FC Halifax Town progressed to the Second Qualifying Round of the FA Youth Cup with a 1-0 win over Stocksbridge Park Steels. A late and remarkable Will Middleton own goal was the decider.
The game began with some nice interplay from the right hand side between full back Jack Knight and winger Kelan Swales, entertaining the crowd early on in what was a dominant start from the young Shaymen. The good football was a sign of things to come for the Shaymen who looked comfortable from the off.
Stocksbridge were pinned in for the majority of the half with lone front man Joseph Martini a very isolated figure against the on form centre half partnership of Swain and Johnson.
Winger Ousman Cham grew into the game in the first half with his pace on the counter attack a constant threat to the Steels defence however, for all the Shaymen’s good play striker James Sunderland was left starved of any service.
A well-rehearsed set piece routine nearly came to fruition as the Shaymen mixed up their play to try and find the breakthrough however Sunderland’s effort was well blocked by Hudson.
The tireless midfield pair of Thompson and Healey worked superbly to deny the Stocksbridge youngsters any rest bite with some excellent movement to press and spread the play.
Throughout the first half Stocksbridge were rarely given the chance for a counter attack, with everything from the Steels being broken up by the young Shaymen.
At Half time neither side was able to break the deadlock.
Basic and Sunderland swapped over at half time with Sunderland now playing slightly deeper in a bid to try and find the opening goal.
The second half was a similar story however, with the Shaymen continuing to be dominant but with all their intricate passing in and around the box, they were still unable to find the breakthrough.
With Stocksbridge not looking to be bullied they very nearly stole the lead. With a floated ball into the box well met, only to be denied by a superb piece of goalkeeping from Trenerry.
On the hour mark the game became much more stretched as both sides showed signs of fatigue, with the possession changing hands far more frequently. The lack of quality was still a problem however with very few chances being created.
Stocksbridge had more of the play as the match wore on as the energy in Town’s midfield started to fade and the game became increasingly scrappier.
On the 85th minute the first goal finally came in amazing fashion, as good build up play from the back from Town lead to a long diagonal from left to right in the Stockbridge box, left back Will Middleton’s attempted clearance looped over his own goalkeeper who was left stranded.
The game went from bad to worse for Stocksbridge as in the 90th minute centre back Jack Hudson was sent off for a second bookable offence, for hauling back Basic on halfway.
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