FC Halifax Town 2-0 Alfreton

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FC Halifax Town recorded their first win in six games as they beat Alfreton 2-0 at the Shay.

Lois Maynard scored his fourth goal in seven games before Jamie Jackson added his first goal in 15 to seal Halifax’s first league victory for over a month.

And a very welcome one considering their next two opponents are Forest Green and Torquay.

If Welling was an improvement on Woking, then this was an improvement on Welling as Halifax produced their best performance since their FA Cup clash with Bradford.

The display and the result mark another step along the road to recovery for Town after their recent wobble, with Alfreton rarely troubling their hosts.

It was just a question of whether Town could break down Alfreton’s defence, and once they did, there was only really one winner.

A strong early tackle on Scott McManus prompted a cry from one fan of ‘put that in the Daily Mail’ from the East Stand, referring to an online column denouncing Town’s alleged heavy-handedness at Welling.

Neil Aspin’s team selection showed two changes from that game, with a front three of the returning Scott Boden, Richard Peniket and Ross Dyer.

Will Hatfield, signed just before the emergency loan deadline - football’s version of Black Friday - made his first start for nearly three months.

The Accrington loanee was hardly difficult to miss in his luminous green boots, and flitted about early on with the manner of someone eager to impress.

From his cross, Boden found room to shoot, but couldn’t squeeze the ball through a crowded goal-line, who cleared his low shot for a corner.

It was slow but steady progress from Town early on, but they were far more adventurous than Alfreton, who were reliant on veteran striker Karl Hawley to do battle against Marc Roberts and Simon Ainge.

The Halifax centre-backs were terrorised by John Akinde and Jake Speight at Alfreton last season - but those days are a distant memory for Nicky Law’s side now.

Goalkeeper Sam Johnson became the fifth player to play in goal for the club this season when he made his debut in their 2-0 defeat at Macclesfield; an indication of the struggle they’ve faced this term.

From his sloppy clearance, Peniket was put through by Kevin Roberts but scuffed his shot under pressure from a retreating Alfreton defender.

Both teams will probably be glad to see the back of November, with only one win between them in their nine outings this month.

When given the chance, Town played some nice stuff around the Alfreton box but the contest had the air of being played between two teams not at their confident best.

Town carved out two chances within a minute as half-time approached, but both Hatfield’s low drive from 25 yards and Boden’s effort from an angle inside the box went narrowly wide.

The Shaymen seemed to be coming to the boil on the verge of the interval, with Peniket leading the charge down the Town right, although their next chance came from McManus’s left-wing cross, which Maynard headed over.

If anything, the pattern of Town dominance in possession was even more apparent after the break, with Alfreton sitting back and inviting the hosts to try and get past them.

With a precious point edging gradually closer as the minutes ticked by, Alfreton were increasingly reluctant to do anything to jeopardise it.

Out of nothing, Adam Smith’s delightful flick played in Hatfield, whose shot was blocked by the onrushing Johnson.

But from the corner, Maynard prodded in from close range after Simon Ainge’s header had kept the set-piece alive.

Suddenly, the second lowest scorers in the league could no longer sit back.

Dyer then shot into the side-netting after a decent shout for a penalty for a foul on Scott McManus.

Hatfield was now enjoying a bigger influence on the game, with his darting runs forward adding a useful extra dimension to the Town attack.

By the time he was taken off, his round of applause was well deserved.

Alfreton threw on a second striker, with Matt Glennon yet to have a shot to save against a side who only Nuneaton have had fewer shots on target than in the division.

Town began to relish the extra space they enjoyed due to Alfreton’s more attacking approach, with the industrious Boden linking-up well with Dyer without finding a finishing touch to their excellent build-up.

Boden set-up Dyer prior to Jackson’s goal with a cross to the far post, but after Dyer’s header was somehow kept out Johnson, Jackson unerringly hammered in the rebound.

Halifax: Glennon, K Roberts, M Roberts, Ainge, McManus, Hatfield (Jackson 73), Marshall, Maynard, Peniket (Smith 46), Dyer, Boden. Subs not used: Senior, Bolton, Schofield.

Scorers: Maynard (60), Jackson (820S

Shots on target: 6

Shots off target: 12

Corners: 7

Alfreton: Johnson, Wood (Johnson 84), Graham, Byrne, Rowe-Turner, Davies, Bradley, Shaw, Howell (McDonald 70), Courtney, Hawley. Subs not used: Keane, Clayton, Lamb.

Shots on target: 3

Shots off target: 2

Corners: 5

Attendance: 1,198

Town man of the match: Scott Boden