Heartbreak for Fax as Finigan snatches win for Batley

Luke Ambler takes on the Batley defence
Luke Ambler takes on the Batley defence

Halifax suffered a second consecutive Championship defeat as Batley snatched a last-play 10-8 win at the Shay.

In a dour contest, Karl Harrison’s side had clawed back a 6-4 deficit to lead 8-6 when former Fax full back Miles Greenwood broke the line and a long pass from Mark Applegarth put winger Vinny Finigan in at the corner.

Another Shay old boy, Lee Paterson, skewed the conversion wide, but with no time to come back the home side were left to reflect on a game they could - and probably should - have won.

With loan signing Tommy Saxton starting on the wing, Fax had the better of a scoreless first half, during which both sides produced plenty of huff and puff, but little attacking magic, something attributable at least in part to a pitch Harrison labelled “a cesspit”.

Both sides made half chances, Greenwood losing the ball on the line for Batley, Sam Scott having a try chalked off for an obvious double movement and Fax’s Ben Heaton being held up in goal after a break from back rower Dane Manning.

The drought on the scoreboard ended early in the second half; Fax centre Steve Tyrer bulldozing his way over in the left corner after Ben Johnston and Luke Adamson made the chance.

Tyrer’s touchline kick drifted wide, although that hardly seemed to matter as the home side began to dominate territorially.

Another try looked on the cards as Fax piled on the pressure, but when the ball bounced loose on the 10 metre line, Bulldogs wingman Finigan scooped it up and outpaced the despairing cover to score.

Paterson kicked the conversion to leave the visitors 6-4 ahead, but Fax refused to panic and worked their way back into the lead, Heaton claiming Simon Brown’s cross kick to open up an 8-6 advantage.

Tyrer again missed the difficult kick, but with nine minutes to go Fax still looked odds on to finish the job.

They began to creak when they made two errors - Andy Bracek and Ross Divorty, two of the club’s best players across their three opening fixtures, losing possession as Fax attempted to clear their lines - and finally cracked when Greenwood darted through the line in the closing seconds.

Halifax: Potts; Saxton, Tyrer, Casey, Heaton; Brown, Johnston; Tonks, Kaye, Bracek, Manning, Adamson, Murrell. Subs: Ambler, Mennell, Davies, Divorty

Batley: Greenwood; Blackmore, Bretherton, Paterson, Finigan; Leak, Leatherbarrow; Smith, Blake, Gledhill, Davies, Scott, Applegarth. Subs: Nicholson, Rowe, Brennan, Chandler