Eastleigh 2-1 FC Halifax Town

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FC Halifax Town slipped to the bottom of the National League table after Eastleigh fought back to record a 2-1 win.

Kingsley James’ goal was only the third time Halifax had scored first in the league this season, a lead which was soon wipe out after the interval by Andy Drury.

Josh Payne then headed the hosts in-front to wipe out all Town’s good work as their midweek endeavours began to catch up with them.

Wrexham, Tranmere and Forest Green have all been beaten by Eastleigh in recent weeks, so Town can take positives from pushing them close.

October has been quite a month all in all, what with those two horror shows against Cheltenham and Grimsby and a dramatic double-header with Guiseley.

And for 45 minutes here, it looked like it would end on an extremely bright note until Eastleigh’s fightback.

But while they remain perilously-placed in the table, they’re now bottom after Kidderminster’s win against Woking, Halifax certainly end the month in better shape than when they started it.

As expected, Keil O’Brien and Tommy Miller started after being rested in midweek, while Kieran Sadlier also returned after not being given permission to play in the cup by Peterborough.

Eastleigh had a free week unlike Town, but Halifax started with a real spring in their step, and weren’t backward in coming forward, pressing the hosts into some sloppy passes and passing the ball around confidently.

Scott McManus picked up where he left off from Tuesday with some marauding runs up-field while James continued to relish his new-found freedom in his role off lone striker Jordan Burrow.

After Sam Walker snatched the ball after another wayward Eastleigh pass, Town broke forward and the midfielder eventually fired in a shot that was too hot to handle for Ross Flitney before James lashed in the rebound from 10 yards.

That was the third time in a row Town had scored first; quite a turnaround from conceding the opening goal in their first nine matches of the campaign.

It was enough to launch Darren Kelly onto the pitch in celebration, and no wonder; this was hardly the start of a side with the worst away record in the division this season.

Matt Glennon raced off his line almost immediately afterwards to snatch the ball off the toes of Ross Lafayette, which would have resulted in a certain penalty had he mistimed it.

Eastleigh had begun to look better after their slow start, but O’Brien and Nat Brown provided an impenetrable-looking shield which they struggled to break through.

There was a confidence about Town that belied their awful league position; the transformation from Cheltenham at the start of the month was remarkable.

Miller and Kelly both clapped in encouragement on the half-hour mark, while Eastleigh boss Chris Todd stood impassively on the touchline; he’d seen his side score 11 goals in their last six games, but despite the odd moment of last-ditch defending, Glennon was still to be tested by half-time.

It was as good an opening-half as Town have produced so far this campaign.

But the visitors were their own worst enemy at the start of the second-half when Miller uncharacteristically gave the ball away with a poor back-pass, letting in Lafayette.

A poor pass forced Matty Fanimo wide, but his cross was tucked away by Drury inside the box; make that 29 games without a clean sheet.

Eastleigh were much better for their half-time break and had emerged with a much hungrier attitude, forcing Town back.

Glennon made two good saves in quick succession on the hour mark from substitute James Constable then Fanimo, before the latter’s shot was blocked by Miller; Eastleigh were looking energetic, while Town seemed to be tiring.

Payne then came within a whisker of scoring after a Cruyff turn earned him a yard of space to fire a curling shot just wide.

But he did find the net minutes later when Yemi Odubade’s cross was headed in at the far post to cap a rapid counter-attack.

There was still the odd clap of encouragement among the Town side, which had been given a much-needed burst of energy up front with the introduction of Shaun Tuton.

And the substitute brought a good save from Flitney late on before the keeper also kept out Burrow’s header from a corner.

Eastleigh: Flitney, Partington, Evans, Turley, Harding, Fanimo (Midson 65), Payne, Drury, Strevens, Lafayette (Constable 56), Odubade (Green 90). Subs not used: Noice, Reid.

Scorers: Drury (48), Payne (70)

Shots on target: 3

Shots off target: 5

Corners: 1

Halifax: Glennon, Bolton, McManus, James, Burrow, Walker, O’Brien, Miller (Tuton 67), N Brown, Wroe, Sadlier (Bencherif 87). Subs not used: Porter, M Brown, Macdonald.

Scorer: James (15)

Shots on target: 4

Shots off target: 2

Corners: 9

Attendance: 1,890

Town of the match: Kingsley James