A recent appointment in the dugout. 20 goals conceded in five games. Local rivals visiting for an FA Cup qualifier. Surely a tough task?
That did not seem to be the case for Darren Kelly’s Halifax Town, who stormed into a two goal first-half lead as Guiseley collapsed around them.
However, the old cliche could not have applied any better at The Shay on Saturday, as Adam Boyes shattered Kelly’s hopes of a second win in charge by scoring two after the break.
The first real chance of the game fell to Kevin Roberts, played slightly out of position on the right wing. A ball into the area by Sam Walker dropped at his feet, but his left-footed effort was tame. Seconds later, another delivery from Walker on the left gave Jordan Burrow an opportunity to head from yards out, but his effort was well over the bar.
It was a high-tempo opening. Guiseley came even closer to opening the scoring. Adam Boyes, stretching, could not connect with a low ball sent in from the right hand side. At the other end, the ball dropped to Burrow again, but his half-volley was hit straight at Steven Drench. Nick Wroe, running on to the rebound, sent his wild strike straight into the stand.
Guiseley were the architects of their own downfall in the opening half, providing Town with the two opportunities they needed in the first period. Another foray forward from Halifax forced Guiseley into a foul on the edge of the area. Walker stepped up, and there was little Drench could do about the strike. Curled, cultured and going across goal, the ball struck the post before hitting the back of the net to give Walker his first goal of the season.
Those defensive frailties came to the fore as Liam Dickinson almost turned home, but Halifax just about managed to clear. With the game settling down, Will Hatfield tried to force matters for Guiseley, striking from 25 yards out. His dipping shot barely troubled Matt Glennon, travelling over the bar.
A more accurate knock down by Walker could have put Halifax two ahead, as he latched on to Roberts’s beautiful floated cross into the area, but could not guide the ball into the path of the onrushing Tommy Miller.
The game quietened after the half hour mark, with Hatfield’s sight of goal after a poor clearance the best opportunity. His strike from the edge of the area trickled past Glennon’s left post. Five minutes before half-time, Guiseley stepped it up, carving open Halifax by working the ball nicely down the left through Dickinson and Danny Lowe. Fed back to Boshell, he whipped in a perfect cross that Boyes could only head straight at the goalkeeper. It should have been an equaliser.
It was an opportunity he’d regret missing minutes later. A nothing clearance by Halifax was headed backwards towards his own goal by Jake Lawlor. Unfortunately for him, Kingsley James was waiting and ready to pounce, latching onto his pass. After running through the middle straight at Drench, James’s rifling effort found the back of the net to put Halifax two ahead just before the break.
Tempers threatened to flare on Guiseley’s part after half-time, with Danny Boshell carded for a late challenge on Nicky Wroe. Boshell was lucky not to pick up another seconds later, referee Martin Coy sparing him before Mark Bower withdrew him for Ben Parker, presumably to keep 11 players on the pitch.
Halifax kept the pressure on, and on the hour mark, Burrow could have put his side further ahead. He cut inside from the right, working an opportunity for him to strike with his left, but fired his shot over the bar.
Guiseley had appeals for a penalty turned down after a tackle on Hatfield, and from there, Halifax broke. A sweeping move up the pitch, led by the energetic James, put Roberts in space in the box, but his tame effort was easily collected by Drench.
Despite having little of the play in the second period, the visitors suddenly struck back. Boyes was provided by a knock down by an unwitting Halifax defence. He jinked to the side, before finding the corner from just outside the area.
Minutes later, the comeback was completed. Halifax played a high ball forward, with Drench charging out of his net to clear. Brown and Keil O’Brien at the back for Halifax disappeared, allowing an onside Boyes to charge through and beautifully chip Glennon to score his second and bring the tie level.
Both teams pressed for a winner, with the best opportunity falling to Boyes as he cut inside, but he put his effort just wide of the post. There would be no third for the clear man of the match, no third for Guiseley and no third for Kelly’s charges. The two sides will have to meet again on Tuesday night to decide which side reaches the first round.