Grays denied by battling Shaymen
Halifax showed the spirit that may well see them survive in the Blue Square Premier as they battled back three times to earn what could be a precious point in their survival battle.
The Shayman came to compete in front of a crowd of 1,204 swelled by the 'Kids for a Quid' offer, immediately disrupting Grays' fluency in difficult conditions. Their defence moved as one, catching Jamie Taylor and Danny Kedwell offside and blunting their game.
advertisementIn the ninth minute hard-working captain Tom Kearney got in space outside the box and shot just wide of Nicky Eyre's right post.
In the 20th minute, Halifax should have had a penalty when Darryn Stamp burst into the box evading Eyre. He was bundled over by Jon Ashton but referee Mr Barrett waved play on.
Half chances came for Neil McCafferty and Kedwell but tough tackling from Stamp and Simon Ainge disturbed the Blues' rhythm.
A the half wore on Barry Cogan became more influential, producing incisive runs from the left. In the 31st his shot from the left fizzed past Adam Leizdin's post and another blazed across the area.
The deadlock was broken in the 39th minute when Cogan's cross from the left was cleverly headed back across the area by Kedwell for Jamie Taylor to knock in from close range.
But this was a nervy Grays who looked very uncertain at the back. In injury time Simon Heslop's cross was palmed weakly away and Daryl Taylor confidently hit the right hand corner of the net.
The good work was immediately undone in the second half. Jon Ashton's hopeful punt from defence was pounced on by the resurgent Jamie Taylor who neatly chipped the ball over the keeper to restore the lead.
But Halifax would not give up. In the 50th minute, Grays panicked once more and Danny Forrest pounced on uncertainty to shoot from close range over the keeper and keep survival hopes alive.
Halifax started to gain control as Daryl Taylor produced countless runs. Substitutes Craig Mawson, Anthony Griffith and Lewis Killeen kept the tempo going.
The second half seemed to get bogged down in midfield until late on when once again Cogan again took control. In the 85th minute, he slipped a pass to Adam Gross who fired over a cross. Scott Taylor put a heavy challenge on Stamp and then fired the ball past the keeper for what looked a certain winner.
But in this eccentric game, Halifax came back. In the 88th minute, Tom Kearney dribbled in the area and fell weakly after Jamie Stuart's challenge. To his team's surprise the ref pointed to the spot. Craig Mawson put it confidently away to claim a vital point for the exhausted Shaymen.
Grays' assistant coach Gary Phillips was in rueful mood after the game.
He said: "Not our best result. We must close out games. The referee had a poor game for both teams. We let them disturb our fluency which is disappointing."
Halifax boss Chris Wilder said: "We showed character. Four games in eight days but four points from six is fantastic. We would not and will not give up."
Thanks to the Thurrock Gazette for the match report