FC HALIFAX Town bagged their first piece of silverware on the grandest stage of all as a 1-0 defeat of Grimsby Town secured the FA Trophy at Wembley yesterday.
A stunning finish from Scott McManus provided the only goal of the game to keep the FA Trophy in Yorkshire following North Ferriby United’s success last year.
Relegated from the National League in heart-breaking fashion three weeks earlier, the Shaymen made a mockery of the opposite directions in which these two clubs are heading this summer with Grimsby bound for League Two.
Both teams had one decent chance apiece during a rather flat opening 45 minutes. For Halifax, Jordan Burrow was the man who went close with a shot from an acute angle that found the side-netting after latching on to a wayward back header.
That came after just eight minutes and it wasn’t until beyond the half-hour mark that Grimsby replied with an effort worthy of the name.
A corner by Jon Nolan was met by Andy Monkhouse, a target for the Shaymen last summer, and his header looped towards goal only for loanee goalkeeper Sam Johnson to claw the ball to safety at full stretch.
Johnson’s only other vaguely worrying moment of that tepid first half came when Padraig Amond met Richard Tait’s cross but could only head straight at the Port Vale man.
It was a let-off for the Shaymen and one they capitalised on in quite stunning fashion three minutes into the second half.
A slide rule pass released Richard Peniket down the left wing.
His cross was blocked by James McKeown but, when Richard Tait tried to complete the clearance, the full-back could only find McManus.
Taking a touch, the left-back – who just last week committed his future to Halifax by signing a new two-year deal – then struck a quite sublime shot that flew over the by now stranded McKeown and into the net.
Grimsby then rallied as Paul Hurst brought Nathan Arnold off the bench and switched to a three-man attack. The Mariners also found a sense of urgency as Arnold fired wide and then saw his shot saved smartly by Johnson.
Jon-Paul Pittman then had a drive bravely blocked by Hamza Bencherif before Gregor Robertson headed straight at Johnson from an Arnold corner.
Grimsby poured forward left gaps for Halifax to exploit and Connor Hughes was twice denied a shot on goal, first by McKeown’s quick feet and then a wonderful sliding tackle from Aristote Nsiala.
As the game moved deep into stoppage time, Grimsby launched one final assault that even involved goalkeeper McKeown joining the attack.
The Mariners could muster just one late chance, however, and Johnson was equal to the shot that followed a forceful run from Arnold.
The only blot on a wonderful day, in fact, was a potentially serious injury suffered by Town’s goalscoring hero.
“Scott is loved by the supporters,” said Halifax boss Jim Harvey. “For him to score with his right foot, which he stands on usually, was wonderful.
“That will live long in the memory of supporters. I just hope the injury is not too bad. The physio thinks it could be a cruciate ligament injury.”