2014/15: Pre-season Friendly – FC Halifax Town v Notts County
The 1991/92 season was the last of the ‘old’ First Division prior to the advent of the Premier League and saw West Ham United, Luton Town and Notts County relegated. How different would The Magpies future have been if they have been part of that inaugural Premier League season? Instead since that time, County have bounced around the lower divisions of the Football League, with their League One status only retained last season after winning six of their last eight games.
FC Halifax Town have fought their way from the Northern Premier League Division One North in 2008/09 to the verge of promotion into the Football League last season. Unfortunately The Shaymen couldn’t clinch a return to the top 92 clubs in the country as they lost 2-1 in the Play-off Semi-Final to Cambridge United.
Still a new season brings new optimism and on a blindingly hot day, FC Halifax Town hosted Notts County at The Shay. Prior to kick-off, the sizeable travelling contingent of fans from Nottingham mixed with the home fans in the bar; where the news that ex-Manchester United keeper Roy Carroll was starting in goal for The Magpies was the main talking point.
In truth this was a poor ninety minutes, which may have been down to the extremely hot conditions (which necessitated a drinks break in both halves), but was also due in part to numerous substitutions that are a feature of pre-season games. The opening forty five minutes contained very few memorable moments in a goalless first-half. Town’s best chance fell to Matty Pearson as he forced Roy Carroll in tipping his effort over the bar. County though had the best of the opportunities and they had the ball in the net through Garry Thompson, but the effort was ruled offside. An even better chance fell to trialist Akwasi Asante, but his shot from six yards out was magnificently saved by Halifax keeper Matt Glennon. Then just before the break, Zeli Ismail had a long-range effort for The Magpies which hit the post.
Both sides made various changes before the start and during the second-half. The most impressive player was Halifax trialist Jamie Jackson who proved to be a constant threat to the County defence and he scored the deciding goal with a jink and fine strike which fizzed past Carroll with nine minutes remaining.
For Notts County their mixed bag of pre-season results continued, whilst for Halifax it was a case of five wins out of six. However, both management teams will claim that these results mean very little and of course that is true and in reality it will all be about where these sides end the 2014/15 season. Will the experience of Alan Smith, Hayden Mullins and Roy Carroll keep The Magpies away from the relegation zone? How will The Shaymen manage without last season’s leading scorer Lee Gregory after his transfer to Millwall?
Bring on the new season!