FC Halifax Town and Gainsborough Trinity have met in some significant clashes, even in the short history of the new club. They also met in an FA Cup clash some Shaymen might prefer to forget, when Trinity beat the original Halifax Town AFC back in the late nineties.
The first league meeting between the sides came on Boxing Day 2011, when Halifax ran out 1-0 victors at The Northolme as James Dean bagged a late winner in added time. The return fixture, played just under a month later Tuesday, January 24, was a back-and-forth affair which perhaps set the tone for what was to come later in the season. Lee Gregory put Town ahead early on but Gainsborough hit back to lead through two goals early in the second half, from Andrew Boyce and Paul Connor. Simon Garner secured a share of the spoils for Halifax as the sides drew 2-2.
Two goals apiece were again the score line as the sides came together to meet in the first leg of the Conference North Play-offs, but it threatened to be much worse for Halifax. Paul Connor had put the hosts two goals to the good inside the first twelve minutes and the sizable travelling support of almost 800 was stunned. But Lee Gregory thrust the Shaymen right back in the promotion mix with a brace, recorded in the 44th and 64th minutes. It was Trinity’s turn to look flustered as Town pushed to take a lead back to the Shay, but despite chances for Gregory’s hat trick the score stayed 2-2. Town fans would have been hoping to gain a lead before the tie kicked off, but having been two goals down it was widely regarded as a good result.
However, it wasn’t enough as the Shaymen disappointingly failed to get on the scoresheet in the home leg four days later. Gainsborough won 1-0 thanks to Shane Clarke’s 64th minute goal, but they would go on to lose the Play-off final 1-0, at home to Nuneaton Town, and so the Shaymen and Trinity would meet again the following season.
On Boxing Day 2012, the Shaymen recorded a 3-1 victory over Trinity at the Shay, courtesy of goals from Jon Worthington, Lee Gregory and Ryan Toulson, while their visitors’ mark on the scoresheet was thanks to a Liam Hogan own goal. The return game was played on New Year’s Day at the Northolme, and goals from Terry Hawkridge as well as former Shaymen Craig Nelthorpe and Darryn Stamp completed a comfortable 3-0 win for Gainsborough. Town went on to clinch promotion in the Play-off final at Brackley that season.
In 1997, Geoff Horsfield scored the solitary Halifax goal as they crashed out of the FA Cup to lower-league Gainsborough in the Fourth Qualifying round, losing 2-1 at the Northolme. Though a disappointing defeat at the time, Town’s players were forgiven as they went on to secure the GM Vauxhall Conference title and win promotion back to the football league.
When the two sides meet again this Tuesday, March 21, FC Halifax Town will be hoping to turn the tables on a Gainsborough side who beat them 3-2 back in September. Alex Simmons, then on loan from Lincoln, had scored the opener after 13 minutes for Town on his first appearance. But Gainsborough fought back and despite a Liam King strike they ran out 3-2 winners thanks to a Jordan Thewlis brace and a James Reid goal.
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