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[Archived] News Article -> 2012/13 Pre-Season: FC Halifax Town 3 Rovers Reserves 1

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FC Halifax Town (2) 3 – 1 (0) Rovers Reserves
Gregory 33, Lowe 40, Johnson 88 Slew 85
Referee: Mr Holmes Attendance: 812

My last visits to The Shay were in the early seventies when the Rovers found themselves languishing in the old Third Division for the first time in their history. In those days The Shay was a decaying relic, but Halifax Town as a club still boasted League football and was, for those early years of the 1970s, on level terms with the Rovers. How times have changed. Halifax Town has long gone and has been replaced with a new incarnation in the form of FC Halifax Town and league football is but a distant memory as the new club has had to rebuild its foundations in the lower reaches of non-league football. However, today they are on the up, just one level below the Conference, and The Shay has been rebuilt by the local authority and is now a well-appointed stadium that hosts both football and rugby league.

At a time when the Rovers' own fortunes are on the ebb, it is perhaps as well to remember that football is cyclical and that good times are often followed by bad and vice versa. FC Halifax Town is a shining example of that principle.

Having enjoyed a fairly successful pre-season against non-league opposition, the Rovers' own future hopefuls turned up at The Shay looking to build upon an impressive sequence of results. However, FC Halifax Town, who only missed out on promotion to the Conference in the play-offs last season, were to prove the most formidable opponents that the Rovers' young guns had faced thus far and at times it really was a case of men against boys.

Neil Aspin, well known to Rovers supporters as a rather rugged defender with Leeds United in the 1980s, has developed a very impressive outfit who play a style of football that is easy on the eye whilst being well organised in every department. There were times when the Rovers' youngsters were left chasing shadows as Halifax moved the ball around with some delightful interpassing that opened the Rovers up time and time again.

The Rovers' youngsters received an earlier warning that they were in for a tough afternoon when Danny Lowe's free-kick was met by the head of Ben Futcher, who rose above the Rovers defence and headed down into a dangerous area before Seb Usai gratefully clung onto the ball.

The home side were looking inventive in possession in the early stages, whilst the Rovers were surprisingly sloppy in their use of the ball. Usai was again called upon to keep the Rovers in the game when he made a good save from Lee Gregory after Halifax had broken at speed and created a good goal-scoring opportunity. Gregory then showed a nifty piece of footwork to evade Anthony O'Connor, but the young Irish defender recovered and blocked Gregory's shot.

The Rovers had struggled to make any impact as an attacking force, but that changed when Osayamen Osawe floated the ball to the back post, where Jordan Slew met it on the volley but failed to get any power into his shot and Matt Glennon collected with ease.

Myles Anderson gave away a free-kick in a dangerous position, which presented Paul Marshall with the opportunity to blast a low shot past the wall but which Usai did well to hold on the line. Within minutes the Australian goalkeeper had to rescue the situation again when Anderson put him in trouble with a woefully underhit backpass.

The opening goal, on 33 minutes, was a personal nightmare for Anderson, who endured a rather torrid afternoon. A long kick forward by Glennon bounced over the head of Anderson after he was muscled out of the way by Gareth Seddon, who was then left with a clear run on goal. Cutting in from the right he rounded Usai but found the angle too narrow, with the result that his effort hit the foot of the post and bounced out. However, the ball ran into the path of Gregory, who slammed it into the back of the net despite the fact that a couple of Rovers defenders had managed to get back on the line. In truth, the goal was no less than Halifax deserved such was their dominance at this point.

Halifax almost immediately grabbed a second when excellent interplay between Gregory and Seddon presented the latter with an opening and his fierce shot was pushed over the bar by the impressive Usai.

However, the Rovers couldn't continue to withstand the relentless pressure and on 40 minutes the defence cracked again as Halifax doubled their lead. It was a very well-worked corner routine that saw Marshall play the ball into the path of the oncoming Lowe and the Halifax skipper, who had evaded his marker, wasted no time in rifling the ball into the bottom corner of the net.

One suspects that Gary Bowyer had a few harsh words for his young charges after a very disappointing forty-five minutes of football from the Rovers.

Halifax made a change at left-back at the interval with Luke O'Brien replacing Jason St Juste, whilst the Rovers introduced Darragh Lenihan in midfield to replace Jamie Maclaren.

The Rovers rearranged things in the second half with Slew moving into the middle and Micah Evans and Osawe occupying the wings. Lenihan seemed to add a little more steel to the midfield and Fernandez was given more scope to get forward and support the attack.

Although they had a little more possession, the Rovers still looked ragged defensively as they struggled to cope with the 3-5-2 formation that FC Halifax Town employed. Time and again the Rovers' youngsters were able to scramble the ball clear, whilst at the other end little was offered apart from the odd long-range effort from Slew.

The second half was littered with substitutions and as a result the Rovers, despite never really looking like they might score, began to hold their own as Halifax chopped and changed their side. More was seen of Fernandez going forward and Evans forced a superb save from Glennon after outstripping a couple of defenders before blasting the ball goalwards.

With five minutes remaining, the Rovers finally got on the scoresheet when Slew hit a shot from 25 yards which Glennon managed to get a hand to but was unable to keep out of the net.

Hopes of an unlikely comeback were dashed on 88 minutes when FC Halifax Town scored another well-worked goal that caught the Rovers defence cold. An inswinging free-kick by Liam Needham was perfectly placed so as to prevent Matty Urwin from coming for the ball and, with the defence static, Dale Johnson rose to power home the perfect header.

The Rovers could have no complaints about the score as they were well beaten on the day. FC Halifax Town were stronger in every department and dominated large parts of the match.

As for the Rovers, there were few performances that caught the eye, although Seb Usai looked impressive in goal if a little hesitant on crosses. Jordan Slew had a better game, while Fernandez looked better late in the game when he was allowed to move forward rather than playing in front of the back-four. Sadly, Osayamen Osawe was unable to reproduce the form that he showed against FC United of Manchester, while Micah Evans had another disappointing game on the wing. In defence, Myles Anderson endured a personal nightmare in what was an error-strewn performance from the young defender.


FC Halifax Town

Matt Glennon; Liam Hogan, Ben Futcher, Danny Lowe; Ryan Toulson (Liam Needham 70), Jason Jarrett (Chris Worsley 70), Jon Worthington, Paul Marshall (Osebi Akidaki 70), Jason St Juste (Luke O'Brien 46); Gareth Seddon (Jamie Rainford 58), Lee Gregory (Dale Johnson 58)
Subs not used: Phil Senior (gk), Conor Qualter
Manager: Neil Aspin

Blackburn Rovers Reserves

Sebastian Usai (Matty Urwin 70); Kellen Daly (Peter Wylie 70), Anthony O'Connor, Myles Anderson, Will Beesley (Bradley Mason 80); Micah Evans, Hugo Fernandez, Raheem Hanley; Jamie Maclaren (Darragh Lenihan 46), Osayamen Osawe (Curtis Haley 58), Jordan Slew
Coach: Gary Bowyer

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