FC Halifax made the trip across the Pennines to take on Chester FC in a battle of relatively new clubs. Both have had their trials and tribulations in recent times, with both clubs now in a new guise after their previous entities went belly up. Happily, though, both The Blues and The Shaymen have enjoyed upward trajectories since reforming, but right now the club from West Yorkshire are enjoying better fortunes than their Cheshire hosts. Prior to kick off, Neil Aspin’s men were two points outside the playoffs, whilst Steve Burr’s side occupied the final relegation place, albeit only on goal difference. Going into the match, Chester had won just twice at Deva Stadium, while Halifax have won just once on their travels.
The first half began with Halifax goalkeeper Matt Glennon producing a fine save to deny a combination of John Rooney and ex-Shayman Gareth Seddon, tipping away their hooked effort. Glennon was in action again, getting down bravely to claim a fierce free kick as Ross Killock tried to connect with the ball. The wind was making life difficult for both teams, but Halifax left back Marc Roberts showed signs that his long throw might be a useful weapon in the conditions. His first throw of the game landed on the head of Simon Ainge, but the defender’s header went straight to Chester ‘keeper Aaron Chapman.
The Shaymen were seemingly not at the races for much of the first half, but they did create a great chance when Josh Wilson played an inviting ball across the penalty area. The ball took an horrific bobble, however, and Ryan Crowther could only touch the ball wide. Wilson was ridiculously red carded five minutes before half time for what the referee can only have adjudged to have been a stamping motion, although it was barely even a bookable offence.
The final notable action of the half came at the Halifax end, as Craig Mahon whipped a ball into the box. Matt Glennon did well to keep his eyes on the ball as nobody got a touch, allowing him to parry the ball away. It was scrambled away, only to be returned onto the head of Matty Taylor. His effort came back off the frame of the goal, but it wouldn’t have counted anyway as he was – wrongly – flagged offside. Half time: Chester FC 0 FC Halifax Town 0
The home side started the second half on the attack once more, with John Rooney dragging a shot wide after a lovely piece of control plucked a high ball out of the air. Rooney was involved ten minutes into the half, as he played a part in the opening goal. He passed the ball out to Lewis Turner on the right, and his superb cross was turned in by Craig Mahon. It was no more than Chester deserved, and Mahon showed great movement to get into a scoring position.
Halifax did improve, and a wind assisted freekick from Ryan Crowther forced Chapman into a smart save. Chapman then had to claw the resulting corner away from under his crossbar. Minutes later, Crowther outmuscled Turner and cut inside, but his shot was wayward. Steve Burr was then forced to replace Chapman, as the keeper injured his hand when trying to claim a high ball. Usual number one John Danby came on in his place.
Just as it looked like the home side were going to get all three points, we moved into five minutes stoppage time. Marc Roberts made a throw count, as his delivery caused panic. The ball was cleared, but it hit Jamie Menagh and fell kindly for James Bolton. He thumped a volley into the corner of the net, seemingly rescuing a slightly undeserved point for Neil Aspin. However, just sixty seven seconds later, Menagh became the hero. John Rooney tried a through ball which rebounded off Bolton. As the ball rolled into the six yard box, defender and keeper left it to each other, and Menagh stole in and clipped the ball home to restore the advantage, and ultimately claim the win.
Halifax’s woeful away form continues, whilst Burr registers his third win from six games in charge of Chester FC. The win lifts his team up two places to nineteenth in the Conference Premier table, while Halifax could drop to tenth over the weekend.