Tony Craig, who captained the side in Barry Fuller’s absence, nodded home the match-winning goal for Wanderers in the latter stages of the first half, from there Marc White’s side showed much of the same defensive continuity from the back-to-back goalless draws of the last fortnight by producing another resolute overall team display, restricting the home side to few clear cut chances for the remainder of the game.
With Barry Fuller and Niall McManus picking up injuries last weekend at Oldham, Bobby-Joe Taylor came into the left side of the back three, whilst Tom Blair, signed earlier this week from Havant & Waterlooville, came straight into the starting line up for his debut starting out wide right. The other change to the XI saw Ryan Seager replace James McShane up top to support Jason Prior.
The Shayman made a fast start to the game and brought Male into action inside the opening two minutes; full-back Tylor Godden, offering a threat down the right hand side throughout, advanced into space and cut back for Luke Summerfield at the edge of the area, the experienced midfielder’s firm effort pushed round the post well by Male down to his left.
Jack Senior roamed forward from the back and forced Male into another good save not long afterwards, but in not dissimilar fashion to last weekend’s contest, much of the play was absorbed in midfield areas, both sides struggling to take the game forward with pace.
Wanderers hadn’t managed to create any chances of note but were clinical in the late stages of the half to break the deadlock. Prior had done well to force a corner ball initially from a Pybus diagonal ball, the resulting delivery then played short to Francomb, who’s measured cross from the right was headed home by Craig at the far post, the skipper for the afternoon rising well to net his first goal in Wanderers colours.
Millenic Alli’s shot was well held by Male and Jamie Cooke fired high and wide from an acute angle as Halifax sought an immediate response, but Wanderers managed to protect the advantage through to the interval.
After a slow opening to the second half, Wanderers became increasingly settled into their shape and invited Halifax to break them down for the remainder of the half.
The two Dan’s – Gallagher and Pybus – led a disciplined effort across the team out of possession to keep The Shaymen’s efforts on goal to a minimum. Male wasn’t troubled in the Wanderers goal as defender Jamie Stott and forward Rob Harker would ultimately spurn the best opportunities of the half, nodding wide at the back post and adding to the general disgruntlement of the home support frustrated by the lack of cutting edge produced by their side.
Through five minutes of added on time Wanderers got over the line, registering not only a first win away from home in 23/24 but also a first league victory north of the M25.
Marc White will no doubt be looking to build on the momentum of 5 points and 3 clean sheets gained from the previous 3 matches this Tuesday evening as Wanderers return home to face Wealdstone in a 19:45 kick off at Meadowbank.