FA Trophy: Jim Harvey puts Wembley back in locker

MANAGER Jim Harvey insisted his first thought remains on escaping the drop despite leading FC Halifax Town to a Wembley final for the first time in the club's history.
FC Halifax Town players celebrate reaching Wembley in the FA Trophy final (Picture: Bruce Fitzgerald).FC Halifax Town players celebrate reaching Wembley in the FA Trophy final (Picture: Bruce Fitzgerald).
FC Halifax Town players celebrate reaching Wembley in the FA Trophy final (Picture: Bruce Fitzgerald).

Halifax drew at home to Nantwich in the second leg of their FA Trophy semi-final to go through 6-4 on aggregate in front of just over 3,000 fans at The Shay.

Harvey was delighted to reach the final, where the Shaymen will face promotion-chasing Grimsby, but says his priority is still the battle to avoid the drop in the National League.

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He said: “That was hard viewing. For the first half we were shocking, but we grew into it in the second half and I felt the longer the game went on the stronger we were becoming.

“It’s just marvellous now that it’s over and we’ve all got the pleasure of looking forward to a trip to Wembley.

“That is absolutely brilliant. We can put it in the locker and pull it out in two months’ time and concentrate on the league. We’re still very much in a battle.

“Personally, it doesn’t mean a lot to me, I’ve got to keep the club up. Wembley is for everyone else to enjoy. But this result will fill the team full of confidence. They’ll want to play at Wembley so they’ll have to maintain their level of performance to stay in the team. That will help me.”

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Free clappers were given to the crowd before the game, and they were making quite a racket when Jordan Burrow put Halifax ahead after four minutes from six yards following an excellent run and cross by Josh Macdonald.

With this being Halifax, the easy way was not an option and the visitors duly equalised with their first attack when Liam Shotton beat Hamza Bencherif for pace to a through ball from Sean Cooke and swept the ball past the onrushing Sam Johnson.

Nantwich then dominated the opening half as Elliot Osbourne twice went close and Andy White hit the post.

Johnson made a fine save to deny Josh Hancock but, from the resulting corner, Matt Bailey headed the Evo-Stik Premier team in front.

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Shotton brought a superb save from Johnson before Burrow had a penalty saved by Terry Smith just before the interval.

Nantwich were less of a threat after the break, although Matty Kosylo and substitute Josh Gordon both went close.

Halifax could have settled the nerves when Nicky Wroe’s cross found Burrow, only for Smith to divert his low shot behind.

Nantwich’s fate was cruelly sealed, though, when the outstanding Andy White sent Burrow’s cross into his own net.

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FC Halifax Town: Johnson, Bolton, Bencherif, Brown, Roberts, McManus, Wroe, James, J Macdonald (Hibbs 73), Walker (S McDonald 53), Burrow (Peniket 90). Unused substitutes: Porter, Fairhurst.

Nantwich: Smith, White, Short, Harrison, Bailey (Moran 57), Osbourne, Kosylo, Hall (Bell 74), Shotton (Gordon 48), Cooke, Hancock. Unused substitutes: Burzynski, Bourne.

Referee: P Bankes.

Man of the match: Hamza Bencherif.