FC Halifax Town have been forced to an Emirates FA Cup 2nd Round replay, after a 3-3 draw against Nation League outfit Eastleigh on a cold south coast afternoon.
Billy Heath’s men will be in the hat for Monday night’s 3rd Round draw, which will feature a potentially lucrative Premier League opponent for the Shaymen.
A story of both sides’ key players, forward Mikaël Mandron and midfielder Jordan Sinnott pulled the strings for either team, a combative duel which featured the two main characters in the day’s FA Cup story at Ten Acres.
‘Keeper Steven Drench kept Town in the tie on seventeen minutes after the away defence struggled to deal with a free kick. The ball fell to former Sunderland forward Mandron, who’s shot was matched by a superb save from Drench.
Playing toward the sun didn’t deter the home side, though, when on eighteen minutes Mandron got his vengeance after a game of pinball occurred from the resulting corner. The ball was blocked twice before it was smashed into the roof of the net past a hapless Drench.
At half-time, National League play-off candidates Eastleigh looked as though they’d be advancing to the next round as Town went in 1-0 down, but it didn’t come without resistance.
Striker Tom Denton had a golden opportunity to equalise on thirty-seven minutes, when winger Josh McDonald, FC Halifax’s bright-spark early in the game was fouled on the right. Sinnott swung the ball into the back post, it was launched back across goal by Scott Garner in the direction of Denton, who headed inches over the bar.
Both managers, Heath and former Leicester gaffer Allen made changes at half time. Richard Peniket was brought on for Alex Simmons and Alefe Santos replaced former Northampton Town midfielder Jason Taylor, who had a quiet half.
Sinnott replied to Mandron’s opener when on sixty-three minutes the midfielder pulled the trigger and beat Eastleigh goalkeeper Ryan Huddart, currently on loan from Arsenal.
The former Huddersfield Town midfielder was booked for his celebration as he and the rest of the FC Halifax eleven joined the Town fans in the away end.
Having gained EUFA Champions League experience in 2014 when he was named on the bench against Borussia Dortmund and Galatasaray for the Gunners, Huddart has become somewhat of a favourite at Ten Acres. Yet, just four minutes later, FC Halifax captain Scott Garner made it 2-1 with his headed effort.
If Sinnott and Mandron were the main characters in this Emirates FA Cup story, Peniket stole the show with his inspired cameo performance. The striker punished a defensive lapse when Huddart hesitated, under pressure from the onrushing defence Peniket finished under the Spitfires’ ‘keeper, once again sending the away end into raptures.
Eastleigh replied just seven minutes later after Nathan Hotte was caught on the wrong side of forward Scott Wilson. The first half substitute had plenty of time to put his driven strike past ‘keeper Drench.
The final fifteen minutes saw the game open up and with plenty of chances for the home side, FC Halifax put in a valiant exhibition of defending. Cliff Moyo bravely got in front of Jai Reason’s effort, the midfielder almost capped off his 250th appearance for Eastleigh with an equaliser for the home side.
In quick succession, Drench made a vital save in a crowded six-yard box before striker Denton made his way back to clear a dangerous cross aimed at the Town ‘keeper. Eastleigh were rewarded for their late pressure right in the final minute of normal time, Mandron had the last word when he bundled the ball over to secure a 2nd Round replay for Martin Allen’s men.
FC Halifax Town will face Eastleigh in the Emirates FA cup 2nd Round replay at the MBi Shay on Tuesday 13th of December.