FC Halifax Town 0-0 Stockport County

FC Halifax Town kicked off the New Year with a 0-0 draw against Stockport County at The Shay. 

A week on from the Boxing Day stuffing against County, Halifax produced a far more respectable performance but had to dig deep to keep the visitors at bay.

The Shaymen will probably be happier with the point than Jim Gannon’s side, who created the clearer opportunities, but left their shooting boots at Edgeley Park.

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Halifax were second best on the balance of play, but can take some positives into 2020 and have given themselves a little platform to build on.

Pete Wild unsurprisingly kept the same team that began the win over Chesterfield on Saturday, but Stockport started the more confident side, more assured and fluid in possession and creating the better chances, causing The Shaymen far more problems than The Spireites had.

Tom Walker should have put them in-front after four minutes but Sam Johnson kept out his low shot at the near post from a right-wing cross.

Ash Palmer’s effort from a County corner was then cleared off the line before Festus Arthur put the rebound wide.

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Halifax struggled to muster a response, with the win over Chesterfield looking like a small step on the road to recovery rather than a complete turnaround in form.
The Shaymen were disjointed in attack, and shaky in defence, with errors from Matty Brown and Josh Staunton leading to Elliot Osborne flashing a cross-shot through the box midway through the first-half.

The home crowd had made their frustrations known as Halifax too often either played the ball sideways and back for their liking, or lost possession when trying to play it forward.
Stockport’s back four and two holding midfielders were solid and disciplined, keeping a good shape.Left-back Joe Leesley repeatedly started Stockport attacks by stepping upfield unchallenged, with Town’s wing-backs Jeff King and Danny Williams, who defended well, too deep to affect play going forward.

Town had been more like the away side, although they came into the game more as it neared half-time, with Jack Redshaw and Staunton seeing long-range efforts go narrowly over.

Wild then charged down the touchline towards the fourth official appealing for a penalty when a brilliant burst upfield by Cameron King preceded his attempted through ball to Redshaw, which appeared to be blocked by a Stockport defender’s arm, but not according to referee Peter Gibbons.

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Walker bookended the half by going close again when he fired wide from near the penalty spot, and there couldn’t have been too many complaints had the visitors gone in ahead at the break.

County’s Boxing Day hat-trick hero Elliot Osborne had again shown good movement and close control in the number 10 role, and was the away side’s main creative outlet.

But while they had been clinical a week ago, they were wasteful here.

Redshaw and Cameron King had been positive on the ball for Town, but just hadn’t seen enough of it.

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Stockport started the second-half like they had taken a lot of encouragement from the first, with Osborne and Walker having shots off target from the edge of the box.

Town looked flat by comparison, and weren’t aggressive enough off the ball to disrupt County’s growing confidence.

Johnson tipped Jordan Keane’s effort behind before an error by Brown went unpunished as Osborne latched onto his heavy touch but curled the ball wide from 20 yards out.

A goal seemed increasingly likely for Stockport, but like the first-half, Halifax absorbed the pressure and gradually came into the contest, finally testing Ben Hinchliffe in the County net as Cameron King and Redshaw had efforts on target.

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The game was on a knife-edge now, and so nearly swung Town’s way when Staunton’s rasping shot was parried away by Hinchliffe moments before he headed substitute Liam McAlinden’s cross against the post from close range.

Halifax: Johnson, Maher, Clarke, Brown, J King, Staunton, Cooper, Williams, C King (McCoulsky 90), Allen (McAlinden 70), Redshaw. Subs not used: Appleyard, Macdonald, Sho-Silva.

Shots on target: 3

Shots off target: 10

Corners: 6

Stockport: Hinchliffe, Cowan, Palmer, Arthur, Leesley, Keane, Turnbull, Thomas (Mulhern 84), Osborne, T Walker (Rodney 68), Bell. Subs not used: Ormson, Minihan, S Walker.
Shots on target: 5

Shots off target: 10

Corners: 11

Attendance: 3,460 (1,485 away)

Referee: Peter Gibbons

Town man of the match: Danny Williams