Notts County 1-1 FC Halifax Town: Spirited ten-man Shaymen hold on for draw

Ten-man FC Halifax Town produced a hugely spirited display to earn a point as they drew 1-1 at Notts County.

By Tom Scargill
Tuesday, 22nd February 2022, 9:46 pm
Updated Tuesday, 22nd February 2022, 9:48 pm
Notts County v FC Halifax Town
Notts County v FC Halifax Town

Either side of Aaron Martin's first goal for Town and Elisha Sam's screamer to equalise, Jack Senior was sent-off in a pulsating first-half.

The second 45 was less of an ordeal to watch, as Town held firm against the odds, managing to contain County more and blunt their threat.

The idea Halifax would hold on for a draw at half-time seemed fanciful given how difficult it had been to get there, but to a man, The Shaymen were nothing short of magnificent in their efforts to keep County out.

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Niall Maher and Kian Spence returned to the starting 11 as Town switched to a 3-5-2, necessitated by the absences of Tyrell Warren and Jay Benn.

It was a better start from Town than they made against County in the FA Trophy defeat, getting in their faces, being aggressive and seeing plenty of the ball high up the pitch.

Jayden Richardson should have done better than fire over from an angle inside the box, before there was an even bigger let off for The Shaymen when a County corner was cleverly worked into the box and eventually fell to the unmarked Richard Brindley, who shanked his shot off target.

Shortly after Town survived a heart-in-mouth moment, when Jesse Debrah's short back pass was just about cleared by Sam Johnson, Martin did brilliantly to deftly take a through ball round the onrushing Vitezslav Jaros and keep his cool to finish with a defender rushing back.

It was all about keeping their cool as County did everything but score themselves before and after Town had, with Sam hitting the post with a superb shot across the box.

Martin's goal was looking more against the run of play by the minute.

A sense of how unhappy the home crowd were at referee Michael Barlow's performance could be gained from the 'you're not fit to referee' chant before the half-hour mark. And the fact it was sung again a minute later.

County had an earlier penalty appeal rejected, the start of their anger at the official, and then had another turned down for Luke Summerfield's challenge in the Town box.

There were other transgressions and decisions that riled the hosts, as Town continued to live dangerously, their defence creaking when County got near their box.

Halifax's task got a whole lot harder when Senior was sent-off for a second booking ten minutes before the break, the third time this season Halifax had been reduced to ten men against The Magpies.

There was then another penalty appeal by the hosts for handball, before Town started to get seriously pegged back, penned in to the edge of their own box against a County onslaught.

The Shaymen eventually cracked when Sam produced a thunderous low shot cutting in on his right foot from the left, beating Johnson at his near post.

The waves of pressure only increased as half-time approached, with Maher's superb block preventing what looked a certain goal a few yards out.

Halifax desperately needed half-time, and just about got there level.

Having got there playing 4-4-1, Town reverted to three at the back, with Harvey Gilmour brought on at left wing-back, and strong runners in Spence and Billy Waters up top.

It worked in as much as County were engaged higher up the pitch now, and couldn't reach Town's penalty area as easily, but Halifax's attacking threat had been reduced to pretty much zilch.

It was going to be a long second-half.

The Shaymen reached the hour mark much more comfortably than they'd reached half-time, thanks to being more organised and working incredibly hard.

County were patient and probing, completely dominating play, but weren't getting as much joy or momentum as they had before the break.

Town hadn't stopped the flow but they'd plugged the leaks.

County's threat actually decreased as the second-half went on, with Town trying to force the hosts down the outside in the confidence they could deal with their crosses. And they did, thanks to some outstanding, disciplined defending, with Maher, Tom Bradbury and Jesse Debrah all superb, and Johnson producing saves when needed.

With seven minutes remaining and full-time gradually, agonisingly beckoning, Sam sent a shot curling just wide from near the penalty spot with Johnson beaten.

County cranked up the pressure again as full-time neared, with Johnson producing a brilliant point blank save before the follow-up shot hit the post.

Johnson then reacted superbly to save a header from a few yards out as full-time suddenly looked a long time away thanks to seven minutes of added time.

Notts County: Jaros, Chicksen, Cameron, Brindley, Richardson, Francis (Brunt 70, Vincent 83), Palmer, Rodrigues, Sam (Mitchell 87), Roberts, Wootton. Subs not used: Rawlinson, Nemane

Scorer: (Sam 44)

Shots on target: 8

Shots off target: 17

Corners: 6

Halifax: Johnson, Debrah, Bradbury, Maher (Thomas 78), Allen, Summerfield, Woods, Spence, Senior, Waters (McDonagh 80), Martin (Gilmour 46). Subs not used: Swaby-Neavin, Slew

Scorer: Martin (19)

Shots on target: 1

Shots off target: 1

Corners:

Attendance: 5,603 (392 away)

Referee: Michael Barlow

Town man of the match: Has to be Sam Johnson for some terrific saves to help Town over the line. Magnificent. Niall Maher a very close second though.