FC Halifax Town’s defence of their FA Trophy didn’t begin in the best way possible as they drew 1-1 with Matlock Town in the third qualifying round.
Curtis Morrison seemed to be putting the Shaymen out of the competition before Alex Simmons scored an equaliser ten minutes from time.
Matlock were the better team in the first half, but it was the Shaymen who had the first chance. Josh MacDonald nearly opened the scoring after a lay-off from Tom Denton. His first time shot however, was blocked and the follow-up strike went out for a corner.
Shortly after Matlock midfielder Michael Williams hooked a corner ball over the bar, Halifax had the ball in the back of the net. Clarke believed he had broken the deadlock but the referee deemed the former North Ferriby man to have fouled Matlock’s keeper Phil Barnes in the build-up as he headed the ball out of the keeper’s hands.
Ted Cribley looked dangerous on Matlock’s left side and nearly put the hosts ahead when he fired at goal from an angle. However, his left-footed shot trickled wide of the far post.
Matlock soon became the better team of the first half, the pace of Morrison, Cribley and Marcus Dinanga being the Gladiators strongest outlet. The host’s hard work nearly paid off just before half-time as Cribley’s freekick found the path of Dinanga who somehow didn’t convert, firing his shot straight at Tom Nicholson.
Dinanga nearly made amends minutes later, his speculative volley from the edge of the box nearly finding the top corner and beating the Shaymen keeper.
Soon after, the visitors had a golden opportunity to take the lead. The ball bounced around the box after a cross before Denton got a shot away, but only found the palms of Barnes.
The deadlock was broken just before the halftime whistle. Standout player of the first 45 minutes, Morrison, cut inside beating his man, before dispatching a low shot past Nicholson into the bottom right corner.
The goalscorer had yet another chance to score seconds before the whistle, his shot from inside the area just skimming the far post.
The second half began very similar to the first, before Garner nearly brought things level. MacDonald’s freekick found the head of the skipper, but his goal-bound effort was saved well by Barnes.
Matlock still looked very comfortable on the ball and still the better side while Halifax struggled to keep possession and create chances.
Halifax did eventually grab an equaliser through substitute Simmons, albeit in some ways, undeservedly. A ball into the box came off many Halifax players before finding the winger who fired hard and low past Barnes into the bottom corner.
As the clock ran down, neither side could find a winner. MacDonald’s low freekick just went wide of the post and that was the best chance for the Shaymen before fulltime.
Full time did come and Matlock now face the Shaymen at the MBi Shay Stadium on Tuesday night to decide who will advance to the First Round.
Matlock Town: 1. Barnes, 2. Marsden, 3. Green, 4. Doyle-Charles, 5. Yates (c), 6. Wiley, 7. McManus, 8. Williams, 9. Morrison, 10. Dinanga, 11. Cribley
Subs: 12. Newsham, 14. Yates, 15. Pursehouse, 16. Grocott, 17. Degirolamo
FC Halifax Town: 1. Nicholson, 2. Moyo, 3. Wilde, 4. Lynch (King 45’), 5. Hotte, 6. Garner (c), 7. MacDonald, 8. Clarke, 9. Denton, 10. Sinnott (Peniket 54’), 11. Kosylo
Subs: 14. Hibbs, 15, King, 16. Peniket, 17. Simmons, 18. Barrows
Goals: Morrison (45’), Simmons (81’)
Yellow Cards: Hotte (46’), Doyle-Charles (70’), Garner (71’), Wiley (82’)
Man of the Match: Josh MacDonald