All you need to know about tomorrow's opponentsThis weekend Bristol Rovers entertain the only team with a 100% record in the Vanarama Conference.
FC Halifax have started their season with victories over Dover, Southport, Welling, Chester and Lincoln, which sees them sitting three points clear of Barnet.
Rovers should take heart from their home record against the Shaymen; they have beaten them on all 7 of their previous visits to Bristol with a goal record of 17-3. There is no doubt that the Yorkshire team will be looking for their first victory.
Town played in the Football League from 1921-1993 and 1998-2002. The club was dissolved in 2008, but reformed that July under the name of F.C. Halifax Town.
Halifax Town was founded in 1911 and played in the Yorkshire Combination and the Midland league until they became founder members of the Third Division North in 1921-22 season (a year after Rovers joined the League).
The Shaymen never rose to the heights and during the 1933-34 season suffered their record defeat, 13-0 at Stockport. It wasn’t until 1958-59 season, when they were founder members of the Third Division that they moved out of the basement.
Five years of struggle were experienced before Town were relegated to the Fourth Division after they finished bottom in 1962-63 season, which was when the two clubs met for the first time.
After six years in the bottom division The Shaymen eventually finished second in 1968-69 and won their Third Division spot back.
Just two seasons later they had a titanic season and only missed promotion to the Second Division by four points. They never came anywhere as close again and once more suffered relegation at the end of the 1975-78 season.
At the end of the 1992-93 season Halifax suffered the ignominy of losing their League place, but to the surprise of many the club did not fold and they managed to regain their Third Division spot at the end of the 1997-98 season after finishing Champions of the GM Vauxhall Conference.
There have been 14 meetings between the two clubs, mostly in the mid 1970’s; here is the complete record;
The very first game was at Eastville on 8th September 1962. Rovers had been relegated the previous season after losing their first seven games and failing to win in the last five games.
They were struggling at the start of the next season too, after five games they had won just one game but a 3-1 home win over Peterborough gave them some self-belief.
They certainly displayed that self-belief as they overran Halifax in the next game, 5-2 with a rare double by Terry Oldfield, and further goals by Harold Jarman, Ian Hamilton and an own goal by Alex South.
That win didn’t inspire Rovers in a season of struggle, it later transpired that Esmond Million and Keith Williams had accepted bribes to lose an April game at Bradford Park Avenue (although the game finished 2-2!). By the time Rovers were due to play their first ever match at the Shay on 18th May, they needed to win to ensure their survival.
Bobby Jones gave Rovers a two minute lead with a shot in off the post and after just 12 minutes they were cruising as Ian Hamilton headed a Geoff Bradford cross past a hapless Peter Downsborough in the Halifax goal.
Just 11 minutes into the second half and Rovers keeper Bernard Hall failed to clear a corner and Paddy Stanley struck home a fierce shot. Halifax equalised when Dennis Fidler beat Bernard Hall from a narrow angle.
Then with just 14 minutes left Ian Hamilton again beat Peter Downsborough in the air, this time to a Bobby Jones cross to give the Eastville team a 3-2 victory and survival.
It was more than six years later when the teams next met after Halifax’s 1968-69 promotion. The Eastville game on 31st August featured Harold Jarman goals in each half. The first after 18 minutes was squeezed past Alex Smith in goal from a Robin Stubbs pass. The second, to put Rovers in third spot, was a penalty after Wayne Jones was brought down in the area.
Those wins set the trend for Eastville games, Rovers won every game played there between the two teams. At the Shay the story has been a little different. Rovers have only scored twice there since that first win.
Once was during that 1969-70 season when a Stuart Taylor goal secured a 1-1 draw and the second was by Bruce Bannister in his native Yorkshire as Rovers went down 2-1 on 5th February 1972. Rovers last two visits have resulted in a 0-0 draws the first during their 1973-74 promotion season and then in 2001-02.
The last meeting was on 9th February 2002; when goals by Sergio Ommel and Nathan Ellington gave the Gas a 2-0 win.
In their latest game the Shaymen ended Lincoln City’s own unbeaten record and Boss Neil Aspen commented, “We were up against a team full of confidence on the back of some good results, but we got over the line. It was certainly a game that had everything and, at times, it wasn’t easy to watch from the sidelines.”
Lincoln took the lead on nine minutes as a clearance from Marc Roberts cannoned into Hamza Bencherif. The ball looped up off the Imps striker and flew in over the head of the helpless Matt Glennon.
Halifax were level just before the half-hour through a close range finish from Roberts after his earlier header had struck a post. Adam Smith’s right-wing cross enabled Matty Pearson to shoot on goal for the Yorkshire team in first-half stoppage time. Tony Diagne blocked the ball with his hand and Scott Boden made no mistake from the spot.
The game was all level again within four minutes of the restart as James Bolton recklessly clattered into Ben Tomlinson, who got to his feet to score from the spot.
Two minutes later, Jordan Burrow shot against the crossbar before the game once again turned Halifax’s way when Hamza Bencherif was dismissed for a foul on Lois Maynard to earn his second yellow card of the afternoon.
Halifax made their numerical advantage pay 15 minutes from time when Steve Williams headed in after goalkeeper Nick Townsend had spilled what should have been a simple catch from Danny Schofield’s corner.
Town striker Richard Peniket is one player looking forward to Saturday’s game,
“Obviously they are a big club who have just come down from League Two, so these are the games we all want to play in and do well in, so hopefully we can go there and get the three points.
“I am expecting them to be in our faces right from the start, obviously it will be tough for us and they will have the crowd right behind them but we have to be prepared for that and match it and come away with the win.
“I thought we did well against Lincoln, obviously we could have done better by not conceding the two goals that we did, but five wins out of five isn’t bad and that is the most important thing, so overall we have had a great start to the season.
“I thought I did well in the first half, in the second half I could feel myself start to tire a little bit as the game went on but overall I thought I did quite well and I was pleased with my performance.
“We had some good chances and I probably should have scored myself and so we could have killed the game off and got the fourth goal but we saw the game out and that was the main thing.”
“It was a hard game for all of us, obviously being part-time as well it makes it hard for us, but obviously you are not going to get that all season with two games in the space of three days so it was good to get the points against Lincoln and we now kick on and look forward to the game on Saturday.”
Written by Gerry Prewett.