Second defeat is bitter pill for Town to swallow

Nuneaton Town 1

Halifax Town 0

Town ended a disappointing week with a second successive defeat at the hands of Nuneaton.

It means the Shaymen have taken just one point from the last nine on offer.

But such is the state of play in the race for the Blue Square Bet play offs that they remain third and still firmly in the race for a top five finish.

The Shaymen probably deserved something from the game at Liberty Way, which as far tighter than Tuesday’s match had been.

Andy Brown’s goal on the half hour proved to be the difference between the sides while Town had chances late on.

But they finished with 10 men for the third game in a row with substitute Jason St Juste sent off in stoppage time at the end although his high footed challenge was clumsy rather than malicious.

Boss Neil Aspin made three changes to the side beaten in midweek with Lee Gregory, Tom Baker and Liam Needham returning to the starting line up.

Simon Eastwood was the busier of the two keepers early on, clearing from a Liam Hogan back pass and coming out of his area to head sideways to Scott McManus.

But he could only stand and watch when Brown picked up possession on the right and tried a looping effort that bounced a yard wide of the goal.

The Shaymen were struggling to get anything going in attack, Ryan Toulson being run off the ball after getting down the right.

Their first real chance came after 11 minutes when Gregory worked some space for himself before finding Danny Holland. His cross was deep for Simon Garner whose left footed shot bounced wide of the post.

A Gary Mills free kick after 18 minutes was headed wide by Brown, with the help of a deflection and the Shaymen scrambled the resulting corner away.

Town went forward again as the midway point of the half approached, Toulson’s long throw from the right reaching Gregory who blasted wide from 12 yards.

Town appeared to be finding their feet, looking comfortable at the back and starting to control midfield.

But all that hard work was undone in an instant as Needham was robbed of possession by Mark Noon and he found Brown in the area, the striker sending his low shot beyond Eastwood’s reach.

Hogan and Eastwood almost got in a terrible tangle nine minutes before the break from a short back pass. The Town keeper did well to react and won a free kick for the challenge on him from Danny Glover.

Glover fired straight at Eastwood a couple of minutes later when well placed and Town had a chance from a free kick, the awarding of which was greeted with ironic cheers from the travelling fans, but Danny Lowe’s delivery was cleared behind for a corner.

The Shaymen fared little better from the Garner corner with home keeper Danny Alcock claiming comfortably.

Brown then had a gilt-edged chance to double the home side’s lead when he raced clear but his attempt to round Eastwood sent the ball hurtling wide of goal and behind.

Town had a great opportunity early in the second half when Needham fed it though to Gregory on the left but the frontman’s touch was heavy and the keeper collected.

The Shaymen then forced a couple of corners in quick succession but the home defence managed to clear both.

Simon Forsdick tried his luck from 40 yards, but by then attention was on Gregory who had pulled up clutching the back of his leg.

He was replaced by St Juste who played wide on the left of the front three with James Dean switching to the right.

Sadly the standard of football did not improve appreciably with both teams guilty of wasting possession.

McManus went on a jinking run down the left but there was no one to capitalise when he pulled the ball back.

And it was rapidly becoming another frustrating 90 minutes for the Shaymen, a feeling which grew when Mark Noon went down clutching his face after a collision with Garner - the contact had clearly been leg to leg.

Cameron Darkwah replaced Baker and was involved immediately, collecting a Dean back heel before crossing.

At the other end, Adam Walker crossed deep before the ball was delivered back into the box and both Wesley York and Walker missed their kicks.

Darkwah was furious when he was brought down by Gareth Dean and the referee waved away his appeals for a free kick.

And Eastwood had to be at his best to race off his line and block Matthew Barnes-Homer from point blank range with nine minutes remaining.

The Shaymen finally got a shot on target in the 87th minute but Hogan’s overhead kick looped straight into the keeper’s arms.

And they had a chance in the second added minute from a Danny Lowe free kick, but Needham could not get his head to the ball and Holland smashed his low effort from the left across the face of goal and wide.

Town ended the game with 10 men for the third time in a row when St Juste was dismissed somewhat harshly, for a high foot in the final added minute.