FC Halifax Town 1-0 Yeovil Town: Substitute Dearnley scores the winner as Shaymen guarantee play-off place

Zak Dearnley came off the bench to score the winner as FC Halifax Town beat Yeovil Town 1-0 at The Shay and booked their place in the play-offs.
Halifax v YeovilHalifax v Yeovil
Halifax v Yeovil

Geoff Horsfield scored a hat-trick the only previous time Halifax beat Yeovil at The Shay in 1997. We all know how that season ended.

And Dearnley's crucial goal not only guaranteed Town a play-off place, but moved them a big step closer to a top three spot too.

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It's now 17 home league wins this season, and still only 10 home league goals conceded, all of which is why a top three finish and home advantage in a one-off play-off semi-final, is so important.

Like at Southend, Town could have led 2-0 in the opening few minutes, with Grant Smith making two good saves while another effort was cleared off the line.

The Shaymen were dynamic, incisive and energetic, winning loose balls and being productive with possession.

Tyrell Warren, Jordan Slew and Billy Waters all looked a threat down Halifax's right flank; for every time The Shaymen created a chance, there was a promising position not taken advantage of.

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Yeovil, fielding the same side that started in their win over leaders Stockport last Saturday, were lethargic by comparison, struggling to contain the hosts, for whom Pierce Bird ably deputised for the injured Niall Maher, making his first start since the end of January and meaning the back four had an average age of 23.

Kian Spence started in place of the injured Luke Summerfield, who is out for the season due to an ankle ligament injury, and also played well alongside stand-in skipper Kieran Green.

The Glovers' Jordan Barnett became the pantomime villain midway through the first-half when the referee didn't agree he had been pushed by Warren in the Halifax box.

The visitors did stop the flow of chances and began looked a little more solid, not being penetrated anywhere near as often as the half went on.

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Yeovil still carried a negligible attacking threat though. Dangerman Josh Neufville was lively, but none of his team-mates really were.

Billy Waters was found in space by Jack Senior's cross but slipped when about to shoot, exemplifying how Town had come off the pace from their ferocious start.

Neufville then saw a thunderous right-foot shot from the edge of the box crash off the bar, exemplifying how Yeovil were ending the half the better side.

Spence had a shot flash just wide shortly after the break before the tension started to rise between the teams, with Tom Knowles accused of time-wasting by Jack Senior when he went down injured, and then Barnett enhancing his villainous status by being booked for encroaching on Matty Warburton's attempted free kick. That was awarded for a foul on Spence that appeared to be inside the box rather than just outside.

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Waters had a shot cleared off the line amid further growing hostilities, with some pushing and shoving after Warren was booked for a foul on halfway.

The contest was back in Town's control with The Shaymen the superior side again, pushing and probing for the opener.

Warburton fired straight at Smith from 20 yards; Yeovil were offering nothing.

More Halifax possession preceded Waters hitting the side-netting from Spence's deep cross.

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Dearnley and Matty Stenson had been thrown on as Town pushed bodies forward, and from Warren's low cross from the right, Dearnley tapped in to finally edge the hosts ahead.

Halifax: Johnson, Warren, Debrah, Bird, Senior, Green (Woods 75), Spence, Slew (Dearnley 78), Warburton, Gilmour (Stenson 64), Waters. Subs: Benn, Cooke.

Scorer: Dearnley (83)

Shots on target: 7

Shots off target: 8

Corners: 9

Yeovil: Smith, Little (Lo-Everton 85), Hunt, Wilkinson, Williams, D'Ath, Gorman, Barnett, Knowles (Barclay 81), Reid (Yussuf 75), Neufville. Subs not used: Robinson, Bradley.

Shots on target: 0

Shots off target: 4

Corners: 7

Referee: Michael Barlow

Attendance: 1,947

Town man of the match: Jesse Debrah gets the nod for a dominant aerial display and a cool, calm performance. Did everything he had to do very well.