Question of the WeekShould their be a Winter Break in English football?
|That was then|
On the Crest of a New Wave
By: Andrew Doherty
NO WINS, Covid, no games … so here’s to a happy new year. It’s hard to say whether the void of having no league games for 3 weeks is worse than the undoubted frustration if we had, but the decision not to play was clearly the right one.
And it can only be hoped that Town's players, management and staff are all fit and healthy while having the chance of a reset for the remainder of the campaign.
What we have mostly had is silence for the last few days, other than news of Luis Adlard going on loan to Bridlington, a new club crest and a new website. That's fine and part of an improvement plan no doubt but in truth, none of these things excite me in spite of the particular hype surrounding the last two developments. Never in my life has a new crest consumed my imagination, I'm afraid to say. On the footballing front, Mr Hurst has not yet been rebranded as Town's On Field Footballing Operation Executive and unless Dour Yorkshire is the thing these days, he's been spared an image upgrade. His pre-match conference confirmed that it's been a difficult period for the squad who were only able to get back together and train from 29th December. There's no substitute for a bit of fitness training and team work and that's not really been possible. Town's team today with the tough task of bringing us some new year cheer against high-flying Halifax was: Crocombe - Efete, Waterfall, Pearson, Crookes - Coke - Maguire-Drew, Fox, Clifton - Taylor, Sousa.
The first period of the first half was even. Halifax looked dangerous with their passing moves, but Town's defence was solid and the overall work rate was good. Town moved the ball forwards well, starting the 6th minute when Clifton was fouled on the left. Maguire-Drew's cross was met by Waterfall who won a corner. Waterfall and Pearson linked up well at the back to avert Halifax's dangerman Waters. As the half went on, Town began to dominate. On 21 minutes Taylor shook off Bradbury and won a corner. On 29 minutes Waterfall fouled Waters 35 yards out. Town broke following the free-kick but Sousa found himself isolated. Waterfall then got on the right side of Waters to prevent a chance following a through pass from Benn. As the half went on, Town began to dominate. Efete worked well up the right, while Maguire-Drew's crosses were pinpoint but Halifax's defence stood firm. Hunt replaced the injured Coke on 37 minutes. A great cross-field pass from Pearson found Efete on the right before Efete was fouled. Maguire-Drew's cross was cleared but Hunt snapped at his shot which went woefully wide. A Sousa shot earned a corner before a good move led to an Efete cross from the right, but Fox was too far behind it, throwing himself at the ball from the centre of the penalty box for his comical header. To end the half a good move on the left resulted in a Clifton cross. Sousa connected well but again the shot was blocked. Town's endeavour was good. Halifax showed more skill in their play but Town created plenty of opportunities. Neither goalkeeper however had to save anything so far. Hopefully, Town's physical fitness would see them through the 90 minutes.
Town started the second half strongly. On 47 minutes Taylor set up Maguire-Drew after a pass from Fox. Maguire-Drew's curled shot beat Johnson and cracked off the corner of crossbar and post. Maguire-Drew took the resultant corner. Pearson's header from it was cleared off the line. Halifax responded with a long pass to Waters in the middle. Waterfall was booked for a foul 25 yards out. Warburton's curling free-kick was punched over by Crocombe. On 52 minutes Sousa was tripped by Benn in the corner. Maguire-Drew crossed. Pearson looked to be dragged down by Bradbury. The referee didn't see it this way. Halifax broke. A long ball found Slew whose control was excellent as he propelled himself forward and fired a strong shot with Town's defenders rushing back. Crocombe could only parry the shot to the advancing Spence who fired home in front of the jubilant Halifax supporters at the Osmond end. Town 0, Halifax 1. The goal had come against the run of play. Town responded with an attack. The ball bounced backwards and forward out of the Halifax penalty box before Pearson blasted a low shot wide from outside the box. Maguire-Drew then sent in a cross but Sousa was unable to get up high enough. An hour had passed. Hunt played a clever free-kick to Sousa on the left. Sousa's cross found Taylor's head - off the line again. Fox then found space but made an utter hash of a shot from close to goal on the left. Town attacked and attacked. On 68 minutes Maguire-Drew was penalised for a foul on Warren deep in the Town half, but this was a rare moment as Town continued to apply pressure without being able to penetrate the well organised Halifax defence. On 71 minutes Warren returned the compliment and fouled Maguire-Drew, who took the free-kick from the right. Johnson punched clear and the ball fell to Fox who failed to control his shot, firing over and suggesting some shooting practice is needed. A lovely link-up move between Hunt, Fox and Taylor finally found Efete in the penalty box and advancing on goal but a perfect tackle from Maher stopped the opportunity. Wright came on for the hard-working and much-appreciated Sousa on 76 minutes. Wright was in action immediately, setting up Maguire-Drew whose three attempts were blocked. Fox then supplied Maguire-Drew who won a corner as Town continued to press. The ball was cleared and was worked up the left. Capturing the spirit of the team, Pearson of all people surged forward from the left, put in a slinky stepover and won another corner. As the cross came in, Pearson and Waterfall were adjudged to have committed a foul as they sought to run in towards the incoming cross. On 84 minutes Maguire-Drew fired in a shot that Johnson could only save with his legs. Clifton then won a corner. Bell replaced Fox as Town fought for the elusive equaliser. Town won a free-kick which in an early-season flashback moment Hunt delivered to Waterfall to head on. Wright's shot was blocked. Three minutes were added as 90 minutes elapsed. The ball was played out to Wright in space on the left. Wright's cross was perfect for Maguire-Drew to run onto and head past the helpless Johnson in the top left corner. Town 1, Halifax 1. It was no more than Town deserved. Town then won a free-kick on the left, but Hunt's delivery was high and long so a draw was how it ended, after it had seemed that all Town's efforts were going to be in vain. In the event, it felt like a victory after all the recent disappointments and the battle that Towns players had fought to get something out of the game against an obstinate Halifax side.
The club crest signals a new brand, or is it just a brand-new crest. Meanwhile, on the pitch this was an object lesson from Town in determination. It was a great team effort with no thought of giving up. The odds were stacked against us today, but as the game went on Town played with increasing confidence and belief to the point where Halifax were overrun and had to rely on their own determination for survival. Prior to the game, Mr Hurst made the point that there is an opportunity now to prepare the team in the 8 days before we go to Halifax for the return fixture. It pointed to little or no expectation of today, and that was understandable. Well whilst we may only have got a draw today, but it was the manner of this high-energy performance that suggested that we may have lift-off again and could be on the crest of a new wave as we enter 2022.
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