FC Halifax Town 0-0 Accrington Stanley

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FC Halifax Town drew 0-0 with Accrington Stanley at The Shay in their final warm-up game to ensure they remain unbeaten under new manager Billy Heath.

Town can reflect on a successful pre-season that has seen them avoid defeat, rack up some impressive wins and effectively bed-in 11 new signings.

Heath fielded the same team for the first 68 minutes here, hinting that a similar line-up may start at Nuneaton next Saturday.

It was a game in which Halifax’s defence impressed more than their attack, but the hosts were far from outplayed by Stanley and could have won had Jordan Burrow scored from the penalty spot in the first-half.

Matty Pearson, playing a left-back role he rarely, if ever, fulfilled at Halifax, was made to look even more uncomfortable thanks to Josh Macdonald, who got the beating of him a couple of times early on, the second of which when he cleverly let the ball drift over them both before beating Pearson for pace to reach it first.

His sweeping cross was then headed straight at goalkeeper Aaron Chapman by Tom Denton, with Macdonald’s directness and pace never failing to draw appreciative ‘ooohs’ from the crowd.

The watching Darren Ferguson, here to asses his Doncaster team’s opening day opponents in League Two, can’t failed to have noticed the winger and may well have jotted down his name for future reference.

Macdonald was an outlet with a difference compared to the other attackers - Jordan Burrow, Richard Peniket and Denton - the presence of whom meant Town more often than not looked for lofted balls forward.

And the lack of an orthodox winger on the left did leave Town looking unbalanced at times, especially with no naturally left-footed player on that side, with Kevin Roberts replacing the injured Josh Wilde.

If Wilde can recover in time for the Nuneaton game, he looks assured of a starting place, along with Steve Drench, Cliff Moyo, Scott Garner, Danny Hone, Liam King, Macdonald and Tom Denton.

The other three spots in the starting 11 would appear to be up for grabs.

Accrington produced a couple of early efforts but both were dragged wide from outside the box by Terry Gornell and the impressive Shay McCartan.

Again, Halifax seemed more than capable of competing with their Football League opposition, and were creating the better chances, with Hone missing a sitter when his free header from a corner went straight to Chapman six yards out.

Garner was an imposing presence at the back for Town, cajoling those around him and constantly on the look-out for danger.

It was his well-timed tackle that stopped the jinking McCartan inside the area after a few thumping headed clearances had sent some of Stanley’s fairly aimless passes forward back where they came from.

The fluency and tempo of the Morecambe game was lacking here, although whenever Accrington attacked, they did so quickly and incisively.

Bastien Hery came close with a rasping 25-yard drive that had Drench at full-stretch diving to his right to see it off target mid-way through the first-half.

Accrington’s first shot on target, a Sean McConville free-kick on the half-hour mark, was easily saved by Drench, who then set Macdonald away at the other end, and the Town winger was pushed inside the area.

But Jordan Burrow’s poor spot-kick was saved by Chapman diving to his right.

But exciting passages of play like that were intermittent rather than regular, with neither defence giving away many clear chances.

There were no changes from Town at half-time, but there perhaps should have been as The Shaymen looked disjointed and struggled to establish any rhythm to their play.

The Accrington defence were becoming increasingly peripheral figures in the game, while the likes of Hone and Garner were required to produce some crucial blocks to keep the visitors at bay.

A prolonged lull in action was broken when Denton just failed to reach Macdonald’s cross at one end before Gornell’s fizzing drive whistled just over moments later.

There had been a minor flash-point in the first-half between Hone and Gornell, and it bubbled over late in the second-half when the duo squared up again and were ordered to be substituted by the referee; not quite what Heath had in mind when he talked of the physical battle he was expecting beforehand.

Halifax: Drench, Moyo, Garner, Hone (Sinnott 79), Roberts, Macdonald (Hughes 82), King (Hibbs 79), Hotte, Burrow (Kosylo 68), Denton, Peniket. Subs not used: Nicholson, Barrows, Khan, Baldwin, Harrison.

Shots on target: 3

Shots off target: 4

Corners: 3

Accrington: Chapman, Jones, Pearson, Brown, Beckles, Hughes, Hery, Conneely, Gornell, McCarten, McConville. Subs: F Shaw, Boco, Goulding, Hewitt, Wall, Webb, Sykes, Hazeldine, Parish, B Shaw.

Shots on target: 2

Shots off target: 7

Corners: 6

Attendance: 720

Town man of the match: Danny Hone

Referee: Aaron Jackson (Merseyside)