A late Lee Gregory penalty was enough for FC Halifax Town to see off an out of form Cambridge United side and take a slender 1-0 advantage into the second leg.
Gregory calmly slotted home his 31st goal of the season in the 83rd minute after Matty Pearson was fouled in the area by Cambridge United’s Josh Coulson.
Going into the game, the Shaymen had won four out of the last six with the U’s losing the last four.
Cambridge applied the early pressure which saw the first chance of the game Ryan Donaldson’s header went narrowly over from close range.
The first corner of the game saw Liam Hughes also head over the bar.
The U’s continued to build on the early pressure when Donaldson cut inside and forced Matt Glennon into a low save to his right.
The Shaymen’s first chance came from an Adam Smith free kick when Chris Smith saw his header go wide.
Cambridge then saw their best chance of the first half go begging, as Sam Smith somehow managed to balloon his shot over the bar from six yards out.
The Shaymen had their best effort on goal, when a Lee Gregory Header was spectacularly tipped over the bar by U’s keeper Adam Smith.
Gregory’s seemed to spur on his team as a frantic minute of chances occurred from the resulting corner.
Chris Smith first saw his header blocked on the line, with several blocked shots following.
Matty Pearson then saw a fizzing half volley saved resulting in a goal mouth scramble.
The end of the half saw little chances with Pearson again threatening, this time seeing a header go wide.
The Shaymen began the second half the brighter, with an Adam Smith cross forcing a corner eventually falling to Paul Marshall who fired a 20 yard shot over the bar.
Marc Roberts was the next to come close for the Shaymen as his powerful header narrowly went over with half the ground thinking it was in.
The away side’s first effort came about when Hughes ran at the defence and forced a low save from Glennon.
In contrast to the early stages of the first half, the second 45 started to become scrappy with neither team managing to get a foothold in the game.
Tom Elliott then saw his flick on come close which was then skewed out for a corner.
The introduction of Scott Spencer sparked much needed life into the Shaymen as they began to pressure on a Cambridge side which looked happy to walk away with a draw.
Spencer then was presented with a chance in the area , but the forward could only scuff his shot into the ground.
With just eight minutes remaining, an unfair aerial challenge from Josh Coulson on Pearson left the referee no choice but to point to the spot.
Gregory converted to keep up his 100% record on scoring against Cambridge this season.
The Shaymen carried on piling on the pressure as they searched for a second goal.
Although the U’s began to build late pressure of their own as the home side pushed more and more men back.
Late Cambridge substitute Matthew Barnes-Homer snatched at a guilt edged opportunity with the last kick of the game, as he smashed his close range effort over the bar.
Cambridge will leave Yorkshire thinking about the missed chances which proved crucial in the end result.
The Shaymen however will go home happy as they take a one goal lead to Cambridge on Sunday.
FC Halifax Town: Glennon; Bolton, Roberts, C Smith, Lowe; Maynard, Marshall; A Smith (Spencer 73’), Pearson, McManus; Gregory.
Subs: Senior, Ainge, Worthington, Spencer, Crowther.
Goals: Gregory 83
Cambridge United: Smith, Roberts, Taylor, Coulson, Miller, Donaldson, Champion, Elliott, Hughes, Smith (Barnes-Homer 91’), Chadwick (Dunk 72’).
Subs: Bonner, Cunnington, Dunk, Berry, Barnes-Homer.
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