AFC Halifax continued their excellent run of form with a 3-1 win over Greater Manchester friends Altrincham at Walton Park. In a mostly closely fought game AFC Halifax picked up their third win on the bounce with goals from Danny Murgatroyd, an Adam Probets' penalty and a goal-of-the-season (allegedly) contender from defender-come-striker Adam Ramsden.
Halifax made the early morning trip over the Pennines with a threadbare squad; an original healthy squad of 14 had been whittled down to a weary looking 11. Late withdrawals from Martin Probets with what was at one point a suspected broken leg, Gav Higgins with a broken alarm clock and Ashley Addy with a creased blouse left gaffer John Barker with few options to choose from; this included himself and a further 7 defenders.
Not one to always go for the conventional line-up, Barker's lack of attacking options didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t stop him from selecting one of the only two strikers in the squad at centre back as Adam Probets continued his Dion Dublin-like transition from AFC Halifax goal machine to pacey, ball playing goal stopper.
The first half brought little joy for the home side as the Halifax back 5 reduced them to shots from range which would usually be food and drink for part-time fashionista David Sutton in the pegs however spectators could have been forgiven for thinking he had his usual reliable Fingersaves replaced with packets of Doritos as he often failed to keep a hold of the tame shots.
Alty did come close midway through the first half when a loose set piece fell at the feet of their midfield general whose strike went inches above the bar with returning wingback, and semi-professional Clare Balding look-a-like, Chris Peacock easily beaten on the post.
Halifax did have much the better chances in the first half, Andy Bowe's cannon-like long throws caused the Alty defence problems and Murgatroyd should have opened his account much earlier than he did as he missed a chance from five yards with the goal gaping. Ramsden also had a goal chalked off after he fired home a Barker ball into the box but the referee chalked it off for offside.
The energetic Marcus Stapley, fresh from a night serving overpriced drinks to students, broke free from the defence but fired a shot over the bar with only the keeper to beat. 0-0 at half-time.
The home team started the second half much the better side initially as they tested Sutton with a number of chances and won a number of corners that Halifax were able to deal with. However it was the away side that opened the scoring in the 65thminute however; makeshift midfielder Les Casalino intercepted the ball in the middle of the park and played in Murgatroyd. He carried the ball into the opposition's box before playing a one-two with Ramsden and smashing it into the far corner for 1-0.
The Halifax continued to perform well in midfield and defence with Simon Noble nullifying a number of attacks and Stewart Heaton, Probets and Barker resembling the Berlin Wall (pre-1989) as their clean sheet remained intact. It was one of the midfielder's quick thinking that seemed to double Halifax's lead when Murgatroyd took a quick free kick to Peacock whose cross from deep fell perfectly to Ramsden with his header hitting the back of the net. Unfortunately for Ramsden, and AFC Halifax, he had it ruled out for offside. Again.
Controversy is never too far away for the Yorkshire boys and their physical approach did not go down well with the home side at times and unfortunately looked to have become their downfall. The referee pointed to the spot for an alleged offence on Probets who was ruled to have climbed on the Alty striker as he headed a ball clear. The resulting penalty was superbly saved by Sutton with the memories of his crisp-packet like hands all but forgotten. That should have spurred Halifax on to see out the game however only minutes later the scores were level regardless. The tricky Alty number 10, who contrary to his own belief was not in fact possessed by the spirit of George Best, managed to fumble his way through the AFC Halifax defence to make it 1-1.
In previous games this would likely have seen Halifax go on and concede a second but the in-form team would not be beaten. Only two minutes later they found themselves 2-1 ahead thanks to another penalty award from the referee. Stapley showed no signs of the scrambled egg he failed to finish earlier that morning as he danced his way through the defence beforebeing mercilessly hacked down just inside the penalty box as he oddly had started dribbling the ball away from goal.
Centre-back Probets took on the role of penalty taker much to the worry of his team mates and the away following of one, his own brother Martin who had now formed something a fan club on the park bench he made his home for the morning. The proximity of the game's location to the fictional town of Weatherfield led the locals to belief he was in fact Tyrone Dobbs.Anyway, Probets made no mistake from the spot with his penalty going in off the post.
As the game entered stoppage time silent assassin Noble helped wind down the minutes with something of a malicious challenge on Alty's young Best; 'he fell referee'Â the cries as the striker began to piece his knee back together.
It seemed like the game would end 2-1 until a long Probets' punt up field saw Ramsden pounce on a defender's poor touch to be through on goal with only the keeper to beat; like his idol Kevin Davies, the man-of-the match what can only be described as scooped the ball into the roof of the net before adopting a 'Wolf of Wall Street' style celebration.
The full-time whistle went and the relief on the AFC Halifax squad was plain for all to see. They now go into next Saturday's home game against MK Dons unbeaten in three games.
AFC Halifax: Sutton, Peacock, Barker, A.Probets, Heaton, Bowe, Casalino, Noble, Murgatroyd, Stapley, Ramsden