FC Halifax Town were held to a disappointing 0-0 draw at The Shay by bottom-club Braintree.
Basement-dwellers Braintree seemed the ideal opponents for Town to round off a positive week in which Scott Quigley joined on loan and Jacob Hanson joined permanently.
Quigley came straight into the side for his debut after joining on loan from Blackpool this week, replacing Ben Tomlinson.
But Town didn’t build on the pre-match enthusiasm, producing a frustrating display peppered with too many below-par individual performances.
The Shaymen were lacking a spark to really get them going on a poor afternoon, with Town sorely lacking inspiration and invention.
Matty Brown was arguably fortunate to only be cautioned after fouling Callum Morton just outside the box when the Braintree man had beaten him to a long ball.
But rather that and the subsequent free-kick going into the wall than Morton having a free shot on goal.
Debutant Robert Atkinson then produced an excellent tackle to deny Quigley a shot at goal from James Ferry’s through ball.
A one-two between Quigley and Matty Kosylo opened up some space for the loanee, but his shot from a tight angle was straight at Braintree keeper Ben Killip.
Braintree were far better than their lowly status suggested they would be, and hadn’t just come to The Shay to shut up shop.
Courtney Richards and Justin Amaluzor saw the best of the away side’s numerous efforts from range go fairly close, while the returning Joe Skarz, making his first appearance in almost a month, nearly turned Ricky Gabriel’s cross into his own net.
Braintree were winning all the 50-50’s and second balls, and were just quicker and sharper both on and off the ball than the hosts, whose sluggish first-half was greeted by a smattering of boos at the half-time whistle.
They would return at full-time too.
Halifax had had just one shot compared to the visitors’ seven by the interval, with Quigley and strike-partner Dayle Southwell given scraps to feed off.
The ball had come back into the Halifax half too regularly thanks to a combination of the hosts’ inability to keep it and Braintree’s more purposeful play in possession.
It was looking like Town needed a moment of magic or a mistake.
Matty Kosylo produced a burst forward past a couple of Braintree players shortly before the break before trying to find Jordan Preston, but the move broke down.
It had been too easy for Braintree. The main positive for Town was that it was still only 0-0 and they could start again in the second-half.
Southwell had a shot deflected just over from the edge of the box moments after the break from Kosylo’s lay-off.
Southwell also had a shot blocked, while Preston squandered a free header from six yards when the ball hit his shoulder and dropped wide.
There was more movement and inter-play between Town’s front four now, and more urgency in attack, although Braintree still posed a threat, with Cameron James’ shot saved by Sam Johnson, and another one fired off target.
Town’s threat was only sporadic though, while Killip remained under-worked for a visiting goalkeeper.
Amaluzor’s excellent strike from range nicked the woodwork on it’s way wide as Braintree threatened to take all three points.
Town’s day was summed-up when Ferry’s pass found its way through to Quigley 10 yards out, but the striker failed to control it and the ball rolled away for a goal kick.
Halifax: Johnson, Hanson, Clarke, Brown, Skarz, Maher, Ferry, Preston, Kosylo, Southwell (Edwards 76), Quigley. Subs not used: Rowley, Duckworth, Staunton, Odelusi.
Shots on target: 1
Shots off target: 4
Braintree: Killip, Eleftheriou, Atkinson, Morton, Amaluzor, Gabriel, James, Allen (Della Verde 81), Richards, Lyons-Foster, Barrington (Rowe 75). Subs not used: Borg, Blackmore, Curran.
Shots on target: 1
Shots off target: 12
Referee: Joe Hull
Town man of the match: Jacob Hanson