The Buildbase FA Trophy

Grimsby and Halifax take steps towards Wembley Trophy final

Saturday 12 Mar 2016
Grimsby's Nathan Arnold celebrates after he scores the only goal of the game

Jordan Burrow struck twice as FC Halifax Town placed one foot in the FA Trophy final with a 4-2 win at Nantwich Town in their semi-final first leg.

The Shaymen are in the thick of a relegation battle in the National League but they outclassed Northern Premier League side Nantwich to take a convincing lead into their home leg.

The FA Trophy

Semi-finals, first leg
Nantwich Town 2-4 FC Halifax Town
Bognor Regis Town 0-1 Grimsby Town
Saturday 12 March 2016
Winning sides receive £16,000 from The FA prize fund

Scott McManus and Waide Fairhurst each netted to hand the visitors an early two-goal lead before Sean Cooke pulled one back for the Dabbers late in the first half.

Burrow grabbed a double after the break to ease Halifax into a 4-1 lead and while Matty Kosylo pulled a second goal back for the home side, they are left with a mountain to climb if they are to reach the Wembley final.

Halifax took the lead in the second minute when Burrow swept the ball across to McManus who charged in with a first time left-footed finish.

And Halifax doubled their lead in the 19th minute after a looped corner was accidentally flicked back into the six-yard box by the Nantwich defence, allowing Fairhurst to pounce.

Nantwich almost found a way back into the game in the 23rd minute when Kosylo bore down on goal but Matty Brown got back in the nick of time to clear his effort over the bar for a corner.

Nantwich’s pressure eventually paid dividends in the 42nd minute when the lively Kosylo laid off to Cooke on the edge of the box who drilled the ball past goalkeeper Sam Johnson.

Nantwich got off to the worst possible start in the second half when Burrow found the ball at his feet and coolly slotted home from 14 yards within 13 seconds of the whistle.

And, on the hour mark, Josh McDonald was brought down by a clumsy challenge inside the box, allowing Burrow to step up and fire low into the bottom left-hand corner.

As the half wore on, Nantwich began to dominate proceedings with Kosylo looking like their best outlet.

Fans buy programmes at Bognor Regis Town's Neywood Lane

And he pulled one back for the Dabbers, controlling well before watching his deflected shot fly high into the net on the 76-minute mark.

Burrow threatened on more than one occasion to complete his hat-trick but it finished 4-2 to the Shaymen.

Grimsby Town also took a significant step towards Wembley in their semi-final, travelling to Bognor Regis Town and collecting a 1-0 win.

The National League high-flyers were made to work hard by the Rocks, who play their league football two tiers below Grimsby in the Isthmian Premier.

However, Nathan Arnold found a way through a quarter of an hour from the end to leave Bognor with a stiff challenge in the return fixture next weekend.

Doug Tuck of Bognor Regis battles for the ball with Grimsby

Doug Tuck of Bognor Regis battles for the ball with Grimsby's Anthony Straker

Danny East caused his fair share of problems for the hosts in the first half, twice crossing well for Pat Hoban but the striker could not connect sweetly on either occasion.

Grimsby captain Craig Disley fired wide early in the second half as the Mariners continued to struggle in front of goal, prompting the introduction of top-scorer Padraig Amond on the hour mark.

It was a Bognor substitute who was next to threaten, Stuart Green bursting forward from midfielder only to fire over the target.

However, Amond soon played his part in the opener, flicking on Grimsby keeper James McKeown’s clearance for Arnold to smash home.

And Jon-Paul Pittman almost made it two in the dying stages, firing goalwards from a narrow angle only for Rocks stopper Grant Smith to produce a smart save.

The first ever Non-League Finals Day takes place at Wembley Stadium on Sunday 22 May – with The FA Trophy final taking place immediately after the FA Vase decider.

Buy tickets now.
By Paddy von Behr Reporter