Telford 1-2 Halifax
Nathan Hotte's first goal for FC Halifax Town sealed a much-needed 2-1 win at Telford.
The pressure was on for The Shaymen following back-to-back defeats, but they dug deep after an underwhelming first-half for a hard-fought victory.
Telford took the lead through Micah Evans before Richard Peniket spectacularly levelled less than 10 minutes later against the run of play.
But by the time Hotte put Town ahead, they were in the ascendancy and remained so for the remainder of the game, while Telford were a shadow of the side that could feel hard done-by to only be level at the break.
Billy Heath said there would be changes from Harrogate, and there were three, with Liam King, captaining Town for the first time, Cliff Moyo and Nathan Hotte in for Keil O’Brien, knee injury victim Matty Kosylo, and, perhaps rather harshly, Jordan Sinnott.
The last thing Heath wanted in a game he’d said Town needed to win was to concede early, but they did just that when Evans got a slight but decisive touch to ex-Town man Sean Williams’ cross.
That was from Telford’s third corner of the game, and from the other two, Halifax had looked worryingly vulnerable, despite fielding their first-choice back-five, and were forced into some desperate defending before the inevitable happened.
It’s just two clean sheets in Town’s first eight games now, a rate that simply has to improve.
Tom Denton had gone close prior to Telford’s opener when his header back across goal was brilliantly kept out by a flying James Montgomery save from Moyo’s deep cross.
Williams started the game well, dictating most of Telford’s play with some intelligent passing, while fellow former Shayman Josh Wilson was linking up well with the lively James Hurst on the Telford right.
The early signs weren’t good for Halifax, but a blast from the past came back to haunt the hosts when former Telford loanee Peniket cut in on his right foot before letting fly with a screamer 25 yards out which arrowed into the far corner.
A cagey opening gave way to a frantic contest midway through the first half as Montgomery produced a point-blank save from a Halifax corner before the rebound was put over.
Evans then looped a header onto the bar from Williams’ free-kick, with Kevin Roberts producing a brave block to the follow-up shot.
Scott Garner, King and Hurst were all booked before half-time as referee Richard Wild struggled to keep a lid on a simmering battle, with a few nasty tackles peppering the game.
If Halifax were going to win, it was going to be hard-earned, as Telford belied winning just once this season with some attractive play, none more so than a free-flowing move that saw Williams spread the play to Hurst, who played in Samuels on the overlap before Danny Hone scrambled his cross over his own bar.
Telford will have been the happier team at the interval and looked nothing like you’d imagine the division’s second-lowest scorers going into the game might have looked.
But it was better from Halifax after the interval, with Roberts firing over from just outside the box, more build-up play involving the previously peripheral Josh Macdonald and more players pushing further up the pitch to support Denton.
Town got the goal their much improved performance merited when the increasingly-influential Roberts embarked on a charge down the right and his cross was flicked across goal and in by Hotte for his first Town goal.
Halifax were rampant now, with Denton heading against the post from Macdonald’s cross and Peniket heading straight at Montgomery from Jake Hibbs’ dinked pass.
Town looked half-a-yard sharper than the hosts now and much more aggressive, hunting down the ball rather than inviting Telford pressure.
Macdonald nearly capped a fine second-half with a rising, angled shot that Montgomery tipped away after another excellent run by the winger.
Substitute Danny Reynolds and Callum Gittings both had efforts off target late on, but the hosts had long since run out of ideas as The Shaymen sought to protect their lead.
Telford: Montgomery, Samuels, Campion, Bailey, Havern, Dawson (Lilly 82), Gittings, Williams, Hurst (Peers 73), Wilson, Evans (Reynolds 63). Subs not used: Osei, Edge.
Scorer: Samuels (13)
Shots on target: 4
Shots off target: 5
Halifax: Drench, Moyo, Garner, Hone, Wilde, Macdonald, Roberts, Hotte, King (Hibbs 63), Peniket (Hughes 81), Denton Subs not used: Sinnott, O’Brien, Burrow.
Scorer: Peniket (19), King (60)
Shots on target: 6
Shots off target: 3
Town man of the match: Kevin Roberts
Referee: Richard Wild