Braintree 0-2 FC Halifax Town

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Debut goals by Jonathan Edwards and Nathan Clarke helped FC Halifax Town to a 2-0 opening day win at Braintree.

The game could hardly have gone much better for Town boss Jamie Fullarton, as his side scored twice, conceded none and produced an assured, commanding display.

Tougher tests will undoubtedly await Fullarton’s men, but they passed this one with flying colours.

Both goals came from corners, from which Town were a threat all afternoon, and as soon as Clarke’s header went in, there looked no way back for Braintree.

Jamie Fullarton’s starting line-up was as expected, perhaps barring the selection of Edwards up-front, which meant Dayle Southwell started in the number 10 role, and Jordan Preston and Ben Tomlinson were on the flanks.

Nine of the starting 11 started against Boston, but the difference between that performance and this was like night and day.

Preston crafted Town’s first chance when he battled to win one of many accurate Sam Johnson long kicks forward before crossing for Southwell, but his tame header was easily saved by debutant Ben Killip.

That was one of few chances in a scrappy half, with plenty of energy and effort from both sides, but not enough quality, not helped by a bobbly Cressing Road pitch.

Braintree had started briskly, popping the ball about at pace, but Town quickly and effectively nullified their hosts, with Niall Maher and Josh Staunton working well in central midfield at regaining and retaining possession, and Edwards winning headers in attack to get Halifax up the pitch.

There was just not enough finesse from either team to create clear chances.

Indeed, the closest either side came inside the first half-hour was when Johnson reacted brilliantly to tip over the otherwise excellent Matty Brown’s sliced clearance from Jon Muleba’s cross.

But by the time Edwards headed Town in-front, it capped a strong spell of pressure that had seen Southwell’s volley, Clarke’s header and Tomlinson’s vicious shot from a tight angle all kept out from consecutive corners.

But the damn finally broke when Edwards met another Tomlinson delivery with a deft flick header across goal, completing about as textbook a first-half away performance as you could wish for.

Town increased their control of the contest after the interval, with only a last-ditch tackle preventing Southwell converting a low cross by the impressive Edwards, who had also headed over from Ryan Sellers’ deep cross.

Braintree seemingly had no answer to Town’s superiority, with The Shaymen quickest to all loose balls and winning all the 50-50’s.

Other than holding Christie Pattisson’s low shot from 20 yards, Johnson was a spectator.

A fine header by Staunton was kept out by Killip’s flying save midway through the second-half, but that only delayed the inevitable as Clarke met another superb Tomlinson delivery with a bullet header back across goal.

Even with a quarter of the match to go, it looked game over, such was Town’s confidence and Braintree’s lack of it.

Edwards should have put it beyond doubt after 72 minutes when Staunton’s pass sent him through, but Killip raced off his line to save his low shot.

Braintree: Killip, Muleba, Clark, Durojaiye, Webber, Allen (Rowe 69), Hill, Della Verde (Thompson 69), Pattisson, Ochieng (Grant 77), Bettamer. Subs not used: Bettache, Ellul.

Shots on target: 1

Shots off target: 1

Corners: 1

Halifax: Johnson, Duckworth, Clarke, Brown, Sellers, Maher, Staunton, Tomlinson, Preston (King 81), Edwards (Kosylo 75), Southwell. Subs not used: Rowley, Hanson, McLeod.

Scorers: Edwards (42), Clarke (66)

Shots on target: 8

Shots off target: 5

Corners: 11

Attendance: 621

Referee: Will Finnie

Town man of the match: Jonathan Edwards