Maidstone 0-0 FC Halifax Town
FC Halifax Town ended their 2017-18 season with a 0-0 draw at Maidstone in a game that didn't come to life until the final five minutes.
Mike Fondop-Talom missed a late penalty for Halifax, who got better as the game went on, although they had Sam Johnson to thank for their point in the end, as he produced two saves one-on-one.
If this was a final audition for some of the Town squad, Jamie Fullarton may have been given food for though regarding some decisions, with out-of-contract players such as Ben Tomlinson, Michael Duckworth, Connor Oliver and Niall Maher all giving a decent account of themselves.
Town did the basics well - organisation, concentration, keeping their shape - but were solid rather than spectacular. However, a point away from home remains a decent result, whether it’s in the first game of the season or the last.
The Shaymen finish the season in 16th place with 55 points - surely more than acceptable, and offering plenty to build on next term.
There was no place for the likes of Tom Denton, Cliff Moyo and Scott Garner, all of whom could have played their last game for Town given their lack of regular game-time under Fullarton.
Scott McManus, also possibly playing for Town for the last time, started at centre-back, with Tomlinson returning from suspension.
Lively winger Andre Coker was a useful outlet for Maidstone, and was repeatedly the focus of their early attacks. From his cross, Tom Wraight’s header was tipped over by Johnson after 18 minutes, shortly before Matty Kosylo was off target with a volley.
Both these clubs were in the same boat of having already secured safety, so could therefore play with freedom, although there was an end-of-season feel to the game, as it lacked the intensity of a match with something riding on it.
The two sides tried to play good football, building up from the back, with wide-men Kosylo and Coker looking likeliest to create.
Wraight was again denied by Johnson, who was at full stretch to keep out a 20-yard free-kick just after the half-hour mark.
Maidstone were the more cohesive and incisive going forward, although neither side produced enough quality to create much in open play.
Fondop-Talom looped a header just over after Kosylo’s shot was blocked shortly before half-time, with both teams failing to reach top gear.
McManus headed an Oliver free-kick straight at Lee Worgan a few minutes after the restart, with Town gradually becoming the more dominant side as Tomlinson saw more of the ball down the right, and Fondop-Talom was better supported from midfield by a more ambitious approach from the visitors.
While Town looked to be growing into the game, Maidstone appeared to be getting worse, lacking energy and tempo.
Duckworth volleyed wide after 73 minutes after Tomlinson had nodded down a cross-field pass into his path.
An even better move then saw Kosylo chip the ball to Tomlinson, who nodded it to Fondop-Talom just inside the box, and the striker volleyed narrowly over left-footed; would’ve been some way to end the season had that flown in.
As it was, Town’s campaign ended with a missed penalty as Fondop-Talom’s spot-kick was saved following Josh Hare’s trip on Kosylo.
Maidstone then sprang to life with two minutes left, creating two golden chances but missing them both through a combination of poor finishing and fine goalkeeping by Johnson, who kept out substitute Jamar Loza and then Wraight, both from six yards.
Maidstone: Worgan, Hare, Phillips (Paxman 58), Twumasi, Finney, Anderson, Lewis, Coker (Loza 65), Wraight, Reason, Turgott (Richards 81). Subs not used: Osei, Prestedge.
Shots on target: 6
Shots off target: 3
Halifax: Johnson, Duckworth, Maher, McManus, Hanley, Collins, Hibbs (Thomson 81), Oliver, Kosylo, Tomlinson, Fonop-Talom. Subs not used: Nicholson, Riley, Hanson, Khan.
Shots on target: 3
Shots off target: 6
Referee: Chris Pollard
Town man of the match: Sam Johnson