AFC Halifax continued their run of fixtures against the best teams in the IFA League with a short trip to Middleton to take on last seasons IFA champions Rochdale. Following on from last weeks outing at Preston the team was asked to repeat the performance and work ethic that makes them competitive. The team spirit was good and the temperature was cold, which is possibly one of the reasons the lads seemed quite happy to stop in the changing rooms and add to the impressive bleep test results of the school that played host to the fixture.
The team lined up in a very attacking 4-3-3 formation after a management discussion decided the more defensive 4-5-1 that was employed a few weeks ago in the home fixture, with limited success after a 9-1 defeat, should be scrapped ! The front 3 of Hannan, Ashton & Jackson resembled one of Simon Cowells X factor boy bands more than the dynamic attacking 3 of Suarez, Messi and Neymar. However, not to be deterred AFC Halifax tried to take the game to their hosts and the engine room of Addy, Luders and Noble was purring like a vintage car, although Addy did find himself the odd one out with him not being a dirty red!!
Rochdale were seeing plenty of the ball but not creating a great deal and the back four of Heaton, Higgins, Barker & Peacock seemed to be dealing with most of it whilst stand in keeper Probets dealing with the rest. Hggins was finding himself particularly at home on the 4g surface given his much announced experience of the venue. As the game wore on it was evident that the trio of fame hungry wannabes upfront were coming up against a very strong defensive unit and looked like they could do with a session at bootcamp. Chances were few and far between for AFC Halifax, apart from a free kick from Higgins a header from Ashton and a shot from Addy, but none troubled the Rochdale custodian.
Midway through the first half the ball fell to a Rochdale player and he made no mistake and put The Dale 1-0 up. Chances were falling for Rochdale now and a couple of minutes from half time they carved open the AFC Halifax back line and made it 2-0, that wouldn't be the end of the carvery for the day.
A half time change with Wright and Blackburn entering the fray and Heaton taking the gloves from Probets, who reverted back to his role of centre forward after a spell at centre half and keeper, and the team were sent out to continue to try and take the game to their illustrious hosts. This they did and immediately looked more of a theat in the Rochdale half. Despite the new found optimism Rochdale made it 3-0 and AFC Halifax feared the worst.
This is very much a team built on character nowadays and they still pushed on and started to take control of the game. The managers decision to put Probets up front was justified as he was on hand to slot the ball home after good work from Peacock, Noble & Ashton. Tails were up and AFC were pushing and asking questions of the Lancastrians defence. The ball found its way to John "Munes" Luders in the Rochdale box and it was soon to be 3-2....or was it, as he managed to miss the chance, this seemed to spur the opposition into action and they quickly made it 4-1.
The resilient Yorkshiremen kept going and a ball in from Addy found the head of Keeper/defender/striker Probets who made no mistake, 4-2 and game on again. AFC pushed and pushed, often leaving themselves exposed at the back, but on more than one occasion Heaton produced saves to deny Rochdale. As the game entered it's closing stages AFC Halifax were determined to go all guns blazing, but alas it wasnt to be as Rochdale capitalised on the extra room in the Halifax half to seal a very flattering 6-2 victory with 2 late goals. A massive improvement on the previous games against Rochdale and every player worked their socks off and deserved the positive post match comments.
Next up; Chester (h) Saturday 3rd December