FC Halifax Town 2-4 Torquay United

FC Halifax Town
FC Halifax Town

FC Halifax Town missed out on the chance to return to the top of the National League as they slumped to a 4-2 home defeat to Torquay United.

Two goals by dangerman Jamie Reid added to captain Kyle Cameron's early opener to make it five home games without a win for Town, with Liam McAlinden reducing the arrears.

Substitute Kalvin Lumbob-Kalala capped the win in added time before Michael Duckworth netted his second in two games.

All Town's good work, hard work, at Sutton in midweek was thrown away with another hugely disappointing Shay display.

The strange dichotomy was that Town came into the game with a chance of ending it top of the table, but finished the contest a well-beaten team, playing well below the standards that had earned such an elevated status in the first place.

Barring the win at Sutton, Town are in a slump, and need to arrest it soon. Perhaps the two week break comes at a good time.

Torquay arrived at The Shay with six wins, and 18 goals, from their last seven matches, so were formidable opponents. But The Shaymen didn't help themselves.

There was nothing in the game prior to Torquay's early opener, which had all too familiar echoes of the Bromley thrashing last Saturday, as it was far too easy for Torquay skipper Cameron to head unchallenged across goal at the near post from a corner.

McAlinden had fired over from Charlie Cooper's cut-back corner prior to that, and Cooper lashed the ball straight at the keeper after Torquay's opener.

But a rash tackle by Jacob Hanson then gifted top-scorer Reid the chance to double Torquay's lead from the spot, one which he took by drilling the ball into the bottom left corner.

2-0 down. 17 minutes gone. Get out of that one.

To make matters worse, Halifax then had a penalty appeal of their own rejected for an alleged trip on Earing near the corner of the six-yard box.

Halifax hadn't looked two goals worse than Torquay up until Reid's penalty, but after it, The Shaymen seemed cowed by the suddenness of their deficit, misplacing passes, not defending with enough aggression and playing with an air of tension, not helped by the frustration emanating from the Town supporters in a vicious circle of mutual disgruntlement.

Josh Macdonald, starting at The Shay for the first time since last February, looked the brightest spark, and was prepared to run with the ball at defenders.

Jack Earing, deservedly starting for the first time in nearly two months after his impressive second-half showing at Sutton, and McAlinden hadn't seen enough of the ball in advanced areas, and as a result, neither had Tobi Sho-Silva, who mainly had high balls to feed off.

It should have been 3-0 to Torquay but twice the lively Saikou Janneh spurned good chances, first putting it wide and then shooting straight at Sam Johnson.

Janneh and Reid produced the kind of link-ups and interplay that were peppering Town's play earlier in the season.

But it was too flat from Halifax, who too often played into cul-de-sacs or lacked the guile or fluidity to create clear chances, which was all the more vexing given that's what they'd showed in bucket-loads in the campaign's first couple of months.

Like against Harrogate in the FA Cup, The Shaymen were much better straight after the interval, playing with more urgency and purpose.

They were now getting more players further up the pitch, regaining possession more often and getting their attacking players into the game, particularly McAlinden.

But the best they'd created up to the hour mark was Macdonald's shot straight at the keeper, and Sho-Silva's effort that ballooned over the bar, both from outside the box.

So when Torquay scored a third, it looked a lost cause.

The manner of the goal encapsulated the game in many ways, as Town tried a short corner that didn't work, and from it, the visitors broke with pace and precision, culminating in Janneh's cross being tapped in by Reid.

After new signing Jack Redshaw came off the bench, Town at least made a fight of it when Cooper's lay-off was drilled across goal by McAlinden.

Had McAlinden's cross been met by the onrushing Sho-Silva shortly afterwards, it would have been a grandstand finish.

But from another Town, Torquay broke and substitute Lumbob-Kalala finished coolly past Sam Johnson one-on-one.

Duckworth slammed home from inside a crowded penalty box at the death, but that barely papered over the cracks.

Halifax: Johnson, Hanson, Clarke, Staunton, Duckworth, Nolan (Maher 78), Cooper, Earing (Redshaw 69), Macdonald (Allen 69), McAlinden, Sho-Silva. Subs not used: Appleyard, Binnom-Williams.

Scorers: McAlinden (80), Duckworth (90+5)

Shots on target: 5

Shots off target: 10

Corners: 9

Torquay: Covolan, Wynter, Davis, Cameron, Andrews, Cundy, Whitfield (Niate 85), Vincent (Lewis 77), Buse, Janneh (Lumbobo-Kalala 72), Reid. Subs not used: Macdonald.

Scorers: Cameron (8), Reid (17, 64), Lumbobo-Kalala (90+1)

Shots on target: 7

Shots off target: 6

Corners: 3

Attendance: 2,065

Referee: Thomas Parsons

Town man of the match: Liam McAlinden