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Match Reports

Halifax 2-4 Notts

We take the points on crazy day at the Shay

21 December 2019

We emerged 4-2 victors from an incredible festive fixture away at Halifax Town.

After a dour first half had ended 1-0 to the hosts courtesy of a hugely deflected Matt Duckworth effort, few of the 2,491 onlookers would have believed what was to come after the break.

Kyle Wootton restored parity shortly after the restart but the Shaymen soon retook the lead thanks to Jamie Allen.

We were in defiant mood, however, and levelled again through Mitch Rose – who hit the bar minutes later.

We piled on the pressure and eventually it told when Enzio Boldewijn won a penalty which Rose duly dispatched.

And, in the dying embers of six added minutes, Wootton produced a superb finish on the break to secure us our first National League victory since late October.

Ross Fitzsimons was handed his first start of the season, deputising for Sam Slocombe who picked up a groin injury in last weekend's Buildbase FA Trophy win at Chesterfield.

The only players to keep their place from that starting 11 were Alex Lacey, his centre-back partner Connell Rawlinson and Sean Shields.

That meant Wootton continued his partnership with Wes Thomas up top, with Michael Doyle lining up alongside Rose in central midfield.

Pierce Bird, recalled from his loan at Boston to cover for a midweek injury to Ben Turner, took his place on a substitutes' bench which also featured Jake Kean, Dion Kelly-Evans, Tom Crawford and Kristian Dennis.

The crowd had to wait until the ninth minute for the game's first shot as Boldewijn's effort was blocked by Town defender Niall Maher.

Halifax launched a quick counter-attack which saw them test Fitzsimons for the first time, the keeper holding Tobi Sho-Silva's effort comfortably.

While we were moving the ball forwards nicely, clear-cut chances were proving hard to come by.

But we did breach the Town defence on 22 minutes when Doyle produced an outstanding cross, picking out Thomas eight yards out. The unmarked forward couldn't head the ball goalwards, however.

Wootton was next to have a go, doing well to shift the ball on to his left foot and digging a curling shot wide.

A couple of our players needed treatment as half-time neared - Rawlinson having his head bandaged and Shields needing some freezing spray on a sore ankle.

Both were fit to continue as Halifax won a free-kick in a dangerous shooting position. Duckworth took responsibility for it, striking the ball well but seeing Fitzsimons hang on to it under his crossbar.

Duckworth wasn't to be denied, however, as seconds before two minutes of added time were indicated he handed his side the lead with a bobbling shot which took a horrible deflection to wrong-foot Fitzsimons.

There were no changes at the break but we soon altered the scoreline in our favour.

Wootton was the man of the moment, moving his season tally into double figures by forcing the ball home from close range after Shields’ free-kick had caused havoc.

And it was so nearly 2-1 to us seconds later when Thomas’ movement towards the near post saw him meet a low cross and turn the ball inches wide with a first-time effort.

It was a missed opportunity we were left to rue as, with their next attack, Halifax restored the lead when excellent wingplay resulted in Allen producing a fine finish from inside the area.

But our frustration was short-lived as, three minutes later, Rose met a defensive header with a crunching volley from the edge of the area which left Town keeper Sam Johnson with no chance.

And Rose nearly turned the game on its head shortly after the restart, clipping the bar with a shot from inside the area after brilliant Boldewijn wingplay.

The Dutchman then had a big chance to score himself when he received the ball in the area before firing it over from a tight angle.

At the other end, Rose bravely blocked Maher’s shot before we created another massive chance to take the lead.

Boldewijn, who was having a very bright second period, delivered a delicious cross into the middle but Thomas could only head the ball over.

It was all us and Wootton was denied a second on 74 minutes when his first-time effort from Shields’ low corner was blocked by a defender.

Our first change of the day followed as Kelly-Evans replaced Richard Brindley, who Neal Ardley confirmed after full-time had been struggling with a tight hamstring.

And moments later we got the break we deserved when brilliant footwork from Thomas led to Boldewijn being scythed down in the area, leaving the referee with no hesitation in pointing to the spot.

Halifax keeper Johnson guessed the right way but Rose’s penalty was too good as the ball found the bottom corner.

Our next change saw Dennis replace Shields and the striker tried his luck with a speculative curling effort which flew wide after Thomas had done well to win us a corner.

There were then a couple of feisty moments as Wootton clashed with Charlie Cooper in a meaty 50-50, sparking a spot of handbags between both sets of players, minutes before Rose reacted angrily to a poor-looking challenge from Duckworth. Both men entered the book inside six minutes’ added time.

In truth, we were looking comfortable but there was a nervy conclusion to the game as Town won a corner at the death.

But we put the icing on the (Christmas) cake when Fitzsimons’ superb kick set us away on the break, allowing Wootton to bag his 11th goal of the season with a wonderfully composed finish.

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