FC Halifax Town produced an encouraging display as they drew 0-0 with League Two side Carlisle at The Shay.
Town were more than a match for their Football League opponents, and probably should have won it on the balance of play and chances.
As against Rochdale on Tuesday, there were positives than negatives for Billy Heath, whose side played some good football in the first-half, and looked a sharp and potent unit before tailing off after the interval.
With two more friendlies to go before the season starts, Halifax look in good shape for Aldershot on the opening day.
Connor Oliver again caught the eye for Town, constantly in space to receive the ball and using it intelligently when he did; his team-mates can rest assured their runs will usually be found if Oliver is in possession.
In Oliver, Matty Kosylo, Adam Morgan and loanee Dion Charles, who rejoined Town on loan for six months before the game, The Shaymen certainly aren’t short of ball-playing, creative players. More of a concern would be whether they have a prolific goalscorer to take the chances that should be plentiful in supply.
Halifax produced some well-crafted attacks in the early stages, with Kosylo and Oliver incisive around the Carlisle box, but Tomlinson saw one effort fly over from the edge of the box before Oliver’s low drive flashed across goal.
With Tom Denton on the bench, the hosts were almost forced to find alternative routes to goal, and were proving they were capable of doing so.
After an impressive display on Tuesday, Cliff Moyo’s audition for the full-time right-back role following Kevin Robert’s departure to Wrexham had a blip when he wrongly let a high ball drift over him, almost leading to a Carlisle chance after an attacker nipped onto the loose ball. To be fair to Moyo, that was his sole slip on an otherwise solid afternoon.
Ben Tomlinson, who last played for Carlisle, worked hard up-front, harrying the visitors’ defence, while Morgan struggled to make an impression from a deep-lying role. But it was Oliver’s vision, passing and close control that drew the most appreciation.
Kosylo should have converted Josh Macdonald’s cross midway through the first-half but miscued his effort, before his low shot from 25 yards went wide.
Carlisle were flat by comparison, playing with no tempo or urgency, and creating little. But they should have scored when the ball ricocheted around the Town box for a few madcap seconds, and Reggie Lambe should also have converted Shaun Miller’s cross, but his glancing header went well wide from six yards.
Halam Hope then brought a good save from Sam Johnson, with the away side looking far better for their switch to a flat-back-four.
Both sides seemed to regress after the restart, as the game descended into a scrappy, bitty contest with little quality and too many loose passes. There were also too many substitutions for the match to sustain any kind of rhythm - Carlisle striker Shaun Miller was on and off the pitch more often than the match ball - as the tempo dropped to walking pace at times.
Substitute Sam Cosgrove brought a save from Sam Johnson to finally break the monotony with 20 minutes left, moments before Bohan Dixon’s low shot was tipped behind by Jack Bonham, his first save of the game.
A football match threatened to reappear as Nicky Adams then curled a shot just wide from 20 yards with Johnson beaten.
Dixon and Charles had late efforts off target, but the game had 0-0 written all over it from the moment the second-half began.
Halifax: Johnson (Nicholson 88), Moyo, Brown (Garner 73), Garner (Riley 46), McManus (Wilde 77), Macdonald (Kosylo 66), Hotte (Lynch 54), Oliver (Dixon 59), Kosylo (Charles 46), Morgan (Denton 64), Tomlinson (King 81). Subs not used: Hibbs, Barrows, Basic.
Shots on target: 2
Shots off target: 8
Carlisle: Bonham, T Miller (Nabi 59), Parkes, Liddle (Ellis 53), Grainger, Jones (Joyce 31), Hope (S Miller 42, Hope 46, S Miller 54, Cosgrove 65), Adams, Lambe, S Miller (Jones 36, T Miller 70), Etuhu (Devitt 56). Subs: Bacon, Salkeld, Egan, Holt, Brisley.
Shots on target: 4
Shots off target: 3
Referee: Mark Powell
Town man of the match: Connor Oliver