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AFC Halifax 5 Marine 7, 25 August 2012


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AFC Halifax 5 Marine Supporters 7

AFC Halifax’s match with Marine at Hipperholme and Lightcliffe School was billed as the third IFA League fixture, but anyone could have been forgiven for thinking that the circus had rolled into town, such were the antics on display. For the second week running, AFC hit five yet finished as losers – how often could any team say that? – but the stark reality was that once again the side were a victim of their own incompetence, with an all-round poor attitude and comical errors culminating in this embarrassing defeat.

Missing several key players, AFC nevertheless should have had enough in the locker to dispose of a pretty poor Marine side, and in fact looked well on track when they ran up an early three-goal lead. Andy Hemblys broke the deadlock with a clinical finish after racing clear, and Martin Probets made it 2-0 with a goal out of nothing. In his own words, ‘I jinked past several players – can’t remember how many, but more than three – cut in from the left, got to the edge of the box, lifted the ball up and fired in an unstoppable shot into the far corner.’ The more learned scribes classed it as a cross that went straight in. Still, there was no doubting Hemblys’ finishing in front of goal as he beat his man to convert a left wing cross from close in to give AFC a healthy 3-0 lead, and there was even a chance for a fourth goal when Probets cut inside once more and grazed the bar.

And then the fun started.

Even given the pitch AFC were assigned was an original Subbuteo-type model, the speculative effort the Marine skipper sent in from the CENTRE CIRCLE should have been dealt with by keeper Chris Wigglesworth, but he allowed the ball to sail over his head and into the net. Nobody could believe it, but it lifted the visitors’ spirits and soon enough they grabbed another, with a defensive error letting in the nippy forward who fired from an angle over a spread-eagled Wiggy, the ball helped over the line by Martin ‘Let Me Have It’ Bishop – officially an oggie. Then, with the half almost over, the scores were tied when AFC failed to clear their lines and Marine scored with a powerful drive from the edge of the box – the last kick of the half, actually.

The half-time ear-bashing from player-manager John Barker should have resulted in the players responding in kind and taking the game to the visitors in the second half. But within a few minutes, AFC were 4-3 down, the defence pulled apart by Marine, with the ball being transferred to the right and dispatched with aplomb by an unmarked striker. Now real questions were being asked of AFC.

But cometh the hour cometh the lucky punter, in this case skipper-for-the-day Stewart Heaton, whose clearance from the left touchline not only relieved pressure on the back four, but also found its way into the Marine net courtesy of a bounce (not so unexpected, as that what balls do) over the head of the wrong footed keeper. AFC were back in it at 4-4 and soon to regain the lead. Here, Hemblys completed his hat-trick with a sweeping finish off Wiggy’s clearout – route one football at its finest but as things turned out, that completed AFC Halifax’s scoring, but not, sadly, an AFC scorer getting on the scoresheet – again.

Take a bow Martin Bishop, taking matters into his own hands by diverting a ball (which would have been otherwise routinely dealt with) into his own net with Wiggy stranded – two ogs in one game, an AFC first? After that the game degenerated, but Marine found it within themselves to net two more with the AFC defence all at sea, the first a shot from an angle drilled into the far corner, the second scored by Marine’s elder statesman, who rounded Wiggy before calmly slotting home. There was the occasional foray by the home team - Probets had a penalty appeal turned down - but nothing to write home about. This game should be one the players will quickly want to forget and hopefully they can move on in a more positive mood next time out – at Coventry.

Team;

Wigglesworth; Lumb, Barker, Bishop, Heaton; Greenwood, Meynell, Higgins, Probets; Hemblys, Barnes. Sub; Wright.

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