FC Halifax Town made it 10 games unbeaten thanks to Shaun Tuton’s goal, beating Barrow 1-0 and sealing a third round FA Trophy game against Chester.
Shaun Tuton opened the scoring on 66 minutes, and despite two big opportunities for Andy Cook, Town saw out the one goal victory to continue their revival and make it 10 games unbeaten in all competitions.
With Nicky Wroe ineligible after his move from Notts County, Connor Hughes came into the side with Kevin Roberts taking the captains armband. For Barrow, they started with former Shayman David Mellor, whilst another familiar face in Steve Williams began on the bench.
Having dispatched Tamworth 5-0 in the previous round, Town started brightly and had a decent shout for a penalty early on. Hughes was brought down inside the opening minute, but the referee wasn’t interested. Barrow had the first decent chance at goal, but a Dan Pilkington free kick was easily caught by Sam Johnson.
Andy Haworth found himself booked and substituted within the first 20 minutes, in a game which wasn’t allowed to get properly started thanks to a number of niggly injuries to the opposition. Pilkington troubled Johnson again on the half hour, heading straight at the keeper. At the other end, space momentarily opened up for Jordan Burrow to fire at goal, but his snapshot flew well wide from 25 yards.
He came even closer a minute later, but he couldn’t get a foot onto Scott McManus’ low drive across the box in probably the best opportunity of the first 30 minutes. James Bolton was the first Town man booked, penalised for a high boot against David Mellor, as Jim Harvey’s side began to up the ante towards the break. Nick Wilbur-Anderton was the next name into Joseph Johnson’s notebook, simulation the verdict after going down under a Roberts challenge.
Johnson was certainly the villain of the first 45, not allowing the game to play out, and that meant an uninspiring first half from both sides. Andy Cook had the best chance when played through by Pilkington, but Johnson was out well to deny the forward and send the sides into the break goalless.
Burrow had the first chance after the restart, the recipient of a neat pass from Roberts, but he could only fire at Joel Dixon in the Barrow goal. It was a bright start, the words of the coaching staff clearly still ringing in the ears following the first half showing. Tuton in particular was looking as lively as ever, hassling the Bluebirds backline as Town looked to extend the unbeaten run to double figures.
And as he has done so many times in recent weeks, the in-form forward fired Town ahead with 20 to play. After being played in down the right hand side, Tuton took a touch before slotting underneath Dixon, taking his goalscoring tally up to four in four.
That sparked Barrow into life, and they really should have equalised just a minute later. An excellent passing move eventually saw the ball played into Cook, and from six yards he looked destined to drag the visitor’s level within a few seconds of going behind. But Johnson pulled out an incredible stop, getting a boot to the ball and safeguarding the clean sheet as the clock ran down.
Tuton remained heavily involved, and forced Dixon into an uncomfortable save after a turn and shot from 20 yards had the keeper scrambling to his right. Town were on the attack again, spearheaded by Josh MacDonald who flew down the right wing, finding Burrow with a centre. But Town’s top scorer couldn’t find the target, and the lead stayed at just one with five minutes remaining.
Cook almost equalised deep into injury time, but his well struck effort from the edge of the box was deflected narrowly wide. And despite a very nervy finale, Town safely moved themselves into the Third Round of the FA Trophy, where Chester await.
FCHT: Johnson, Bolton, Bencherif, Brown, McManus, Roberts ( C ), James, Walker (MacDonald ’63), Tuton, Burrow, Hughes (Hibbs ’70)
SUBS: McDonald, Porter, Clappison
Bookings: Bolton, MacDonald, Hibbs, Johnson
Goals: Tuton 66
Barrow: Dixon, Symington, Wilmer-Anderton, Livesey, Grand ( C ), Parry, Cowperthwaite, Mellor (Walker 64’)) Haworth (Newby 20’), Cook, Pilkington (Grimes ’77)
SUBS: Ray-Harvey, Williams
Bookings: Haworth, Wilmur-Anderton
Man of the Match: Kingsley James