of an instant reply, with Burrow placing a header narrowly wide.
Town’s pressure intensified and caused a scramble in the visitor’s box, with Josh MacDonald seeing his low shot well blocked. Moments later, Forest Green hit on the counter and made Town pay with a clinical move, as Marsh-Brown excellently pulled the ball back across goal for Frear, who slotted home to make it 2-0.
Walker was denied for the second time by Arnold as he let fly from 25 yards, before his free-kick was met by the head of Hamza Bencherif, but the latter couldn't quite force his header on target. At the other end Johnson denied Frear with a crucial save.
The Shaymen came out of the traps quickly at the start of the second half, with Kingsley James supplying a superb cross for half-time substitute Richard Peniket, whose header flew a few yards over the top.
Opening goal scorer Parkin tried an audacious shot from 30 yards, only to witness his effort sail harmlessly wide of Town’s goal. The Shaymen poured forward again as MacDonald found Burrow in space on the edge of the area.
Town’s leading scorer twisted and turned but was unable to find the target as David Pipe headed clear with an excellently timed interception. The away side could have added a third to put the result beyond doubt when Charlie Clough’s clever pass set Rob Sinclair bearing down on goal, but his looped effort went over.
Carter struck the frame of the crossbar with a stunning effort after a scrappy spell, while James tried his luck from well outside of the area, only to be dealt with by the unbeatable Arnold.
As three minutes of additional time went up, Johnson had to be at his best to deny Moore, before the match was brought to a close with a melee similar to the one that marred the end of last season’s clash at The Shay.
Nearly every player was involved, with both Connor Hughes and Dale Bennett on the receiving end of a yellow card. Despite Town’s spirited efforts, the final whistle signalled the end of Jim Harvey’s unbeaten record, leaving The Shaymen a point clear of the relegation zone.
Man of the Match: Kevin Roberts