Barring some unforeseen emergency or irresistible cup tie, this Bank Holiday Monday fixture was to be my last game at York Street for quite some time. Obviously my pre-match pleas to the players for a feast of gripping entertainment as a leaving present fell on deaf ears as we were treated to a drab nil-nil draw.
United produced a solid display to build upon their excellent away win on Saturday, but looked a little toothless going forward and failed to convert the handful of chances which came their way. FC Halifax, one of the pre-season title favourites, were equally uninspired up front and resolute at the back. The result was inevitable really.
Thrown off track by Bank Holiday printing deadlines, my third programme column was a bit of a car crash, written in the immediate aftermath of Tuesday night’s horrendous defeat at Nuneaton and generally being as critical as it is possible to be in an official publication without encouraging the editor to get the red pen out. I was relieved Jason Lee had scored on Saturday, since i’d devoted two paragraphs to how good his aerial ability remains despite the loss of the famous pineapple head fruit. Not a bad guess considering the article had been written on Wednesday!
With Mikel Suarez returning from injury, Lee had no cause to stretch his aging limbs for the second time in three days. Mickey Stones, who spent most of the afternoon sporting a Terry Butcher-esque head bandage after clashing with a Halifax defender, once again started but looked a bit off the pace. Or he could have been concussed. As did Marc Newsham and so there was little to celebrate.
The good news came from defensive stability and another clean sheet. Alan White and Tom Ward might have a few years between them, but they’ve quickly formed a stout centre-half partnership and effortlessly swotted away everything the Shaymen could muster. Danny Sleath put in another fine shift in the midfield and we were all grateful to see him back.
With little to watch on the field, greater entertainment came from the verbal joust with the 300 or so travelling fans. Yes, actual travelling fans instead of the usual five blokes in a car and a groundhopper. They didn’t look very impressed by our chants of “You let your club die” - is there a more emotionally devastating chant than that? - but gave as good as they got. And considering their club did die not so long ago, the rise of the phoenix club has been most impressive though I think a season of consolidation in Conference North is on the cards, rather than the automatic promotion some predicted.
And other than that, really, there is nothing much else to say.
Next Match: Another away trip to Bishop‘s Stortford on Saturday. New ground and opponents for United.