FC Halifax Town earned an encouraging 1-1 draw with Doncaster Rovers in a morale-boosting friendly result against the League One outfit.
Centre-back Nathan Clarke and head of youth development Steve Nichol took charge of the Shaymen, and can take plenty of positives from the work-out.
The week is only two days old and it’s already seen the departure of manager Jamie Fullarton and the rearrangement of two home friendlies, the first of which redirected Town from The Shay to Doncaster’s Cantley Park training ground.
But in highly unorthodox circumstances, Town took to their task in composed and determined fashion. This was no kickabout in the park.
It was like watching a game with the crowd noise turned off, laying bare the shouts between the players.
As expected, Matty Brown and Clarke constantly barked out the orders, but there was good communication from the Town players.
Brown and then Clarke headed over from early corners as Town lined up in a 4-2-3-1 formation - Jamie Allen and Jack Earing either side of Cameron King in behind front-man Tobi Sho-Silva.
Jamie Allen hit the post after 14 minutes with a low right-footed shot across goal, Town having settled quicker into the contest.
Neither team seemed interested in long balls, passing with purpose and tryuing to play through the lines.
Although there was no celebration Maher gave Town a thoroughly-deserved lead after 18 minutes with a sweetly-struck low shot from 25 yards.
Another glimpse of Town’s new signings offered a little more insight into their qualities; Jack Earing was confident and technically proficient on the ball, the same trialist left-back from the win at Farsley was likewise comfortable in possession and happy to stride forward, while Allen offers a good burst of pace and is a willing runner off the ball.
Alfie May should have equalised for Doncaster a few minutes before half-time, but it was hardly backs-to-the-wall stuff for Halifax, with Sam Johnson untested in the first-half.
Sho-Silva just couldn’t turn his body enough to get a shot on target from six yards out after King’s cut-back.
Town worked hard out of possession and were aggressive in the tackle. Doncaster enjoyed more dominant possession as half-time approached without causing any real panic.
Town’s midfield trialist brought a decent save from the Doncaster keeper five minutes after the restart with a curling left-foot shot, before Doncaster replied with an effort of their own, bringing a comfortable first save of the game from Johnson.
Doncaster played some nice football but lacked a cutting edge up-front, while Town worked hard to funnel back behind the ball and try to play on the break.
Both sides showed signs of still being a work in progress before the start of the season, with final passes going astray or attempted link-ups breaking down.
But Halifax’s resistence was broken after an hour when May’s left-foot shot from 10 yards proved too powerful and escaped Johnson’s clutches into the far corner.
That preceded a raft of changes for both sides, with Jacob Hanson, Josh Staunton and two trialists coming on for Town.
Johnson then saved well from a low shot across goal and a long-range shot was deflected just wide as Doncaster threatened to turn their superiority into a lead.
There were more changes with 20 minutes to go, including four for Halifax, as Town’s defensive resilience was strongly tested.
Maher had a long-range free-kick tipped over seven minutes from the end, but from the resulting corner, Doncaster broke and fired just wide from an angle inside the box.
Halifax: Johnson, Duckworth, Clarke, Brown, Trialist, Maher, Trialist, Allen, King, Earing, Sho-Silva. Subs: Appleyard, Hanson, Staunton, Trialist, Freedman.