Halifax 1 Stevenage 0

Last updated : 23 November 2002 By Footymad Previewer

Midfielder Charlie Hartfield capped an impressive debut with the winning goal as Town scraped a narrow win over nine-man Stevenage.

The former Sheffield United star latched on to Craig Midgley's cheeky 52nd minute lob and slammed a left-foot shot past Mark Westhead to seal Town's third successive Conference win.

The goal was harsh on Stevenage though as they had played for an hour with nine men and yet for long periods looked the better side.

Despite being rooted firmly in the bottom three, they dominated the opening exchanges against play-off chasing Town until two moments of madness in the first half cost them dear.

First striker Richard Pacquette was sent off after clashing with Town defender Mark Monington. Then the Boro assistant manager Gary Philips was sent off for arguing with referee Gary Mellor's decision.

Within a minute midfielder Stuart Fraser hacked down Midgley and referee Mellor reached for his red card again.

There was more controversy on the stroke of half time as Brian Quailey skipped past two defenders and set up Lewis Killeen, who stuck it in the net, but the goal was disallowed as Mr Mellor had started to blow the half-time whistle.

Ironically it was Town who had gone into the match with disciplinary problems with five first-team members suspended including keeper Lee Butler and skipper Steve Bushell as they defended a seven-match unbeaten run.

Town boss Chris Wilder also gave debuts to Killeen and Tom Morgan and for long periods Halifax's reshaped side struggled to get going.

They finally broke down Boro's resistance on 52 minutes with Hartfield's goal, but even then Stevenage looked capable of stealing a point as first Charlie MacDonald and then Richard Scott both went close for the visitors.

Halifax sub Simon Parke gave them fresh life up front and he went close to increasing the lead with a header from Midgley's cross.

Parke also had a cheeky effort ruled out for offside while Hartfield almost scored a second with a first-time volley at the back post which produced an excellent save from Westhead.

Ian Fitzpatrick was booked for timewasting as Halifax looked happy to settle for the one goal but they almost paid a heavy price, as Boro sub Kirk Jackson's header went wide in injury time