FC Halifax Town booked their place in the First Round of the FA Cup, with James Bolton’s extra-time strike sealing an incredible 2-1 victory away at Guiseley.
Town took the lead through Sam Walker’s routine flick past Steve Drench, but Guiseley fired back through Adam Boyes 15 minutes from time. That sparked a crazy finale which saw Shaun Tuton, Kingsley James and Jordan Burrow all squander incredible opportunities.
But it was James Bolton who ultimately made himself a hero, firing home via a deflection from 35 yards to seal the most unbelievable of victories in a game no fan will forget in a hurry.
Captained by Nicky Wroe, Town made two switches to the side that started on Saturday. Kiel O’Brien and Tommy Miller were replaced by Shaun Tuton and Matty Brown as Town searched for their first win against Guiseley, at the third time of asking.
A slow start didn’t produce any clear efforts in the opening few minutes, with a Shaun Tuton burst forward culminating in a stern home defence stopping the attack before it could really begin. The only real effort came for Tom Craddock, whose woefully hit half-volley almost sailed out for a throw in a highly uneventful opening.
Craddock put the ball into an empty net 15 minutes into the game, but was halted by the flag of the linesman who deemed him to have strayed offside. At the other end, Town had their first shot on goal through Tuton, whose 30 yard rasping drive sailed harmlessly over Drench’s goal. It was the same man who had Town’s second effort, heading easily into the Lions keeper as Town grew into the game after a slow beginning.
With The Shaymen starting to run the game, they should have taken the lead from the unlikely head of Kevin Roberts. A superb run forward from Scott McManus saw him cross for the other full-back, but his point blank header was expertly tipped over by Drench from what looked to be a certain goal. And eventually, all that pressure resulted in the first goal of the game.
Sam Walker was on hand to flick home from six yards out after Roberts’ perfectly flighted cross into the box, and just like they did in both the previous meetings, it was Halifax who opened the scoring. Will Hatfield, who scored in the league game earlier this season, almost levelled immediately through a 35 yard screamer – Glennon was in place to parry away and preserve the goal advantage.
Town at times in the first half were dominant, making a mockery of their league position as they played a class above their Yorkshire neighbours. Tuton, playing in a more attacking position, was involved in most attacks, whilst Roberts had the run of the Guiseley defence on numerous occasions. As the rain poured down in the closing stages of the first 45, it didn’t dampen the spirit of the travelling supporters, who were treated to one of the best halves the side has played this season.
The second half saw Nat Brown limp off only two minutes into it, replaced by Hamza Bencherif as Guiseley started the half on the front foot. Jordan Burrow had the first effort worthy of mentioning in the second 45 when his 30 yard crisply hit effort was caught by Drench, as the Guiseley defence continued to look shaky everytime Town progressed.
The hosts always looked dangerous going forward however, and really should have levelled when Craddock tapped wide from Ryan Toulson’s low centre. They went even closer through Adam Boyes minutes later, when they were denied by Matt Glennon’s right foot. The veteran keeper was able to kick behind when the home side were ready to celebrate, sparking an insane two minute spell of football.
From the resulting corner, Town broke forward at speed and Nicky Wroe sparked a five on three attack which eventually saw Tuton give to Burrow. But after settling himself, the Town top scorer saw his shot miraculously saved once again by Drench, before he fired the corner wide when it looked easier to score.
It was again the turn of Glennon to be back in action, pushing behind Nicky Boshell’s low goalbound effort as a final 20 minutes looked to be turning frantic. The introduction of Tommy Miller saw the game calm down with the experienced midfielder putting more control into the Shaymen midfield, with the prospect of a first clean sheet of the season edging ever closer.
But it was not to be. Adam Boyes, the two goal saviour for Guiseley on Saturday, made it three against Halifax as he tapped home from a poorly defended corner to ensure an all action ending to regular time. Glennon made another heroic stop to push over Craddock’s rising effort as the hosts took control of the game heading into the final 10 minutes.
Nicky Boshell almost produced the third goal of the night when his shot from nothing narrowly evaded the Town goal, as Guiseley did most of the attacking play as the clock wore down. Five minutes added on at the end only enhanced the nerves for players and fans alike. And the Town players possibly showed theirs when they somehow failed to hit the winner. Tuton broke forward accompanied by Burrow, and somehow, the pair didn’t beat Drench on three occasions just a few yards from goal.
Up the other end, as was the theme of the game, it was the turn of Guiseley to have another effort that had hearts in mouths. Boyes found himself in space after beating two challenges, and let rip from 30 yards, only to drift narrowly wide of the Town goal, sparking an extra 30 minutes of half-time.
Josh MacDonald’s introduction at the start of extra-time saw him move down the right hand side and put a cross into the box, but it was cleared with Burrow waiting to pounce. Ex Halifax man Danny Lowe then almost struck, but his cross/shot bounced off the top of the crossbar with Glennon beaten.
Glennon was out quickly as the first 15 minutes came to an end as he denied Boyes, and Guiseley almost took the lead for the first time. Adam Lockwood found himself on the end of a corner and smashed an effort off the bottom of the crossbar. It bounced down towards the line and despite protestations, the officials deemed it to have not crossed the line and Town could breathe again as they survived the first half.
A tumbling referee aside, the second 15 didn’t offer much in terms of entertainment. That was until Bolton struck.
The right back, so often an unlikely name on the scoresheet, found himself inside the Guiseley half and with little else on, had a speculative 35 yard effort which was deflected past Drench to put Town back into the ascendancy with six minutes remaining. Rob Atckinson almost levelled seconds after the restart when his header was deflected wide, and despite a nerve jangling final five minutes, Town secured only their third win of the season and put themselves into the First Round of the FA Cup.
Guiseley: Drench, Parker (Porritt 61), Lowe, Lockwood, Lawlor, Boyes, Craddock (D Boshell 96), Hatfield, Boshell, Atkinson, Marsden (Toulson 46)
Subs: Hall, Dickinson, Atkinson, Morton
Goals: Boyes (75)
FCHT: Glennon, Bolton, M Brown, N Brown (Bencherif 48), McManus, Roberts (MacDonald 92), Walker (Miller 70), Wroe, James, Tuton, Burrow
Subs: Porter, Hillhouse, Bradley, Hattersley
Goals: Walker (30) Bolton (114)
Bookings: Wroe, Roberts