With two losses from two games already under their belts, Afc Halifax would be going into this game with a point to prove. Telford would be the opposition, a real Halifax double header. The team, wanting to prove a point, would have to do it in the toughest of circumstances. A squad of 14 became a squad of 11, as last minute drop outs caused Halifax problems. Tom Ashton struggling with illness, Martin Probets forgetting about his mates birthday drinks and Gav Higgins mate being unreliable meant all travelling players would be getting a full 90 minutes.
The Gaffer, John Barker, was unavailable for the game, so in stepped Ben Fawkes to take over managerial duty. To be fair, the team picked itself, or so it seemed. With Afc Halifax struggling to score goals, and even create chances, the stand in manager decided to shuffle the pack, and stick captain Adam Ramsden upfront, and drop Adam Probets into the back four. As both teams lined up, Halifax knew they could be in for an uphill struggle; Telford had 8 subs on the bench, in contrast on Halifaxs sideline they had 8 water bottles, 4 training tops and 1 very wet child.
As the game reached the 3rd minute the task became even harder for Halifax. A lovely diagonal pass from the Telford centre midfielder went straight into the right wingers path, he took it under control and slotted past Dave Sutton in goals. Not the start Afc had wanted and some could have feared for the worst. Afc Halifax needed to come out fighting, and that is what they did. Some great play through the middle by Si Noble and stand in gaffer Fawkesy, played Ramsden through who had to shoot on the slide, which was met by a good save by the keeper who turned it round the post. Followed up by some good play down the left hand side, Wrigthy and Ramsden exchanged a one two, and a smart little back heel from Ramsden led to John Luders bearing down on goal and his shot went inches wide of the post. The defence held firm and dealt with the Telford attacks easily.
As the rain started to come down move heavily and make conditions interesting for both sides it was an unlikely hero who would get Halifax back into the tie. Although Halifax had been playing some fantastic football with Luders and Ramsden causing lots of problems for the Telford back line, it would be a moment of brilliance that led to the equaliser. A simple throw-inn by left back Heaton, back to right back Dan Murgatroyd (no Im not sure why he was there either), led to Dan unleashing a shot from a good 30 yards out, a high looping lob, dipped just at the last second and over the Telford keeper. Halifax believed they could get something out of this game.
As the game approached half time, the rain really did start to pour, but there was time for one last chance. Some good play down the right side by the youngster Brandon Jackson who beat his man and smashed in a low cross between the Telford goalkeeper and backline, waiting was Luders who scuffed a shot into Ramsdens path, who on the stretch fired over the bar from no more than 5 yards out.
1-1 at half time and the team huddled round in the pouring rain waiting for words of encouragement from Fawkes. The lads should be happy with their performance but needed to be more ruthless infront of goal was the message.
As the rain slowed down a little so did Telford who just couldnt get into any rhythm at all, Probets and Higgins stopped any attacks in the air with the Telford strikers not getting a sniff (Im not sure if that was because one of them stank of the night befores booze and the other had a new ridiculous silver haircut but they managed) and Heaton and Murgatroyd who sweeped up any danger from the wings. Telford couldnt do much about the goal that put Afc in the lead either. A corner was cleared to the edge of the box, and Luders found Fawkes on the bottom left of the field, he smashed a ball across goal and Probets (who had moved into defence due to a lack of goals) couldnt miss, and was back on the scoresheet!
The game was all about Halifax who played some delightful football, and just needed to create another few chances to put the game beyond doubt. The game was drifting out a little but Halifax knew just one slip up at the back could result in a now unlikely goal for the home side. However, there was no need to worry, as Ramsden secured the win for Halifax with 10 minutes to go. Some good play by Luders fired him into the box and with two defenders approaching played a great reverse pass to Ramsden who was in space just inside of the box, he composed himself with his first touch and smashed past the Telford goalkeeper with his second touch.
A fantastic result by Afc Halifax with just 11 man who really needed a good performance after the last two games had resulted in really disappointing endings. Matched with Fc Halifax also beating Telford in the afternoon, there were 11 men heading back to West Yorkshire with huge smiles on their faces. Next up is Guiseley next Saturday.
One Love, The Shaymen.