FC Halifax Town 0, Aldershot Town 0
WITH no win in 17 and just two clean sheets in 12 matches, this goalless draw appeared a positive result for a club currently in freefall, but for Aldershot Town this still felt like a missed opportunity.
The Shaymen were themselves on an abject run of two wins in 25 matches since August and, on a day when Maidenhead, Chesterfield and Dover Athletic recorded unlikely wins against promotion-chasing Leyton Orient, AFC Fylde and Salford City respectively, the draw left The Shots eight points from safety in the National League relegation zone.
To compound Gary Waddock’s mounting problems, Bernard Mensah limped off with a potentially serious leg injury after just half an hour.
“The players applied themselves in the correct manner and at any other time in the season you take a point and a clean sheet away from home, but we were looking to win the game,” asserted Waddock, who switched to a three-man defence, led by George Elokobi, for the first time.
“It was time for change and we looked more solid at the back, but the one criticism I have today was in the final third of the pitch – we got into good wide areas and our deliveries were poor. We have to be composed to pick the right option.”
With both teams lacking confidence and unable to retain possession, a horribly scrappy game yielded just the feintest of half-chances. The respective goalkeepers made just one save apiece in the first half amid an isolated flurry of activity: Dom Bernard’s 12th-minute shot, from 22 yards, was easily claimed by Sam Johnson, and three minutes later Jake Cole flew to his left to parry Scott Quigley’s glancing header.
Quigley and Jordan Preston then saw efforts fly over the crossbar and Mensah’s injury, suffered in landing awkwardly following a seemingly innocuous aerial challenge with Nathan Clarke, necessitated a five-minute stoppage which further stifled a game already bereft of fluidity and excitement.
Jake Gallagher and Bernard again scuffed shots wide, and Halifax were booed off by their own fans at the break.
The Shaymen briefly roused themselves at the start of the second half, but following Scott Rendell’s shot at the other end the game soon slumped back into its soporific state.
Perhaps crucially, though, the two best chances of the entire game fell to Aldershot Town in the closing stages. On 78 minutes, Goddard floated a cross to the edge of the six-yard box where Reece Grant found space but, off balance, could only glance a weak header into Johnson’s arms. Then, with three minutes remaining, Gerry McDonagh turned neatly and saw a 16-yard shot roll inches wide of the post.
These moments perhaps helped Waddock find a modicum of optimism on a grey afternoon.
“We couldn’t have been more attack-minded and there was a desire and a commitment in the team that we need from now until the end of the season.”
Substitute Jonathan Edwards made his presence felt up front for Halifax Town but they continued to labour with little purpose and a draw was perhaps the fairest result for two sides grappling with their own inadequacies.
FC Halifax Town: Johnson, Duckworth, Sellers, Clarke, Brown, Maher, Berrett, Kosylo, Tomlinson (Edwards 71), Preston, Quigley (Hardy 59). Subs (not used): Staunton, Rowley, Ferry.
Aldershot Town: Cole; Menayese, Lelan (McDonagh 84), Elokobi; Bernard, Gallagher (McDonnell 74), Howell, Booty; Goddard, Rendell, Mensah (Grant 31). Sub (not used): Finney.