FC Halifax Town succumbed to a 1-0 defeat against Stockport County at The Shay this afternoon.
A late first-half strike from Paddy Madden proved to be the deciding factor in a closely contested encounter.
The first half was one of limited clear cut chances as both sides seemed to cancel each other out. A 5th minute shot from the edge of the box by Tom Walker was well blocked by Nathan Clarke, with the striker also heading wide after a good cross from Macauley Southam-Hales in the 17th minute.
It took a while for Halifax to craft their first opportunity of the game, but when they did, they came close. On the half an hour mark, a well delivered corner on the right from Martin Woods was met by the head of Nathan Clarke, with the Skipper heading narrowly over the crossbar.
The Shaymen came closest to an opening goal in the 36th minute. A lofted long ball from the left was met by the head of Kieran Green, laying it off perfectly for Jake Hyde, who fired just over the bar on the volley.
Although Town had been growing into the game as the half went on, Stockport had their lead on the stroke of half-time. An attempted headed clearance from Niall Maher deflected into the path of striker Paddy Madden, who picked up the ball just inside the area and fired the ball past Sam Johnson.
That was to be the last of the action in the first half, with The Hatters going into the break with a 1-0 lead.
As the match wore on, The Shaymen began to craft more opportunities, despite a resolute defensive performance from the visitors. In the 57th minute, a flick on Danny Williams header nearly found Jake Hyde who was bearing down on goal, but the striker couldn’t quite get on the end of it. Minutes later, a Jack Senior ball into the box was flicked on by Clarke but again the chance petered out.
Stockport did threaten on the counter attack despite a spell of Shaymen pressure however, and came close in the 62nd minute. The ball was picked up 25 yards out by John Rooney, who unleashed a powerful effort towards the goal that came close, going just over the bar.
The best chance of the second half for the Shaymen came in the 67th minute. A well-timed through ball from Kieran Green picked out the advancing Jamie Allen on the right, who had time and managed to get a good shot away, but was denied by a good stop from keeper Ben Hinchcliffe, a let off for Stockport.
The visitors came close to doubling their lead in the 78th minute when a James Jennings cross was met by the head of defender Ashley Palmer, who directed his headwards goalwards but was prevented from scoring by a brilliant diving save by Sam Johnson, keeping The Shaymen within reach of an equaliser.
After a spell where the game became more of a midfield battle, Town started to put the visitors on the back foot as the game entered its closing stages. A Neill Byrne effort in the 88th minute was seen over the crossbar by the keeper, before a shot from Jake Hyde was well blocked inside the area, preventing the striker from testing Ben Hinchcliffe.
In the end, however, the Stockport defence held strong and it finished FC Halifax Town 0-1 Stockport County
FC Halifax Town: 1 Sam Johnson, 3 Jack Senior, 4 Nathan Clarke ©, 5 Neill Byrne, 7 Jamie Allen (36 Billy Chadwick 77), 8 Kieran Green, 9 Jake Hyde, 11 Danny Williams, 19 Luke Summerfield, 26 Martin Woods, 31 Niall Maher
Subs: 12 Harrison Davison-Hale, 6 Tom Bradbury, 20 Dom Tear, 30 Kian Spence
Stockport County: 1 Ben Hinchliffe, 3 James Jennings, 4 Liam Hogan ©, 5 Ashley Palmer, 8 John Rooney, 17 Macauley Southam-Hales, 18 Ryan Croasdale, 28 Will Collar (6 Lois Maynard 61), 29 Tom Walker (2 Sam Minihan 87), 30 Harry Cardwell (9 Richie Bennett 84) 34 Paddy Madden
Subs: 26 Ross Fitzsimons, 19 Alex Reid
Referee: Steven Copeland
Goals: Madden 44
Yellow Cards: Byrne 77
Red Cards: None
FC Halifax Town 0 Stockport County 1
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