What happened when Yorkshire staged what could be England's last competitive football match for some time

IN THE only live football match to be screened live anywhere in Europe with fans present on Saturday, let alone the United Kingdom, it was FC Halifax Town's misfortune to endure a bad case of stage-fright in a dismal 1-0 loss in this televised National League fixture against visiting Ebbsfleet United.

The Shay Stadium, Halifax.

On an occasion when many more football fans than normal - starved of their weekend sporting fix for now and at least three weeks due to the coronavirus crisis - tuned into watch events from The Shay - in quite possibly England's last competitive fixture in its top six divisions for a fair while - there was little to get excited about unless you were from the Medway and it was a quiet send-off.

There was plenty to grumble about for Halifax supporters, whose side's goal drought in open play stretched to five games with Ebbsfleet - backed by a hardy band of 52 visiting supporters from Kent - continuing their recent good form on their travels with victory, thanks to Gozie Ugwu's early strike in front of a crowd of 2,154.

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Ahead of kick-off, the Halifax announcer thanked season-ticket holders of other clubs who took advantage of an offer to attend the game for a cut-price fee of ten pounds, with the home faithful promptly joining in with a round of applause.

Those non-regulars at The Shay saw a first half in which Halifax showed a predilection for looking after the ball with disdain far too many times, with their duty of care in possession being sloppy at times.

It was treated like a hot potato on occasions, with home players showing a distinct lack of composure, even if the intent was there.

On the first-half evidence, it was easy to see why Halifax - who would have moved within two points of third-placed Notts County with victory - had failed to find the net in open play since February 1 and it was certainly not the sort of performance that you associate with a promotion contender.

Their main moments of devilment and aplomb came at the feet of the diminutive Jack Redshaw, whose early twist and turn ended in a low shot which was grasped by Ebbsfleet keeper Jordan Holmes.

Play quickly switched to the other end, with Josh Umerah striking the near post with a low drive - while injuring himself in the process for good measure.

It was his replacement Tomi Adeloye who played the next telling hand, giving the recalled Jerome Binnom-Williams the slip far too easily down Halifax's left, with his pull-back finding one-time Shaymen target Ugwu burying a clinical low shot into the net on 16 minutes.

Town huffed and puffed with Redshaw not far away with a well-executed curling free-kick, but there was a distinct lack of poise.

It didn't get any better on the restart - if anything it got progressively worse - with Ebbsfleet showing the limited craft on offer.

A cynical challenge by home captain Nathan Clarke on the lively Adeloye drew a booking with Josh Payne's free-kick being inches away from a second for Ebbsfleet, chasing their third successive away success.

A booking for ungentlemanly conduct for Adeloye, when he kicked the ball away, represented a rare moment of mirth for agitated home fans, afforded plenty to grumble about after the hosts gave the ball away repeatedly.

Ugwu had a chance to seal it after going solo before firing the side-netting before Wild made his first substitute in throwing Tobi Sho-Silva into the fray.

Some rare enterprise saw Binnom-Williams cut inside and see his dangerous cross-shot deflected over, with Holmes, in the Ebbsfleet goal, having precious little to do with Halifax having little punch up front.

FC Halifax Town: Johnson; Maher, Clarke, Binnom-Williams; Nolan (Sho-Silva 69), Jeff King (MacDonald 79), Cooper, Staunton; Rodney, Redshaw, Williams. Substitutes unused: Appleyard, Earing, Hanson.

Ebbsfleet United: Holmes; Ekipiteta, Grimes, Jack King; Timlin, Wilson (Lawless 85), Payne, Goddard, McGlashan; Umerah (Adeloye 14), Ugwu. Substitutes unused: Gregory, Palmer, Achuba.

Referee: B Speedie.

Attendance: 2,154 (52 Ebbsfleet supporters).