FC Halifax Town 1-2 Ebbsfleet

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FC Halifax Town are now just two points above the National League drop zone after they let a half-time lead slip to lose 2-1 at home to Ebbsfleet.

Matty Kosylo’s first-half penalty gave Town a half-time lead, but substitute Corey Whitely and Luke Coulson scored within six minutes of each other as the visitors turned the game on its head.

There will have been positives and negatives if the new Town manager was watching from the stands, as The Shaymen deservedly led at the interval following a bright opening half, but the manner of their collapse after the break is a worrying reminder of their fragility as they peer more nervously over their shoulders than ever at the relegation zone.

Whether Billy Heath deserved to go or not, those Town fans who were glad to see him leave will argue their side has become a more confident and cohesive unit since his departure.

But the fact that Town are yet to win despite some encouraging recent signs is a reminder that there is still a lot of work to do for whoever comes in.

Neil Young rightly kept the same side that drew impressively at Wrexham, and they picked up where they left off at the Racecourse Ground, with Tom Denton twice going close, as he did a week ago.

Both his headers from corners were brilliantly kept out from close range by Ebbsfleet keeper Nathan Ashmore, the second a particularly superb stop, while Matty Kosylo was also denied what looked like a clear penalty for a trip by Lawrie Wilson.

It didn’t look like being Denton’s day as he was continually penalised in 50-50 challenges, much to the annoyance of the home fans, before eventually being booked by referee Matthew Dicicco.

But Town had been getting plenty of joy down their left flank, and from another Kosylo charge, Dicicco this time appeared to get one right when he blew up for a fairly reckless lunge by Kenny Clark, with Kosylo converting from the spot.

Dicicco continued to be centre of attention when he waved away Ebbsfleet’s penalty appeal for an alleged foul by Josh Macdonald, who then went off injured in the process.

Ebbsfleet had produced next to nothing to trouble Halifax, other than Myles Weston’s curling shot shortly before Kosylo’s goal that Sam Johnson tipped away.

Lone striker Danny Kedwell was getting no service, while Town looked hungrier for the ball and seemed to have more idea what to do with it.

Halifax had been much more purposeful and creative, stemming from the ever-impressive Michael Collins popping passes around midfield and Kosylo and Jake Hibbs getting on the ball in advanced areas.

Young’s priorities since taking charge have been tightening up the defence and boosting the players’ confidence. Job done.

That was until Ebbsfleet equalised 10 minutes into the second-half when they took advantage of some statuesque defending as Kedwell set-up Coulson, and after his shot was parried by Johnson, debutant Whitely tapped-in with his first touch since coming on at half-time.

It went from bad to worse as more slack marking from Town allowed Dave Winfield to head a free-kick back across goal and Coulson reacted quickest to nod it over Johnson from six yards.

The turnaround was difficult to fathom, with Town hardly giving Ebbsfleet a sniff in the first-half, although the visitors certainly upped their game after the interval.

But once Town’s defence sprung a leak, their confidence seemed to drain away, and suddenly players were taking more touches on the ball, and there was less zip about their play.

Clark could have possibly sealed the win for Ebbsfleet but put the ball wide after a corner had reached him at the far post.

Town huffed and puffed late on, but it was too little too late.

Halifax: Johnson, Moyo (Duckworth 46), Garner, Brown, McManus, Macdonald (Tuton 43), Collins, Hibbs (Tomlinson 76), Oliver, Kosylo, Denton. Subs not used: Nicholson, Hotte.

Scorer: Kosylo (37)

Shots on target: 5

Shots off target: 12

Corners: 9

Ebbsfleet: Ashmore, Rance (Powell 71), Winfield, Clark, Drury, Kedwell, Weston (Whitely 46), Payne, Magri, Coulson, Wilson (Bush 66). Subs not used: Miles, Shields.

Scorer: Whitely (55), Coulson (60)

Shots on target: 5

Shots off target: 5

Corners: 2

Attendance: 1,762

Referee: Matthew Dicicco

Town man of the match: Michael Collins