FC Halifax Town 0-1 Bradford Park Avenue

FC Halifax Town v Bradford Park Avenue at The Shay Stadium.
FC Halifax Town v Bradford Park Avenue at The Shay Stadium.
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Richard Marshall came back to haunt his former club as his goal earned Bradford Park Avenue a precious win in a feisty West Yorkshire derby against FC Halifax Town.

Ryan Toulson was sent-off amidst a number of tetchy tackles in a blood-and-thunder Easter Monday derby.

The bumper crowd saw enough incidents to keep them warmed up as the game threatened to overheat at times in the freezing temperatures.

Town could justifibaly feel hard done by at full time though as Avenue survived a flurry of late chances for the hosts, who face a tough trip to promotion rivals Guiseley on Wednesday.

Neil Aspin will have to keep the plates spinning in terms of his players’ fitness over the next month, with the games coming thicker and faster than the snow that surrounded the Shay pitch.

The Town boss made four changes from the side that started in the 1-0 win at Workington 48 hours earlier, with James Knowles making his debut in place of Jon Worthington, &Sean Williams replacing Chris Worsley, Lee Gregory in place of the injured Gareth Seddon and Danny Glover making his first start in place of Dan Gardner.

Town didn’t manage the ferocious start they registered at Workington as they came up against a sterner defence, and a bumpier pitch, than they one they encountered in Cumbria.

Williams saw a shot drift wide after the first minute before Lee Gregory’s strike was comfortably saved by John Lamb as the number of chances was soon overtaken by the number of names in the referee’s book.

The absence, at least from the start, of the talismanic Gardner gave others in the side a chance to take centre stage, but the stage itself wasn’t in the best condition, with both teams having to acclimatise to the surface as much as each other early on.

As it turned out, Ryan Toulson became the centre of attention midway through a mostly incident-free first-half.

After a tackle against Martin Drury on the edge of the Avenue box, Toulson appeared to kick out at the Bradford full-back, resulting in a red card for the Town defender.

The heckles of the Town dsupporters were then raised further when Drury got back on his feet after tapping the ground in apparent agony in the aftermath of Toulson’s challenge.

Ironically, Drury was then taken off injured following a tackle minutes later, and was replaced by former Town striker Danny Holland as John Deacey adopted a more attacking strategy with his newly-acquired numerical advantage.

But Town held firm after that, mainly thanks to debutant Knowles, who stood strong at the heart of the back four after being shifted from his starting role in front of the defence.

Avenue came closest in the first-half when Alex Davidson’s low shot went inches wide of Matt Glennon’s upright, but most of the notable action from the opening 45 minutes will be documented in the referee’s notebook.

Scott McManus and Aiden Savory were both booked after a coming together that belonged more in the wrestling ring than on the edge of the Town box before Williams was also given a yellow card for a late tackle on Michael Duckworth.

They were the worst examples of a number of niggly tackles by both sides which kept the game simmering without quite boiling over.

The second half picked up where the first left off as Nathan Hotte was booked for a late tackle on McManus which had those on the Town bench racing out of the dugout in anger.

Danny Holland then wasted the best chanhce of the game so far after 57 minutes when his low shot across Glennon squirmed inches wide from eight yards before Glennon turned Paul Walker’s shot behind as Avenue’s extra man began to tell.

Town offered some rousing moments on the break though, with Matt Pearson’s barnstorming run past two Avenue challenges not resulting in a shot but giving the home fans something to cheer.

But Nathan Hotte’s superb shot from 25 yards out after an hour turned out to be a warning.

Glennon did well to reach up and parry that one away, but he had no chance moments later when another former Town man Richard Marshall curled the ball beautifully away from the keeper from a few yards further out midway through the second half.

Avenue then lost their extra man when Savory’s tackle on McManus earned him a second yellow as the game took another twist.

Avenue predictably retreated into their shell after that but still had to weather an amazing spell of pressure in the late stages as Town forced four consecutive corners and did everything but score.

Adriano Moke’s cross was turned onto the post by an Avenue defender before Dan Gardner and Lee Gregory both had efforts deflected behind and Pearson’s ferocious drive was tipped over by Lamb.

Halifax: Glennon, Toulson, McManus, Pearson, Needham, Lowe, Williams (Moke 86), Knowles, Titchiner (St Juste 46), Glover (Gardner 57), Gregory. Subs not used: Senior, Jackson.

Shots on target: 4

Shots off target: 5

Corners: 9

Bradford Park Avenue: Lamb, Duckworth, Drury (Holland 32), Savory, Ryan, Clayton, Davidson (Daly 90), Hotte, Marshall, Deacey, Walker (Baker 80). Subs not used: Corner, Jackson.

Scorers: Marshall (67)

Shots on target: 4

Shots off target: 4

Corners: 1

Attendance: 1,611

Man of the match: James Knowles