What a ‘Beautiful Day’ Saturday 5th January turned out to be for AFC Halifax as they turned a 1-0 half time deficit into a 3-1 victory against Lancashire rivals Manchester City.
Once all the Happy New Year messages had been exchanged in the dressing room, Manager, John Barker, got down to business delivering his team talk. Clearly JB had had a happy new year as he began liking everything to Bernardo Silva and David Silva. There was also rumouring’s that JB himself fancied a run in Defensive Midfield. The essential message being that he wanted players to ‘Rise Up’ after a recent run of poor results. At this point M. Probets had arrived at the game after waking up late and making a toilet visit.
The Citizens got the match underway playing from left to right or right to left depending on where you were watching the game from. They maintained well in the opening stages but struggled to penetrate the well organised Halifax defensive line. It wasn’t until the 20th minute that the first clear cut chance was created. A defence splitting pass sent the city striker through on goal and rounding the onrushing Hawksworth only to hacked down by the keeper. Penalty to City. Lou decided not to brandish any cards for the challenge (Must have been left in his car). The spot kick sent the keeper the wrong way but fortunately for AFC it was not a happy new year for the penalty taker as the kick rattled the crossbar and out for a goal kick.
At the other end, Halifax launched their first serious attack with G. Nev lookalike Probets sending a deep free kick into the box only for Rambo to clatter into the keeper rather than directing the ball towards goal. The Shaymen supporters maintained their dogged pressure when city had the ball with the feisty AFC juniors leading the way. JB got his wish of venturing into defensive midfield but hastily retreated into defence after suffering from Vertigo being so far up the pitch. However, it was city who took the lead as the half ended. A deep cross was not dealt with by the defence allowing the city player to square the ball across the face of goal to leave his teammate with a tap in. One-Nil to the Manchester side. Halifax did muster their first shot on goal just before the whistle as the bearded winger Littlefair cut in from the right-hand side and fired a shot across the face of goal for it to narrowly fly past the upright.
0-1 Half Time
Half time allowed manager Barker to rally the troops and seemingly turn M. Probets into world beater with he ability to go and win the game all by himself. The second half began with city again seeing a lot of the ball without really causing the AFC backline too many problems. The first meaningful attack of the second half came cities way but it was snuffed out by the onrushing Hawksworth who in the process of saving the ball wiped out teammate G.Nev. Thankfully, G. Nev’s finger was ok this week and he maintained control of all his senses. During a series of city corners, Halifax seemed to be ’stuck in a moment you can’t get out of’ until they launched a counter attack. Rambo sending Littlefair clear down the right-hand side. Once again Littlefair cut inside the box only to be tripped by the City defender. He managed to get an unbalanced, weak shot on goal but to the dismay of the entire city team, Lou deemed the contact enough to award a penalty to the home side. Up stepped Fawkes. He drove his penalty into the roof of the net to level proceedings.
The equaliser prompted city into making a couple of changes and reintroducing the Steve Lomas lookalike into the game who felt the need to return to the pitch with his goggles on. They were soon removed. Halifax continued their pressure on the city goal and took the lead when G. Nev sent a ball over the top of the city defence for the marauding Ramsden. Once again, he decided to clatter the keeper instead of getting the ball but when he realised the ball was still alive, he calmly side-footed into the net from a tight angle despite the best efforts of the retreating goggle less Lomas. 2-1 to Halifax.
As City pressed for an equaliser, Halifax pounced once more. Casual City passing allowed the tricky winger Littlefair to intercept a pass between the centre backs putting him through on goal. As before Littlefair once again cut inside only to be chopped down by a retreating defender. Penalty. This appeared to upset the winger as he performed a ‘Disappearing act’ off the pitch and up the changing rooms. Once again Fawkes stepped up to the spot and fired the penalty home making it 3-1. However, Fawkes’ ‘Rejoice’ of the very happy new year was to be short lived. Little did he know he was to be fined for not celebrating by declaring the distances he scores from everywhere he goes. City huffed and puffed throughout the final 10 minutes trying to break down the Halifax but realising they were losing the ‘Race against time’. Their best effort flying over the bar, fence, wall and road landing in ‘Miss Sarajevo’s’ front garden.
The full-time whistle sounded with City having to ‘Surrender’ the 3 points to their West Yorkshire rivals. AFC Halifax managing to complete the double over their sky-blue rivals and claim a second victory in the Northwest cup whilst City were left wondering ‘Where did it all go wrong’. A happy new year for AFC Halifax.
Next up or AFC Halifax is the stern test of Salford City Supporters at Hipperholme and Lightcliffe School on Saturday 26th January.
Line up: S. Hawksworth, M. Blackburn, G. Nev, J. Barker, L. Cassalino, C. Hannan, B. Fawkes, N. Smythe, N. Wright, A. Littlefair, A. Ramsden.
Subs: S. Heaton, A. Hollands, L. Blackburn, Mini Cass, M. Probets
Scorers: Fawkes 2, Ramsden
Att: 2 (Nige and his mate).
Read more posts by AFC Halifax