7 October 2006.
Halifax Town (home)
PARK REPORT: BY ANTONY MOXEY
Saturday 7th October 2006
Exeter City 4 Halifax Town 1
So City reward the splendid 3,114 faithful with their biggest win of the season so far - a 4-1 thrashing of a hard working Halifax side on a brisk autumnal afternoon at the Park. Given an injury list that contained the likes of Todd, Seaborne and Cozic, it was something of a blessing that Rob Edwards was fit enough to partner Richardson at the heart of the defence. However, it was Halifax who started the more brightly and took the game to City.
Halifax continued to have the upper hand - again without creating anything to trouble Rice - and in the eighteenth minute their industry was rewarded. A run to the box was allowed to continue for far too long before the ball was eased through to Lewis Kileen who made space for himself on the left edge of the box before expertly guiding a low shot past the despairing dive of Rice into the far corner of the net via the post for a deserved 1-0 lead.
This appeared to be just the wake up call City needed, and seven minutes later the game was all square. After a series of corners Andy Taylor floated one to the far post. All the forwards ran to the near post dragging defenders with them leaving Challinor unchaperoned at the back where he had the simplest task of butting home from five yards out to make it 1-1.
Almost immediately City had the chance to nose in front. Taylor sent Phillips scampering down the right and his pull back to Clay was nudged goalwards only to be deflected at the near post for yet another corner.
On the half hour came probably the best move of the game so far: Smart possession at the back from all four defenders eventually led to Gill picking the ball up and sending Stansfield galloping forward chasing a long raking ball to the edge of the box. His shot was well blocked but fell kindly to Taylor following up in acres of space just inside the box.
Inexplicably, with the goal at his mercy, Taylor seemed incapable of shooting, instead dallying long enough for defenders to smother his eventual pass to Clay and the chance was gone.
Halifax were clearly rattled, and since the equaliser all of the best stuff came from City. With the half time break looming, the final move of note came from City with good work from Challinor and Phillips on the left setting up Challinor for a low drive from fully 30 yards across the goal that the scrambling keeper did well to push round the post.
But it was soon time for the second half, and once again it was Halifax who started brightest. City mopped it up and began to look like the same side who'd stylishly finished off the first half. soon
Midway through the half Stansfield at last managed to beat. the Halifax offside trap and scurried away down the left where his cross was met by Phillips. His shot was cleared but only as far as Gill 25 yards out and his laser guided smash narrowly beat the outside of the post to come cannoning back from the rear stanchion to give the impression of a goal, but unfortunately it was not to be.
Half hour an gone and time for Tisdale to mix it up a bit. The extremely hard working Phillips was withdrawn for Mackie, and ten seconds later City were in the lead. Mackie's first touch of the ball was to burst forward down the left. Driving towards the box, he popped a back heel to the lurking Challinor so delicious it wouldn't have tasted any sweeter had you poured whipped cream over it and stuck a cherry on the top. With the defence bamboozled Challinor flashed a low cross in first time where Stansfield nipped in to poke home at the near post from four yards out to give City a much deserved 2-1 lead.
The action wasn't confined to the Halifax goalmouth however, and in the 40th minute City fans' hearts were in their mouths when a rare Halifax corner was only partially cleared to an attacker stationed on the edge of the box. With players rushing all over the place, his ferocious swerving strike looked for all the world ready to pierce the roof of the net before an unsighted Rice flung out a hand to miraculously tip the ball over to safety.
But all that did was to make City even more determined, and with the final whistle fast approaching the game was finally made safe. Challinor found himself with the ball at his feet just to the left of his own penalty area. He looked up to see no-one near the half way line except Mackie making his way forward. A long launch down field saw Mackie in pursuit, and after neatly sidestepping a despairing defender's slide, he sprinted through on goal. A wonderful shot from the edge of the box beat the keeper and appeared to rebound off the far post. Mackie thought (correctly, as it turned out) that he had scored and that the ball had somehow come back from the side netting, but whilst he desperately tried to convince anyone that would listen, Stansfield remained alert enough to pick up the loose ball, beat a defender and then gleefully smash home from close range to make it all academic anyway and 3-1 to City.
There was still time for more though, and relentless City pressure at the death bought its rewards. Woodards on the right looped a long ball across to Challinor at the far post, and after some smart work to bring the ball under control crashed an unstoppable rocket into the middle of the goal from point blank range to finish it off at 4-1.
Phew! What an ending! At half time it looked as though we would have our work cut out to keep a point. Half way through the first half it looked as though we'd be lucky to get a point at all. But City are nothing if not resilient these days, and they keep battling right to the end as witnessed by Billy Jones' late, late equaliser at Grays on Tuesday night and in the end won comfortably simply because they finished fitter and stronger. This bodes well for the long season ahead, as last season the team faded badly after Christmas so hopefully they'll be able to sustain the work rate right through this season.
For the most part Halifax offered much but produced little. Their goal was a little too easily constructed for my liking, but apart from Rice's now customary world class save, the back five had a reasonably easy afternoon. Billy Jones would do well to not hit his own players though when trying to pass, and Danny Woodards spent as much time bombing forwards as he did defending. It was good to see Edwards back in the middle, even though Seaborne and Ada had deputised seamlessly in midweek.
And well done to the supporters too. In good voice for much of the game, spurred on by Grecian the Lion's cajoling from the front of the Bastin Stand, numbers were surprisingly high, especially given the 'attraction' of the Exeter Chiefs' local derby with Plymouth Albion at Sandy Park just down the road.
Exeter City 4 Halifax Town 1.
Saturday 7 October 2006.
Referee: D Phillips (West Midlands).
Exeter: Rice, Woodards, Edwards, Richardson, Billy Jones, Taylor, Gill, Clay, Challinor, Phillips (Mackie 74), Stansfield.
Subs Not Used: Paul Jones, Ada, Moxey, Buckle.
Goals: Challinor 25, Stansfield 75, Mackie 89, Challinor 90.
Halifax: Mawson, Toulson (Smeltz 81), Young, Quinn, Wright, Forrest, Thompson, Gray, Steve Torpey (Senior 75), Killeen, Sugden.
Subs Not Used: Doughty, Roberts, Jacobs.
Booked: Young, Wright.
Goals: Killeen 17.