Halifax Town 0 Rushden & Diamonds 2

FA Trophy – 3rd Round

Shay Stadium

Diamonds left it late to secure a victory in the FA Trophy as a goalless draw and replay looked on the cards. But a goal from Lee Tomlin three minutes from time and another from Michael Rankine deep in to stoppage time were enough to seal a place in the quarter final draw on Monday.

Garry Hill made three changes from the side which lost at Burton Albion on Tuesday night. Loan signing David Brown from Accrington Stanley was given the No.9 shirt and replaced Simeon Jackson, who had been signed by Gillingham on Thursday. Michael Rankine partnered Brown up front in a more traditional 4-4-2 formation, while Marcus Kelly replaced Curtis Woodhouse. Lee Tomlin was dropped to the bench. New signings Michael Corcoran and Andy Gooding were named amongst the substitutes.

Halifax manager Chris Wilder was forced into changes due to the suspension of captain Tom Kearney after receiving a fifth yellow card last weekend, while Nottingham Forest loanee Tom Sharp was injured. Returning from a five match suspension after his third red card of the season was Anthony Griffith (on a season long loan from Doncaster Rovers), while there was a welcome return for Brian O’Callaghan after missing several games through injury. Recent signing from Bradford, Simon Ainge was on the bench.

Diamonds kicked-off wearing their yellow kit towards the visiting fans with the pitch looking in good condition after the snow of the previous night had been cleared during the morning. After just four minutes, Halifax had the ball in the net when Lewis Killeen slotted the ball home after some neat play between Jon Shaw and Craig Nelthorpe, but the Shaymen’s striker was flagged offside.

Phil Gulliver was an early entry into the referees note book for what appeared to be a pretty innocuous foul on Killeen, as Diamonds tried to stop the home side from taking control. Alex Bailey and Anthony Griffith produced some good movement on the right with the ball crossed in to Killeen, but Jon Shaw got in the way of Killeen’s shot. Then after 14 minutes, Simon Heslop tried a low shot from distance, but keeper Dale Roberts took the ball well.

Although Halifax had more possession, Diamonds tried to quell any further attacks by closing down quickly and started to create some chances themselves. A mix up between Brian O’Callaghan and Adam Quinn on 22 minutes provided David Brown with an excellent opportunity to open his account for Diamonds, but he scuffed his shot with the keeper at his mercy. Moments later at the other end, Nelthorpe saw Dale Roberts slightly off his line, but his chip went wide of the goal.

Tom Shaw had a free kick was deflected away from goal as Diamonds tried to put some pressure on the home side. On 38 minutes, Shaw’s ball forward found Rankine, and after beating a defender sent a cross in to the centre. Marcus Kelly was well positioned in the middle, but with the goal gapping, he sliced the ball over the bar from 10 yards.

Halifax defender Rob Scott was injured in a clash with Rankine and had to leave the field just before the break, Andy Campbell replacing him. Despite Halifax having more of the play in the first half, it was Diamonds that had the better chances as Jon Challinor shot wide just before the half time whistle.

Half-time: Halifax Town 0 – 0 Rushden & Diamonds

The second half started brightly with Halifax trying to make use of their home advantage. On 50 minutes, Killeen set Jon Shaw clear and with just the keeper to beat, tried to place the ball into the corner of the goal. Dale Roberts produced an excellent save to push the ball away for a corner. As Halifax came forward, Andy Campbell and Anthony Griffith both had chances but Diamonds were quick to close down and clear the danger.

Neither side were able to create opportunities and although the home defence looked slow on occasions, Diamonds were unable to exploit their advantage. It wasn’t until the 79th minute that there was another chance on goal. Lee Tomlin had replaced debutant David Brown minutes earlier and with his arrival came the chance for Diamonds to take advantage and get behind the defence. Burgess set Curtis Osano down the right and the full back cut inside and pushed the ball up to Tomlin. The keeper was fortunate to save Tomlin’s shot with his feet.

A long ball from the back then found Tomlin challenging the keeper on the edge of the box, but Adam Legzdins just managed to clear the ball away. Then just as the game was heading for a goalless draw, Diamonds took the lead on 87 minutes. Dean Howell sent a ball over the top of the defence and Lee Tomlin judged his run to perfection. With the defenders appealing to the linesman, the teenager took the ball towards goal and slipped it past Legzdins and into the net.

Halifax never really looked like getting an equaliser as Diamonds brought on Michael Corcoran in injury time for his debut. Andy Burgess tried a long shot, but it was Michael Rankine who got onto another long ball over the defence and powered forward leaving Legzdin no chance with his shot into the corner of the goal.

Full-time: Halifax Town 0 – 2 Rushden & Diamonds

So Diamonds wait to see who they will play in the quarter finals on 23rd February. The away fixture at Stafford Rangers scheduled for that date will be re-arranged (details will be announced as soon as possible). Diamonds have the chance to progress in the League Cup on Tuesday evening when they visit Aggborough to take on old rivals Kidderminster Harriers in the 5th Round of the Setanta Shield (Northern Section).

Teams:

Halifax Town – .Legzdins, Scott (Campbell 43), Doughty, Quinn, Killeen, Shaw (c), Nelthorpe (Gray 83), O’Callaghan (Stamp 90), Griffith, Bailey, Heslop.

Subs not used: Mawson, Ainge.

Rushden & Diamonds – Roberts, Osano, Gulliver, Hope (c), Challinor, Brown (Tomlin 75), Burgess, Rankine, Shaw, Kelly (Corcoran 90+2), Howell.

Subs not used: Bastock, Gooding, Hales.

Goals: Tomlin 87 (0-1), Rankine 90+3 (0-2).

Booked: Gulliver 7 (foul).

Referee: Mr C.D.Sarginson (Staffs)

Attendance: 1052 (71 away).

Reporters Man of the Match: Lee Tomlin

Other FA Trophy results

AFC Wimbledon 0 Torquay United 2

Aldershot Town 3 Braintree Town 0

Burton Albion 1 Histon 1

Crawley Town 8 Droylsden 0

Ebbsfleet United 1 Weymouth 0

Farsley Celtic v York (playing Sunday)

Stafford Rangers 2 Tamworth 2

By Dave Mason

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