In a full IFA day outing, AFC Halifax travelled over to their Manchester counterparts with a squad of 13, with a number of absences which included manager John Barker and his golden boy Simon Noble, left Ash Addy to step in as gaffer for the day.
The majority of the travelling squad were looking to bounce back after last week’s humiliating defeat to the hands of Preston, but it was established half way through the journey that Martin Probets main concern was to go get his teeth checked by an emergency dentist just to make sure his teeth were in top shape for his Saturday night out on the town, inexcusably as 1 of the designated drivers he had also taken 2 other members of the already small squad with him for the morale support! With 3 members of the squad still not out of Halifax, AFC Halifax arrived at Alty with just 10 players, kick off would be delayed by around 15 minutes, but still meant Halifax would be short, so it was agreed a Altrincham player would fill the gap until the missing members of the squad arrived.
Halifax initially started with a flat 4-4-2, with Alty’s stand in Halifax player sent up front to partner Tom Ashton who is also eligible for a number of different teams in the IFA due to the vast number of clubs he supports.
The game finally started with Halifax facing into a blinding sunshine which made it near impossible for the Halifax defence to actually see any aerial balls played towards them, the game had a scrappy opening 10 minutes with not many chances on show and pitch was a mud bath in areas of the pitch which made it difficult for both teams to play any free-flowing football.
But around the 20th minute mark the deadlock was broken by a good bit of quality by the Alty number 6, the ball broke kindly to him before taking a touch getting the ball out of his feet and hit a rasping shot from outside the area which flew over Halifax goalkeeper Harry Scott Peters and into the net.
Halifax 0 –1 Alty Not long after the opening goal, the 3 missing Halifax players had finally got away from the dentist and arrived, all fired up and eager to get onto the pitch to help their team mates, playing with just 10 of their own players and 1-0 down, the 3 ambled towards the pitch and took a ponderous walk to the changing rooms.
Meanwhile on the pitch the match continued in its scrappy nature with still not many chances being created for either side, the majority of Halifax’s chances were coming from set pieces due to the number of needless but blatant fouls Altrincham were committing.
It was Altrincham who doubled their lead though as a looping cross towards the 6 yard box was not dealt with and the Alty forward managed to get up and in front of Halifax centre half Adam Probets to head in from close range.
Halifax 0-2 Alty35 Minutes into the game and the late arrivals were ready to play, so the pre-planned changes were made, with dentist patient Martin Probets replacing the ironically named Alty loanee ‘Nasher’, Gav Higgins replacing Alex Barrett, and well known pre-season Journey man ‘A Trialist’ replacing Mo Farrah.
The changes saw Halifax play more in a 4-3-3 with Adam Ramsden now leading the line with Callum Hannan and Tom Ashton either side of the lone striker, a middle 3 of Martin Probets, Ash Addy and A Trailist.
Nathan Wright moved into right back position, Gav Higgins into his usual centre half spot despite claims he is a prolific striker, Adam Probets and Stewart Heaton remained unchanged at centre back and left back.
Halifax used the remaining time to get used to the new positions and re-shuffle, with not much more action to report the half time whistle blew with Halifax still 2-0 down.
Ash Addy’s team talk was to quickly point out that Halifax were by no means out of this game, once Halifax had managed to get the ball down some nice football was being played with the midfield interchanging with the front 3 well and more of that was needed.
It was also talked about how this is where we needed to show what AFC Halifax are all about and show their fighting spirit, every player challenged to roll their sleeves up and to a man needed to outwork their opponent.
A still confident and determined Halifax, set about pressing their opponents looking to win the ball back as soon as possible and more and more chances started to come of it for Halifax who made the good early pressure count, 10 minutes into the 2nd half Bobbins cross from the left hand side found Tom Ashton in space in the area, Ashton applied a good finish to half the deficit.
Halifax 1-2 Alty The goal should have really pushed Halifax on to pile on the pressure and get another goal but it was not the case and again the game got scrappy with challenges going in from both teams and players from both teams getting annoyed with the referee which in total honestly didn’t get too much wrong, Martin Probets making the fine committee’s job all too easy picking up a yellow card for dissent after a Alty player had already been booked for the same offence in the 1st half.
Gav Higgins was also wound up after a refereeing decision went against him, and spent the next 5 minutes fouling every Alty player that was in sight, it would prove to be costly as a Alty throw in was looped into the box, Higgins was penalised for holding and grapping the Alty forward and a penalty was awarded, the decision again much to the disagreement with Higgins who was sarcastically congratulated by a Alty midfielder clapping in front of Higgins and telling him ‘’well done ‘’ which annoyed half the Halifax squad causing a few minutes of the proverbial handbags between the teams before the penalty was taken.
The penalty was perfectly dispatched by the Alty forward, Harry dived the right way but the ball was put right into the bottom left hand corner, too far away from Harry’s outstretched arm.
Halifax 1-3 Alty Plenty of teams under these circumstances, would have fallen away and been rolled over, but Halifax had just been given all the motivation they needed to not give up and fight for a result, after the actions of the Alty Midfielder.
Halifax pressed and looked to create openings to get a way back into the game straight from the restart, Ash Addy going closest after skipping away from a couple of challenges and hit a driven shot across the goal but just wide of the post.
Whilst Rambo, Ashton and Martin Probets were all causing problems and creating chances, just the chances were not getting converted to goals, as Halifax continued to push to get back into the game Alty had a couple of big chances when counter-attacking to put the game to bed, only some last ditch defending stopped Alty getting the game killing 4th goal.
Some good reading of the game by centre back partnership A Probets and Higgins made sure Alty’s through balls were getting dealt with, but Alty still fashioned some good chances to win the game as a Alty player managed to find space to cut in on the left-hand side of the penalty box, but last man back Wright manged to get a good foot on the ball to prevent the Alty man going 1 on 1 with the goalkeeper, who had made some good saves to prevent Alty scoring again.
Another scary moment for the Halifax defence appeared soon after an initial shot was blocked inside the area, pinball around the penalty box followed as Wright, Bobbins and A Probets all put in blocks before the ball was launched clear by Higgins.
With around 25 minutes to go Alty’s best chance and the turning point of the game came, a ball was played into the Halifax penalty area, Harry rushed out to try collect the ball but was beaten to it by the Alty forward but after another good stop by the goalkeeper, the ball fell kindly back to the Alty forward, who with the Halifax defence scrambling to get back, squared the ball to the centre of the goal area, with just 2 defenders on the goal line to beat, the Alty player horribly miscued his shot and only for the lack of power prevented it from going for a throw in.
To add insult to injury it was the same player who was so quick to congratulate Higgins on his earlier mistake, was now rightly having a taste of his own medicine.
That seemed to make Halifax kick up a gear, and Halifax threw everything at Alty and the goal they so badly needed came with 20 mins to go, Rambo with some good work managed to put in a curling cross from the left touchline and Callum was on hand to side foot the ball into the back of the net.
Halifax 2-3 AltyOnce Halifax got that goal they were only ever going to be 1 winner, Halifax now had the belief to go on and win the game, the chances and pressure was all coming from Halifax.
A moment of quality that deserves a mention was Adam ‘Rambo’ Ramsden’s touch from a long ball booted high into the sky from Harry, Rambo watched the ball come all the way down and instead of simply flicking it on, stopped it dead with a fantastic touch which drew admiration from both sets of players and spectators, unfortunately Rambo continued to admire his touch for too long and the ball was nicked away.
As Halifax pushed for the equaliser, minutes later it was handed to them on a plate really as an over hit cross from the left-hand side was well over Rambo the only Halifax player in the box, but the Alty centre half felt complied to drag him down and the referee duly awarded the penalty.
Martin Probets stepped up and expertly despatched it, hit hard into the top left hand corner the only disappointing aspect was that he did not celebrate with a gazza-esque ‘Dentist chair’ celebration.
Halifax 3-3 AltyThe action was far from finished there, the Alty players were increasingly growing in frustration with each other and the referee, Halifax were well in the driving seat but with not long left another incident occurred which caused more handbags between the teams, a usual ‘strong’ tackle from left back bobbins upset the Alty player, with the 2 squaring up which included a bit of a kick out and the Alty player jumping so he was able to just slightly graze Bobbins forehead, both were given a straight red card which is not often seen in a good spirted IFA League, league rules allow the players to be substituted so on came man mountain Alex Barrett to slot in at left back.
Halifax again were relentless in their pressure to find the winner, it so nearly came as Tom Ashton who had terrorised his fullback all game, broke into the penalty area on his right hand side and drilled a low cross across the face of goal, the ball just behind Rambo who tried to back backheel the ball towards the goal but just couldn’t get a connection, Mo looked to set to bundle the ball in at the far post after busting a gut to get into the box launched his body to try get that vital touch but agonisingly also couldn’t make a connection.
The breakthrough finally came for Halifax although it did so in fortuitous circumstances, a simple ball was put in by A Probets from a free kick on the right hand side of the half way line, and the goalkeeper looked to have dealt with it comfortably, before spilling it the ball kindly fell to Ashton who hit a shot seemingly heading wide, that deflected off an Alty defender and went into the back of the net, despite Ashton’s best efforts to claim the goal, the dubious goals panel decided it would be awarded as a O.G.
Nevertheless, the goal was jubilantly celebrated, the comeback was complete they were in front for the 1st time with little over 5 minutes remaining and all of Halifax’s hard work and pressure had been rewarded, they just had to see it out.
Halifax 4-3 AltyHalifax were never going to let this slip though and the Higgins and Probets centre back partnership didn’t give the Alty players a sniff to enable them to get something out of the game, in what seemed to take an age the final whistle eventually blew, Halifax had done it, coming back from 2-0 at Ht and 3-1 with 20 minutes to go to win the game, showed the character the squad have and walked off the pitch rightly proud of their 2nd half performance, which they will need to take into next week’s game against one of the league’s best sides in Bury.
Halifax 4-3 Alty FT