Harrogate Town 2-2 FC Halifax Town

Harrogate v FC Halifax Town
Harrogate v FC Halifax Town

Two own goals, including one in added time, denied FC Halifax Town victory in a pulsating 2-2 draw at Yorkshire rivals Harrogate Town.

Liam McAlinden's penalty gave Halifax an early lead, which was cancelled out by a Matty Brown own goal after half-time.

Substitute Cameron King thought he had won it but a second own goal in added time from Josh Staunton rescued a point for the 10-man hosts.

Despite the disappointment of conceding so late, Halifax looked like they'd got their mojo back, brimming with desire and commitment.

Pete Wild was the centre of Halifax fans' attention having been installed as favourite for the Grimsby Town job earlier in the day.

But he inspired his side to an impressive display at Wetherby Road.

McAlinden started up-front alongside Tobi Sho-SIlva in a 4-4-2, in which The Shaymen were quick to press high up the pitch, competing aggressively for possession.

And they were rewarded for their up-and-at-'em start when Jeff King, replacing namesake Cameron in one of three changes, was tripped in the box.

A grey area at the moment those, but if there was some doubt about Saturday's penalty appeal, this one looked pretty clear cut. Ironically, McAlinden was the grateful recipient, smashing the ball into the left corner.

Halifax were standing toe-to-toe with the home side, closing them down, funneling back and defending bravely.

Harrogate were more ponderous and predictable, as evidenced when a move petered out and broke down, before McAlinden intercepted and raced upfield and brought a good save from James Belshaw with a shot across goal.

This was more like the August and September Shaymen, full of running, imposing themselves on the game.

McAlinden set the tone with a display of real graft in attack, allied with offering Town more of a presence up-front alongside Sho-Silva, who also worked hard.

Right-back Ryan Fallowfield was Harrogate's best attacking outlet, which showed how well Halifax's plan was working. From his cross, Mark Beck headed over when well-placed just after the half-hour mark.

That was the closest Harrogate came in an underwhelming first-half in which they huffed and puffed but were mostly held at arm's length.

Brown, leading the back-line magnificently, had a header deflected off target and Charlie Cooper sent a free-kick a yard or two over as Town refused to sit on their lead, but they defended it with relish.

The question was whether Halifax could maintain it, or if they'd come off their pretty relentless pace.

Brown came to his side's rescue two minutes after the interval with a tremendous, goal-saving header from Josh Falkingham's shot after hesitant defending by the otherwise superb Staunton.

That heralded more of a Harrogate-dominated start to the second-half, culminating in Thomson's cross cruelly being diverted into his own net by Brown as he tried to divert it behind.

It was a different contest now as the hosts threatened to overrun The Shaymen. The momentum had noticeably shifted.

But Halifax rode it out, and eventually the game settled into a calmer spell as both sides lost some of their composure and it edged into next-goal-wins territory.

Thomson had a couple of efforts for Harrogate, with McAlinden bringing a comfortable save from Belshaw shortly before he was taken off.

But his replacement Cameron King blasted Halifax back in-front when he met Jamie Allen's drilled cross with a controlled but powerful first-time finish.

This time, there appeared no way back for Harrogate, who offered little other than a couple of efforts off target by substitute Brendan Kiernan.

Centre-back Warren Burrell was shown a straight red-card late on for a high-footed tackle on Liam Nolan, leaving an opposition side grumbling at the referee for a refreshing change.

Sam Johnson did well to tip over Beck's deflected shot in the 90th minute, which turned out to be a warning, as a Harrogate cross was heartbreakingly turned into the Halifax net by another own goal.

Harrogate: Belshaw, Fallowfield, C Hall, Burrell, W Smith, Thomson (Stead 86), Falkingham, Diamond (Kiernan 71), Hancox, Muldoon, Beck. Subs not used: Emmett, Bradley, Cracknell.

Scorer: Brown (og 54)

Shots on target: 5

Shots off target: 9

Corners: 11

Halifax: Johnson, Duckworth, Brown, Staunton, Binnom-Williams, Nolan, Cooper (Maher 78), Allen, J King (Williams 74), McAlinden (C King 67), Sho-Silva. Subs not used: Appleyard, Macdonald.

Scorer: McAlinden (11), C King (77)

Shots on target: 4

Shots off target: 9

Corners: 6

Attendance: 1,185 (330 away)

Referee: Simon Mather

Town man of the match: Matty Brown