By Aaron Jaffe & Amos Murphy
Chris Millington's first experience of managing in the Vanarama National League ended in defeat, with Barnet flourishing thanks to goals from Ephron Mason-Clark and new signing Nicke Kabamba.
Dean Brennan's side started on the front foot early on, with debutants Sean Shields & Nicke Kabamba combining well, trying to insert their sting on the Shaymen from the whistle.
Kambamba came close to opening the scoring after Jack Senior's half-hearted clearance rebounded towards Ephron Mason-Clark, who played it off to the former Northampton Town man sliding it past Sam Johnson between the sticks for Halifax in his sixth season for the Shay. He was flagged for offside however, denying him of a first competitive goal for the Bees yet.
Only a minute later did the Bees strike again, this time Sean Shields picking up a loose ball on the left hand side and playing a beautiful lofted pass over the Halifax defence. The ball found Mason-Clark and he executed a perfect lob over Johnson, ricocheting off the crossbar and beyond the line.
Johnson was in the midst of a swarm of Bees' attempts, with Ryan De Havilland's low-drilled strike testing him low, and up high with Ben Wynter's header tipped just over.
Halifax didn't offer much going forward with Jamie Cooke's audacious attempt from long-distance far wide of Laurie Walker's goal. However, a string of chances were to come for the Shaymen, with new signing Mani Dieseruvwe seeing his goal flagged offside after a good exchange with Harvey Gilmour.
Dieseruvwe found himself one-on-one a few minutes later, but was denied in superb fashion by Danny Collinge with a superb sliding tackle to ensure that there was no potential goalscoring opportunity.
The Shaymen started the better side after the interval, dominating possession and sustained some pressure on Barnet's new backline.
Former Woking man Moussa Diarra seemed to play back into Walker's hands, which was denied to be a legitimate backpass by the linesman and referee Robert Massey-Ellis.
Nicke Kabamba beat Halifax's high press and was onside this time, but was caught by Jack Senior as he tried to shift the ball to his left foot to kill off the game with plenty of time left in the second half.
But all the good work was undone by Halifax Town and a rash decision by new man Jamie Stott. Halifax couldn't quite hack the Bees' pace on the counter with Stott bringing down Kabamba for his second yellow card, the first being for dissent after only 15 minutes. It was certainly a debut to forget for the former Stockport County man, putting his new side into jeopardy for the last half hour.
Millington was forced to bring Cooke off for the experienced Luke Summerfield, and it was the 34-year-old that was first to test Walker, who grasped onto the ball convincingly.
Ryan De Havilland's half volley initiated a period of dominance for the Bees who were capitalising on the extra man. Substitute Rob Hall had an immediate impact on the game, playing in Kabamba, via a clever De Havilland dummy, who this time slotted the ball coolly past Johnson and into the bottom right corner with eight minutes to go.Six minutes of added time wasn't enough for the Shay to excite their 187 away fans that made the 200 mile trip. In fact, matters could've been made worse when Hall let one fly from far outside the box. His effort left the crossbar shaking long after the final whistle, and was unlucky to not make it three before time was called.
A very positive result for Dean Brennan's side who went through a complete rebranding in the transfer window after Brennan stated that he 'wanted players that want to play for the club'. He certainly selected a group that gave it their all against a side that finished in the playoffs last season and were favourites going into the match.
Chris Millington's first competitive match with the Shaymen was not pleasant, but with some new faces that weren't involved in this clash, they will have to gel quickly in order to gain some points to push them towards the playoff spots again.
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