Preview: Harrogate Town vs Halifax Town
By Peter Hampshire
Harrogate Town host Yorkshire rivals FC Halifax Town at the CNG Stadium with a place in the FA Cup first round at stake.
Along with collecting the £12,500 prize money, victory for the visiting Shaymen would ensure a passage into the first round proper for the fourth consecutive year. It would be Harrogate’s first foray there since 2012.
American striker Jon-Paul Pittman, with nine goals in 12 appearances, faces a late fitness test and may be joined up front by 18-year-old Bradford City loanee Reece Webb-Foster, eligible for his debut.
Halifax will look to target man Tom Denton, with eight goals in 13 matches this season, to break through a resilient Harrogate defence, which includes former Shayman Simon Ainge who played in Halifax’s first round exit to Bradford City in 2014.
Harrogate have enjoyed an unbeaten start at home this year, winning seven out of nine at the CNG since installing a plastic pitch in pre-season. Halifax, who lost 1-0 in the league encounter between the two sides in August, have won four of their eight matches on the road this season.
The hosts, who fell at this hurdle last year, needed a replay to overcome FC United of Manchester in the previous round. Halifax narrowly beat Stalybridge Celtic including a goal from defender Danny Hone, ruled out recently for six weeks with a medial ligament injury.
The draw for the 1st round will take place on BBC2 at 7pm, Monday, with the winner of this encounter taking ball number 52. Reputable teams entering at this stage include Bradford City, Sheffield United and Bolton Wanderers.