FC Halifax Town 0-2 Chester

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FC Halifax Town ended the year with a rare home defeat as they lost 2-0 to Chester at the Shay.

Goals from Matt Brown and Tom Peers bookended a disappointing game as the visitors secured only their fourth away win of the season, condeming Town to just their third home league defeat.

Town failed to score at home for the first time since April to end what had been a superb festive period in defeat ahead of their enforced winter break.

A year that had begun with a 3-3 thriller against Gateshead on January 1 ended with a whimper by comparison as Chester ended their poor recent form and halted Town’s own fine run of four wins out of six.

A postponement would have certainly suited Chester more than Halifax after their recent run of six games without a win.

But 180 cubic metres of snow were cleared from the pitch by up to 40 volunteers to ensure it went ahead, despite protestations from the Chester camp about the state of the penalty area in front of the South Stand.

And it was from there that Chester grabbed an early lead; if they did want it called off beforehand, they didn’t start like it.

Town were caught cold, not difficult in such conditions, with a quick free-kick and from Sean McConville’s excellent cross, Matt Brown stooped to nod past Matt Glennon six yards out.

Jamie Jackson’s outstanding contribution at Gateshead earned him a start through the middle, but he, like the rest of the Town side, failed to replicate their superb first-half from Boxing Day.

Aside from a Will Hatfield drive that drifted narrowly over, the hosts created little in the opening half-an-hour, although Chester fared no better after Brown’s opener.

Touches on the ball that were light and deft in the North East two days ago were heavier, not helped by a poor playing surface which made passing football difficult.

Town did grow into the opening half though, with Hatfield and Jackson nearly being played through but for the alert Jon Worsnop rushing off his line.

The ball wasn’t sticking up front with Jackson like it had at Gateshead, while the likes of Danny Schofield and Lois Maynard couldn’t assert themselves on the game as they had so successfully 48 hours previously.

The direct running of Hatfield from midfield was perhaps the most incisive aspect of Town’s attacking play, with their build-up often too slow to penetrate the Chester defence.

James Bolton’s stunning volley was as close as the hosts came to scoring just before the break as it flew inches over.

But so did Craig Hobson’s acrobatic effort even closer to the interval after a Chester free-kick, with Halifax looking uncharacteristically vulnerable from set-pieces.

From one of their own at the start of the second-half, Lois Maynard had a goalbound shot blocked before half-time substitute Richard Peniket’s on target header was also blocked.

An injury to Jamie Jackson threw a spanner into the works, but the Shaymen were at least playing with more purpose and tempo since the interval.

Chester were pinned back almost exclusively inside their own half, but Worsnop was still not being tested enough, and hadn’t had a shot to save after an hour’s play.

Glennon then pulled a save right out of the top drawer from a rasping shot by McConville 25 yards out before Town cleared a Ben Hennigan header off the line from the resulting corner.

Peniket had added some extra incisiveness since coming on, and burst in-behind before his cross was scrambled away by Ibou Touray.

But despite their dominance, it was still mostly half-chances being created, although substitute Matt Pearson got a sight of goal but headed Scott Boden’s cross over from eight yards.

Town then got closer when Bolton’s shot was well saved by Worsnop and closer still when Boden hit the post after inadvertently heading onto his shoulder.

They proved costly when Chester almost immediately broke away and sealed the win when substitute Tom Peers nodded in Jamie Menagh’s cross.

Halifax: Glennon, K Roberts, Bolton, M Roberts, McManus, Smith (Peniket 46), Maynard, Schofield, Hatfield (Pearson 71), Jackson (Marshall 51), Boden. Subs not used: Senior, Williams.

Shots on target: 3

Shots off target: 8

Corners: 6

Chester: Worsnop, Hennigan, Touray, Brown, Charnock, Menagh, James, Hobson (Peers 67), Rooney, McConville, Richards (Mahon 81). Subs not used: Roberts, Kay, Riley.

Scorers: Brown (7), Peers (85)

Shots on target: 4

Shots off target: 4

Corners: 6

Attendance: 1,901

Town man of the match: Danny Schofield