Halifax Town 1 Rushden & Diamonds 1

 

A draw seemed the right result after Diamonds earned themselves an F A Cup Replay at non-league Halifax Town.

Alun Armstrong put Diamonds ahead within 90 seconds while Chris Senior grabbed the equalizer on the stroke of half-time to take the tie back to Nene Park on Tuesday 15 November.

Diamonds were looking for a good cup run to boost their coffers but they were forced into changes due to suspension, injury and unavailability. Drewe Broughton and Peter Hawkins were both suspended, Leicester City didn’t want Chris O’Grady cup-tied while Andy Woodman was recovering from an Achilles tendon injury which threatens to curtail his season.

Goalkeeper Jamie Young came into the side instead of Woodman while Andy Burgess replaced Hawkins at left back. Marcus Kelly had sufficiently recovered from his broken thumb to play on the left of midfield allowing David Bell to switch back to the right hand side. Neil McCafferty returned to the center of midfield following his one match suspension while Greg Pearson moved into the attack to partner Armstrong who was making his first start for the club.

Manager Barry Hunter promoted youth team ‘keeper Ashley Jones on the bench while there was a surprise but welcomed recall for Gary Mills after a 14 months injury absence. The manager named himself as cover for central defence.

Halifax must have fancied their chances of an upset going into the game having started the Conference season in fine form. Halifax had conceded just 2 goals at The Shay this season and were unbeaten at home in seven games. They made two changes from the team that drew 2-2 at Woking with Justin Bowler and Senior coming back into the side.

The Halifax groundsman deserved praise for ensuring that the game went ahead following incessant overnight rain.

Diamonds made the best possible start when they took the lead after just 90 seconds. Bell’s free-kick from the left picked out Armstrong in the six-yard box and the ex-Middlesbrough striker’s shot went through Lee Butler to give Diamonds an early tonic.

Halifax should have cancelled that lead out almost immediately when John Grant’s dummy put Senior in the clear but the Shaymen’s leading scorer drove wide with just Young to beat.

On 16 minutes, Diamonds should have extended their lead. A mix – up between Steve Haslam and Butler allowed Bell’s cross to reach Pearson but Denny Ingram saved Halifax’s blushes.

The home side were enjoying more of the possession without really hurting Diamonds although Senior went close with a 40th minute overhead kick. Justin Bowler’s cross was flicked on by Grant and Senior’s effort went inches over the bar.

However, senior made it three times lucky on the stroke of half-time. Danny Forrest’s long -range effort was pushed onto the post by Young but the ball came back to Senior who scored his seventh goal of the season by slotting home into the left hand corner of the net.

Half – Time Halifax Town 1 -1 Rushden & Diamonds

The second half saw few clear- cut chances with the visitors continuing to enjoy the greater share of possession.

Butler had to be alert on 72 minutes when he pulled off a fine save to deny captain Dave Savage after the ball broke to him following Pearson’s run.

Diamonds made their one and only substitution three minutes later when Lee Tomlin came on for Pearson and he almost immediately won an early corner which, unfortunately, came to nothing.

Late on, Craig Midgley failed to take advantage of two good chances which came to nothing leaving Diamonds with a draw and some thinking to do before the two sides meet in 9 days time.

Teams:

Halifax Town:
Lee Butler, Adrian Quinn, Steven Haslam, Denny Ingram, Martin Foster, Tyrone Thompson, Jake Wright, Justin Bowler (Lewis Killeen 59), Danny Forrest, John Grant, Chris Senior (Craig Midgley 85)

Subs Not Used: Greg Young, Brenton Leister, Darren Mansaram

Rushden & Diamonds:
Jamie Young, Rob Gier, John Dempster, Phil Gulliver, Andy Burgess, David Bell, Dave Savage, Neil McCafferty, Marcus Kelly, Alun Armstrong, Greg Pearson (75 Lee Tomlin)

Subs Not Used: Ashley Jones, Barry Hunter, Gary Mills, Ashley Nicholls

Booked: Gulliver 80 (Unsporting Behaviour)

Referee: Mr C Oliver

Attendance: 2,303 (Away 213)

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