Football: Rail' find winning formula as goals evade Town

HARROGATE Railway picked up their first win of the season today, beating Halifax Town 2-1 at home in the FA Trophy.

Under the eye of caretaker boss Stuart Waddington Rail' took a 2-0 lead through Ben Jones and Nathan Cartman.

Although the Shaymen pulled one back, Rail' held firm to claim passage to the next round.

Meanwhile HARROGATE TOWN drew 0-0 at Stafford Rangers, meaning they drop to third behind Tamworth in the Blue Square North.

Until Saturday, Railway had failed to pick up a victory in any competition since the season began, and are currently sitting second from bottom in UniBond Division One North.

With the results seemingly refusing to turn, boss Dave Morgan resigned from the job on Monday which meant the reins for the Trophy clash were handed to assistant coach Stuart Waddington.

And on Saturday's evidence, it would certainly be hard to argue against giving Waddington the top job.

Railway looked composed, hard-working and determined not to let their advantage slip.

A beaming Waddington was overjoyed with his battling troops.

"It was a fantastic game, I'm so proud of the lads as they gave me everything they had, " he said.

"Obviously you've got to give credit to Halifax, they're a big club and played some decent football, and had a lot of possession, but we knew their strengths and knew if we could get our game going we could cause them problems.

"I thought we had the best of it down the left, down the right and the middle, and it could have actually been more in end, maybe three or four instead of two-one.

"The lads gave me a million per cent, the chairman was here watching, so hopefully he'll give me the chance because I have definitely thrown my hat in the ring."

On paper, nobody would really have given Railway a chance, but Halifax themselves are struggling for form and despite a wealth of scoring opportunities the Shaymen could not find a way past a resilient Railway defence, superbly marshalled by skipper James Riley.

The West Yorkshiremen enjoyed a great deal of possession and laid siege to Railway's goal for large periods of the game.

But they could not find their scoring groove, and in stark contrast, Railway took their chances when they had them,

Halifax could have taken a lead as early as the fifth minute, when Riley felled centreforward Colin Daniel on the edge of the box, but despite loud protests from their travelling support, Halifax were denied a spot kick.

Striker Ashley Stott then fashioned a chance in the tenth minute, rifling a shot at goal but 'keeper Liam Sutcliffe made a terrific block with his legs.

In a cruel twist for Halifax, it was a man who had spent the entire pre-season at the Shay who claimed the opener.

After Railway won a free kick outside the box, on-loan Leeds United winger Nathan Cartman (roundly booed by the Halifax fans) was on hand to whip in the ball, and an unmarked Ben Jones rose above his man to head home Railway's first.

The hosts didn't have much time to relax, as Sutcliffe was called on once again to make a terrific save to stop Daniel's powerful header entering the net, after Danny Meadowcroft nodded across.

Daniel was a constant menace, as was strike partner Stott, but despite a barrage of shots from Halifax, Sutcliffe refused to be beaten and with Riley and Rob Morgan battling hard in the centre of the defence, Railway held on to their lead by the break.

The pressure continued from the visitors after the restart, but valiant work from Railway was somehow keeping their lead intact.

Rail' strike duo, Daniel Forrest and Jones, was making some great forays into the Halifax box, and harnessing the pace and trickery of Cartman handed Halifax's lacklustre defence some serious problems.

And their persistence paid off in the 57th minute, as when Jones let off a shot at goal, the ball came back out to left back Scott Ryan who poked the ball back into the box allowing Cartman to smash past a hapless Jon Kennedy.

Two goals to the good and it seemed too good to be true for a nervous Railway support.

And tenuous celebrations were put on hold shortly afterwards when a sloppy pass-back from midfielder Joel Etienne to defender Dan Verity was intercepted by Daniel who fired home past Sutcliffe.

Halifax threw everything they had at Railway as the game's final 15 minutes played out, but despite dangerous shots from Justin Walker, Lincoln Adams and sub' Junior Adams it was all over for the visitors as a towering Rail' defence refused to give an inch.

Railway could have had another through attempts from both Forrest and Jones, but at the final whistle, a 2-1 victory was sweet enough reward.

Harrogate Railway: Liam Sutcliffe, Dan Thirkell, Scott Ryan, Dan Verity, Jame Riley, Rob Morgan, Joel Etienne (Lee Ryan 70), Andy Markham, Daniel Facey (Dan Forrest 13, Dean Walters on for for Forrest 80), Ben Jones, Nathan Cartman; Subs not used Ryan Haigh, Steve Ball.

Halifax Town: Jon Kennedy, Cavell Coo, Luke Hinsley (Danny Ellis HT), Lincoln Adams, Danny Meadowcroft, Scott Phelan, Johnny Smith (Junior Brown 67), Justin Walker, Ashley Scott (Nigel Jemson), Colin Daniel, Peter Moore; Subs not used Craig Smith, Craig Ellison.