FC Halifax Town 2-0 Hartlepool United

FC Halifax Town
FC Halifax Town

Second-half goals from Josh Staunton and Tobi Sho-Silva kept FC Halifax Town top-of-the-table with a 2-0 win over Hartlepool United at The Shay.

Pete Wild was given a rapturous reception just before kick-off, and so was his team at full-time after a whole-hearted display.

There's still room for improvement, but Wild's first two games in charge could not have gone any better.

The Town boss even got that other new signing he wanted, but striker Liam McAlinden, formerly of Wolves, Exeter and Cheltenham amongst others, was on the bench, with Town unsurprisingly unchanged from Saturday.

Shouts of "shoot" when Sam Johnson took a first-minute free kick inside the Town half were a nice tribute to Nathan Clarke's surely not-to-be-beaten goal of the season.

Although Hartlepool keeper Ben Killip clearly hadn't heeded the warning of Ebbsfleet's Nathan Ashmore straying off his line when he was dispossessed on the touchline 40 yards out.

Hartlepool left-back Romoney Critchlow-Noble was then booked for stopping Cameron King take a quick throw.

Both sides were loathe to produce many 70-yard shots or passes though, taking advantage of a superb-looking Shay pitch by trying to play on the deck.

Sho-Silva, one of four home debutants to start, scuffed a shot wide from 12 yards after a clever dummy by Clarke from a throw-in, but the visitors settled well into the contest, getting players and the ball into advanced areas.

Saturday's star-man Cameron King embarked on a terrific run shortly after a crucial block by Matty Brown, and was only halted by Peter Kioso's foul.

King was again at the heart of things as he sprayed the ball wide left before Sho-Silva failed to make enough contact with a low cross by left-back Jerome Binnom-Williams, who needed no encouragement to get forward.

Jeff King then fired wide after a burst forward down the right channel as Town began to function.

Josh Staunton badly miscued a header from Jeff King's dinked cross at the far post before Sho-Silva again skewed an effort off target from inside the box.

Cameron King's shot then whistled narrowly over from 25 yards as Hartlepool's defence became more stretched.

Jeff King had another left-foot shot over after substitute Jamie Allen, who had replaced the injured Danny Williams, won possession midway through the Hartlepool half, but the tempo had dropped by the interval as Halifax's spell of real superiority came and went.

Town hadn't quite reproduced the level of performance of Ebbsfleet, with shots and final passes a little less accurate, but there had still been plenty of encouraging signs, especially in their positive approach, immediately looking to get the ball forward in possession.

Hartlepool had given little away at the back, save for Killip's moment of madness, and produced some nice build-up play but were too tippy-tappy around the Halifax box, and lacked a cutting edge.

Cameron King had a driven shot from 30 yards flew narrowly wide a few minutes after the restart, but the breakthrough came from the unlikely source of Staunton.

He was left with a tap-in after Jeff King's excellent cross-field pass found Allen, whose shot across goal was parried into his path.

Hartlepool responded well though, and came close three times to equalising as Nicke Kabamba and Gus Mafuta shot off target and then Liam Noble's effort was deflected onto the bar.

Town fans were then baying for referee Daniel Middleton - who sent-off Matty Brown and Matty Kosylo in Hartlepool's 2-1 win at The Shay last season - to dismiss Nicky Featherstone for a poor tackle on Jeff King, but he was booked.

Hartlepool weren't shot-shy anymore, as Noble again went close with a 25-yard shot that flew a yard or two over; the visitors had reacted far better to the goal than Halifax, who became sloppy on the ball.

Wild's substitution of Liam Nolan for Cameron King was a backhanded compliment to Hartlepool by introducing a more defensive-minded player, but seconds after that change, Sho-Silva buried the ball home after Brown's bullet header was brilliantly kept out by Killip from a corner.

The previously untested Sam Johnson had to be alert to keep out Mafuta's low shot during a goalmouth scramble, before substitute Gime Toure was booked for a dive despite the Hartlepool bench's appeals for a penalty.

That's more like it Mr Middleton.

Hartlepool struggled to sustain their earlier pressure as the clock ticked down though, and Town saw the game out comfortably.

Halifax: Johnson, Duckworth, Clarke, Brown, Binnom-Williams, Maher, Staunton, Jeff King, Cameron King (Nolan 67), Williams (Allen 26), Sho-Silva (McAlinden 82). Subs not used: Appleyard, Earing.

Scorers: Staunton (54), Sho-Silva (68)

Shots on target: 3

Shots off target: 10

Corners: 7

Hartlepool: Killip, Kioso, Raynes, Kerr, Critchlow-Noble (Williams 82), Mafuta, Noble, Featherstone (Holohan 70), Kennedy (Toure 69), James, Kabamba. Subs not used: Cunningham, Kitching.

Shots on target: 2

Shots off target: 9

Corners: 4

Attendance: 2,632 (574 away)

Referee: Daniel Middleton

Town man of the match: Jeff King