Aldershot 3-2 FC Halifax Town

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FC Halifax Town slumped to their sixth defeat in eight games this season as they lost 3-2 at Aldershot.

There has been no case for the defence for Halifax so far this campaign, and there was little evidence to the contrary again after more generous defending contributed to The Shots racing into a two-goal lead midway through the first-half thanks to Jim Stevenson and Charlie Walker.

Walker then appeared to put the result beyond doubt with his second after the interval before substitute Danny Hattersley got one back with his first goal since November.

David Brooks then capped an eye-catching individual display with a fine effort to set-up a grandstand finish, although an equaliser proved beyond them.

The game was Halifax’s season neatly captured in 90 minutes, with the visitors beset by defensive errors but showing some attacking promise.

Goals at one end clearly aren’t The Shaymen’s problem, but goals at the other end clearly are and Town left themselves too much to do, although they certainly gave it a good go.

Sheffield United loanee Brooks, who joined Man City at the age of seven, made his first start in senior football, while fellow Blade CJ Hamilton started his first match at National league level.

Referee Rob Whitton gave a contentious performance as official in Town’s 2-1 win at Dartford last season, sending off Lois Maynard and James Bolton.

And he punished Bolton early on by giving a soft-looking free-kick 25 yards out, from which Nick Anderton forced Matt Glennon into a fine save.

But that didn’t trigger a glut of early chances as both sides struggled to retain possession and perhaps emphasised why the hosts were yet to win at home and the visitors were yet to win away.

But Stevenson, having fired in a warning moments earlier with a long-range shot that Glennon parried away, found the net second time around from a similar distance after Town failed to clear the danger.

Eight games and eight times Halifax had conceded first. If they’re to start climbing the table, that record has to change.

Then for the fifth time this term, Town conceded twice in a match as their defensive frailties reared their ugly head again.

Bolton and Kevin Roberts lost possession inside the Halifax half, from which Aldershot broke forward.

Youngster Hamilton then missed an opportunity to clear the ball and the hosts then found Walker, who was given too much space to dribble towards goal and place the ball across Glennon.

Like at Wrexham a week ago, Town now had a mountain to climb after conceding twice in the first 24 minutes.

A quick response, like The Shaymen found at the Racecourse Ground, would have been very welcome and was almost produced as Kingsley James volleyed just wide with a superb effort from 30 yards before Jordan Burrow’s header brushed the top of the bar.

But the Town defence continued to look vulnerable as Richard Brodie’s shot whistled just wide from 25 yards with Glennon looking nervously over his shoulder as it flew by.

Ironically, Halifax had been at their brightest going forward since falling 2-0 behind, with Hamilton lively on the left and James showing plenty of energy in trying to join up with Burrow up-front.

But Neil Aspin isn’t a manager prone to procrastination when chasing a 2-0 deficit at half-time, and reacted by bringing on Hattersley and Scott McManus for his 200th Town appearance in place of Graham Hutchison and Sean Tuton, who had taken a knock during the opening half.

But there was no change in the ease with which Aldershot found the net again when Hamza Bencherif, in an echo of the season-opener at Boreham Wood, slipped as the ball was played forward, allowing the hosts to find Walker, who made the most if his time and space in the box to hammer the ball high beyond Glennon.

Moments later, Walker was only denied a shot on goal and a possible hat-trick by a last-ditch tackle from Roberts.

Town were understandably dispirited by now and only avoided conceding a fourth when Stevenson’s header was ruled out by an offside flag.

Then out of the blue, Hattersley seemed to hand Town a lifeline by firing a bullet of a shot across goal into the top corner after Brooks had mis-controlled a low cross by Hamilton, who continued to impress.

There were a few murmurs among the home fans now as Hamilton’s shot was deflected over and, from the resulting corner, Bolton’s flick header went wide.

The Shots lost some of their composure after Hattersley’s goal while Town started to produce some decent football and more urgency going forward, but keeper Phil Smith remained largely redundant in the Aldershot goal.

But there was nothing he could do to stop Brooks’ sweeping finish, which capped a delightful passing move that culminated in McManus marauding forward and cutting the ball back perfectly for the young midfielder.

Where was football like that at 0-0?

But unfortunately a comeback to top even that of Barrow proportions proved beyond Halifax as Aldershot ran down the clock.

Aldershot: Smith, Oliver, Alexander, D Walker (Barnes-Homer 80), Beckles, Anderton, Gallagher, Stevenson, Harris (Lathrope 68), Brodie (Saville 90)), C Walker. Subs not used: Thomas, Richards.

Scorers: Stevenson (18), Walker (24, 52)

Shots on target: 5

Shots off target: 2

Corners: 6

Halifax: Glennon, Hutchison (McManus 46), Bolton, Bencherif, K Roberts, Tuton (Hattersley 46), Brooks, James, Racchi (Hibbs 62), Hamilton, Burrow. Subs not used: Trennery, Hughes.

Scorers: Hattersley (60), Brooks (84)

Shots on target: 4

Shots off target: 5

Corners: 1

Attendance: 1,603

Town man of the match: CJ Hamilton