FC Halifax Town have reached the First Round Proper of the FA Cup after a 2-0 victory over Harrogate Town in what was an enthralling game of football.
Both goals came in the second half thanks to Jordan Sinnott and Jake Hibbs, the latter scoring a goal of the season contender when he scored from the halfway line.
Chances came thick and fast for both sides in the first half. Josh MacDonald displayed his skill with the ball at his feet as he evaded multiple challenges before firing the ball straight at Peter Crook.
Joe Leesley nearly found Andy Gascoigne, this time via a freekick delivery; however Gascoigne could only head over. Almost immediately after, MacDonald found Nathan Hotte who tried to curl one in from outside the box but his attempt went wide and into the stands.
Joe Colbeck found space on the right wing to put a beautifully placed cross into the box for Leesley, however the No11 couldn’t connect and Halifax escaped the danger.
Sinnott’s long throws proved troublesome for the Harrogate players. On multiple occasions his hurled throws created good chances for the Shaymen, David Lynch unlucky not to meet the foot of Hotte with his flick-on.
Leesley’s freekick provoked a goalmouth scramble as Paul Thirlwell tried to convert via his head. The ball rolled out to Colbeck who struck it first time from the edge of the box, but the ball soared past the goal.
Richard Peniket had a golden opportunity to break the deadlock around seven minutes from the break. Alex Simmons and Josh Wilde linked up well on the left wing before the latter’s ball met the head of Peniket, however his attempt just went wide of the goal.
Just as the game went into added time, Peniket had another chance to score a deadlock-breaking header, but his connection with MacDonald’s cross skimmed the bar.
The second half nearly began with disaster for Halifax as Scott Garner nearly headed Leesley’s cross into his own net but Drench was aware and caught the ball.
Peniket then found himself on the end of another chance, this time the easiest for him in the game so far. He received the ball some 12 yards out but somehow fired the ball wide of the near post, much to the disbelief of the travelling support.
There was another crazy goalkeeping moment in the second half, but this time from the Halifax keeper. Drench tried to take the ball down via his foot, however the risky move nearly didn’t work out and he had to scramble for the ball before a Harrogate player could reach it.
In the 59th minute, Halifax saw the best chance of the game. Liam King was played through on goal after Peniket’s flick on and it was the fingertips of Crook who denied the captain a goal to break the deadlock as he shot from just outside the box.
Halifax eventually took the lead in the 68th minute thanks to Jordan Sinnott. The midfielder received the ball from Josh Wilde before shimmying past a man and striking the ball with his left foot. The shot wasn’t the best but a huge deflection lifted the ball up and into the back of the net past the helpless Crook.
The Shaymen nearly doubled their lead soon after. Sinnott this time nearly turned provider when he knocked the ball up to Denton via the freekick, however the substitute could head wide of the near post.
Reece Webb-Foster went down in the box late in the game and a penalty seemed inevitable. However, the referee surprised many by waving away the pleas of the Harrogate players.
Hotte gave the Halifax fans a heart-in-mouth moment in the 86th minute when he scuffed a clearance but luckily Drench was on hand to swoop in and save the day, claiming the loose ball.
Halifax kept the ball for large spells of the dying minutes, leaving Harrogate frustrated. To make matters worse for the hosts, Thirlwell received his second yellow with two minutes left.
Despite the less players, Harrogate found some momentum and pushed Halifax for an equaliser. Crook was constantly out of his area launching the ball upwards looking for a lifeline. This turned out to be costly for Harrogate. A scuffed volley from the keeper ended up seeing Jake Hibbs receiving possession. The young midfielder took no hesitation in releasing his inner David Beckham; firing the ball all the way down from the halfway line on his left foot to secure the victory.
Harrogate Town:1. Crook, 2. Turner, 3. Parker (Webb-Foster, 69’), 4. Thanoj, 5. Thirlwell, 6. Ainge (c), 7. Colbeck, 8. Burrell, 9. Pittman (Emmett, 32’), 10. Gascoigne (Platt, 55’), 11. Leesley.
Subs:12. Webb-Foster, 14, Emmett, 15. Platt, 16. Chilaka, 17. Day, 18. Stewart, 19. Purkiss
FC Halifax Town:1. Drench, 2. Roberts, 3. Wilde, 4. King (c), 5. Hotte, 6. Garner, 7. MacDonald, 8. Lynch, 9. Peniket (Moyo, 85’), 10. Sinnott (Hibbs, 75’), 11. Simmons (Denton, 60’)
Subs:12. Nicholson, 14. Denton, 15. Hibbs, 16. Moyo, 18. Burrow, 19. Hughes, 20. Brown
Goals:Sinnott 69’, Hibbs 90+5’
Yellow cards:Thirlwell 73’, 88’
Red cards:Thirlwell 88’
Man of the Match:Scott Garner