FC Halifax 1 Chesterfield 2: No home comforts for Shaymen after controversial defeat

PROOF that league form means absolutely nothing heading into the play-offs was emphatically proved for the umpteenth time at The Shay.

FC Halifax Town, the side with the best home form in the National League with the most home wins and the fewest goals against record, saw their campaign end at the hands of a Chesterfield side who had hobbled into the end-of-season lottery.

Unbeaten in their ten previous home matches, the Shaymen lost to a side who had triumphed once in their previous nine games on the road.

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The Spireites had won just twice in ten National League encounters home or away. So no prizes for guessing what happened.

The Shay, home of FC Halifax Town.

A side who looked a fair bet for automatic promotion earlier in the season, Chesterfield's form had subsequently nosedived.

But their season will continue after victory against a Halifax side who struggled to get going in truth in front of an impressive crowd of 5,661 fans.

A first goal for the club from substitute Matty Stenson shortly after a screamer from ex-Halifax player Jeff King doubled the visitors advantage midway through the second half gave Pete Wild's side hope, but it was not to be.

There will be understandable disappointment from a Shaymen standpoint, but there should also be perspective.

Against clubs blessed with bigger financial resources, including the likes of Chesterfield, Notts County, Wrexham and Grimsby - four sides in the play-offs - Halifax have punched above their weight.

On the night, they did not have much fortune either.

In front of a vibrant atmosphere which would have put many grounds to shame in the division above, the last thing that Town needed was for one of their key players in Kian Spence to suffer a pre-match in the warm-up.

For most of the first half, his absence proved telling and disconcerting, while another midfielder in Kieran Green looked troubled by an issue and did not look 100 per cent despite gamely soldiering on.

It was Chesterfield who governed midfield and were first to most things, while possessing a real outlet down the left in Calvin Miller.

A brilliant mazy run from the left-sided Spireites player almost yielded a goal with his fierce strike deflected wide, but from the resultant corner, they had their breakthrough on 19 minutes.

Danny Rowe's spell at neighbouring Bradford City was brief and forgettable, but here he found fertile West Yorkshire soil to clinically head home at the near post following a flag-kick from King, given a fair bit of stick on his return to Halifax.

Town deservedly trailed at break, but a big moment of controversy went against them on 34 minutes when home fans were off their stands in the main stand and the Shaymen players and bench incensed.

A lunge from former Doncaster Rovers player Liam Mandeville on Jack Senior close to the touchline looked ugly, but on consulting with his fourth official and after a fair delay, referee Scott Tallis brandished a yellow card and not a red one.

Town, creditably, did not feel sorry for themselves, but that big chance proved stubborn in arriving against a well-organised Chesterfield side who protected their precious gain comfortably.

The chance they waited patiently for the counter eventually came with Mandeville shooting at Sam Johnson.

King's howitzer then had the 2,000-strong Spireites contingent celebrating and despite Stenson soon pulling one back from Billy Waters' fine cross, it was not to be for the Shaymen.

FC Halifax Town: Johnson, Warren, Debrah, Maher, Senior, Green (Stenson 56), Woods, Slew (Dearnley 77), Warburton, Gilmour; Waters. Substitutes unused: McDonagh, Swaby-Neavin, Bird.

Chesterfield: Loach; King, Williams, Grimes, Maguire; Kellerman; Whelan; Mandeville, Khan (McCourt 89), Miller (Whittle 77); Rowe (Tyson 72). Substitutes unused: Denton, Rowley.

Referee: Scott Tallis