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FC Halifax Town 1-1 Dartford
DARTFORD earned a second bite of the cherry in last night’s tense FA Trophy quarter-final tie at FC Halifax Town.
The winners of next Wednesday’s replay will face Grimsby Town in the two-legged semi-finals.
The three-times postponed tie finally got under way at Shay Stadium after Herculean efforts from the home groundstaff and a band of volunteer supporter help.
Right until kick-off, Mother Nature was lurking to spoil the party at the very last.
It may be better to journey in hope than to arrive but recent adverse weather conditions and road traffic problems meant Darts' final few miles to the stadium seemed more like days and, certainly, everyone sighed in relief when referee Mr Evans got matters underway.
As might be expected, the full-time hosts showed first, guided in the main by the probing Dan Gardner who made good use of the ball.
Darts were still shorn of influential leader Elliot Bradbrook but were determined not to be drawn out of position, however much Gardner, Lee Gregory and Gareth Seddon tried.
It was Gregory, jinking through the Darts' rearguard, who set up Seddon on 12 minutes but the latter fired well over.
Up front, Nathan Collier, who gets better match by match, was keeping the home rearguard busy, well-supplied as he was by Ryan Hayes out wide right and Richrad Rose marauding left.
Just as Halifax were looking to settle into their stride, Chris Worsley launched a two-footed lunge on Mark Arber and was sent off, thus blunting his team’s hopes of progress.
Despite this, Halifax took the lead soon afterwards when Gregory got free up the left and beat Marcus Bettinelli to put the home side one up, although the goal had more than a suspicion of handball about it.
As normal Darts came much more into things after the turnaround and a dual substitution on the hour brought Danny Harris on for Jacob Erskine and Lee Noble for Jon Wallis.
Gradually, too, Darts' back four were squeezing forward, inviting the knock into the space behind the line where the home forwards would be well matched by Lee Burns and Rose.
It was from a Hayes free-kick that Darts levelled when Danny Harris headed past home keeper Matt Glennon with a little over 20 minutes left.
Now it's all up for grabs for the right to take on Grimsby Town, who obstruct the route to Wembley.
Still, we do know a bit about the Fishermen!
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Dartford: Betinelli, Burns, Champion, Arber, Rose, Hayes, Wallis (Noble 60), Bonner, Green, Collier, Erskine (Harris 60). Subs not used: Rogers, Evans, Wells. Att: 921.