Sutton 0-1 FC Halifax Town

Sutton v FC Halifax Town
Sutton v FC Halifax Town

Michael Duckworth's second-half goal earned FC Halifax Town their first win in five games as they beat Sutton 1-0 to move back up to second in the National League.

Duckworth's first goal for the club ends The Shaymen's dip in form as they produced the perfect response to their 5-0 hammering at Bromley.

It wasn't pretty, but who cares? Halifax did what they had to do.

An ugly win is still a win, and not many will have felt as satisfying to Pete Wild than this one.

The last thing Town needed after their thrashing on Saturday was to concede early, so it was a relief to see them survive a driven shot that was deflected just wide and a header that went a couple of yards over from a corner, both inside the first 10 minutes.

The Shaymen then nearly conceded an embarrassing goal when hesitancy at the back resulted in Sam Johnson's clearance hitting someone and going straight back past him, but the ball didn't carry enough pace to make it over the line.

Given Town's form coming into the game, it wouldn't have surprised you if it had.

The Shaymen didn't start particularly well, passing sloppily and not retaining the ball. They showed none of the confidence and intensity that coursed through them earlier in the campaign when they were beating the likes of Chesterfield and Solihull so thrillingly.

Their two brightest players were both on the right - Josh Mcadonald making his first Town start since February 2018 after his loan spell at Whitley Bay, and Jacob Hanson, making his first start since April - both at least offering energy and a willingness to run with the ball.

The form of both sides didn't suggest a classic was in the offing, and that's how it unfolded. It was more a night for doing the ugly side of the game, making no silly mistakes and hoping a moment of quality could be produced.

Sutton had some pace out wide, and got into some good crossing positions, but wasted them too often.

Liam Nolan and Charlie Cooper didn't really offer enough composure or presence in midfield for Town to get on top in that area, while Jeff King was a peripheral figure on the left.

It said much for the contest that the closest it came to a goal in the first-half was when Johnson's clearance almost went in, and when the Town keeper had to react well to tip a lofted free-kick over the bar that was intended as a cross.

Halifax had barely created anything, and hardly looked like doing so either.

Liam McAlinden and Tobi Sho-SIlva, who have linked-up impressively at times this season, worked hard but struggled to impose themselves.

Town looked better for having the half-time break though, playing with more purpose and attacking intent, while Sutton seemed to have lost their way somewhat after the interval.

And from Macdonald's inviting cross from the right, Duckworth, playing at left-back in the absence of the suspended Jerome Binnom-Williams, steamed in at the far post and met it with a composed finish for his first goal since May 2015.

Halifax were competing much better now, showing more aggression and playing with far more assertiveness.

The goal had buoyed the visitors, and flattened the home side, who started to take their frustrations out on the referee for perceived injustices. His poor decisions weren't exclusive to Sutton though.

Half-time substitute Jack Earing had brought some finesse and control to a game still mired in a lack of quality or composure from either side.

It was a messy, scrappy contest, but that suited Halifax, who gave little away as the second-half went on. A free-kick sent a yard or two wide by Rob Milsom from 25 yards was the best Sutton could muster.

Johnson was forced into an excellent save from Omar Bugiel's shot on the turn with five minutes remaining.

They then somehow survived when a Sutton corner was headed against the bar by Bugiel and two follow-up efforts were both cleared off the line.

Sutton: Butler, Barden (Eastmond 73), Goodliffe, Ajiboye (Randall 76), Reid, Matsuzaka, Davis, Milsom, Beautyman, Wright (Jarvis 59), Bugiel. Subs not used: Dundas, Wyatt.

Shots on target: 4

Shots off target: 8
Corners: 13

Halifax: Johnson, Hanson, Clarke, Staunton, Duckworth, Nolan, Cooper, Macdonald (Allen 72), McAlinden (Earing 46), J King (Maher 86), Sho-Silva. Subs not used: Appleyard, Southwell.

Scorer: Duckworth (53)

Shots on target: 1

Shots off target: 4
Corners: 2

Attendance: 1,326

Referee: Alan Dale

Town man of the match: Michael Duckworth