Sunday, 6 March 2011

Halifax Town 1 – 0 Ashton United; 05/03/11.


So, we won a guest box in the Christmas draw. It was initially set for the Frickley and Nantwich dates, which were both called off. Luckily, there wasn't a single postponement to be found this weekend from step 1 right down to 6, which meant a trip for us up the East Stand and into a new astral plane full of that certain elite who work directly for the Shaymen or are the players themselves. We broke open some Hebden Bridge ale and watched from the best vantage points in the ground. To show how down with the oiks we are, lunch was Holland's pies, peas and chips. Taking the prawn sarnie ethos right down to the letter is one thing that mustn't be allowed.

Ashton was an appropriate one for us, as I've got Ashton blood. The blood doesn't run far enough however, for me to sympathise one bit with Ashton United, née Hurst FC, who were here purely for us to make another three points. Like a prudish data-processor being invited by his rowdy pals to a lap dancing club, Ashton made it their job to keep a draw for as long as possible, as the data-processor in this poor analogy would cover up his arousal. Yes, opposition teams have to cover up sheer carnal arousal when watching us play our game.

Phelan tries to find an option.

I say this with little regard for the tedium in the first half. I couldn't adjust to the fact I'd watched half a match worth of football when the half-time whistle went. What can be said? We have plenty of first halves like these. Footballer's block, I'd call it. We weren't threatened, but we lacked our own touch. The East Stand takes from the Skircoat stand opposite it and stands quiet spare the odd moan. Even our best touches only warrant applause from a select few there, most fans happy to keep their hands in their pockets, fiddling at all the fluff inside them. Garner had a stinker surprisingly, and got subbed halfway through. His easily-saved free kick was one of the few chances. The real chance of the half came near the end when Vardy had a blocked shot which the 'keeper then scuffed, leaving it almost free to Vardy again were it not for brave Ashton defending.

The second half obviously saw us pick up, so the Robins stepped up. Except their way of doing this was by putting nine players in their box. Tom Baker commented that as a centre midfielder he'd never been in a match like it, totally lacking in ideas for where to feed the ball. The fans' encouragement grew and a close chance came when Phelan circled the outside of the box for space, before whacking it for the goalie to put it out for a corner. Time fell through our open fingers though, and despite having most possession and keeping in their half, there weren't so many close chances. The tempo really picked up towards the end and after a few rapid attempts of finding blue shirts in the box, Hogan fired a rapid cross in which Vardy sprinted for, like a 100mph cheetah frustrated at still not being as fast as he would like to be breaking through his skin and entering a completely new spiritual dimension. Joy resonated across Halifax, the players rushed into one corner of the pitch with glee, and the nine Ashton players acting as defense saw their plans gutted.

Various attacks.

The Robins had almost got their draw, but now they'd let one goal in with 89 minutes on the clock, there was little hope. Their game plan had been lacerated. Two strikers came on for them and mustered a feeble attack, before we attempted a counter attack in return. With little time added on, the ref blew and I was buzzing. Not since the FC United games have goals felt as good. We didn't "nick" it so much as deserve it, and making it 1–0 late on lifted everyone's confidence.

Post-match I found that Bury had won 3–0 at Hereford, putting the Shakers second. We got a programme signed too, though Scott Phelan's signature is highly disturbing: a few squiggles around his name. Can he even write? At least he can play.

Halifax Town 1 – 0 Ashton United; att. 1648
Entertainment: 2/10 first half, 8/10 second.


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