FC Halifax 0 County 0
OK, let`s dispense with the fiction first: Stockport County are to sign both Lionel Messi and Christiano Ronaldo.
The recorded visiting support at the MBI Shay stadium for the visit of Stockport County was 992.
One of these statements is considerably more untrue than the other!
The County faithful were allocated four blocks of 300 seat stands and in fact ended up with around 100 having to stand in the gangways or at the back of the stand, so, by my reckoning around 1300 of the blue army were in attendance. Perhaps Halifax employs the same bean counters as Harrogate.
Another point of ire was that the eminently more suitable standing terrace behind the north stand would have been ideal, but of course Halifax would not have been able to charge £16 for that privilege, an amount that would cause the Neville brothers to choke on their designer burgers and probably did so last week.
My last visit to the Shay was around a quarter of a century ago to witness a defeat in the Autoglass Trophy. The stadium has considerably changed for the better, and aside from the gents toilets circa 1923, this is a decent place to watch football.
To the game then: After last weeks six goal, action packed thriller at home to Darlington, this I have to say, was something of a damp squib. An enjoyable enough game but devoid of much incident or action really until the last 10 minutes or so when AFC Halifax stepped up a gear.
County`s only change was Ball in for Marsden, and the early minutes saw a foul on Elliot Osborne within shooting distance that Jimmy Ball put wide.
A nice interplay between Ball, Lloyd and Kay looked promising, but eventually the ball was lost and a Halifax throw was awarded. Gary Stopforth, playing what we are assured was his last game for the Hatters, then probed the Halifax back line and a wayward back pass to the home keeper Johnson that he was unable to pick up momentarily caused some panic but then it didn`t.
At the other end Michael Clarke tried to shepherd a ball out for a goal kick but failed to do so but the home team were unable to capitalise.
Another bone crunching foul on Osborne yet again escaped any punishment, and it was clear that referee Peter Gibbons was the latest in a long line of officials to go out of their way to keep opposition players out of his notebook or worse.
Osborne then broke down the left and shot across the face of Johnson`s goal where a home defender put it out for a corner, taken by Danny Lloyd, who, perhaps buoyed by his in-swinger last weekend, put the kick into the roof of the net - not for the last time.
The home side then attacked and were awarded a free kick that was dealt with, and then on 17 minutes they were awarded a free kick in a more dangerous position 20 yards out, but that cleared Ben Hinchliffe`s crossbar and some.
Halifax then mounted another attack following an incorrect decision to award them a throw after Gary Stopforth had prevented the ball going out. With at least two home players clearly offside and the liner having a temporary doze, the illegal danger was defended.
At the halfway point of the first half Kayode Odejayi was wrestled to the ground, no kick given, but subsequently Danny Lloyd was awarded a free kick that led to a County corner that Danny put out of play beyond the far post.
Back at the other end Lewis Montrose, having another good game, headed out......... but Mr Gibbons spotted something that none of the other 2925 did and the resultant kick from Adam Morgan cannoned off the underside of Hinchliffe`s crossbar and the danger was cleared.
Shortly after Kay received what can only be described as a forearm smash that referee Gibbons failed to react to and then stopped the game because of a head injury?
Following another assault Kay was eventually rewarded and Lloyd`s free kick was deflected for a corner that Danny again plops onto the roof of the net. A poor foul on Lloyd is not given and then a series of assaults on Kay eventually results in a …. free kick to the home side.
In a rare Halifax attack Michael Clarke is badly fouled on the edge of his own box by David Lynch and even Mr Gibbons cannot ignore this and shows him a yellow.
The half then concludes with more amnesia from the main stand liner with two home forwards in an offside position, Montrose fouled - nothing given and the referee blows for half time.
The home side appear to have benefited from the break and look more positive.
A free kick to AFC on 50 minutes causes few problems but following good play they gain a corner - their first, and the resultant shot is put wide.
On 55 minutes good interplay between Stopforth and Lloyd sees the latter get a shot off that Johnson in the home goal spills but with the ball bobbling around the goal line it didn`t cross it.
Lewis Montrose is fouled yet again and Josh Wilde is booked. Shortly after this a Halifax free kick is cleared and as Danny Lloyd breaks he is dragged down and the kick is given that Lloyd takes and sends straight to the home keeper.
Up to this point in the game I felt that County were the better side but without really creating much, and when they did the home sides somewhat agriculture stopping methods paid dividends for them. On the hour mark County`s summer target Tom Denton replaced Richard Peniket and County responded by replacing Kay with Kaine Felix.
Denton`s introduction seemed to transform the home side, he was winning everything in the air and his knock downs were finding home players in decent positions. None the less the fouls continued to be dished out and Jimmy Ball was the latest recipient of an elbow to the head - not given. Gary Stopforth was then booked, for what, I have not the foggiest. What up to this point had been an enjoyable if unspectacular event was really starting to open up now.
An assault on Scott Duxbury resulted in a booking for Matty Kosylo. Kosylo then finds himself in space with only Hinchliffe to beat but the keepers excellent positioning forces Koyslo to screw his shot wide.
In an increasingly rare break, a long ball out of the County defence finds Kaine Felix on the right, and his pace beats the home defence.
Unsurprisingly he is hauled down by Nathan Hotte, last man?..... maybe........ red card?....... maybe, but of course it`s a yellow and the home sides continual thuggery pays off again. Such was the ferocity of the challenge on Felix his shirt is ripped clean in two and a replacement is found.
On 71 minutes the home side replace Nti with Macdonald. A clutch of County corners then ensue all of which are wasted. On 86 minutes Mark Ross replaces Jimmy Ball and the home side keep up the pressure with a Denton header cleanly saved by Hinchliffe.
On 90 minutes Harry Brazel replaces Danny Lloyd and his first contribution was to concede a free kick just outside the penalty area. Some goal mouth ping pong ensues and Clarke clears his lines just in the nick of time. Halifax gain themselves a rare corner kick that is cleared then County close to the end of the added 4 minutes get yet another corner that is cleared and Mr Gibbons blows to end proceedings.
A strange game in many ways, it felt a bit disjointed and probably a draw was about the right result.
Despite having most of the ball, certainly for the first hour and the majority of all the corner kicks, the Hatters created very little and the two best chances of the game fell to Halifax who looked a different side with Denton and will probably consider this two points dropped. I felt their physical approach amply rewarded by referee Gibbons was unnecessary and in the end as with the Darlington game probably depriving the opposition of points was more beneficial then the point gained in each game.
See you at Brackey.
Stockport County:1 Ben Hinchliffe, 2 Sam Minihan, 3 Scott Duxbury, 4 Lewis Montrose, 5 Michael Clarke ©, 6 Chris Smalley, 7 Gary Stopforth, 8 Elliot Osborne, 9 Kayode Odejayi (Felix 60`), 10 Jimmy Ball (Ross 86`), 11 Daniel Lloyd (Brazel 90`)
Subs:12 Mark Ross, 13 Ian Ormson, 14 Harry Brazel, 15 John Marsden, 16 Kaine Felix
FC Halifax Town:1 Sam Johnson, 2 Kevin Roberts ©, 3 Josh Wilde, 4 Liam King, 5 Scott Garner, 6 Nathan Hotte, 7 Matty Kosylo, 8 David Lynch, 9 Daniel Nti (Macdonald 71`), 10 Adam Morgan, 11 Richard Peniket (Denton 60`)
Subs:12 Steven Drench, 14 Jordan Sinnott, 15 Cliff Moyo, 16 Tom Denton, 17 Josh Macdonald
Yellow cards:Lynch (43`), Wilde (55`), Stopforth (63`), Kosylo (65`), Hotte (69`)
Attendance: 2925 (away 992 yeah right!)
[ Thank you Adrian for the match report.
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Photos from the game appear here! ,