FC Halifax Town book place in FA Trophy final at Wembley in most dramatic way against Altrincham

FC HALIFAX TOWN will play at Wembley for only the second time in their history after beating Altrincham in a dramatic penalty shoot-out in the semi-finals of the FA Trophy.

Jordan Hulme's goal for Altrincham looked to have knocked The Shaymen out, but Milli Alli's stunning strike with nearly the last kick of the game sent the tie to penalties.

And Halifax held their nerve, helped by two saves by Sam Johnson, to book their place in the final.

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With drama reminiscent of Town's quarter-final win at Gateshead in 2016, The Shaymen did it the hard way but somehow navigated their way to the capital.

WEMBLEY-BOUND: FC Halifax Town manager Chris Millington. Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe.WEMBLEY-BOUND: FC Halifax Town manager Chris Millington. Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe.
WEMBLEY-BOUND: FC Halifax Town manager Chris Millington. Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe.

Altrincham will still be shell-shocked by May 21.

The only surprise from the first-half was that it took pretty much all of it before Altrincham went in-front.

Joe Hugill fired just wide early on before a dangerous run and cross by Josh Lundstram forced the first of several important clearances inside his own box by Angelo Capello.

A shot on target from range by Matty Warburton midway through the first-half was against the run of play.

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Altrincham had settled far better, playing with confidence, passing with authority, moving with intelligence.

Lundstram and midfielder partner Isaac Marriott were controlling the game, dictating where the ball went and when.

Altrincham were slicker and smoother, more assured in possession, producing the better, more effective football.

While Halifax's passages of play seemed to stop before they even reached the Altrincham box, the home side found it too easy to penetrate The Shaymen.

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Hulme produced a lovely effort from the edge of the box with the outside of his right foot which was tipped straight to Eddy Jones by Sam Johnson, but the Altrincham man didn’t have time to react and the ball hit him and went wide.

A deflected shot by Hulme was then parried away by Johnson before another crucial block by Capello from Eddy Jones' shot.

Alli - one of three changes along with Mani Dieseruvwe and Jesse Debrah - produced a moment of magic by slinking past two Altrincham defenders on the byline before shot was turned behind.

From the corner, Dieseruvwe's header was saved by Ollie Byrne. Still against the run of play though.

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Like at Chesterfield last Saturday, just when it looked like Town would make it to half-time unscathed, they conceded.

A shot by Lundstram was brilliantly blocked after a cross from the right, but the rebound was turned in by Hulme from close range.

Alli led the Town response after half-time, looking by far Town's biggest - and arguably only - threat, seeing a shot deflected over and then one saved by Byrne before Warburton's follow-up effort was also kept out.

Miles Welch-Hayes brought a decent save from Sam Johnson after a lovely first touch to control a long pass, while Warburton's shot on the turn in the Altrincham box was blocked in-front of the line.

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It was better from Town but they were still struggling to gain control of the tie.

Welch-Hayes then dragged a shot wide on the break with the Town defence stretched and the game heading towards all-or-nothing territory and Wembley fading into the distance.

James Jones might have done better with a side-footed effort on the edge of the box straight at Johnson, but it came at the end of a prolonged spell of possession in and around the opposition box that Halifax needed to produce themselves.

Dieseruvwe squandered a huge chance when he could only prod wide when a free-kick dropped his way at close range.

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Maxi Oyedele then sent a shot crashing just wide from the edge of the area.

It wasn't still 1-0 for lack of chances.

Alli drove a shot into the side-netting after some fancy footwork, and then Johnson saved well from Hugill one on one.

Despite some late pressure, Altrincham were so close to Wembley they could almost see the arch but deep, deep, deep into added time, Alli let fly with a sensational strike from 25 yards into the bottom corner.

Jack Senior's spot-kick was saved, but then Luke Summerfield, Jamie Stott and Dieseruvwe scored.

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After Johnson saved penalties by Oyedele and Jones, Tyrese Sinclair's effort hit the bar, booking Town's place at Wembley.

Altrincham: Byrne, Welch-Hayes, J Jones, Ferguson (Osborne 90), Baines, E Jones, Lundstram, Marriott, Oyedele, Hulme (Sinclair 90), Hugill. Subs not used: Burgess, Pringle, Gould, Perritt, Bennett.

FC Halifax Town: Johnson, Debrah, Stott, J Senior, Golden (Harker 73), Summerfield, Gilmour, Capello (O'Rourke 89), Alli, Warburton (Cooke 63), Dieseruvwe. Subs not used: Clarke, Hunter, Keane, Arthur.

Referee: David Rock

Attendance: 4,771 (909 away)