Tuesday 3rd March 2020 | 19:45
The Shay | Attendance: 1,637 (29 away)
Address: Shaw Hill, Halifax, HX1 2YT
Exactly two years ago, on 3 March 2018, Sutton were due to visit Halifax for the first time, only for the ‘Beast from the East’ to dump several inches of snow on The Shay and force the game to be postponed, U’s eventually making the trip in mid-April and losing to a last minute goal after Ross Lafayette had equalised. This time it was Storm Dennis’s turn to cause the postponement, and U’s trip to The Shay on March 3rd is for the rearranged fixture.
Since the original game was called off, Halifax have played once, losing at Torquay last Saturday before their visit to Eastleigh at the weekend fell victim to the weather. That was their first defeat in eight games, a run which has put them back on track in their quest for the play-offs after a good start to the season was followed by a run of eleven games which saw just one victory – the 1-0 win at Sutton at the end of October. They go in to tomorrow’s game in 5th place, fifteen points behind leaders Barrow.
Sutton are nine points behind tomorrow’s opponents after winning 1-0 at Bromley on Saturday, a first win in six games but extending a run in which U’s have lost just once in fourteen league games since late November. Craig Eastmond, who scored the only goal of last season’s meeting in stoppage time, could be available after suspension and injury.
We will have commentary on our Mixlr site from The Shay tomorrow.
Sutton suffered late disappointment at The Shay when a penalty from Devante Rodney three minutes from time, after Coby Rowe had been penalised for a foul on Nathan Clarke, gave Halifax the points that moved them up to third place in the league. With Harry Beautyman added to the injury list after training this morning, Rob Milsom captained the side from midfield alongside Jon Barden, with Tom Bolarinwa returning to the starting line-up at right back, while Callum Kealy started for the first time alongside Omar Bugiel up front. Halifax had a goal ruled out after just two minutes, Tobi Sho-Silva’s effort disallowed for offside, after which U’s defended well and threatened on the break in the second half as Will Randall had a shot saved, but Rowe’s high boot when defending a corner gave Rodney the chance to secure a win for the home side. Full report to follow.
Already without Eastmond and defender Louis John, U’s also lost Harry Beautyman to a tight hamstring in the morning, with Rob Milsom captaining the side and Jon Barden reverting to midfield alongside him, Tom Bolarinwa recalled to the starting line-up at right back. There was an early scare for U’s when Jeff King’s deep cross from the right found Danny Williams, who teed up Toby Sho-Silva for a low shot past Nik Tzanev, but the home celebrations were cut short as the assistant belatedly flagged Williams marginally offside.
That was the closest either side came to scoring in the first half on a heavy pitch showing the wear of having been used for a Championship Rugby League game two days earlier, with Sutton defending well but rarely a threat at the other end and Sam Johnson having a quiet evening. There was a half chance for Kyel Reid when the ball fell to him on the corner of the penalty area, but his first cross was easily cleared and his return shot lacked power. At the other end Sho-Silva’s shot was deflected just wide and King had penalty appeals waved aside after a challenge by Ben Wyatt, who looked none too impressed with his opponent, but after the early disallowed goal it didn’t improve the home team’s humour, Matty Brown booked after an aerial challenge had left Ben Goodliffe on the ground, and lucky not to have been viewed to have committed another yellow card offence in the aftermath, during which Barden was also booked, while manager Pete Wild was also shown a yellow card after Rodney had been penalised for a foul on Milsom.
The second half began in similar fashion, with Sho-Silva looping a header just wide, but there was more attacking intent from U’s as the half went on and they finally forced a save from Johnson with twenty minutes left, Will Randall cutting in from the left before firing in a low shot. Reid also had the keeper scrambling with a shot from further out, while Tzanev was also required to save a low 20-yard effort from Charlie Cooper and then to keep out a shot from substitute Jamie Allen.
A goalless draw seemed by far the likeliest outcome, though, but with minutes left Bolarinwa cleared a right wing cross under pressure from Josh Staunton which had U’s players looking at the referee, and Rowe’s raised foot from the resulting corner was penalised. Rodney had to wait a while for the penalty, first while Clarke received treatment and then after a scuffle which seemed to surround the location of the penalty spot in the mud, and for which Jack King was booked, but he kept cool to beat Tzanev. The relief for the home side was shown in the ecstatic celebrations, Rodney booked for running in to the crowd, and despite five minutes of stoppage time U’s were unable to prevent the home side’s victory.
Halifax: S Johnson, N Clarke, M Brown, T Sho-Silva(sub J Allen 66), J Staunton(sub L Nolan 90), J King, D Williams, C Cooper, J Redshaw(sub C King 74), N Maher, D Rodney. Subs n/u W Appleyard, J Binnom-Williams. Booked: Brown, J King.
Above photo courtesy of Darren Murphy/FC Halifax Town