FC Halifax Town earned a hard-fought point as they drew 0-0 at Eastleigh in Jamie Fullarton’s first game in charge.
The previous three games between the teams had produced 14 goals. There weren’t even 14 chances here in a poor game, but a point represents a decent result, and is another small step towards safety for The Shaymen.
Attitude and application has been Fullarton’s mantra in his first week at the helm, and he got plenty of both, but there was little quality from either team.
Fullarton set-up Town to sit fairly deep, be solid at the back and give little away, and it worked pretty well, as his side worked hard and remained disciplined, although Halifax carried a limited attacking threat as a result.
Chris Zebroski and Cavaghn Miley both had decent efforts at goal early on for Eastleigh, but they lacked the urgency or ingenuity to create much more than that.
Shaun Tuton had a difficult task in keeping three central defenders occupied, and saw little of the ball. Those behind him in midfield were alive to the second balls coming off the Eastleigh defence, but struggled to craft any chances, with Eastleigh’s five at the back also indicative of a cautious, safety-first approach.
The smartly-dressed Fullarton watched on arms-folded, barking out the occasional instruction, but the fact he mostly remained quiet suggested it was mainly going to plan.
He came to life when Town were in possession in the Eastleigh half, calling for quicker passing, and applauding when the ball was won high up the pitch, offering the chance of a quick counter-attack, which didn’t materialise after good work from Matty Kosylo then Tuton to nick possession.
He also screamed at Michael Collins to remain sitting in-front of the back four and not go wandering.
The lively Sam Matthews fired over after dribbling into the box, but Eastleigh looked like they were running out of ideas before half-time.
The most exciting moment of the opening-half came on the whistle when Tuton and Gavin Hoyte pushed and shoved after an aerial challenge.
Town finally registered their first shot a few minutes after the break when Kosylo jinked into the box past two opponents but his shot was blocked by the onrushing Graham Stack.
But that preceded Eastleigh’s best spell of the game so far, when Zebroski’s shot was blocked, and from the resulting corner, Town required some desperate defending to keep the hosts out, including a header by Michael Duckworth, who replaced the injured Cliff Moyo, to clear Reda Johnson’s goal-bound header.
Eastleigh had one penalty appeal rejected then, and another when Paul McCallum appeared to be pushed trying to reach a Matthews cross as the Town defence started to creak under pressure.
Fullarton became increasingly animated as the second-half went on, urging Town not to sit too deep, and perhaps sensing the hosts were steadily building momentum.
Substitute Mike Fondop-Talom could have scored against the run of play with his first touch eight minutes from time but Stack kept out his shot from 12 yards.
Eastleigh: Stack, Hoyte, Johnson, Boyce, Matthews, Togwell (Yeates 79), Wood, Miley, Obileye, McCallum, Zebroski (Williamson 66). Subs not used: Broom, Hollands, Flitney.
Shots on target: 2
Shots off target: 8
Halifax: Johnson, Duckworth, Brown, Garner (Riley 81), McManus, Tomlinson, Hibbs, Collins, Hotte, Kosylo, Tuton (Fondop-Talom 81). Subs not used: Nicholson, Oliver, Denton.
Shots on target: 2
Shots off target: 1
Referee: Sam Purkiss
Town man of the match: Matty Brown