Another sterling effort from Fleet’s defenders saw a clean sheet achieved once more on a potentially tricky evening in West Yorkshire. But with the visiting strikers shut out at the other end, the three points that would have taken Garry Hill and his players into the play-off zone did not quite come off.
There was just one change for the visitors, Ebou Adams returning from weekend international duty to replace Corey Whitely. His three-match suspension complete, Andy Drury was among the substitutes.
As if eager to make up for lost time following the postponement of the original fixture, Halifax set about the Fleet defence from the first minute. Nathan Ashmore wasn’t caught cold as his first touch involved stretching well to keep out Devante Rodney, who was first to a ball into the box.
He connected with the subsequent corner only to see that fly off target in a sticky penalty area, Halifax’s well-publicised pitch issues making neat play occasionally tricky for both sides.
The home side forced all the early set pieces, Matty Kosylo and Rodney forcing the concession of numerous corners but none of them troubled the Fleet, with Sam Magri in particular always looking to play the ball out from the back to help the visitors build.
The Fleet found it tough to build up a head of steam early on, however, with Michael Cheek’s 25th minute effort from Dean Rance’s supply the only time goalkeeper Sam Johnson’s hands were warmed in those early exchanges.
Ashmore was on hand again two minutes after that to stand up to Kosylo’s incursion into the box from a Manny Duku pass and he got a hand to Rodney’s effort when the Salford City loanee sprung the offside trap on the break.
Fleet were stronger from the half-hour mark with Myles Weston coming alive down the flank and it was the former Southend winger’s 37th-minute cross for Cheek that produced his side’s best chance. Fleet’s top scorer got on the end of it and headed on target from close range but Johnson did very well to get back across his goal and prod the ball away.
The second half was more of the same with Halifax initially the stronger of the two sides and forcing plenty of corners once more. But there was little either set of strikers could do about unlocking the opposing defences.
Halifax exerted plenty of aerial pressure and Duku thought he’d scored with a header on 55 minutes that skimmed the top of the crossbar and seemed to be nudged higher by Ashmore’s glove. Play switched from scrappy to occasionally pacy as space opened up with a goal always a possibility for either side despite a general desire to be over-cautious.
Town lost two men to injury but could have won it on 75 minutes when Kosylo slammed a ball into the side netting from a good position. There was also some light relief for the watching public when Chris Bush backed into and went through an advertising hoarding while attempting to take a long throw-in.
Rance and Weston saw shots clear the bar, Gozie Ugwu tried his luck and substitute Danny Kedwell had a late header force Johnson into a save but with two sides boasting mean defences, the final scoreline wasn’t altogether unsurprising.
EUFC: Ashmore, Wilson, Bush, King, Magri, Payne, Rance, Adams (Drury 67), Weston (Graham 75), Cheek (Kedwell 80), Ugwu. Subs not used: Whitely, Moncur
FCHT: Johnson, Duckworth (King 67), Clarke, Brown, Staunton, Kosylo, Berrett, Maher (Preston 52), Duku (Quigley 80), Rodney, Skarz. Subs not used: Rowley, Gondoh