Halifax beaten by hosts’ late goal

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Lincoln 5

Halifax 4

Halifax were on the wrong end of a nine-goal thriller at Lincoln, with the home side’s winner coming in the closing seconds.

From the start it was clear that the game was going to be close with both teams knowing that a win could really help in their Yorkshire Two promotion push.

Halifax took the lead when Matthew Bairstow forced the ball home after a goalmouth scramble.

Lincoln were gifted an equaliser soon after when a defensive error allowed the home centre forward a free run at goal and he finished well.

Good work down the right from Bairtow and Josh Sutcliffe set up Tom Love, who looked certain to score only for a Lincoln defender to stop his shot illegally with his leg. The resultant penalty stroke saw Sutcliffe’s shot saved.

However, Halifax did go 2-1 up when Bairstow challenged the keeper and the cross from Sutcliffe somehow found the net.

The visitors had a torrid five minutes after the break and poor passing and woeful defending allowed Lincoln to score two quick goals to take the lead.

Halifax fought back and the goal of the game was a joy to watch. Love took an aerial pass from Michael Jones and controlled the ball beautifully before spinning away from his marker and unleashing a powerful shot into the far corner of the goal.

Lincoln then kept the ball better, forcing a couple of penalty corners and scoring from the second of them.

Halifax pressed forward to win a penalty corner of their own. Jones’s thunderous strike deflected off a defender’s stick to sail into the net and level the game.

Richard Marshall and Simon Arch were having good games in defence and Matthew Metcalfe was solid in goal.

The game looked destined for a draw. However, Jones was sin binned after failing to get the ball in a sliding tackle. With their extra player, Lincoln pressed hard and won a penalty corner in the last few seconds. Their well-drilled corner routine worked well again and the home team took all three points.

It was hard on Halifax, who felt they deserved at least a draw, and they now have a mountain to climb if they are to stay in the promotion hunt after a four week Christmas break.

Halifax II 0

Huddersfield Dragons III 3

Halifaxwere unable to prevent neighbours Huddersfield completing a double over the Park Laners.

There were still many more positives compared to the abject display at Rotherham. The side had a very compact look to it and welcomed back Oliver James and Mark Holmes from university and Luke Greenwood after unavailability.

Also on the plus side was the return to full health of flu victims Stephen Fawkes, Nick Barker and Trevor Love.

The early play was even. Halifax were direct and used the pace of Cameron Hellowell and the guile of John Horsley to forge chances.

The visitors passed well and had a very dangerous centre-forward who marauded menancingly the whole match.

Fred Owens commanded his area well and was authoratitive when called upon to save. However, he was left flatfooted midway through the half after the Dragons striker had shown superb skill to waltz past three defenders.

Halifax responded well and father David and son Sam Spencer worked hard for the equaliser. As the match wore on Halifax’s fluency waned. Players dribbled rather than passed and tiredness crept in.

Huddersfield maintained a passing strategy and were increasingly assertive.

Both the second and third goals were of similar quality to the first and it gave the opposing centre forward a deserved hat-trick.

Halifax need to re-group over the festive period to ensure a relegation battle does not ensue.

Halifax III 2

Wakefield IV 1

Halifax’s third string made it four wins out of five leading up to the Christmas break with a hard-fought victory against a Wakefield side beaten only once previously this season.

With Tom Cullen back after his match-winning hat-trick a fortnight earlier, Halifax were confident of upsetting the league standings after throwing away a two-goal lead in the earlier reverse fixture.

Vice-captain Lee Chapman and central defender Nick Walton were helping out the fourths but with Paul Mayes coming in from the seconds, the squad was balanced and experienced.

A more youthful Wakefield started the stronger but with Mayes joining the established pair of Chris Reynolds and Jamie Maddock, keeper Owen Waites was hardly tested.

In the absence of Jason Smith, Steve Rooke was joined by Simon Meredith in central midfield and the pair began to exert some control.

With Aidan Crowe and the excellent Matthew Ward making inroads down the flanks, chances were made for Cullen and Dave Collins.

From a succession of short corners, Cullen forced good saves from the keeper and hit a post with a deft flick, but the opening goal was elusive.

Wakefield then took the lead with a powerful shot from a penalty corner.

The half time team message for Halifax was that if they continued to create chances the goals would eventually come.

That proved to be the case, a swift Halifax move midway through the half resulting in Cullen making it four goals in two games.

An excellent cross-field ball from Nigel Bowers found Reynolds free on the right and his powerful cross gave Cullen the opportunity to secure the points but his effort went just the wrong side of the post.

He redeemed himself shortly after when the umpire allowed advantage from a raised ball into the Wakefield D and he expertly placed a reverse-stick shot high into the net.

Had it not been for an excellent Wakefield keeper, the margin of victory would have been greater for sixth-placed Halifax.