FC Halifax Town 1 Guiseley 1: Walker rescues point for Shaymen

Ben Clappinson and Gavin Rothery challenge for a high ball.
Ben Clappinson and Gavin Rothery challenge for a high ball.
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A late Sam Walker goal rescued a point for FC Halifax Town in a hard-fought derby against Guiseley at The Shay.

It’s now 31 league games without a clean sheet for Town after Anthony Dudley gave Guiseley the lead just after half-time.

But substitute Walker’s stunning free-kick salvaged a precious point and ensured Halifax went three league matches without defeat for the first time this season.

Jim Harvey had warned things would get tougher for his team, and was proved right as The Shaymen found themselves outplayed by their West Yorkshire rivals.

Guiseley will feel hard done-by and possibly that its two points dropped having contained Halifax for large parts of the game, but Town showed some resilience to keep fighting and got their reward.

Ben Clappison made his debut in place of the injured Matty Brown, while Josh Macdonald made his first start since the 7-1 drubbing by Cheltenham on October 3, replacing the also injured Kevin Roberts.

If recent wins over Gateshead and Dover had given cause for optimism, then the opening to this game dampened that excitement a little as Guiseley started like the home side, penning Halifax in their own half and dominating possession.

The start followed a similar pattern from the previous two games, as Town set-up to hit Guiseley on the break, but there was a lack of bite about the Halifax side as the visitors drove at their defence with purpose.

The Shaymen were pensive on the ball in midfield, and looked at their best when Shaun Tuton and Josh Macdonald had possession on the flanks.

Striker Anthony Dudley, who had four goals in six games before the match on loan from Bury, beat the offside trap to get one-on-one with Sam Johnson, but shot wide; had it gone in, Town couldn’t really have grumbled.

Harvey was forced into a change at the midway point of the first-half when Kieran Sadlier replaced the injured Keil O’Brien, with Clappison moving to centre-back.

Harvey also chose to move Tuton up-front with Burrow in behind, just as the pair lined up to good effect in the FA Cup win at Nethermoor in October, having presumably seen enough in the first 22 minutes to suggest a different approach was required.

But Guiseley continued to dominate, with Oliver Norburn twice firing just wide from 30 yards and Adam Boyes looping a header straight at Johnson.

Had Guiseley not been the second-lowest scorers in the division away from home, Town could easily have conceded.

But the tide had been stemmed somewhat by the time Sadlier crashed a shot off the bar after 35 minutes, possible with the help of Steve Drench’s fingertips.

However, there was not the same drive and incisiveness from Halifax that had produced eight goals against Gateshead and Dover, although Guiseley were certainly less generous at the back.

Charitable defending has been the story of Halifax’s season though, and they were found wanting again at the start of the second-half when Gavin Rothery ran towards the box unchallenged before his cross found its way to Dudley, who sent Johnson the wrong way with his shot from 10 yards.

Every game Dudley had scored in for Guiseley, they had gone on to win, and Boyes nearly gave Town a mountain to climb when he struck the outside of the post after racing onto a superb through ball minutes later.

Tuton showed great tenacity and strength to create space for a shot, one of few for The Shaymen by now, but fired wide from inside the box.

Burrow then spurned a glorious chance when his volley smashed the crossbar from five yards moments before Scott McManus’ 20-yard shot hit the outside of the post.

A sustained spell of pressure still eluded Town though, with chances coming sporadically at best.

So Walker’s free-kick from 20 yards looked a golden opportunity to equalise, especially given the midfielder’s ability from set-pieces.

Guiseley already knew about that, with Walker scoring with a free-kick in the 2-2 draw at The Shay in the FA Cup in October, and he did it again as his fierce shot crashed in off the underside of the bar.

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