Eastleigh 3-3 Halifax: Town boss Heath reflects on a “bittersweet” afternoon

Billy Heath
Billy Heath

Town boss Billy Heath admitted there were mixed feelings after his team’s “bittersweet” 3-3 draw at Eastleigh in the FA Cup second round.

Halifax were 1-0 down at half-time but took a 3-1 lead before two late goals from Eastleigh forced a replay, which takes place at The Shay on December 13.

Heath said the draw was a good result, but a hard one to accept in the circumstances.

“There’s mixed emotions because we said before the game if we got a draw here, we’d have taken it,” he said.

“But when you’re 3-1 up it’s difficult to take.

“The sheer physicality put paid to us in the end.

“If we’d held on another five minutes before they got the second goal we might have won it.

“Their second goal was the key because it gives them belief again..

“They threw everything at us and for their third, the ball seemed to bobble around their box for an age, nobody could clear it.

“I was waiting for it to spill out of our box but then when we did get something on it, we toe-poked it straight onto the lad’s foot, who put it straight into the bottom corner.

“But the lads were fantastic.

“For 25 minutes in the second-half they were excellent, to get three goals here.”

The Town manager felt his team were much better than in their previous three games, when they lost to Curzon Ashton and Matlock after a replay.

“It was exactly like our old selves but it was hard-working again,” Heath said.

“Regardless what you say about shape and tactics, you’ve got to work hard.

“I thought we won a lot of balls in midfield. The two centre-halves were magnificent all game, but all the players did well.

“The two full-backs were magnificent. Josh Wilde’s first-half performance was outstanding.

“Cliff Moyo was back to being a big, strong powerhouse defender. Very quick, very strong.

“Of late, we’ve only wanted to play one way, when we had the ball, but we knew we had to do both sides of it, and we did the ugly things.

“It’s just bittersweet because we’ve got more than one foot in the draw. But that’s the FA Cup for you.”

Heath praised the impact of midfielder Jordan Sinnott, who also looked back to his best in the game.

“We knew we’d have pressure at the start but we said ‘stay in the game’,” Heath said.

“We talked about that before. In the previous two defeats, we didn’t stay in the game. We conceded the second goal.

“But in the second-half, we told Jordan Sinnott to get closer to Tom Denton, who was magnificent, and take a few more risks.

“And for 25 minutes he controlled the game. He should have had another as well - I was waiting for the net to bulge but it was a superb save.”

Asked whether he fancied his chances in the replay, Heath added: “Why not? We’ll have to play at full tilt again but why not?

“We thought our chance might have gone at Dagenham but we’ll see.”