Harrogate v FC Halifax Town preview

Action from Halifax's 1-0 defeat to Harrogate at The Shay earlier this season
Action from Halifax's 1-0 defeat to Harrogate at The Shay earlier this season

FC Halifax Town will battle it out with fellow Conference North promotion-contenders Harrogate for a place in the FA Cup first round on Saturday (3pm).

Town have reached the first round in each of the last three seasons, losing to MK Dons 4-1 in 2013, 2-1 at home to Bradford in 2014 and 4-0 at home to Wycombe in 2015.

If Halifax win, it will be the first time they’ll have won five games in a row since August 2014.

Danny Hone has been ruled out for around six weeks with a medial ligament injury.

Town boss Billy Heath said he was “looking at all options” in replacing Hone, but the Harrogate game may come too soon for Matty Brown, so Nathan hotte is likely to deputise.

David Lynch and Jordan Sinnott both missed training on Tuesday through injuries they picked up at Gloucester, while Alex Simmons also didn’t train on Tuesday due to a calf problem.

Heath says it will be “touch and go” over their fitness and will be monitoring the trio closely before Saturday.

Matty Kosylo was set to see a specialist on Friday and could start training next week if he is given the all clear.

A new state-of-the-art 3G pitch was installed at Harrogate’s stadium in July as part of a £1m ground development.

The National League Premier voted to approve 3G pitches in January, with fellow Conference North side Tamworth also playing on a 3G pitch.

However, the Football League has yet to accept clubs with artificial surfaces.

Town were beaten 1-0 at home by Harrogate in the league earlier this season, with Saturday’s hosts sitting in second in the Conference North.

Former Town players Simon Ainge and Tom Platt are among the squad at Harrogate, who have only lost two of their 17 games in all competitions this season, scoring three or more goals in seven outings.

Ex-Grimsby striker Jon-Paul Pittman is their top-scorer with 11 goals.

They only stayed in the competition in the last round thanks to former Bradford youngster Joe Colbeck’s 96th minute equaliser forcing a replay against FC United.

Harrogate are unbeaten at home this season, winning seven out of nine games on their own turf.

A 1-0 defeat at Chorley in their last game was only the second match of the season in which they have failed to score.

But their clean sheet in their 1-0 win at Halifax was only their fourth shut-out of the campaign.

Harrogate signed young striker Reece Webb-Foster on a two-month loan deal from Bradford City this week.

Webb-Foster, 18, has made five appearances for Bradford, and also scored four goals in eight games on loan at Bradford Park Avenue last season.

Halifax have already earned £12,000 in prize money from this season’s competition, but will pocket another £12,500 if they win on Saturday.

If the game is a draw, it will be replayed on Tuesday, October 18.