FC Halifax Town 1-2 Bromley: Shaymen suffer play-off setback in frustrating defeat
FC Halifax Town’s play-off hopes suffered a setback as they lost 2-1 at home to fellow promotion contenders Bromley.
The league’s top scorer Michael Cheek put the visitors ahead with a first-half penalty, added to late on by substitute James Alabi, with Neill Byrne scoring deep into added time.
Bromley are yet to lose under manager Andy Woodman and were awkward, physical, strong and resolute.
The Shaymen were a shadow of their side that beat Chesterfield and King’s Lynn, seeing more of the ball but not doing enough with it.
A Cheek penalty handed Bromley the lead 15 minutes into the reverse fixture between the sides back in January.A minute earlier than that, Cheek blasted his spot-kick into the net for his 22nd league goal of the season after he had been fouled in the box.
Town, unchanged from Chesterfield, were in the ascendancy before and after the goal, with most of their attacks coming down the right flank through Jeff King, who delivered a delightful cross shortly after Cheek’s goal, but no Town attacker was there to convert it. But The Shaymen got worse as the half went on, gradually losing their early sharpness and composure.
The attacks weren’t flowing for The Shaymen like they had at Chesterfield, with little link-up play between midfield and attack, and too many passes going astray.
King had a left-footed shot saved by Mark Cousins and later, one that was on target but blocked by Chris Bush.
Bromley produced no real controlled possession and lacked composure on the ball themselves, but were effective in stopping Halifax playing.
There were no frills to Bromley’s game, lining up in a 4-4-2, they stuck to their shape, worked hard, left no gaps and were first to every ball in their box, with their back four defending superbly.
The impetus was on Town to create, but they looked devoid of ideas at times.
As the first-half went on, Halifax lost their patience, hitting too many aimless balls out of defence and handing the ball back to the visitors.
The triumvirate of Kieran Green, Luke Summerfield and Martin Woods that had played with such energy and spark were flat, while Jake Hyde and Billy Chadwick were peripheral to the point of spectators, getting no service.
Halifax weren’t moving it quickly enough and kept getting into cul-de-sacs, with no triangles of passes, no pass and move, just a disjointed, uninspired display.
Bromley must have been delighted. The opening 45 couldn’t have gone much better for the visitors, who had scored from their only shot on target.
Town fared no better after the interval, still looking flat, still not playing with enough urgency or intensity.
Chadwick and Danny Williams had half chances with shots from inside the box, but Halifax were making hard work of it.
A bit of energy was finally injected into proceedings when King and Niall Maher, then King again, had shots blocked.
King was trying to drag Town level almost single-handedly, the one Halifax player showing the ingenuity and quick-thinking needed.
Town had switched to 4-3-3 by the midway point of the second-half, with Chadwick and King either side of Hyde. Despite switching from right wing-back to left-winger, King remained The Shaymen’s best outlet.
Maher’s shot was deflected over before Byrne fired just off target from Chadwick’s cross as Town steadily cranked up the pressure, but the Bromley defence, led by their excellent captain Chris Bush, stood firm.
Hyde dragged a shot across goal from a tight angle before substitute Alabi finally brought a first save of the game out of Sam Johnson with a shot from range.
Bromley then took advantage of the gaps in the Town defence as the hosts pushed forward when Alabi swept home from a cut-back.
Byrne got one back for Town with a finish into the roof of the net from a cross from the left, but it was too little, too late.
Halifax: Johnson, Byrne, Clarke, Maher, King, Summerfield, Green, Woods, Williams (Senior 81), Hyde, Chadwick (Allen 77). Subs not used: Davison-Hale, Spence, Bradbury.
Scorer: Byrne (90)
Shots on target: 5
Shots off target: 12
Bromley: Bromley: Cousins, Kizzi, Mitchell, Fox, Bush, Coulson, Bingham, Bridge Trotter 68), Arthurs (Campbell 81), Williamson, Cheek (Alabi 52). Subs not used: Raymond, Vincent
Scorers: Cheek (14), Alabi (90)
Shots on target: 3
Shots off target: 1
Referee: Scott Simpson
Town man of the match: Jeff King. At times on a one-man mission to get something out of the game. Showed great hunger and desire playing on both flanks.