FC Halifax Town’s season ended in tragedy as they were beaten 2-0 by Cambridge United in the second leg of the Skrill Conference Premier play-off semi-final.
Two first half goals from Delano Sam-Yorke ensured the U’s would make the trip to Wembley to contest promotion, as they won 2-1 on aggregate.
Neil Aspin kept faith in the same eleven that triumphed in the first leg, whereas the hosts made three changes, bringing in Sam-Yorke, Dunk and Berry for Sam Smith, Chadwick and Hughes.
Cambridge created the first opportunity, and as a loose ball fell to full back Greg Taylor, he saw his half volley fly over the crossbar.
Town, looking to get an early goal, came straight back. Matty Pearson picked up the ball on the edge of the area but his curled shot bent high and wide.
Danny Lowe had an afternoon to forget on the opening day, and lightning was to strike twice here. His defensive error in his own box allowed Cambridge to regain possession before finding Delano Sam-Yorke, who stroked home from ten yards to tie things up on aggregate.
Town tried to respond but struggled to break their hosts down. Through balls from Lowe and Lois Maynard both evaded their targets.
The U’s continued to press. Tom Elliott wasting a free header on the penalty spot from a Luke Berry corner.
Town hadn’t had the chance to utilise Marc Roberts’ long throws, but his first one caused problems. The throw landed at the feet of Scott McManus, who saw his shot fly just wide of the near post.
Sam-Yorke caused the Shaymen all kinds of problems on the opening day, and he was at it again here. He made some space for himself in the Town half before hammering it over. Adam Smith then curled one high and wide after cutting inside on his left foot.
But it was to be Sam-Yorke who would punish the Shaymen again. He nicked the ball 25 yards from goal and showed great composure to slot past Glennon to put United ahead in the tie for the first time.
Scott McManus came close again right before the break, but his effort at the far post from Adam Smith’s cross could only find the side-netting, and Town had it all to do after the interval.
Neil Aspin made a change at half time and brought on Simon Ainge in place of Chris Smith. But the tie was nearly over just a couple of minutes after the restart as Coulson’s header from Berry’s free-kick beat Glennon, but was adjudged offside, much to the relief of Aspin and co.
The hosts continued their dominance and twice came close to killing the tie. First Sam-Yorke couldn’t react quick enough from a deep cross to nod home, and then the Shaymen had Matt Glennon to thank after he produced a stunning save to deny Berry’s header from flying into the bottom corner.
Aspin called for offensive reinforcements and Scott Spencer entered the fray to join Gregory up front, as the top scorer’s overhead kick sailed over the crossbar after a Town corner.
The Shaymen continued to create chances, but they lacked the killer blow. Matty Pearson let fly from 20 yards but the ball flew over the crossbar.
Town’s desire for a goal left them vulnerable on the break, and Tom Elliott nearly caught them out, but Danny Lowe got back to deny the striker a clear shot on goal.
It was nearly curtains for Town shortly after as a nervous back pass from Roberts alluded Glennon, but Elliott again couldn’t take advantage with the goal gaping.
The Shaymen probed and probed but couldn’t find that one chance they needed, and a rollercoaster season ends in disappointment.
Cambridge United: A.Smith, K.Roberts, Miller (C), Taylor, Dunk (Hughes 70), Donaldson, Champion, Berry (Chambers 81), Elliott, Sam-Yorke (Cunnington 73)
Subs: Cunnington, Hughes, Chadwick, Chambers, Barnes-Homer
Goals: Sam-Yorke (13, 38)
Yellow Cards: Dunk, Donaldson
FCHT: Glennon; Bolton, M.Roberts, C.Smith (Ainge 46), Lowe (c) (Crowther 81); Marshall (Spencer 62), Maynard, Pearson; A.Smith, McManus, Gregory
Subs: Senior, Worthington, Spencer, Ainge, Crowther
Yellow Cards: Ainge, Crowther
Attendance: 6262 (1074 from Halifax)
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