FC HALIFAX TOWN 0 BOSTON UNITED 0: It wasn’t a classic, but it was better from the Pilgrims

Ross Durrant.
Ross Durrant.

The whistle blew. The home fans booed. Boston United and their travelling support joined together in mutual applause.

A goalles draw at FC Halifax Town may not be the stuff of dreams, the kind of days out an elderly fan recalls to his grandkids with the words ‘... and I was there to see it’.

But on reflection, it was one heck of a result for the Pilgrims and surely the scoreline that nobody expected.

This was the National League North’s form team - with six wins and a draw from their past seven matches - at home against the stuttering Pilgrims, who had lost four of their previous five.

This was Shaymen, scorers of 62 goals so far, the division’s fourth best total, against the United side who had shipped 60 to date, the sixth most generation in the standings.

This was Tom Denton against United. And we all know what normally happens then.

But as the full time whistle blew, a goalless 90 minutes had brought Adam Murray’s side a surprising - but thoroughly deserved - point.

Undoubtedly, the Pilgrims were made to work for their share of the spoils, their first clean sheet in six matches, their second in 20, their fifth of the campaign and just their second on the road.

But a strong work ethic, a battling performance from one to 11, a refusal to be beaten and some important saves from Ross Durrant showed there’s still life in this team yet.

Harry Vince was without doubt the biggest shock on the Pilgrims’ teamsheet, the teenager being handed his first start for the club, his first involvement with the first team since December and his first appearance under Adam Murray.

But the diminutive midfielder was out to prove he was not wearing the number four shirt because of anything other than merit, showing a fiery desire to chase lost causes, and an unwillingness to be bullied by his bigger, more experienced rivals.

Young Vince was one of four changes to the starting XI, Ben Gordon, Lewis Hilliard and Kalern Thomas returning with the injured Jay Rollins and Karl Hawley out of the squad and skipper Shane Clarke only able to make the bench.

Charlie Gatter was omitteed from the matchday squad, with Marcus Marshall and Joe Maguire returning to the bench.

Alex Simmons scored twice for Halifax in their 4-1 win at Boston earlier in the season, and almost reversed things within the opening minute, meeting Colby Bishop’s clever backheel but seeing his strike defelected onto the roof of his former club’s net.

Boston were enjoying space in behind Town’s high defensive line with Hilliard pulling the strings with his quick, accurate passing.

But a combination of important blocks and the offisde flag kept the Pilgrims from opening the scoring.

Jan Yeomans lashed wide on his weaker right foot while Halifax keeper Sam Johnson wasn’t really troubled by efforts from Simmons and Tom Batchel A goalles draw at FC Halifax Town may not be the stuff of dreams, the kind of days out an elderly fan recalls to his grandkids with the words ‘... and I was there to see it’.

But on reflection, it was one heck of a result for the Pilgrims and surely the scoreline that nobody expected.

This was the National League North’s form team - with six wins and a draw from their past seven matches - at home against the stuttering Pilgrims, who had lost four of their previous five.

This was Shaymen, scorers of 62 goals so far, the division’s fourth best total, against the United side who had shipped 60 to date, the sixth most generation in the standings.

This was Tom Denton against United. And we all know what normally happens then.

But as the full time whistle blew, a goalless 90 minutes had brought Adam Murray’s side a surprising - but thoroughly deserved - point.

Undoubtedly, the Pilgrims were made to work for their share of the spoils, their first clean sheet in six matches, their second in 20, their fifth of the campaign and just their second on the road.

But a strong work ethic, a battling performance from one to 11, a refusal to be beaten and some important saves from Ross Durrant showed there’s still life in this team yet.

Harry Vince was without doubt the biggest shock on the Pilgrims’ teamsheet, the teenager being handed his first start for the club, his first involvement with the first team since December and his first appearance under Adam Murray.

But the diminutive midfielder was out to prove he was not wearing the number four shirt because of anything other than merit, showing a fiery desire to chase lost causes, and an unwillingness to be bullied by his bigger, more experienced rivals.

Young Vince was one of four changes to the starting XI, Ben Gordon, Lewis Hilliard and Kalern Thomas returning with the injured Jay Rollins and Karl Hawley out of the squad and skipper Shane Clarke only able to make the bench.

Charlie Gatter was omitteed from the matchday squad, with Marcus Marshall and Joe Maguire returning to the bench.

Alex Simmons scored twice for Halifax in their 4-1 win at Boston earlier in the season, and almost reversed things within the opening minute, meeting Colby Bishop’s clever backheel but seeing his strike defelected onto the roof of his former club’s net.

Boston were enjoying space in behind Town’s high defensive line with Hilliard pulling the strings with his quick, accurate passing.

But a combination of important blocks and the offisde flag kept the Pilgrims from opening the scoring.

Jan Yeomans lashed wide on his weaker right foot while Halifax keeper Sam Johnson wasn’t really troubled by efforts from Simmons and Tom Batchelor in the opening 45 minutes.

Despite being the division’s form team, Halifax offered little goal threat in the first half other than free kicks from Matty Kosylo and David Lynch, both pounded away by Durrant.

The second half began with Gordon slipping Bishop through, but a last-gasp slide from covering defender Matty Brown was enough to take the sting out of the effort.

The Shay erupted in boos when the hosts felt they should have been awarded a penalty, Richard Peniket latching onto a long ball and, following a tangling of legs with Josh Robinson, both players fell to the floor.

But as referee David McNamara blew his whistle he didn’t point to the spot as many expected, but instead signalled a free kick in United’s favour.

Seconds later and Peniket did get the better of Robinson, perhaps too easily. But after turning his man in the box he was thwarted by the legs of Durrant.

The Pilgrims keeper was in the thick of the action again as he pulled off a reaction save to deny Brown’s close-range header at the back post following Jordan Sinnott’s teasing free kick.

A few goalmouth scrambles and a kneed clearance from Brown was as close as Boston got to goal again, while Kosylo saw a rising strike fly inches over Durrant’s bar in the dying seconds.

But on this occasion United held on.

HALIFAX: Johnson, Roberts, Brown, Garner, Wilde (Moyo 80), Lynch, Kosylo, King, Peniket, Morgan (Denton HT), Clarke (Sinnott 73); Subs (not used): Drench, Hotte.

UNITED: Durrant, Thomas, Yeomans, Vince, Batchelor, Robinson, Chapman, Gordon, Simmons, Bishop, Hilliard; Subs (not used): Marshall, Clarke, Fitzpatrick, Chippendale, Maguire.

Ref: David McNamara.

Att: 1,752. or in the opening 45 minutes.

Despite being the division’s form team, Halifax offered little goal threat in the first half other than free kicks from Matty Kosylo and David Lynch, both pounded away by Durrant.

The second half began with Gordon slipping Bishop through, but a last-gasp slide from covering defender Matty Brown was enough to take the sting out of the effort.

The Shay erupted in boos when the hosts felt they should have been awarded a penalty, Richard Peniket latching onto a long ball and, following a tangling of legs with Josh Robinson, both players fell to the floor.

But as referee David McNamara blew his whistle he didn’t point to the spot as many expected, but instead signalled a free kick in United’s favour.

Seconds later and Peniket did get the better of Robinson, perhaps too easily. But after turning his man in the box he was thwarted by the legs of Durrant.

The Pilgrims keeper was in the thick of the action again as he pulled off a reaction save to deny Brown’s close-range header at the back post following Jordan Sinnott’s teasing free kick.

A few goalmouth scrambles and a kneed clearance from Brown was as close as Boston got to goal again, while Kosylo saw a rising strike fly inches over Durrant’s bar in the dying seconds.

But on this occasion United held on.

HALIFAX: Johnson, Roberts, Brown, Garner, Wilde (Moyo 80), Lynch, Kosylo, King, Peniket, Morgan (Denton HT), Clarke (Sinnott 73); Subs (not used): Drench, Hotte.

UNITED: Durrant, Thomas, Yeomans, Vince, Batchelor, Robinson, Chapman, Gordon, Simmons, Bishop, Hilliard; Subs (not used): Marshall, Clarke, Fitzpatrick, Chippendale, Maguire.

Ref: David McNamara.

Att: 1,752.