FC Halifax Town 2-2 Darlington
FC Halifax Town's run without a win stretches into 2017 after they drew 2-2 with Darlington at The Shay.
There was little to choose between the teams on Boxing Day and that remained the case here, but it’s now eight games without a victory for Halifax.
The impressive Adam Morgan made it four goals in two appearance as he twice gave The Shaymen the lead before goals from Josh Gillies and Kevin Burgess pegged them back in an entertaining start to the new year.
He’s only two games into his Town career, but Morgan already looks the kind of talismanic figure Town have been crying out for for weeks.
The former Liverpool youngster displayed a confidence on the ball and a sharpness of thought that suggests he can follow in the footsteps of Jamie Vardy and Lee Gregory by going on to bigger things.
Town fans will be hoping that’s not for a while yet though, with Morgan instrumental in Halifax’s attacking threat; it’s just a shame the Town defence continues to be in such a generous mood.
Town showed three changes from their Boxing Day defeat, two of whom were home debutants in Morgan and returning keeper Sam Johnson, who replaced the injured Steve Drench.
Town made their intentions clear right from the start as, within 20 seconds, Morgan’s header from Josh Macdonald’s cross was cleared off the line by Kevin Burgess.
From his next chance, Morgan made no mistake with an unerring low shot across goal from 20 yards after Tom Denton’s lay-off.
By the time Morgan fired over the bar after Peter Jameson’s punch clear from a corner fell to him on the edge of the box, he could have been celebrating an 18-minute hat-trick.
Soon fellow home debutant Johnson was making as much of a impact at the other end in what was an incredibly-open contest, first denying Stephen Thompson with an outstanding reaction save before also keeping out Leon Scott’s drive.
But a good spell of pressure from the visitors culminated in Gillies neatly side-footing the ball across Johnson from 10 yards, and Town were back to square one.
As his centre-half partner had done inside the first minute, Gary Brown then cleared an effort off the line to prevent Denton putting Town back in front following a superb run and slide-rule pass by Richard Peniket.
There was almost as much action off the ball too, which started with a strong tackles by Brown on Macdonald and Nathan Cartman on Johnson in the opening stages and continued with an extraordinary 30 second free-for-all when four or five poor tackles from both teams went unpunished.
Mark Beck then went down claiming Danny Hone had elbowed him, before getting back up after Hone received no punishment.
Morgan continued to be at the heart of everything good going forward for Town as he released Macdonald behind the Darlington defence, but the winger shot wide across goal from the right of the area.
Given the recent frostiness in the air from some Town supporters towards the team, there had been little cause for the more disgruntled fans to voice their unhappiness, with Halifax arguably hard done-by not to lead at half-time.
The first-half had been extremely watchable, with both teams creating chances and attacking in numbers, but the second-half started with both sides conceding possession too cheaply and lacking quality in the final third.
Darlington were looking sharper and better on the ball as the half progressed, but Morgan started and finished a swift counter-attack to put the hosts back in the lead.
After a Darlington corner was cleared, the forward adroitly flicked the ball to Kosylo, who charged up-field and gave the ball back to Morgan, whose left-foot shot from the edge of the box was too hot to handle for Jameson, who parried it into the top corner.
But as soon as Morgan was putting them in at one end, Darlington were undoing that hard work at the other as Burgess ensured the visitors levelled again at the back post from a corner.
The murmurs of discontent did begin to rumble as the second-half wore on, with Darlington looking the likelier to snatch a winner.
The best of their efforts at goal was a stinging volley just over from Terry Galbraith, while Denton spurned a good chance by firing a loose ball wide from the right of the six yard box late on.
Halifax: Johnson, Roberts, Hotte, Hone, Wilde, Macdonald (Kosylo 62), Lynch, Clarke, Peniket, Denton, Morgan. Subs not used: Nicholson, Simmons, King, Moyo.
Scorer: Morgan (14, 65)
Shots on target: 6
Shots off target: 2
Darlington: Jameson, Marrs, Burgess, Brown, Galbraith, Thompson, Scott, Turnbull, Gillies (Falkingham 81), Cartman, Beck. Subs not used: Hunter, Bell, Hardy, Syers.
Scorers: Gillies (22), Burgess (70)
Shots on target: 9
Shots off target: 5
Town man of the match: Adam Morgan
Referee: Paul Grahami