Woking 1-1 FC Halifax Town

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FC Halifax Town extended their unbeaten run under Jim Harvey to 11 games as they drew 1-1 against 10-man Woking.

Bruno Andrade gave the hosts the lead against the run of play, but it was quickly cancelled out by a textbook free-kick by Sam Walker.

It speaks volumes about the progress made under Harvey that there will be a sense of disappointment and frustration that Town didn’t take all three points here.

Halifax had the one-man advantage for the majority of the game, but were unable to make it count.

Harvey suggested a point before the game would be a good result, and despite having a man extra, it still was, with The Cards going into the game having won nine of their last 11 fixtures.

Feeling slightly disappointed with a draw would have been fanciful after Town were beaten 3-0 by Woking earlier this season, but the game was another example of The Shaymen competing impressively against a team in the top 10 of the National League, and is another of those little hurdles Harvey loves to see his side clear.

Guiseppe Sole, who scored a stunning free-kick against Town in Woking’s 3-1 win at The Shay in November 2014, nearly did so again but for a fine tip-over by Sam Johnson.

The Halifax keeper was then called into action to save John Goddard’s curling effort from the resulting corner.

But it had been an even start, with Halifax going close through Jordan Burow’s left foot shot and Nicky Wroe, who as expected, came back in to start after sitting out the Barrow win, shooting off target from 20 yards.

The rate of change at the club since the summer was exemplified by the fact that only Scott McManus and Kevin Roberts had started the 3-2 defeat here on the final day of last season.

The game had yet to catch fire until midway through the first-half when full-back Chris Arthur, who was superb in their win at The Shay earlier this season, was dismissed for a thundering tackle on James Bolton.

A melee involving the majority of both sets of players broke out after the challenge before referee Adam Hopkins sent Arthur off; Town had hardly been parking the bus before then but there was a notable shift in the dynamic of the contest as the visitors adopted a more attacking mindset.

Not surprisingly, the referee now became the centre of attention, with every decision under close scrutiny from the frustrated home supporters; the award of a corner for a Sam Walker shot that Hopkins thought got a deflection prompted cries of ‘You don’t know what you’re doing’ half an hour in.

Town were now like the home side as they saw much more of the ball against a side forced to play with one man up-front.

But after Wroe uncharacteristically surrendered possession inside the Woking half, Joey Jones broke out towards the halfway line before sending the pacey Andrade away, who capped a scintillating run with an excellent low shot drilled across Johnson.

The Shaymen had broken rule number one when playing against 10-men in giving their opponents a lead to hang onto, conceding their first away goal in just under four hours of football in the process.

But this Halifax side under Jim Harvey are made of stern stuff, and it took just three minutes for them to equalise as Walker curled a sumptuous free-kick beyond Jake Cole moments after the keeper had reacted well to keep out Kevin Roberts’ low shot.

Of course, the home fans made the usual grumbles about the award of the free-kick, but Hopkins made the right call, with Woking only really having themselves to blame for conceding the set-piece on the edge of their own area.

One Woking fans asked Hopkins which part of Halifax he was born in as he walked off the pitch at half-time, before the tannoy announcer asked over the PA system if there was a qualified referee in the ground, and if so, could they report to the tunnel immediately. Cue a hugely ironic cheer from the Woking fans.

After the action restarted, with the same referee, substitute Matthew Robinson’s shot was deflected onto the bar by Matty Brown.

But despite enjoying more possession, Town struggled to break through a resilient Woking defence, with Jones in the annoyingly repetitive habit of being in the right place at the right time to keep most attacks at bay.

New signing Dino Fazlic was brought on after an hour in an attempt to pep up The Shaymen, who were playing some neat, intricate approach play but lacking the required cutting edge.

The introduction of Josh Macdonald saw Town switch to a 4-2-3-1 formation, but still the chances didn’t come as the visitors were forced to pass back and fourth in-front of the immovable two banks of four they were attacking.

It was the 80th minute when Town got their next shot in at goal when Macdonald’s drilled effort from an acute angle was turned behind by Cole.

Richard Peniket then made his first Town appearance for 10 months as Harvey went for broke by stringing four across the front line, and the striker got a sight of goal in added time and a chance for a fairytale finale, but scuffed his shot from 12 yards.

Woking: Cole, Norman, Jones, Saah, Arthur, Andrade (Caprice 67), Murtagh, Ricketts, Goddard, Sole (Robinson 31), Quigley. Subs not used: Hamann, Poku, Smith

Scorer: Andrade (35)

Shots on target: 3

Shots off target: 3

Corners: 2

Halifax: Johnson, Bolton, Brown, Bencherif, Roberts (Macdonald 71), Wroe, James (Peniket 82), Walker (Fazlic 60), McManus, Tuton, Burrow. Subs not used: Porter, Hibbs.

Scorer: Walker (38)

Shots on target: 5

Shots off target: 8

Corners: 7

Attendance: 1,484

Town man of the match: Scott McManus