FC Halifax Town 2-1 Gainsborough

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FC Halifax Town came from behind to beat Gainsborough 2-1 and move back into the Conference North play-off places.

Jordan Thewlis, who scored twice in Gainsborough’s 3-2 win against Halifax in September, gave the visitors a shock lead after 20 minutes; to call it against the run of play would be an understatement.

But Town equalised thanks to an own goal by Chris Salt shortly after the restart, and eventually edged ahead through substitute Adam Morgan to give them a thoroughly deserved win, albeit one not entirely pretty or as easy as it might have been.

Town had already dropped points against six of the teams in the bottom eight of the National League North, and doing so again here against a team with just seven league wins and one clean sheet in the league all season would have ranked among their worst results of the season.

But Billy Heath’s team found a way to win - just their second victory in five games - when only three points was acceptable.

As on Saturday, Dion Charles could and perhaps should have put Town ahead, first when he prodded wide from Matty Kosylo’s cross before his spectacular right-foot volley crashed off the bar from the edge of the box.

The Town wide men started in creative mood, with both making incisive bursts forward on the ball and instantly looking the hosts’ best outlets.

Debutant left-back Salt was being given a torrid time by Kosylo, who, after being found by Charles’ cross-field pass, turned him inside out before his low shot was blocked by the flailing defender. Kosylo then skied the rebound.

Halifax were pinning Gainsborough back and it seemed only a matter of time until a goal arrived; well, one did arrive, but only after Nathan Hotte, who replaced the injured Matty Brown, was caught in possession by Ashley Worsfold near the byline, and his cross was tapped in by Thewlis; as on Saturday, Town had gifted their opponents the lead.

Gainsborough had barely had a kick in Halifax’s half until then, but Town faced the prospect of having to fight back having conceded first for the third game on the spin.

And their immediate response was of a team deflated, while Gainsborough, like Gloucester had, found an extra gear after their goal, looking quicker and hungrier while Halifax cut a frustrated collective figure.

The old flaws were resurfacing as Town lost the ball cheaply and lost their rhythm; their best effort before the break coming from David Lynch, whose 25-yard pile-driver was palmed away by George Willis.

The half-time whistle was mostly greeted by silence, by which time Kosylo, Town’s best player so far, had been forced off injured with what appeared to be a hamstring problem.

Following Charles’ delightful reverse pass, Morgan’s low drive was well saved by Willis before Salt was left with a sour taste in the mouth when he inadvertently turned the ball into his own net following Hotte’s flick on from a high ball into the box. And with that, a run of four and a half hours of football without a home goal was ended.

Willis then kept out Danny Clarke’s well struck low shot, with the impressive Town man also firing just wide from the edge of the area as Halifax found some momentum.

But that faded as Gainsborough indulged in some time-wasting, with keeper Willis twice calling the physio on for treatment after fouls were given in his favour, and twice taking an inordinate amount of time to restart play.

When he wasn’t being fouled, Tom Denton was an effective focal point of Town’s now constant attacks, and from his knock-down, Morgan prodded the ball in after his first shot was saved by Willis; ironic cheers greeted his new-found eagerness to restart play at a Gainsborough free-kick moments later.

Halifax: Johnson, Roberts, Garner, Hotte, Wilde, Kosylo (Morgan 44), Lynch, Sinnott, Charles, Clarke, Denton. Subs not used: Drench, Moyo, Hone, King.

Scorers: Salt (og 51), Morgan (81)

Shots on target: 10

Shots off target: 8

Corners: 5

Gainsborough: Willis, Jacklin, Wilson, Evans, Salt, Bailey-King McGovern 69), Tempest, Nyoni (Jarman 84), Chippendale (Wiles 69), Thewlis, Worsfold. Subs not used: Chilaka, Beatson.

Scorer: Thewlis (20)

Shots on target: 4

Shots off target: 3

Corners: 3

Attendance: 1,403

Town man of the match: Dion Charles

Referee: David Underwood