FC Halifax Town lost their first home game of 2019 as they were beaten 1-0 by Maidenhead at The Shay.
Town hadn’t lost at home since December 22, but arguably produced their poorest performance of the calendar year, and lost their proud defensive home record to boot.
Abi Obileye’s second-half penalty was the first home goal The Shaymen have conceded in more than 10-and-a-half hours, and the first in the league at home since New Year’s Day.
But Halifax, boosted three hours before the game by the announcement that Devante Rodney and Manny Duku would be on loan at The Shay for the rest of the season. played with none of the fluidity and intensity that has graced recent displays, and regressed back to the days of their bleak mid-winter in a performance that seemed to get worse as the match went on.
The hosts got into some promising early positions, with the likes of Cameron King and Matty Kosylo on the ball in good areas, but didn’t make the most of them either through stray passes or wrong choices.
Another nice move saw Kosylo find King, who shimmied past his marker midway through the Maidenhead half before trying to play in Duku, but the ball squirmed away from him and towards Carl Pentney in the Maidenhead goal.
Town’s first clear chance fell to Rodney after 20 minutes, when a Kosylo shot bobbled up to him around the edge of the six-yard box, but he headed over the onrushing Pentney and over the bar.
Maidenhead’s only efforts by the midway point of the first-half were both long-range shots way off target by Ricky Gabriel and former Halifax loanee Mike Fondop-Talom.
The striker went closer though when he volleyed Harold Odametey’s cross wide from six yards.
Rodney and Duku weren’t quite producing the same magic that prompted Town to extend their loans, with passes between them over-hit and neither player able to get into his stride in a poor, scrappy game.
James Comley curled a shot just wide from 25 yards with Sam Johnson beaten, but the game still lacked a shot on target by half-time, which said much.
King and Kosylo appeared the ones with the imagination and ingenuity to create things for Town, but The Shaymen had yet to really get going.
A burst forward by Jacob Hanson, making his first start since January 5, was more like it, but his pass to Duku was behind the striker, and the ball eventually went out for a throw-in.
The bobbly pitch clearly wasn’t helping either side get into their rhythm, and slowed the pace of the game, but both teams were not helping themselves by some sloppy play.
The visitors finally registered the game’s first effort on target when Josh Kelly’s low shot across goal was held by Sam Johnson, a couple of minutes after Fondop-Talom volleyed over from Obileye’s flick-on.
Fondop-Talom sent a left-foot curler straight at Johnson as Town made a less-than-slow start to the second-half, looking one-paced and devoid of energy.
King pounced on sloppy play by Maidenhead and charged towards the box, but produced a poor pass to Rodney, and it was cleared.
What chances were created still fell to Maidenhead, with Fondop-Talom’s overhead kick dropping wide from near the penalty spot.
But the contest staggered on, a messy, drab contest that still refused to come to life.
It hadn’t been good enough from Town, especially since the restart, from which they simply hadn’t restarted, and they fell behind when Obileye coolly converted from the spot after Fondop-Talom was adjudged to have been fouled in the box.
Maidenhead nearly doubled their lead but Kelly’s shot from 15 yards smashed off the post. Shortly afterwards, he hit the side-netting after a jinking run.
The away side were hungrier and sharper than Halifax, who looked a beaten side; if The Shaymen were playing a side pushing for promotion, the scoreline would surely have been worse.
Halifax: Johnson, Hanson, Clarke, Brown, Skarz, Staunton (Quigley 88), Berrett (Preston 76), King, Kosylo, Duku, Rodney (Edwards 85). Subs not used: Rowley, Gondoh.
Shots on target: 0
Shots off target: 3
Maidenhead: Pentney, Clerima, Obileye, Nana-Twumasi, Steer, Odametey, Comley, Gabriel, Nombe, Kelly (Akintunde 80), Fondop-Talom (Clifton 84). Subs not used: Alves, Bird, Owusu.
Scorer: Obileye (72)
Shots on target: 4
Shots off target: 12
Referee: Declan Bourne
Town man of the match: Cameron King