By James Grayson (Twitter: @jamesAgrayson)
A second half strike from Dan Gardner earned FC Halifax Town a point from their local derby with Guiseley AFC at a packed Nethermoor in the Blue Square Bet North.
The goal cancelled out former Shayman Mark Bower’s ninth minute header which gave the Lions a dream start to the match in front of 1137 spectators.
But after failing to increase their lead, Steve Kittrick’s (pictured below) Guiseley paid the price as Halifax hit back and the visitors were unlucky not to take all three points having hit the crossbar three times.
Halifax will be ruing their poor start. It was Andy Holdsworth’s cross from the left-wing which Bower met with power which left Matt Glennon helpless to react and stunned the travelling support.
Guiseley continued to cause problems for Halifax. Forward Kevin Holsgrove looked menacing and Halifax’s defence seemed unable to cope. A disallowed Jack Rea goal triggered more alarm bells for Halifax. Bower then went close when his header was pumped off the line by former Lion Ryan Toulson.
That’s when Halifax got their act together. Defensive midfielder James Knowles, a recent signing for Halifax from Bradford PA, was replaced in the 27th minute by winger Adriano Moke. Whether it was forced or not, it breathed a new lease of life into Halifax as Moke took his place on the right-wing and used his flair to cause Guiseley problems.
He was involved as Chris Worsley’s volley cannoned off the bar as Halifax signalled their presence in the match. Then just as half-time approached, some Halifax fans thought their team had scored. Inside the six-yard box, ex Harrogate Town defender Danny Lowe looked to have scored and some Town started celebrating wildly. However, his effort somehow hit the crossbar and the ball was cleared – much to the amusement of some Guiseley supporters.
However, the warnings for Guiseley were there and they did not take heed as Halifax took control in the second half. Sean Williams’ spectacular long range strike needed an excellent save from Guiseley goalkeeper Steven Drench who turned the ball onto the bar before conceding a corner.
Further pressure followed and it obvious that the equaliser was coming. It arrived on 64 minutes. A Danny Lowe quickly-taken free kick found Gardner in the penalty box and he simply hammered the ball past Drench from 12 yards to send the Halifax support crazy.
Halifax looked favourites now, but they struggled to create many more opportunities and that will have been the disappointing factor having been in control. Guiseley themselves couldn’t get out of their own half. The introduction of former Leeds United man Seb Carole did add some creativity for Guiseley. Carole replaced Halifax pantomime villain James Walshaw who was heavily booed on his exit due to his controversial move to Guiseley last season after a loan spell with Halifax.
But that was it apart from another disallowed Guiseley goal in the final minute – given because of a foul on the goalkeeper Glennon.
Halifax will be disappointed to have only earned a point, but despite picking up just four points out of the last three fixtures, Neil Aspin’s (pictured above) men are fourth in the table with games in hand of the teams around them.
Halifax are four points ahead of sixth-placed Harrogate Town who lost 1-0 at Bradford (Park Avenue) ahead of their home game with Altrincham on Saturday.
Guiseley travel to third-placed Brackley Town this weekend.
Guiseley: Drench, Hardy, Meynell, A Pearson, Ellis, Bower, Rea (Marsh 77), Holdsworth, Wilson, Walshaw (Carole 74), Holsgrove. Subs unused: Giles, Lawlor, McWilliams.
FC Halifax Town: Glennon, Toulson, McManus, M Pearson, Knowles (Moke 27), Lowe, Worsley, Williams, Gregory, Gardner (Glover 84), Worthington. Sub unused: Senior, Titchiner, Bolton.
Referee: R Wigglesworth
Man of the match: Mark Bower