FC Halifax Town’s youngsters recorded a comfortable victory over AFC Fylde to send them into the First Round of the FA Youth Cup. Two goals in less than a minute set the Shaymen on their way and despite some good second half play from their opponents, they held firm to win 4-1.
Neither side fashioned too many clear cut opportunities in the first ten minutes but Town were ahead in the 12th. Right-back Jack Knight’s corner was met by fellow full-back Reece Kendall who fired the ball past several bodies and into the Fylde goal. They didn’t rest on their laurels though, and were up 2-0 almost immediately afterwards as Josh Debenham’s lovely lifted finish was too good for Fylde ‘keeper Nicholas Scarth.
Shouts of “keep the ball” were clearly audible from the home dugout and the lads duly obliged for much of the first half, with Kendall, Brad Swain and Liam Healey particularly impressive in retaining possession. Tom Billington had the ideal opportunity to halve the deficit for the Coasters but his shot from Ian Moss’s free kick delivery was tame and Kyle Trenerry in the Town goal saved comfortably.
James Sunderland scored a fantastic long-range goal in the last round against Guiseley, and repeated the feat to make it 3-0 just past the half-hour mark. Though not from quite the distance as his previous strike, it was a fantastic goal which went over the keeper but just under the cross bar and nestled in the back of the net.
Marko Basic had shown some neat touches throughout the half and it was from his well-weighted through ball that Kelan Swales scored just before half time. Swales changed the direction of his run to fool the defender and leave him trailing in his wake, smashing a first-time finish past Scarth. The young Town team seemed to be nearly home and dry as they went in 4-0 to the good.
It looked like it might be more of the same after the break as Sunderland shot just wide, but Trenerry was called upon to make three saves in a minute early in the half. The finest of these was when he showed great speed off his line to close down the onrushing Jack Foster and deflect the ball onto the post, before it was scrambled away.
Fylde pressed much higher up the pitch in the second half and it certainly had a negative effect on Halifax who struggled to control the play as they had before the break. The pairing of Swain and Jack Johnson at the back looked solid though, and kept their clean sheet past the hour mark.
Central midfielder Jake Thompson was lucky not to give away a penalty as the referee waved away Fylde’s appeals, but they were not to be denied for too long. Kendall was dispossessed near his own area and Fylde forced a corner. Trenerry saved the initial header but could do nothing about the follow up from Alex Ashby and the Coasters had a glimmer of hope with the score 4-1, and 25 minutes left.
Despite more pressure though, the Town defence continued to hold firm, in part thanks to a fine acrobatic save from Trenerry to again deny Foster. Halifax spent much of the second 45 minutes in their own half as Fylde certainly restored some pride, but it proved to be too much of a margin to overturn. The Town youngsters will now eagerly anticipate this week’s first round draw to find out their reward for a fully deserved and convincing win.
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