FC Halifax Town suffered their first defeat of the season but went down fighting as they lost 2-1 at title-favourites Salford.
Matty Kosylo had given Halifax hope of a point when he cancelled out Adam Rooney’s first-half opener, but the striker struck again late on to seal the hosts’ first win of the campaign.
The Shaymen battled hard at Moor Lane and stood up strong in what was their toughest game of the season so far, but came up just short.
It was certainly a different game to what Halifax had experienced up to now this season, but their commendable effort and work-rate meant they pushed Salford all the way on the night.
Sam Johnson reacted well to keep out Rooney’s header from point-blank range, but could nothing moments later when the striker met a left-wing cross with a deft glancing header.
It was the fourth time Salford had taken the lead this season, and the first time Halifax had conceded.
Rooney went close again 10 minutes later when he pounced on a loose ball around the edge of the box before curling a shot just wide.
Town were competitive though, defensively solid and working hard to ensure Salford knew their lead was slender.
Keeper Chris Neal had found Dayle Southwell’s free-kick from 25 yards too hot to handle 20 minutes in, but Town weren’t in control of the game like they had been against Braintree, Barrow and Maidstone. Little surprise perhaps given the standard of opposition on paper.
But The Shaymen competed well, and stayed in the game, which would surely have been Jamie Fullarton’s priority after conceding 11 minutes in.
New boy Simon Lenighan, thrust straight into the starting 11 on the day his signing was announced, was solid enough in midfield alongside Niall Maher, using his big physical presence effectively and screening well in-front of the back four.
town had scored in the five minutes before half-time in each of their first three games, and went mightily close to doing so again here.
But Southwell’s shot one-on-one and then Jonathan Edwards’ deflected low shot were both kept out by fine saves from Neal.
Had former Halifax midfielder Lois Maynard’s header from a corner five minutes after the interval not hit the bar, The Shaymen could have been in for a long second-half, with Salford in the ascendancy.
But they continued to stay in the game, and nearly levelled after an hour when Ben Tomlinson played in Kosylo, but his low shot across goal from the left rolled agonisingly wide, as the 680 away fans continued to chant.
And they raised the roof of the away end when, for the fourth game in a row, Salford lost their lead as Kosylo tapped-in at the far post from Southwell’s right-wing cross. The value of staying in the game right there.
But Town’s lead lasted only 10 minutes as Rooney, who had been taunted with chants of ‘what a waste of money’ from the massed ranks of Halifax fans after his reported £300,000 transfer from Aberdeen, displayed excellent technique to hook Maynard’s cross back across goal and in from 10 yards.
Salford: Neal, Wiseman, Pond, Piergianni, Touray, Lloyd (Hogan 86), Whitehead, Maynard, Haughton (Walker 74), Rooney, Gaffney. Subs not used: Crocombe, Hogan, Mafuta, Walker, Rodney.
Scorer: Rooney (11, 82)
Shots on target: 6
Shots off target: 12
Halifax: Johnson, Hanson, Clarke, Brown, Duckworth, Lenighan (King 83), Maher, Tomlinson (McLeod 90), Southwell, Kosylo (Preston 79), Edwards. Subs not used: Rowley, Odelusi.
Scorer: Kosylo (73)
Shots on target: 5
Shots off target: 2
Referee: Andrew Miller
Town man of the match: Jacob Hanson