CUP DREAM OVER

Yorkshire Post - Sports Monday - - FRONT PAGE - Dave Craven [email protected]­me­dia.co.uk @DCravenYPS­port

Hal­i­fax bow out of FA Cup, but Barns­ley Don­caster and Brad­ford in the hat

FOOT­BALL, like all sports, is so of­ten a game cen­tred around ‘what if ’ mo­ments.

Hal­i­fax Town’s Matty Ko­sylo found him­self pon­der­ing one such in­stance fol­low­ing Satur­day’s FA Cup loss to AFC Wim­ble­don.

If the mid­fielder had fin­ished off his bril­liant 70m run it would have been one of the great­est goals of his ca­reer.

Granted, it would not have been re­played as much as Lawrie Sanchez’s fa­mous win­ner for Wim­ble­don – the op­po­si­tion’s orig­i­nal in­car­na­tion – in the shock 1988 FA Cup fi­nal vic­tory over Liver­pool.

How­ever, be­ing in front of the live tele­vi­sion cam­eras at The Shay, it would cer­tainly have been one of the com­pe­ti­tion’s more mem­o­rable ef­forts and a fine way to send Hal­i­fax into the third round for the first time since their own ref­or­ma­tion in 2008.

Un­for­tu­nately, for the Shay­men at least, with the in­trigu­ing tie still goal­less, Ko­sylo’s break­away surge, after pick­ing up a loose ball from a Wim­ble­don cor­ner, did not have the req­ui­site fin­ish in the 20th minute.

The 26-year-old al­most did ev­ery­thing right; he ini­tially left An­thony Hart­ing­ton in his wake in the mid­dle of the field, then iso­lated the back-track­ing last de­fender, feigned to pass to Dayle South­well at just the right mo­ment be­fore coolly slot­ting it past the ad­vanc­ing goal­keeper.

The ball, though, cru­elly struck a post and re­bounded out, al­low­ing League One Wim­ble­don to breathe yet an­other sigh of re­lief, hav­ing been ut­terly out­played by their Na­tional League op­po­nents.

Hal­i­fax had am­ple more chances but, cru­cially, none were taken; in­stead, their vis­i­tors went ahead via Ben Pur­ring­ton’s de­flected shot in the 42nd minute against the run of play. It set­tled them suf­fi­ciently to emerge in the sec­ond pe­riod and ex­ert more au­thor­ity of their own, two goals in three min­utes mid­way through the half end­ing any hopes of a Cup shock as they went 3-0 ahead.

“I don’t want to talk about it,” con­ceded Ko­sylo, when quizzed about that chance against op­po­nents who, let us not for­get, are 40 places above them in the foot­ball pyra­mid.

“I was in two minds; I wanted to go through on my own but, at the same time, if I’d have got tack­led Dayle would have gone mad.

“I thought about tak­ing the keeper on as well but he stood up and that’s what made me go early. To be fair, it’s un­lucky.

“It’s hit a post and even then, as it’s re­bounded out, if Dayle’s one yard to the left rather than the right it’s a goal. It’s just un­lucky.

“We’re re­ally dis­ap­pointed. If that chance had gone in and Cam (King) had scored with a cou­ple of chances... We dom­i­nated it.

“We need to start tak­ing our chances as it’s go­ing to come back and bite us.

“That has de­cided the game; us not scor­ing in the first half. I thought we could have got into the third round. It was a good op­por­tu­nity.”

In­stead, then, of go­ing into tonight’s draw with the likes of Manch­ester United, Liver­pool and Chelsea, Jamie Fullarton’s side must con­tem­plate Satur­day’s re­turn to Na­tional League ac­tion at Da­gen­ham & Red­bridge.

In all fair­ness, even if they had pros­pered in the Cup, this would still be their pri­or­ity; they sit 16th in the ta­ble, just a place and two points be­hind their op­po­nents but too close to the rel­e­ga­tion zone for com­fort as well.

Hal­i­fax will take plenty of pos­i­tives from Satur­day’s game back into that league cam­paign; they played with a real con­vic­tion and as­sured­ness in that first half against the Dons, creat­ing the vast ma­jor­ity of the chances.

King, in par­tic­u­lar, pro­duced some de­light­ful foot­ball play­ing just in be­hind South­well al­though he will be a doubt for their next out­ing, hav­ing come off with an in­jury in the sec­ond pe­riod.

South­well thought he should have had a penalty in the fi­nal mo­ments of the first half after chal­leng­ing for Ko­sylo’s cross un­der the cross­bar, so much so he was booked for protest­ing.

Wim­ble­don made the most of the let-off; An­thony Wordsworth’s princely goal from the edge of the area in the 72nd minute was fol­lowed by Joe Pig­ott’s scram­bled ef­fort just three min­utes later. Still, Hal­i­fax did get some re­wards for their ef­fort when Niall Ma­her worked his way down the left clev­erly, former Brad­ford City striker James Han­son only man­ag­ing to di­rect his header past his own goal­keeper in the 85th minute.

Jonathan Ed­wards went close soon after as the hosts fin­ished with a flour­ish.

Fullarton said: “We’re dis­ap­pointed but it’s the re­al­ity of foot­ball isn’t it? When you’re on top and play like we did, get­ting those chances, it’s vi­tal you score.

“Wim­ble­don then showed their qual­ity – which­ever way you look at it, they are two di­vi­sions above us – and we were pun­ished.

“We can’t ask any more from the play­ers; they were im­mense in their ap­proach, at­ti­tude to work and some of the pas­sages of play in the first half were ex­cel­lent.

“I’m dis­ap­pointed for them – not with them – and that’s a sub­tlety in the use of the word but it’s true. The sec­ond goal was the killer, not so much the first one. But there was a lot of pos­i­tives to take. For an hour, you couldn’t tell which was the League One side and which was the Na­tional League.”

FC Hal­i­fax Town: John­son, Han­son, Clarke, Brown, Sellers, Staunton, Ma­her, Pre­ston, King (McLeod 62), Ko­sylo, South­well (Ed­wards 76). Un­used sub­sti­tutes: Row­ley, Duck­worth, Skarz, Odelusi.

Wim­ble­don: McDon­nell, Dur­ring­ton, Oshi­laja, Nightin­gale, Mc­Don­ald, Har­ti­gan, Soares (Trot­ter 63), Wordsworth (Wagstaff 74), Jervis (Han­son 74), Pinnock, Pig­gott. Un­used

sub­sti­tutes: King, Wat­son, Thomas, Burey.

PIC­TURES: BRUCE FITZGER­ALD

PIL­ING ON THE PRES­SURE: FC Hal­i­fax Town play­ers take the FA Cup sec­ond-round en­counter against AFC Wim­ble­don to the Foot­ball League side in Satur­day’s en­counter at The Shay.

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