MATCH VERDICT: South Shields 2-0 FC Halifax Town

South Shields v FC Halifax TownSouth Shields v FC Halifax Town
South Shields v FC Halifax Town
FC Halifax Town were dumped out of the FA Cup at the first hurdle again as they lost 2-0 at South Shields in the fourth qualifying round.

A goal in each half from Darius Osei and captain Robert Briggs sealed a miserable afternoon for The Shaymen, who were distinctly second best.

Town lost at the same stage to Harrogate in the cup last season and never really looked like putting that right here against a side two levels lower than them.

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But South Shields were terrific, making up for their lower league status with a performance full of heart, desire and no little quality.

The Shaymen were as bad as they have been under Pete Wild; uninterested, uninspired and hugely underwhelming.

It soon became apparent that Town were in for a classic cup-tie against a lower league side in the mood to cause an upset.

The hosts, backed by a crowd that sounded more like 3,000 than 300 at times, worked hard and played with spirit.

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The Mariners were quicker, sharper, stronger and hungrier than Town, who were off the pace, and completely failed to build on their good work in recent games.

South Shields captain Briggs was getting into some dangerous pockets of space in-front of the Town defence, and had a shot cleared off the line by Niall Maher and another effort deflected behind.

Too often Town's passing was wayward in the opposition half, whereas South Shields played with purpose and intensity.

Jason Gilchrist had a goal disallowed for offside midway through the first-half, which should have been a wake-up call for Halifax.

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Shields had caused the Town defence far more problems than Halifax had to their hosts' back line, and Halifax were forced into another goal-line clearance when Maher blocked Gilchrist's effort just after the half-hour mark.

Despite what appeared to be justified shouts for handball on first viewing, referee Andrew Miller was not convinced.

Still Town failed to heed the warning signs.

There seemed to be a collective panic every time the ball went in the Town box, with the home side building up a head of steam that eventually saw Osei head them in-front from Alexander Kempster's cross excellent left-wing cross.

Neill Byrne then cleared just in-front of the line from Kempster's cut-back.

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Town's first shot on target only came a couple of minutes before half-time when Maher's effort was tipped behind.

The corner was headed onto their own post by South Shields, but from the next corner, Martin Woods shanked a cross out for a goal kick when in acres of space inside the box, pretty much summing-up Halifax's first-half.

"National League, you're having a laugh" sang the home fans with relish.

Kieran Green, due to an injury to Luke Summerfield, and Gold Omotayo both came into the Town side from the 0-0 draw at Woking, but neither made much of an impression.

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In fact, most Town players were outrun and outfought during a sobering first 45 minutes; the main consolation for Halifax was it was 1-0 at the break.

Pete Wild and Chris Millington, architects of Oldham's FA Cup upset at Fulham last year, were stoney-faced on the touchline, and no wonder.

Danny Williams headed inches wide a few minutes after the restart, with Town now pressing higher up the pitch and South Shields sitting deeper.

Halifax were now dominating possession, but South Shields looked more confident and assured on the ball.

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The Shaymen were still badly out-of-sorts, lacking penetration and too easy for South Shields to defend against.

Jake Hyde was brought on moments after Osei fired just off target midway through the second-half. It was no surprise Omotayo was withdrawn, the only surprise was Hyde hadn't been brought on sooner.

But it was South Shields still producing the kind of imaginative football Town needed to salvage something, as Jordan Hunter ran onto Briggs' back-heel before crashing a shot narrowly over.

But shortly afterwards, the excellent Briggs made no mistake with a superbly-placed left-foot shot into the bottom corner after Town were cut open too easily, but with an ease Halifax never looked like achieving.

Up for the cup? South Shields certainly were.

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South Shields: Boney, Hunter, Briggs, Sterry (Baxter 89), Morse, Turnbull, Adams, Ross, Kempster, Gilchrist (Hindle 67), Osei (Verstrasten 90). Subs not used: Agnew, Coombe, Gillies, McCamley.

Scorers: Osei (39), Briggs (71)

Shots on target: 6

Shots off target: 5

Corners: 6

Halifax: Johnson, Byrne, Clarke, Maher, King, Green, Woods, Williams (Senior 85), Earing (Nepomuceno 74), Omotayo (Hyde 67), Allen. Subs not used: Davison-Hale, Bradbury, Summerfield, Tear.

Shots on target: 2

Shots off target: 3

Corners: 5

Referee: Andrew Miller

Town man of the match: Slim pickings to say the least. Danny Williams got into some good areas down the left flank and nearly equalised just after the interval with a header.

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