FC Halifax Town 0-0 Stockport
FC Halifax Town were held to a 0-0 draw at home by play-off rivals Stockport County in a game of few chances.
Town did keep their first clean sheet in 14 games, but as far as major positives go, that and the fact that they denied a promotion rival three points, is about it.
The match had the potential to be another cracker after Town’s 4-2 win over Salford a week ago, but never got going; both sides will probably play better and lose later in the season.
Halifax came into the game as third highest scorers in the National League North, while Stockport had only failed to score in four of their 33 games all season.
But neither team did enough to earn the win, and still reside just outside the top-five as a result.
Halifax were slow out of the blocks against Salford, and suffered the same fate here, conceding possession too cheaply and being beaten to most 50/50 balls by a Stockport side with a spring in their step.
Town looked flat-footed in comparison, aside from the always fleet-footed Matty Kosylo, whose free-kick over the bar after a jinking run was the hosts’ first effort after 18 minutes.
Stockport were like the home side at times, enjoying the majority of possession and pushing an oddly-languid Halifax into a retreat inside their own half.
Town’s next effort, again from a free-kick, saw Adam Morgan’s spectacular shot from 35 yards crash off the crossbar, but set-pieces looked their only route to goal, with The Shaymen failing to create anything from open play.
The same could be said of Stockport though, with Danny Lloyd coming close for them with a hopeful free-kick from about as far out as Morgan deflected inches wide of goal.
Morgan and Richard Peniket, who would be taken off after an hour, were being starved of service up-front, and while a combative display was justifying the recall of Liam King in midfield, those around him were either not getting on the ball enough or not doing enough with it when they did.
Town weren’t helping themselves by giving the ball away under little or no pressure, with perhaps the biggest plus to come out of the first-half that the score was still 0-0.
There was no Salford-style second-half resurgence though, with Halifax too ponderous on the ball and showing no signs of a breakthrough after the restart.
Indeed, neither team were displaying any real quality on the ball in a scrappy contest; football like this isn’t how either team has come to be on the verge of the play-offs.
So often a Plan A this season, but Tom Denton was now Plan B for The Shaymen, but his introduction made little immediate difference to the pattern, or lack of it, of the game.
Out of nowhere, Town created a glorious chance when Morgan set Kosylo in on goal after a rapid counter-attack, but his chip over the keeper drifted just wide of the far post.
Stockport seemed happier to take a point as the second-half wore on, and wear on it did, with Halifax gradually growing in confidence and taking greater control of the contest, helped by the presence of Denton up front.
King came as close as he could get to winning it in the last minute of normal time when, typically of a poor game, he capitalised on a sloppy pass by Stockport before rounding Ben Hinchliffe, but his shot was cleared off the line by Michael Clarke.
Halifax: Johnson, Roberts, Garner, Hotte, Wilde, Kosylo, King, Lynch, Nti (Macdonald 71), Peniket (Denton 60), Morgan. Subs not used: Drench, Moyo, Sinnott.
Shots on target: 2
Shots off target: 6
Stockport: Hinchliffe, Minihan, Clarke, Smalley, Duxbury, Stopforth, Osbourne, Montrose, Lloyd (Brazel 90), Ball (Ross 86), Odejayi (Felix 60). Subs not used: Ormson, Marsden.
Shots on target: 2
Shots off target: 4
Town man of the match: Adam Morgan
Referee: Peter Gibbons