Hereford 3-2 FC Halifax Town

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FC Halifax Town were left cursing their luck as they lost the lead twice in a 3-2 defeat at Hereford.

Three days after Lee Gregory sustained an injury at Braintree, Town lost defenders Marc Roberts and Danny Lowe to the treatment table but battled stoically under such testing circumstances.

The Shaymen’s now 10-game winless run on the road looked like finally coming to an end after Joe Ironside put them back in the lead following first-half goals from Josh Wilson and Josh O’Keefe.

But the visitors were left with another hard luck story from their travels as Hereford scored twice in six second-half minutes to extend that run into December.

As expected, Ironside came in for the injured Lee Gregory while Archie Love made his first start for the club in place of Paul Marshall and Kevin Holsgrove replaced the suspended Simon Ainge for his first league start since the 2-2 draw with Nuneaton over a month ago.

Dan Gardner returned to the first-team squad on the bench, along with Barnsley loanee Sam Patterson.

For varying reasons, Town were arguably four players shy of their strongest 11, with Marc Roberts and Danny Lowe starting at centre-back for the first time since the opening day defeat at Cambridge.

But Town’s injury problems soon went from bad to worse as Roberts was forced off when he came off worse after a tackle on Sam Smith, meaning Neil Aspin made another enforced change with Lois Maynard shifting into the back four, which was missing three of its regular line-up.

From that foul, the Hereford free-kick was nearly headed in by the unmarked Dom Collins with Town deprived of Roberts’ aerial prowess.

It was starting to have all the hallmarks of another away day to forget, but Town’s luck changed moments later when Holsgrove was fouled in the box and Wilson smashed in the resulting penalty.

Even mistakes that had previously led to infuriatingly soft goals were escaping punishment as Micah Evans prodded the ball into the side-netting after Scott McManus’ header back to Matt Glennon fell short.

Town suddenly looked a transformed team from the side that meekly submitted at Braintree, with Love and Ironside belying their inexperience with some assured touches.

But the visitors failed to deal with a Frankie Artus free-kick and captain Josh O’Keefe nodded Hereford level just as the natives were starting to get restless.

Town carried on regardless as Holsgrove’s vicious shot was well held by Daniel Lloyd-Weston, but it was quickly turning into musical chairs in defence as Lowe was then forced off.

Sam Patterson, whose loan move from Barnsley was only announced hours earlier, replaced Lowe, with Matt Pearson and Maynard, the regular central-midfield combination, the latest to be paired at the back.

The Town boss probably spent half-time searching for his boots as well as contemplating how physio Dan Stolworthy was going to cope with his suddenly overcrowded treatment room.

The by now makeshift Town side certainly weren’t playing like one as substitute Jon Worthington’s shot whistled wide from 20 yards out as the home supporters’ heckles started to rise once more.

A sprirted Town then deservedly regained the lead just after the hour mark when Patterson made a fine first impression on his new team-mates with a roving run down the right before Ironside headed in his fellow loanee’s extremely inviting cross.

But another set-piece was their undoing as Collins rose highest to head in from a corner despite Town’s efforts to clear it on the line.

Before the visitors knew what hit them, a suddenly resurgent Hereford then edged ahead when substitute Eric Odhiambo stroked the ball past Glennon from the edge of the box.

The Shaymen were left facing an away defeat as cruel as the late comeback by Forest Green and the turnaround at Luton, especially considering the obstacles they had overcome through enforced changes.

Hereford: Lloyd-Weston, Leadbitter, Bush (Edwards 64), McDonald, Collins, O’Keefe, Artus (Odhiambo 68), Lathrope, Rankine, Smith, Evans (Walker 61). Subs not used: Graham, Evans.

Scorer: O’Keefe (38), Collins (72), Odhiambo (77)

Shots on target: 5

Shots off target: 6

Corners: 3

Halifax: Glennon, Pearson, Roberts (Worthington 18), Lowe (Patterson 44), Smith (Gardner 76), Maynard, Love, McManus, Holsgrove, Wilson, Ironside. Subs not used: Senior, Marshall.

Scorer: Wilson (20), Ironside (61)

Shots on target: 3

Shots off target: 6

Corners: 6

Attendance: 1,158

Town man of the match: Joe Ironside