FC Halifax Town boss Billy Heath has expressed his delight as Town managed to grind out a 2-1 victory against Stalybridge Celtic to reach the Fourth Qualifying Round of the Emirates FA Cup.
The Shaymen opened the scoring through Josh Wilde, only for former Town loan player Keil O’Brien to equalise on his return to the MBi Shay Stadium to go into half-time at 1-1. Luckily for Town, Danny Hone found space in the box to head home the winner, in what was a very well fought out game according to the manager.
“We were outstanding in the first half for about 35 minutes and should have been out of sight. We played some really good stuff then they had a good spell just before half time which you can expect. Then it got very broken up, that’s how Stalybridge like to play and we got dragged in”
“I think we deserved to win the game, even from the first 35 minutes because we were very good. It then became a war of attrition and we stood up to that. We fought fire with fire and, at the end of the day, we got the goal and we are through to the next round”
Town seemed to enjoy the more creative side of the game, producing more opportunities than the visitors. Although, ‘Bridge brought an intense, physical side to the game with the aim of breaking up Town’s play, something that Heath believes Town dealt with well.
“We totally dominated really. In the 45 minutes I don’t think they had a shot on goal, it was only the free kick that came in and unfortunately ‘Dents’ headed it into his own net but that was the only attempt they had on goal”
“You have to dig in against Stalybridge because they ask you a lot of physical questions. They make it difficult for you to play, you have to stand up to that and I think we did that today”
However, the physical battle brought with it some rising tensions. Stalybridge’s Andy Owens was caught in a tussle on several occasions with Hone. Much to the dismay of Town fans, referee Paul Marsden didn’t deem this as a sending off offence, something that Heath believed should have been different.
“It is difficult for me to say because the referee didn’t see it that way and he is the important one. I think a lot of people did see it in other ways but he didn’t deem to say it wasn’t”
“What I will say for the referee is that it was difficult for him to handle at times because it was a physical game. It is a difficult job but I was surprised when the lad stayed on”
Despite this, the Shaymen impressively managed to grind out the victory, keeping them in the hat for Monday night’s Fourth QR draw. For Heath, this is a factor from the game that he can especially be happy with.
“The good thing today is the resilience that we showed when we needed to dig in and scrap, we did that today and I’ve said all along that’s what you need to do. When things aren’t as fluent as you would like it to be you have to dig in and stop the opponent playing”
“We have got a big game next week so we will start with that one but it’s nice to be in the hat on Monday and it will be interesting to see who we do get.”