FC Halifax Town 1 Morecambe 0: King ensures Halifax will be counting cash

Cameron King scored the goal that saw FC Halifax Town beat Morecambe on Tuesday night.
Cameron King scored the goal that saw FC Halifax Town beat Morecambe on Tuesday night.
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QUITE a night for FC Halifax, who in claiming a first Football League scalp since reforming a little over a decade ago earned themselves a welcome six-figure cash windfall.

Cameron King’s first-half strike was enough to send the Shaymen through to the FA Cup second round where they will meet AFC Wimbledon.

Thanks to BT Sport having already selected the tie for live broadcast on December 1 in the lunchtime slot, the National League side will receive a £75,000 payment.

Throw in the £36,000 prize money banked for safely negotiating the first round and the financial value of this victory over League Two Morecambe cannot be overstated for a club such as Halifax, whose gross annual income for the last accounts available in 2016-17 was a little under £1.2m.

Football, of course, is about glory and not pound signs. In that respect, last night was one to truly savour for Jamie Fullarton’s side.

The past three months have not been easy in the National League, Saturday’s win over bottom club Dover Athletic being their first in 12 outings.

But Halifax were full value for a victory that brought a first Football League scalp at the fourth attempt.

Charlton Athletic, Bradford City and Wycombe Wanderers had all triumphed at The Shay in the Cup since FC Halifax had been formed from the ruins of the old bankrupt club in 2008.

Morecambe, through, rarely looked like joining that list against a side who had clearly been sent out to seize the initiative by Fullarton.

With Matty Kosylo at his tricky best on the left and Jordan Preston’s pace terrifying the Shrimps down the other flank, the Shaymen dominated the first half.

Josh Staunton should have broken the deadlock inside four minutes, the midfielder stabbing wide from six yards out after Mark Halstead had spilled a 35-yard shot from Ryan Sellers that had bounced awkwardly in front of the Morecambe goalkeeper.

Staunton’s face betrayed the sense this could have been a costly miss even at such an early stage.

King, however, had other ideas with his dart forward after being released by Dayle Southwell being followed by a lovely shimmy past a back-pedalling defence.

Then, with just Halstead to beat, the former Norwich City junior found the corner of the net with aplomb.

Kosylo thought he had doubled Halifax’s advantage after reacting quickest to a knockdown from Southwell’s free-kick only for a very late flag for offside from assistant Helen Byrne to cut short his celebrations.

The hosts also hit the crossbar when Sellers’s corner was turned onto the crossbar by Halstead, who later had to turn away a searing drive from Niall Maher to ensure the League side went in at the break only a goal behind.

Morecambe had offered little in the first half with former York City striker Vadaine Oliver horribly isolated as his team-mates looked to stem the tide of blue shirts heading towards the empty North Stand.

Matters improved for the visitors after the break, at least in terms of possession with Halifax struggling to get out of their own half.

Goalkeeper Sam Johnson, however, was rarely tested thanks to the protection offered by his hard-working defence.

Ajay Leitch-Smith was twice left frustrated when goalbound efforts were suddenly blocked by a Halifax head, Matty Brown throwing himself in front of the first before Nathan Clarke matched his defensive partner with an equally brave block.

Oliver then fired over under pressure from Clarke, as did Rhys Oates from the edge of the area as Halifax were forced deeper and deeper into their own territory.

Morecambe could not even be saved by the late introduction of Shrimps talisman Kevin Ellison, one of only two current players in the Football League to have been born when Halifax enjoyed surely their finest Cup victory.

That came way back in January, 1980, when top flight Manchester City were humbled on a mudbath of a pitch in front of the TV cameras.

Paul Hendrie, father of former England international Lee, got the goal that memorable afternoon with a clinical finish from close range.

King’s effort cannot be compared to that memorable strike, but he can still claim a footnote of his own in Calderdale footballing folklore by firing FC Halifax into the second round for only the second time in the club’s fledgling history.

Follow it with another strike against Wimbledon to earn a possible crack at the ‘big boys’ in round three and maybe even Hendrie will have a rival in the Cup hero stakes.

FC Halifax Town: Johnson; Hanson, Brown, Clarke, Sellers; Staunton, Maher; Preston (Odelusi 89), King, Kosylo; Southwell (Edwards 86). Unused substitutes: Rowley, Lenighan, McLeod.

Morecambe: Halstead; Mills, Lavelle, Old, Conlan; Mandeville, Wildig (Oswell 77), Cranston (Tutte 55), Oates (Ellison 86); Leitch-Smith, Oliver. Unused substitutes: Szczepaniak, Kenyon, Tutte, Thompson, Yarney.

Referee: M Coy (County Durham).