EASTLEIGH 0 FC HALIFAX TOWN 0
EASTLEIGH finally ended their long search for a National League clean sheet in a dull draw.
Boss Andy Hessenthaler welcomed back the imposing figure of Reda Johnson as he deployed a five-man defence for the first time in a bid to end his side’s backline woes.
Johnson, who has been out with a hamstring injury, played his first game since the end of October as Eastleigh ended a remarkable run of 26 league games without a clean sheet. It was back on September 9, in a 0-0 draw at Guiseley, that the Spitfires had last kept one.
Talking of his decision to go with Johnson as one of three centre-halves, Hessenthaler said: “We sacrificed some of our attacking ability in order to tighten up at the back. It was great to have Reda back – he’s a player who makes a big difference.”
There were few talking points in a totally forgettable encounter on a freezing cold afternoon.
Visiting keeper Sam Johnson saved well from Chris Zebroski in the first half, while the ever busy Sam Matthews curled a shot over from a good position.
Halifax didn’t trouble Graham Stack until the 51st minute, when Matty Kosylo beat two defenders in a mazy run before Stack saved with his legs.
Stack’s only other save was late on when he beat away a shot from sub Michael Fondop-Talom.
Eastleigh were furious referee Sam Purkiss didn’t award a penalty when Paul McCallum was shoved in the back, while visiting midfielder Jake Higgs could count himself lucky to only get a yellow card for a bad foul on McCallum.
New Halifax boss Jamie Fullarton was impressed with his side’s resolve against an Eastleigh side with the fourth highest scoring record in the division.
“It was a fantastic point away from home against a very physical and direct side.”
STAR MAN: Sam Matthews (Eastleigh) ATT: 1,825 ENTERTAINMENT: ★★★★★ REFEREE: Sam Purkiss 6/10