FC Halifax Town will have it all to play for this Sunday after a 1-1 draw with Salford City at Moor Lane. Richard Peniket opened the scoring in the semi-final, before James Poole pulled a goal back in the late stages, to setup a huge second leg game this weekend at the Shay.
Town opted to sport a 4-3-3 formation with Nathan Hotte operating in the centre of midfield with Jordan Sinnott and David Lynch, while Richard Peniket and Matty Kosylo sat on either side of Tom Denton.
The first twenty minutes were rather even; both teams seeing an equal amount of the ball, but with neither able to really test their opposing goalkeepers. The home side did nearly make the perfect start to the game as Jordan Hulme’s long range volley just twenty seconds after kick-off troubled Sam Johnson, however the ‘keeper did well to catch the ball. Although, after that chances were at a premium, with just the solitary Salford corner being glanced wide by Michael Nottingham.
Salford had a great opportunity to break the deadlock on the 26th minute mark. Mike Phenix was released into the area on the right hand side, shrugged off Matty Brown but then volleyed wide from 10 yards out, much to the relief of Sam Johnson. Salford’s Hulme then troubled Halifax’s stopper minutes later, his low cross causing the on-loan Port Vale man to drop down to stop the ball finding a Salford boot.
Salford were creating the most chances until the 37th minute when Halifax created one, and most importantly, took it. Kosylo came in from the right, found Denton who then laid off Peniket. The forward took a touch before unleashing a rocket of a strike into the bottom left corner past Jay Lynch – a strike any keeper worth their salt would struggle to keep out.
Halifax gained the momentum after going a goal up, while Salford felt the nerves. Minutes later Salford skipper Simon Grand was let down by his first touch and inadvertently nearly let Kosylo through on goal, however the former Rochdale man did well to get back and snatch the ball back.
The Ammies started the second half well, Fraser Horsfall causing Johnson to pull off a great reaction save as he went for glory on the volley from a tight angle, despite the offside flag already being raised. Mike Phenix also looked lively, putting two promising crosses into the box, the first saved well by Johnson, the second cleared well by Kevin Roberts.
Soon after, and Salford were even closer to levelling. Halifax were unable to clear as Salford applied pressure in the box. O’Halloran tried to get a shot away but it was cleared by Roberts, but only to Michael Nottingham. The right-back let fly from just inside the box but his right-footed strike clattered against the woodwork to deny the Ammies.
Minutes later and it was the visitors’ turn to be denied by the frame of the goal. The ball dropped to Hotte in the area and he unleashed a fierce strike only to see it hit the crossbar. Halifax continued their pressure with Scott Garner then causing a save from Jay Lynch after he reacted to a loose ball in the box.
Salford applied constant pressure on the Halifax defence, who did well to cope. Sinnott was given a golden opportunity to put Halifax 2-0 up when he ran onto Denton’s neat flick-on. The former Huddersfield Town took a great touch to create some space and keep the ball away from Simon grand but his following left-footed shot trickled just wide of the right-hand post.
Salford had tested the Shaymen defence plenty of times during the game and eventually it paid off in the 86th minute. A cross from the left found substitute James Poole who took a touch before firing past Johnson via the aid of the left hand post.
Both teams tried to onslaught their opponent’s areas, but were unable to steal a late winner. The next leg is this Sunday at the MBi Shay Stadium at 3pm, a game that will determine who reaches the Vanarama National League North Play-Off Final.
Salford City: 1. Lynch, 2. Nottingham, 3. O’Halloran, 4. Walker, 5. Grand (c), 6. Horsfall, 7. Hulme, 8. Johnston (Poole, 64’), 9. Phenix (Allen, 77’), 10. Norris, 11. Hine
Subs:12. Priestley, 14. Barnes, 15. Poole, 16. Haughton, 17. Allen
FC Halifax Town:1. Johnson, 2. Roberts (c), 3. Wilde, 4. Peniket, 5. Hotte, 6. Brown, 7. Kosylo, 8. Lynch, 9. Denton, 10. Sinnott, 11. Garner
Subs:12. Drench, 14. Charles, 15. Hone, 16. Moyo, 17. Morgan
Goals: Peniket 37’, Poole 86’
Yellow Cards: Kosylo 31’, Wilde 45’, Norris 73’
Red Cards: None
Man of the Match: Nathan Hotte
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