Marshall’s Fax start warm up programme in fine style

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Halifax opened their pre-season in more than encouraging fashion with an 18-18 draw at Super League side Widnes.

Richard Marshall’s side trailed 14-0 at the break, but turned the game round in the final quarter as the Championship Coach of the Year’s final raft of substitutions paid dividends.

With captain Scott Murrell withdrawn, Marshall moved Ben Johnston to half back with winger Will Sharp switching to full back.

Sharp proceeded to slice through the defence for a 68th-minute touchdown before Johnston immediately popped up on the end of an attack sparked by the impressive Luke Ambler, Connor Robinson converting both as Fax closed to 14-12.

Widnes looked to have sealed things when Paddy Flynn crossed at the other end, but Stefan Marsh’s missed conversion gave Fax one last chance and Ambler crowned an energetic performance with a late try off a short ball from Ben Kaye.

Robinson levelled the scores from in front and Fax might even have won the game when James Saltonstall broke free after Widnes lost possession.

In a game that was evenly-balanced throughout, the crucial moment of the first half probably arrived with a head injury that forced centre Ben Heaton from the action with the score at 0-0 after 20 minutes.

With rookie centre Chester Butler marking dangerman Marsh and Kevin Brown pulling the strings in attack, Widnes profited immediately with Patrick Ah Van touching down to open up a 4-0 lead.

Marsh and Ah Van both crossed in the 10 minutes that followed as Widnes assumed some control on the scoreboard at 14-0.

Fax were never out of the contest on the field though and their patience paid dividends in the closing stages.

Widnes: Hanbury; Thompson, Chamberlain, Marsh, Ah Van; Brown, Mellor; Cahill, White, Dudson, Sa, Dean, Leuluai. Subs: Heremaia, Johnstone, J. Chapelhow, Flynn, Gilmore, Manuokafoa, T. Chapelhow, O’Carroll, Walker

Halifax: Johnston; Sharp, Heaton, Smeaton, Saltonstall; Murrell, Robinson; Cahalane, Kaye, Ambler, Manning, Barber, Fairbank. Subs: B. Moore, Maneely, R. Moore, Eccleston, Bracek, Tangata, Butler, Morris

Referee: James Child