FC Halifax Town fight back to stun Notts County
Ten-man Halifax produced a stunning comeback to defeat Notts County 3-2 in a five-goal thriller at The Shay, courtesy of goals from Jordan Slew, Billy Waters and Matty Warburton.
Halifax had been trailing 2-0 through goals from Ruben Rodrigues and Alex Lacey either side of half-time, and were reduced to 10 following a Tom Bradbury dismissal on the hour mark, but fought back valiantly to secure all three points, no less than the Shaymen deserved.
Backed by a loud home crowd that were behind their side from the first whistle on a cold, wet night under the floodlights, Town always looked dangerous going forward, and came close early on when Kian Spence fired narrowly over the crossbar from just outside the area.
Both sides were limited mainly to half-chances in the early stages of the first-half, with a Jamie Allen shot from the edge of the box being blocked, before a Matty Palmer effort from distance for the visitors fired just over the bar.
However, minutes later, it was a bizarre goal that gave Notts County the lead. Sam Johnson rushed out of his goal in the hope of getting to a long ball before Ruben Rodrigues, but County’s Portuguese forward beat him to it, and struck a lobbed effort from 35-yards that nestled into the bottom corner.
After the break, the visitors had their second. A free kick from the left was whipped in by Callum Roberts, and found the head of Alex Lacey, who was a threat all evening in the air, and the defender made no mistake in heading past Sam Johnson to double his sides lead.
Things then went from bad to worse for the Shaymen as Tom Bradbury was given his marching orders by the referee following a long discussion with his assistants. Bradbury had initially been subject to an awful challenge from behind by goal scorer Ruben Rodrigues, but the two were involved in an altercation after the foul, with Rodrigues going down holding his face rather theatrically and the referee showing the red card.
Tensions boiled over in the aftermath of the incident with players from both teams involved in a resulting melee that saw Kyle Wootton shown one of six second-half yellow cards, in what was a very feisty encounter.
With their side 2-0 down and down to 10 men, you could have forgiven the Halifax faithful for not being hopeful about their teams chances, but if anything, the perceived injustice of the red-card incident seemed to spur the crowd on, creating a brilliant atmosphere that you can’t help but feel was partly responsible for the comeback that was to follow.
Following the dismissal, Wild re-jigged his side and brought on Matty Warburton and Elliot Newby in place of Harvey Gilmour and Jamie Allen, with midfielder Kieran Green slotting in at centre-back in a makeshift role.
Despite Town being to ten-men, it didn’t appear that way on the balance of play, as they continued to hold their own and press for a goal, and it was a piece of individual brilliance that got it for them. Jordan Slew collected the ball on the left just outside the area, before firing a powerful shot into the bottom corner at the near post, giving the Shaymen a lifeline.
The game started to become a lot more stop-start as County, perhaps sensing Town were buoyed by their opener, began to slow the game down with players staying down for much longer than the home crowd appreciated.
These lengthy stoppages in play threatened to disrupt the Shaymen’s rhythm, however the ten men didn’t let it affect them, and soon had what at one point seemed like an unlikely equaliser. Debutant Elliot Newby swung in a great cross from the right, picking out Billy Waters who made no mistake from close-range, firing home on the volley to score his 8th goal of the season, and bring his side level.
It was almost heartbreak for Halifax in the first minute of injury time as Alex Lacey headed home another header, this time from a corner, but the referee ruled it out, much to the relief of the home fans.
Then, in the last minute of the ten added, the Town fans were sent into raptures. Matty Warburton did brilliantly to carry the ball up field, before curling a marvelous effort into the top corner from the edge of the area. The 100th minute strike proved to be decisive, providing unbelievable scenes at full-time as Sweet Caroline rang around an electric Shay.
FC Halifax Town: Sam Johnson, Jack Senior,Tom Bradbury, Jamie Allen (Newby 62’), Kieran Green, Billy Waters, Kian Spence, Harvey Gilmour (Warburton 62’), Tyrell Warren, Jordan Slew (McDonagh 80’), Niall Maher
Subs: Matty Warburton, Gerry McDonagh, Dom Tear, Javid Swaby-Neavin, Elliot Newby
Notts County: Anthony Patterson, Richard Brindley (Kelly-Evans 77’), Jim O’Brien, Kyle Wootton, Callum Roberts, Aaron Nemane (Sam 87’), Matty Palmer, Ruben Rodrigues (Mitchell 80’), Ciaran Brennan, Adam Chicksen, Alex Lacey
Subs: Kairo Mitchell, Ed Francis, Dion Kelly-Evans, Frank Vincent, Elisha Sam
Scorers - Ruben Rodrigues, Alex Lacey, Jordan Slew, Billy Waters, Matty Warburton
Shots on Target - 6-5
Shots off Target - 5-3
Corners - 4-5
Attendance - 2,023; 447 away
Referee - Gareth Rhodes
Town MOTM – Everyone played their part in a superb comeback but Kieran Green slotted in brilliantly in an unfamiliar role at centre back and epitomised Town’s fighting spirit on the night.