Michael Duckworth’s first goal as an FC Halifax Town player was enough to secure all three points on a cold Tuesday evening in South London.
Halifax got the game underway and it began in scrappy fashion, with neither side managing to keep a hold of the ball. Gradually, Sutton started to control the ball winning several corners though they didn’t threaten Sam Johnson between the sticks.
The first chance of the half fell the way of Sutton, thanks to a Halifax mistake. Liam McAlinden looked to play the ball back to Johnson but some confusion between him and Nathan Clarke resulted in the ball nearly crossing the line, only to be denied by the swinging left boot of Clarke.
Town found it difficult to keep possession as Sutton looked to exploit the flanks, particularly through former West Ham winger Kyel Reid. The majority of the first half chances came from Sutton set pieces but Town stood firm as Staunton headed a few balls away.
Town looked to play long towards Tobi Sho-Silva, but he struggled to win much against Sutton defender Daniel Matsuzaka. This battle continued throughout the half and eventually resulted in a yellow card for Sho-Silva following a challenge in the air with the former Japan under 18 Matsuzaka.
Halifax’s best chance of the game came in the 33rd minute as midfielder Liam Nolan won the ball deep into Sutton’s half. He played Sho-Silva in behind who then squared the ball across goal but there were no orange shirts to slam the ball home and Sutton eventually cleared.
Sutton created the final chance of the half, from yet another set piece, Rob Milsom crossed deep into the Halifax area, but the ball floated over all the players and nearly into the top corner before a back-peddling Johnson tipped over the bar.
After struggling to dominate possession in the first half Pete Wild made the decision to replace McAlinden with Jack Earing. This decision immediately appeared to be a good one as the front four played the ball around nicely.
Town started to look excellent on the ball. Earing found the returning Josh MacDonald who beat his man and drilled the ball across goal, Sho-Silva just inches away from prodding it home but racing onto it was Michael Duckworth who tapped home for his first Town goal as he pulled off a phenomenal acrobatic celebration.
Sutton persevered with their long ball tactics, but Clarke and Josh Staunton nullified the big number nine. Town looked dangerous on the break with Earing driving the ball forward from midfield winning several corners and freekicks.
Town almost made it two through unlikely candidate Staunton. A Charlie Cooper free kick eventually fell into Staunton’s path, but he couldn’t get into a good shooting position as he ballooned his effort over.
Halifax continued to look good on the ball, but Sutton were throwing every player forward. They knocked on the door repeatedly but The Shaymen stood firm as Johnson made a good save in the 83rd minute.
In a crazy passage of play the home side almost scored and equaliser a Reid corner is headed onto the cross bar by one of the Sutton big men. The rebound falls to another yellow shirt but the shot is blocked by Jacob Hanson on the line, the rebound falls to another yellow shirt yet again but once again Hanson was up to the task as he blocked off the line before Johnson gratefully gathered the ball.
Town ran the clock down in injury time as the ref blew the final whistle to send Town back up north with all three points. This result see’s The Shaymen move up to second in the league just a point behind Bromley.
Sutton: 26 Jamie Butler, 4 Jonathan Barden (15 Craig Eastmond 72), 5 Ben Goodliffe, 8 Kenny Davis, 9 Omar Bugiel, 10 Harry Beautyman, 17 David Ajiboye (18 Will Randell-Hurren 75), 20 Tommy Wright (27 Aaron Jarvis 59) 22 Robert Milson, 25 Daniel Matsuzaka, 28 Kyel Reid
Subs: 14 Craig Dundas, 22 Ben Wyatt
FC Halifax Town: 1 Sam Johnson, 2 Michael Duckworth, 4 Nathan Clarke ©, 6 Liam Nolan, 11 Tobi Sho-Silva, 14 Josh Staunton, 15 Liam McAlinden (8 Jack Earing 46), 16 Jacob Hanson, 17 Josh MacDonald (7 Jamie Allen 71) 20 Jeff King (31 Niall Maher 85), 22 Charlie Cooper
Subs: 9 Dayle Southwell, 12 Will Appleyard
Goals: Duckworth 53
Yellow Cards: Sho-Silva 26, J King 43, Bugiel 66
Red Cards: None
Town take on Torquay at The Shay on Saturday, another win could potentially see Town go back top of the National League.
Read more posts by Ross Kettlewell