FC Halifax Town played out a 2-2 draw this afternoon against league leaders Sutton United at The Shay.
Goals from Billy Chadwick and Jack Earing gave the Shaymen a 2-0 advantage, but a late flight-back from Sutton saw the spoils shared as Town had to settle for a point.
Town started the game on the front foot and created their first opportunity after just three minutes. After a Jeff King strike from distance was pushed wide, the number two delivered a brilliant ball from the resulting corner, which was met by the head of Niall Maher, but his effort was blocked on the line, the midfielder a fraction away from opening the scoring.
After a sustained spell of early pressure, it didn’t take the Shaymen long to get their lead. In the 18th minute, a shot from outside the area by Kieran Green was blocked, and fell kindly to striker Billy Chadwick who had time to control it 12 yards out, before calmly stroking it into the bottom left corner to put Town in front.
Despite the majority of the early chances falling the way of Halifax, Sutton began to grow into the game more as the first half went on, and had a good chance of their own in the 33rd minute. A cross from the right by winger David Ajiboye made its way to the back post and was picked up by Harry Beautyman, who had time to control and get a shot away, but was prevented by a brilliant block by captain Nathan Clarke, in his first game back at The Shay since returning from injury.
The game remained very much an open affair as the first half went on, with The Shaymen continuing to create chances in search of a crucial second goal. Jeff King, playing in a more advanced right midfield position was involved in the best of the opportunities, laying the ball off for Jack Earing inside the box, who got a low shot away that required a good save from goalkeeper Dean Bouzanis to keep it out.
That proved to be the final real opportunity of the half, with the Shaymen going in 1-0 up at the break.
With the league leaders trailing, they began to apply the pressure at the beginning of the second half to try and get back into the game. In the 52nd minute, a free kick from just inside the Halifax half eventually found Isaac Olaofe, who had a great chance to level the score, but the striker skewed his effort just wide of the post, a golden opportunity for the visitors.
Although Sutton were the ones who needed a goal, it was still Halifax who looked the more likely of the two sides as the second half. A Nathan Clarke header laid off Jeff King inside the area in the 54th minute, who shot just wide, before a Danny Williams chance two minutes later saw the midfielder strike just wide of the post, as Halifax continued to press for their second.
In the 61st minute, Halifax’s pressure paid off. A slick through ball from Niall Maher picked out midfielder Jack Earing inside the box, who beat the offside trap, before controlling well and slotting a left footed shot into the bottom corner, in a well worked move that doubled The Shaymen’s lead.
The Shaymen going 2-0 up proved to be the wake up call Sutton needed as they began to battle to get back into the game, and in the 74th minute, they had their goal. A corner from Robert Milsom was eventually turned in by Isaac Olaofe, a lifeline for the visitors.
There were a few opportunities for Halifax to make it 3-1 in what became a very end to end game, with a low shot from Jack Senior being the closest the Shaymen came. However, in the 85th minute, the visitors equalised. The ball was picked up 20 yards out by Captain Craig Eastmond, who fired home brilliantly with a right footed strike to level the scores.
Town continued to press for a late winner, with a shot from Jeff King going narrowly over, however the game finished FC Halifax Town 2-2 Sutton United.
FC Halifax Town:
1 Sam Johnson, 2 Jeff King, 3 Jack Senior, 4 Nathan Clarke ©, 5 Neill Bryne, 6 Tom Bradbury, 8 Kieran Green, 10 Jack Earing (9 Jake Hyde 62), 11 Danny Williams (30 Kian Spence), 31 Niall Maher, 36 Billy Chadwick
Subs: 40 Chris Renshaw, 18 Jay Benn, 20 Dom Tear
1 Dean Bouzanis, 2 Jon Barden (26 Aaron Simpson), 5 Ben Goodliffe, 6 Louis John, 7 David Ajiboye, 8 Kenny Davis (21 Callum Kealy 62), 9 Omar Bugiel, 10 Harry Beautyman, 15 Craig Eastmond ©, 24 Robert Milson, 25 Isaac Olaofe (17 Tobi Sho Silva 77)
Subs: 3 Ben Wyatt, 20 Joash Nembhard
Referee: Steven Copeland
Goals: Billy Chadwick 18, Jack Earing 61, Olaofe, Simpson
Yellow Card: Jeff King, Billy Chadwick
FC Halifax Town 2 Sutton United 2
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