Halifax Town 0 Charlton Athletic 4: Shaymen go down fighting - late goal flurry cruel on battling Town

Always a threat: Lee Gregory gets in between two Charlton defenders
Always a threat: Lee Gregory gets in between two Charlton defenders
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TOWN’S players can hold their heads high after a magnificent display against the League One leaders in an enthralling FA Cup first round clash at the Shay.

Town gave everything they had for 80 minutes - and had been the better side for long spells - before Charlton got their second goal to kill off the tie.

Halifax Town v Charlton Athletic.

Halifax Town v Charlton Athletic.

The Addicks went on to score a further two goals in the final seven minutes - and the Shaymen had Danny Lowe rather harshly red carded - to make it appear from the scoreline like a convincing win.

But the full time professionals will have known they had been in a game by the final whistle which signalled the end of a good day for football in Halifax.

The Shaymen threatened inside the opening minute with Ryan Toulson playing the ball forward and Danny Holland flicking on for Lee Gregory who beat one defender on his way into the area before being denied by a second.

Moments later Jamie Rainford drove towards the left hand corner of the area only to see his well struck shot blocked by the first defender.

Halifax Town v Charlton Athletic.

Halifax Town v Charlton Athletic.

It was just the start the Shaymen would have wanted; a show of intent from Neil Aspin’s side.

And they continued to pass it round nicely, breaking quickly from inside their own half, causing their higher ranked opponents problems and winning a couple of corners.

The major threat from Charlton in the early stages came from Town’s feet, Lowe and Ryan Toulson both playing passes along the edge of their own area.

The Shaymen threatened again midway through the first half when Scott McManus strode forward and played a neat ball for Gregory who worked a bit of space for himself on the edge of the area before firing a shot that cleared the bar by a yard or two.

Halifax Town v Charlton Athletic.

Halifax Town v Charlton Athletic.

Moments later Holland picked out Rainford on the left hand side but his cross went behind the advancing Gregory.

Charlton had a good spell after that, beginning with a Cedric Evina cross that was cleared well by McManus.

Liam Hogan conceded a corner soon after and Simon Eastwood was forced to make the first meaningful save of the game to block a point blank header from Michael Morrison.

Paul Hayes had a shot blocked by Toulson before Charlton had the ball in the net, but there was far too much pushing and shoving on the edge of the six yard box for the referee’s liking and he immediately gave the Shaymen a free kick.

Having weathered the storm, Town responded positively when, after a foul on Rainford, Tom Baker delivered a great free kick that had Addicks keeper John Sullivan flapping.

Baker then swung in a dangerous-looking corner which came to nothing when the referee spotted more foul play inside the area.

Charlton threatened down the left through Jason Euell and Evina before Hayes fired a close range effort wide of the target.

And they broke the deadlock after 40 minutes when Hayes crossed deep and Taylor headed home from close range.

Town almost levelled immediately when Baker tried his luck with a viciously swerving shot that went over off the top of the crossbar.

The Shaymen started the second half as they had the first, putting the visitors under pressure with their direct running.

And when a McManus cross was only cleared as far as Rainford his well struck effort forced a full length save from Sullivan.

Euell broke free at the other end, from a seemingly offside position, but failed to control the ball when well placed.

And it was Town who continued to make the running - and create the chances - as the visitors appeared more and more content to hoof the ball clear from their own half to no one in particular.

The introduction of Jason St Juste gave the Shaymen extra impetus and he latched onto a McManus pass before whipping in a cross that was inches away from the head of Gregory.

Six minutes later Simon Garner played a lovely left footed ball through for St Juste to race onto, but he was denied by a defender.

Chris Solly nipped into deny St Juste again with 16 minutes of the game remaining after the substitute had got onto the end of Gregory’s pass.

At that stage of the game the most likely scenario was that Town would score and force a replay or that Charlton would cling on for a slender victory.

What followed in the final 10 minutes was nothing short of cruel.

Totally against the run of play, Charlton doubled their lead when Hayes squared the ball along the edge of the Town box and Johnnie Jackson showed good skill before driving in a low shot that fizzed into the bottom corner of Simon Eastwood’s net.

Two minutes later, after Hogan had deflected a Scott Wagstaff shot behind for a Charlton corner, the subsequent ball in was flicked in close to the line by Danny Hollands.

If that was not bad enough, the Shaymen were reduced to 10 men within 60 seconds, Lowe sliding in to challenge Wagstaff and catching the Charlton man.

It was never reckless, more clumsy, but the red card was out of the referee’s pocket very quickly.

Charlton then capped off the game with a fourth goal, Bradley Pritchard firing home from the right of the area.