FC Halifax Town played out a 1-1 draw against Hartlepool United at The Shay this evening.
An early long-range strike from Mark Shelton that saw the visitors go in with a lead at the break was cancelled out by a second half header from Kieran Green, in what was a closely contested match.
The first chance of the game fell to Halifax in the 5th minute, when The Shaymen were awarded a free-kick on the right, just inside the Hartlepool half. Jeff King sent a deep cross to the back post which picked out Jake Hyde, who managed to get a good shot away, but was denied by a good save from Ben Killip in the Hartlepool goal, before the offside flag was eventually raised.
The Shaymen continued to create chances in the opening exchanges and had another good opportunity in the 11th minute, when Jamie Allen picked up the ball on the right. The winger advanced towards goal after a good turn of pace, but his eventual shot from twelve yards out flashed just wide of the post.
Just one minute later, however, Hartlepool had their lead. A well-worked corner routine from The Pools eventually saw the ball arrive at the feet of Mark Shelton just outside the Shaymen box. The midfielder then unleashed a powerful strike with his right foot that flew into the top left corner, leaving Sam Johnson with no chance and giving the visitors an early lead.
In the 24th minute, The Shaymen came close to a long-range goal of their own. After a spell of possession in the Hartlepool half, the ball was eventually picked up by Jack Earing 25 yards out. The midfielder took a touch to set himself, before a well-struck right footed effort was fired towards the Hartlepool goal that was so close to being the equaliser but was kept out by the inside of the Hartlepool post. The rebound fell into the path of Tahvon Campbell, but his effort was well blocked by Gary Liddle, and the chance came to nothing.
The game remained very much an even affair as the second half went on, with both teams having chances to assert their authority on proceedings. A chance for Hartlepool to double their lead fell to the visitors in the 35th minute. After a brief scramble in the box, Lewis Cass picked out goal scorer Mark Shelton in the penalty area. The Pools’ man found himself unmarked, and managed to get a shot away, however the effort was tame and failed to trouble Sam Johnson.
There were three additional minutes added on at the end of the first half, which The Shaymen came close to using to their advantage. A headed clearance from Gary Liddle gave Halifax a corner in the first minute of stoppage time. Jeff King whipped in a brilliant cross from the right, which found the head of Tom Bradbury, with the defender just narrowly heading wide of the Hartlepool goal.
That was to be all the action in the first half, with The Shaymen going in 1-0 down at the break.
The Shaymen started on the front foot in the early stages of the second half, with the majority of the play taking place in the Hartlepool half. Tahvon Campbell had an effort from inside the box blocked in the 47th minute, before another good Jack Earing strike was also blocked a minute later.
Although The Shaymen started well after the restart, it was the visitors who had the best early opportunity in the second half. The chance fell to Luke Armstrong, who picked the ball up just inside the box, turned, and got a good shot away at goal, but was denied by a brilliant Sam Johnson save who managed to get a strong hand out to push the ball on to the post, with it eventually being cleared and the deficit remaining only one.
There were limited opportunities for both sides after the second half’s lively start, with the teams flattering to deceive in the final third, and both defences comfortably dealing with any attempts to craft opportunities on goal.
That remained the case until the 78th minute, when Halifax finally had their equaliser. Jeff King’s deliveries had been threatening The Pools from set-pieces all night, and it finally paid off. A free-kick from the left was whipped in beautifully from the right-back, finding the head of Kieran Green, who directed a brilliant header past the Hartlepool goalkeeper, bringing the scores level.
The Shaymen initially looked like they were going to push on in search of a winner, however the dynamic shifted when they were reduced to ten men in the 84th minute. A sliding Danny Williams challenge just outside the area was deemed to be denying an obvious goal scoring opportunity, and the substitute saw red, with Halifax having to play out the remainder of the match with ten men.
Despite the red card and some late pressure from the visitors, The Shaymen held firm to secure a point, with the game finishing FC Halifax Town 1-1 Hartlepool United.
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