FC Halifax Town and Morecambe will meet again in the FA Cup first round after drawing 0-0.
Town produced a committed performance to take their League Two hosts to a replay at The Shay on Tuesday, November 20.
Shaymen boss Jamie Fullarton insisted a cup tie mattered just as much as a league game, and his side showed it with a display full of effort and endeavour.
Halifax also had a replay in the previous round against Warrington after an away draw, but this was very different; The Shaymen played their part in a full-blooded cup tie and certainly earned the opportunity to have another crack at Morecambe in the replay.
If they play like this, they’ll have a real chance.
Joe Skarz came in for Jonathan Edwards, while Sanmi Odelusi replaced the suspended Matty Kosylo for The Shaymen.
Former Town loanee A-Jay Leitch-Smith was the stand-out player in a fairly dour first-half, displaying some nice touches on the ball, finding pockets of space and keeping the hosts’ attacks ticking over.
His long-range strike was tipped over by Sam Johnson fairly early on, after which Jordan Cranston also tried his luck with a terrific shot from distance, which Johnson also turned behind.
Valdaine Oliver’s header from a long-throw also needed to be dealt with by the Town keeper.
But Rhys Oates’ shot, which he dragged wide from 20 yards shortly before the break, emphasised that Morecambe hadn’t really grown into the half and had only made an impression on goal with speculative shots from range.
It was also evidence that Town’s approach had nullified their higher-league opponents pretty effectively.
For their part, Town had worked hard off-the-ball, closing down space, staying organised, and heeding their manager’s call to cut out the individual errors.
Matty Brown again marshalled his defence well, with Niall Maher and Josh Staunton screening effectively in-front of the back four.
But if Morecambe had offered little threat in attack, Town had offered even less; Dayle Southwell had held the ball up well when he’d got it, while Jacob Hanson was again a willing runner up the right flank, but Town failed to create a shot, on or off target, in the opening half.
To be fair, the impetus was on Morecambe as the home side and the Football League club, to do that, and Halifax reached the interval about as comfortably as they had at Havant and Waterlooville last week.
Brown had to be alert to clear Oates’ shot off the line moments after the restart, but unlike last week, Town came out after the break with aggression, no doubt buoyed by their first-half, with a sense they had nothing to lose and nothing to fear.
The Shaymen won the ball higher up the pitch, and ran with it at the hosts’ defence, with some dangerous crosses floated through the area and an Odelusi shot blocked.
Maher needed to shoot with more conviction after Cameron King found him free on the edge of the box after a lovely turn to evade his marker, with Maher’s effort easily saved by Mark Halstead.
Morecambe’s Vadaine Oliver had fired wide off-balance near the penalty spot amid Halifax’s pressure, but the momentum appeared to be with Town.
It was a different game after the interval, with much more pace and tempo to the tie.
Town were next to creak when Nathan Clarke headed a cross against his own bar, and Oliver produced a spectacular overhead kick that flashed across goal.
The game became more nervy as it edged towards full-time, with both teams aware one goal would settle it.
Town had a couple of breaks late on where they outnumbered the hosts, but didn’t use the ball well enough to take advantage, while substitute Jonathan Edwards had a goal chalked off for offside in the closing moments.
Morecambe: Halstead, Mills, Old, Lavelle, Conlan, Cranston (Oswell 81), Mandeville (Tutte 55), Wildig, Oates (Ellison 55), Oliver, Leitch-Smith. Subs not used: Szczepaniak, Kenyon, Yarney, Mendes-Gomes.
Shots on target: 7
Shots off target: 10
Halifax: Johnson, Hanson, Clarke, Brown, Skarz, Sellers, Maher, Staunton, King, Southwell (Edwards 82), Odelusi (Preston 68). Subs not used: Rowley, McLeod.
Shots on target: 1
Shots off target: 3
Referee: Darren Drysdale
Town man of the match: Cameron King