FC Halifax Town 1-0 Barrow

editorial image

Shaun Tuton’s fourth goal in as many games sealed FC Halifax Town’s place in the third round of the FA Trophy with a 1-0 win over Barrow at The Shay.

It wasn’t pretty, but Town will now host Chester and have taken another small step on the road to Wembley.

It’s now 10 games unbeaten for Jim Harvey, another clean sheet for a mean-looking defence and another goal for Tuton, who was Halifax’s match-winner for the second consecutive game.

It might have been 10 days since Barrow’s incredible, gut-wrenching 4-3 defeat against Tranmere, but the passage of time didn’t seem to have lessened their desire to put that result right.

It wasn’t exactly pretty from either side, but the visitors competed well against their in-form hosts, working hard to close Halifax down and restricting them to very few chances inside the first half-an-hour.

Four stoppages inside the first 20 minutes for injuries to Barrow players didn’t help the entertainment levels, with the only shot on target in that time a 20-yard free-kick from Dan Plikington that Sam Johnson saved comfortably.

A delightful one-two between Jordan Burrow and Tuton opened up some space for Burrow, but his volley was way off target.

Moments later, Scott McManus’ vicious low cross whistled through a crowded six-yard box when a Town touch would surely have diverted it in.

Nicky Wroe was forced to sit the game out having not been registered in time, with Connor Hughes starting instead.

The Halifax fans had sung Wroe’s name early on after the captain’s decision to join the club for the rest of the season, and the hosts could have done with his influence in grabbing a game by the scruff of the neck.

Town were largely untroubled in defence against a lacklustre Barrow attack that had surprisingly scored in each of its last 11 outings, but were unable to make an impression going forward, with Burrow and Tuton well marshalled, also surprisingly, by a defence that had kept just two clean sheets on the road all season.

Top-scorer Andy Cook, who scored at The Shay earlier this season, should have put his side into what would have been a fairly undeserved half-time lead when he was sent through on goal just before the interval, but Johnson raced off his line to save well with his legs.

Tuton then produced his moment of the match so far as he shuffled inside off the left flank before firing a shot a couple of yards over from a tight angle.

A home draw against a team 16th in the National League appeared to be a particularly juicy carrot to play for, but neither side had done enough to warrant their place in the third round yet.

Early second-half efforts from Jordan Burrow and Elliott Newby offered hope of a more productive contest.

Jim Harvey was certainly hoping so, having switched to a more attacking 4-4-2, perhaps feeling Barrow were there for the taking.

The alteration provided more support for Burrow and Tuton up-front, and from an incisive through ball by captain Kevin Roberts, Tuton charged into the box before a deft finish under Joel Dixon.

Pilkington should have produced an immediate response from point blank range but was denied by a combination of poor finishing and excellent reactions from Johnson.

Town could have settled some late nerves when Burrow fired off target from an angle after a lung-busting run by substitute Josh Macdonald.

There was one last chance for Cook, but the striker’s shot fizzed inches wide in the dying moments and spared Town a midweek replay.

Halifax: Johnson, K Roberts, Bolton, Brown, Bencherif, McManus, Hughes (Hibbs 72), James, Walker (J Macdonald 65), Tuton, Burrow. Subs not used: Porter, Clappison, S McDonald.

Scorer: Tuton (69)

Shots on target: 4

Shots off target: 3

Corners: 1

Barrow: Dixon, Symington, Livesey, Grand, Wilmer-Anderton, Parry, Mellor (Walker 66), Cowperthwaite, Haworth (Newby 20), Cook, Pilkington (Grimes 79). Subs not used: Ray-Harvey, Williams.

Shots on target: 4

Shots off target: 3

Corners: 2

Attendance: 673

Town man of the match: Hamza Bencherif