Weymouth 0-2 FC Halifax Town: Shaymen win on south coast to keep promotion push on track
After a dour first-half, The Shaymen assumed superiority and edge in-front before seeing the game out.
It wasn't pretty, it certainly wasn't spectacular, but Halifax did what they had to, for the second game in a row, to keep their promotion push and their two-points-a-game ratio bang on target.
After moving to the role so effectively in the second-half against Barnet, Billy Waters started up-front for Town in place of the ill Aaron Martin, and was heavily involved in Halifax's early attacks, getting in good positions to receive the ball and using it intelligently.
Jordan Slew, making his first league start in nearly two months, had a shot blocked, while a half-clearance fell to Waters unmarked 12 yards out but his low shot was kept out by Ross Fitzsimons.
The pitch might have been less of an issue than The Shay's surface last week, but the blustery winds proved equally as disruptive on the south coast.
Unpredictable gusts of wind meant judging high passes and the ball's flight was difficult.
The wind was against Town in the first-half, which made Weymouth's opening five minutes more worrying, although The Shaymen survived the early corners and blocked shots and grew into the contest.
Neither side were dominating though; a combination of the conditions and a lack of quality from both teams rendering the match a fairly drab affair.
The wind was playing a blinder, dictating play more than any player was and proving very effective at nullifying attacks.
Halifax had won here 5-1 last season but it had become obvious by the half-hour mark there would be no repeat of that.
Off the ball, The Shaymen worked hard, chased back and competed well.
In possession, Waters and Luke Summerfield came out of the first-half in credit for Town, having at least shown some ingenuity, close control and a willingness to try and make something happen.
Most others were caught up in the whirlwind of misplaced passes, lost possession and chaos.
Tyler Cordner curled a shot a yard over Sam Johnson's goal, which remained untroubled by half-time, shortly before which Martin Woods was unlucky to hit the bar with a well-struck effort.
Town picked up where they left off in that sense after the interval, as a free kick by Woods was parried by Fitzsimons and then Waters' shot from close range was well saved by the keeper before the ball was cleared off the line by Haji Mnoga.
Halifax started the second-half like Weymouth had the first, and with the wind now at their backs, went ahead when Summerfield's free kick was flicked into Bradbury's path at the far post and he side-footed it low across goal.
It was a reward for Town being much brighter and more assertive since half-time.
Weymouth were fading as an attacking force, still yet to register an effort on target, while Halifax were taking more of a stranglehold on the contest, beginning to dominate the game and press the hosts back for longer spells.
There was finally a debut for Zak Dearnley midway through the second-half, although his sloppy pass gifted Weymouth the ball on the edge of the Town box, only for Bradley Ash to shoot across goal and wide.
That heralded a more dominant spell for Weymouth though, with Town forced deeper and into protect-what-you've-got mode, although the hosts struggled to create clear chances, their quality on the ball in the final third letting them down too often.
Sam Johnson finally had a shot to save, albeit a tame one, with five minutes to go, but that was as close as Weymouth got to an equaliser.
A lovely finish by Dearnley then sealed the win from fellow substitute Jamie Thomas’ low cross as he flicked it past the keeper with the outside of his foot in the best moment of quality in the whole game.
Weymouth: Fitzsimons, Drewe (Bearwish 81), Mnoga, Cordner, Harfield, McQuoid, Bunker (Blair 64), Mampala (Greenidge 81), Smith, Mussa, Ash. Subs not used: Murray, Scott.
Shots on target: 1
Shots off target: 4
Halifax: Johnson, Warren, Debrah, Maher, Bradbury, Summerfield, Woods (Warburton 72), Spence, Allen (Dearnley 64), Slew (Thomas 90), Waters. Subs not used: McDonagh, Senior,
Scorers: Bradbury (53), Dearnley (90)
Shots on target: 6
Shots off target: 5
Referee: Elliot Swallow
Town man of the match: Luke Summerfield. Rose above the conditions in a superb performance full of composure, vision and quality on the ball. The calm in the eye of the storm.