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Stalemate
One point gained or two dropped? By: Max Bygraves 24/09/2023
Barnet
FC Halifax Town
0 0
League 23/09/2023
2023-2024 Attendance: 1708 (107)




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It might be hard to eke out the usual amount of content for an article from this one. This was the first 0-0 I’ve seem live in literally years. It was an unfamiliar, almost unsettling feeling coming away from the ground at full time. We always win at home now, don’t we?

Despite the scoreline, there have undoubtedly been many worse goalless draws endured. Halifax are known for their defensive solidity, but also for being a little toothless in attack and there was always a danger it may end this way. The Wardrobe called 0-0 in midweek, even sharing the betting odds amongst our group, but no one acted on this. A fruitless afternoon all round.

It would be fair to say the game took a while to come to life. The first half was not a great watch, with chances few and far between. Harry Pritchard tested their keeper with a powerful effort from outside the box, but the save was fairly comfortable. There was no obvious way through and a number of our more dynamic individuals for such a situation, were not at their sharpest.

Halifax had showed some intent going forward but failed to conjure anything meaningful. However, late in the first half they were given a huge opportunity from the penalty spot.

It looked to be a very, very soft one. There was a delay in the whistle and it appeared to be the linesman on our side that made the call.

Without the benefit of seeing the replay yet, nothing can be ruled out. Although what is fair to say is that it felt an inconsistent call given some of the out and out wrestling and shirt pulling going on elsewhere, throughout the game. More on the officiating to come.

Laurie Walker has not had the start to this campaign to match the heights of the previous - but perhaps this was his turning point. A fine penalty save, down low to his left at full stretch saw the scores remain level. The bloke loves a penalty save. A big boost for his confidence and a reminder of just how key he is. 

Buoyed by Walker’s heroics, the notion that this perhaps may well be our day was not a ridiculous one. Half time saw Armstrong replace Hartigan, who had been below his usual exceptional best up to that point. There was the standard endeavour from his replacement, but like Tuesday, end product perhaps not quite equivalent to commitment. There’s a rawness still with Armstrong which needs refining for his impact to be what it undoubtedly can. 

The pace of the game picked up and so did the general entertainment value. It wasn’t short of controversial moments. The referee seemed torn between not allowing anyone an inch and completely letting the game flow. 

The away end was apoplectic, particularly a young chap with a blue bucket hat at the back who looked set to literally explode, following the antics of Dale Gorman in the sixty fourth minute. A quick break from the visitors saw us struggling to get back as they raced toward goal in numbers. The captain very much took one for the team with an exceptionally cynical tackle from behind with zero chance of getting the ball. About thirty yards out; it wasn’t last man or a goalscoring opportunity. Hence such Yorkshire grievance that it was only a yellow. Thems the rules. 

Ten minutes later, there was the never before seen sight of Harry Pritchard not completing a full ninety. Thankfully, we were allowed to bring on a replacement for him. In a slightly unusual moment, with the Bees number 14 on a booking, he was given arguably a pretty lenient last chance by the referee for a late challenge. Northern veins were again popping in the far corner. Akin to a pre season friendly, it was like the referee had given the chance for a sub rather than a red. Brennan acted instantly. Calum Stead entered the fray for the first time in a home game.

He almost made an immediate impact, a fantastic jinking run from deep saw him beat two visiting defenders before lifting it just that bit too high and wide. Each time he’s been given minutes, he’s looked a real handful. It’s unclear if he could step into the 9 role in case of unavailability of Kabamba, but wherever he plays, he’s certainly a nuisance and looks a handy option. 

One more let off for poor behaviour occurred in the dying minutes. Halifax’s number 7, Cappello, with a mindless shove to the back of Gorman (unclear if it was his head or back). On another day, those have been red. His manager’s head in hands reaction on the sideline suggested this is what he anticipated. He too was immediately subbed. Like a game of red card chicken. 

Two huge opportunities went begging late on. A sweeping move similar to many we’ve seen successfully completed in recent weeks was wasted by Armstrong. It should have been a goal so much that the LiveScore app sent an incorrect notification claiming we were 1-0 up. Oh Marvin. 

Stead almost had the fairytale home debut in stoppage time. Put through one on one, he really should have done better. A fine moment that would have been, but after that, acceptance all round this in fact wasn’t our day. 

Chronology perhaps jumping a little here, but we also had Walker to thank for another big save, or two even. Having parried an initial effort, he did superbly to get across and charge down the follow up. Definite Man of the Match. 

Chesterfield winning another high scoring home game puts them five clear at the summit now. A long way to go, but they’ve only dropped five points in eleven games thus far and the concern that they could pull away early is not unfounded. 

A big response will be needed at York on Tuesday. With their recent appointment of Neal Ardley and an impressive win at Woking yesterday, this is a much tougher looking fixture than it was ten days ago. Still, if we want to be serious about challenging for the main prize, a big points haul needs to be the aim in the next four.

To close, for anyone who read Tuesday’s write up and was anxiously wondering if the Secret Season Ticket Holder made his third consecutive game, I hate to disappoint you but he didn’t. Must try harder next time. The ticket did however go to use by my previously long-exiled Downhill Second Half colleague - his second visit in a week! Not sure that’s ever happened before. Time will tell if we’ve properly got him back.

And finally, to finish on a further uplifting note. There was a positive review today from a friend of my Dad that attended for the first time: “Would definitely go back again, was a great atmosphere!”




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