FC Halifax Town 1-0 Pontefract Collieries: Vale's winner sends Shaymen through to FA Cup first round

Jack Vale's first goal for The Shaymen saw FC Halifax Town beat a plucky Pontefract Collieries 1-0 in the fourth qualifying round of the FA Cup.

Tuesday, 19th October 2021, 10:42 pm
Halifax v Pontefract

Town will now play Maidenhead in the first round thanks to substitute Vale's second-half winner.

Pontefract gave it everything they had, but Town just about had enough.

It was far from the spectacular scoreline many Halifax fans will have anticipated, and not a spectacular performance.

But Halifax avoided another cup upset, and deservedly so on the night, although Pontefract made them work incredibly hard for it over 180 minutes, and can be proud of their efforts.

Elliot Newby made his first start for Town, coming in along with Martin Woods and Jamie Allen, with Billy Waters, Harvey Gilmour and Jesse Debrah dropping out, the latter altogether, with Kieran Green starting at centre-back.

Matty Warburton and Allen both had efforts at goal in the first ten minutes, as the pattern was established from the off of Halifax as the dominant side in possession and territory.

Town repeatedly tried to exploit the pace of Allen in-behind the Pontefract defence, and the hosts had the greater composure and inventiveness on the ball, able to play in tight spaces and link-up with team-mates.

The problem was that when it came off, The Shaymen looked exciting and incisive, but when it didn't, they had to start from square one again.

But they remained patient.

Pontefract picked up where they left off from Saturday in terms of working off the ball, staying in shape and tracking runners.

They were less of an attacking threat than at the weekend though, getting little respite from mainly being camped inside their own half.

The two sets of fans traded more blows, verbally, early on than the two teams did in terms of chances.

Warburton was again denied from an acute angle after nice build-up play from Newby and Jordan Slew, before Tyrell Warren and Allen then combined beautifully to set-up Warburton, who again brought a good save from Ryan Musselwhite, who then parried away Woods' shot from range moments later.

There were flashes of brilliance, moments of excitement, mixed with periods of sterility and moves, as well as corners, that frustratingly ended up in cul-de-sacs.

But they remained patient.

Woods had a free kick deflected wide and then Warburton's free kick a few minutes later was saved by Musselwhite, who then comfortably saved Warburton's header from near the penalty spot.

The best move of the game so far came four minutes before the break as Jack Senior instigated a counter-attack, with Warburton's lofted pass finding Newby on the right, who then played in Warren, whose low shot was turned behind by Musselwhite.

But the half-time whistle was met with a muted reaction from the Town fans; as the interval approached, there were a few murmurings of 'shoot' from the crowd as impatience grew.

Slew enlivened an under-par individual display with a piledriver that flew just wide from 25 yards a few minutes after half-time as Town continued to dominate.

But with the game distinctly flat, Town creating little and Pontefract time-wasting whenever possible, Pete Wild had seen enough by the hour mark and brought on Billy Waters and Vale - a compliment to the visitors too as they continued to stay disciplined and resolute.

The Shaymen had been labouring since the interval, looking increasingly unlikely to score, but with their 14th effort of the night, and their ninth on target, Vale stayed calm to finish from close range after Allen's burst into the box and low cross from the right.

The relief was palpable.

Now Pontefract, not time-wasting anymore, had to do what plenty of National League teams hadn't this season, and score against The Shaymen.

They certainly upped their game and their tempo, winning their first corner, registering their first effort on target - a header easily saved - and producing some moments of panic in the Town box.

There was the odd boo as The Shaymen went back to Sam Johnson to retain possession, with some Halifax fans unhappy at their team's apparent reluctance to kill the game off.

It was nerves that were palpable now, in some of Town's defending and in the stands, as Pontefract battled until the end, and the hosts were unconvincing in seeing it out.

But see it out they did.

Halifax: Johnson, Warren, Maher, Senior, Green, Spence (Waters 59), Woods, Slew (Gilmour 76), Warburton, Newby (Vale 59), Allen. Subs not used: Scott, Swaby-Neavin, McDonagh.

Scorer: Vale (65)

Shots on target: 11

Shots off target: 5

Corners: 6

Pontefract: Musselwhite, Greenhough, Clarke, Brook, Gordon, Rothery, Vann, Robson (Lazenby 68), Smith (Bailey 81), Hinsley (Hey 60), Redford. Subs not used: Williams, Brown, Collington, Clegg.

Shots on target: 1

Shots off target: 6

Corners: 1

Referee: Daniel Middleton

Attendance: 1,713 (526 away)

Town man of the match: Matty Warburton. Had several chances to score, was lively, involved in a lot of Town's attacks and showed some nice touches and passes.