A late penalty from Lee Gregory gave FC Halifax a slim advantage going into the second leg of their Conference Premier play-off semi-final with Cambridge.

Gregory slotted home his 31st goal of the season after Josh Coulson pushed Matty Pearson in the area.

Earlier, U's striker Sam Smith fired over from close range and Shaymen counterpart Gregory drew a fine save from Adam Smith in an even first half.

The teams meet again on Sunday for a place at Wembley.

The Shaymen reached the play-offs thanks largely to boasting the second best home record in the division.

Their only home defeat came in a 4-3 reverse to Woking in December but it was the visitors who started on the front foot.

Liam Hughes and Ryan Donaldson went close with headed efforts in the opening minutes before striker Sam Smith, making his first appearance of the season for the U's, volleyed over from six yards.

That let-off sparked the hosts into life and top scorer Gregory forced an excellent stop from visiting keeper Adam Smith with a flicked header and, from the resultant corner, Paul Marshall's volley was scrambled off the line.

The part-timers started the second half as they ended the first and Lois Maynard headed just over from an Adam Smith corner.

Thereafter the game grew scrappier and both teams turned more to long throws in deteriorating conditions.

With the match seemingly set to end goalless Coulson's silly foul on Pearson left Gregory to send Smith the wrong way from the spot.

Cambridge, for whom midfielder Luke Chadwick was quiet, will need to improve in the second leg if they are to keep alive their chances of a return to the Football League after nine years in non-league.

Cambridge United boss Richard Money told BBC Radio Cambridgeshire:

Money puzzled by lack of goals

"I thought for maybe an hour - a bit longer - we were good, very good.

"There was the pressure of being pushed deeper and deeper. But they're the sort of team where you have to be in the right place all of the time. The one occasion that you're not, you get punished for it.

"It's all to play for. They've run off the pitch like they're already through. And we have to make sure Sunday is as much of a cauldron as this was here.

"This is a difficult place to come, but I thought we were worthy of coming off the pitch level."

Lineup, Bookings (2) & Substitutions (3)

FC Halifax Town

  • 01 Glennon
  • 29 Bolton
  • 06 Lowe
  • 18 Marshall
  • 23 Smith
  • 15 Roberts
  • 07 Smith Booked (Spencer - 73' )
  • 20 Maynard
  • 11 Gregory
  • 05 Pearson Booked
  • 03 McManus

Substitutes

  • 12 Senior
  • 16 Worthington
  • 22 Ainge
  • 28 Crowther
  • 40 Spencer

Cambridge United

  • 25 Smith
  • 02 Roberts
  • 03 Taylor
  • 08 Champion
  • 04 Coulson
  • 06 Miller
  • 07 Donaldson
  • 17 Hughes
  • 10 Elliott
  • 20 Smith (Barnes-Homer - 91' )
  • 22 Chadwick (Dunk - 72' )

Substitutes

  • 05 Bonner
  • 09 Cunnington
  • 11 Dunk
  • 18 Berry
  • 39 Barnes-Homer
Ref: Simon Bennett

Match Stats

Shots

16 9

On target

3 3

Corners

0 0

Fouls

14 10

Live Text Commentary

+4:00 Full time

Full Time Match ends, FC Halifax Town 1, Cambridge United 0.

90:00 +3:00 Full time

Full Time Second Half ends, FC Halifax Town 1, Cambridge United 0.

90:00 +2:45

Attempt missed. Josh Coulson (Cambridge United) right footed shot from a difficult angle on the right is too high.

90:00 +0:37 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Cambridge United. Matthew Barnes-Homer replaces Sam Smith.

90:00 +0:30

Foul by Lee Gregory (FC Halifax Town).

90:00 +0:30

Kevin Roberts (Cambridge United) wins a free kick.

89:29

Offside, Cambridge United. Sam Smith tries a through ball, but Sam Smith is caught offside.

88:36

Attempt missed. Lois Maynard (FC Halifax Town) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the right.

86:46

Attempt missed. Matthew Pearson (FC Halifax Town) right footed shot from outside the box is too high.

85:31

Corner, FC Halifax Town.

82:40 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! FC Halifax Town 1, Cambridge United 0. Lee Gregory (FC Halifax Town) converts the penalty with a right footed shot to the top right corner.

81:26

Penalty conceded by Josh Coulson (Cambridge United) after a foul in the penalty area.

81:26

Penalty FC Halifax Town. Matthew Pearson draws a foul in the penalty area.

80:39

Attempt missed. Chris Smith (FC Halifax Town) header from the right side of the box misses to the right.

78:41

Foul by Kevin Roberts (Cambridge United).

78:41

Scott McManus (FC Halifax Town) wins a free kick.

78:09

Attempt missed. Scott Spencer (FC Halifax Town) right footed shot from the left side of the box misses to the right.

77:36

Attempt blocked. Matthew Pearson (FC Halifax Town) right footed shot from the right side of the box is blocked.

72:07 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, FC Halifax Town. Scott Spencer replaces Adam Smith.

71:44 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Cambridge United. Harrison Dunk replaces Luke Chadwick.

67:17

Corner, Cambridge United.

65:46

Corner, FC Halifax Town.

65:08

Attempt missed. Tom Elliott (Cambridge United) header from the right side of the box misses to the right. Assisted by Liam Hughes.

64:48

Corner, Cambridge United.

63:13

Foul by Marc Roberts (FC Halifax Town).

63:13

Sam Smith (Cambridge United) wins a free kick.

62:47

Hand ball by Chris Smith (FC Halifax Town).

61:40

Foul by Scott McManus (FC Halifax Town).

61:40

Tom Elliott (Cambridge United) wins a free kick.

61:04

Attempt missed. Kevin Roberts (Cambridge United) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the right.

57:58

Corner, Cambridge United.

55:13

Foul by Lee Gregory (FC Halifax Town).

55:13

Ian Miller (Cambridge United) wins a free kick.

54:29

Attempt saved. Liam Hughes (Cambridge United) left footed shot from outside the box is saved.

49:52

Attempt missed. Marc Roberts (FC Halifax Town) header from the right side of the six yard box is too high. Assisted by Adam Smith.

49:19

Corner, FC Halifax Town.

47:46 Booking

Booking Adam Smith (FC Halifax Town) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

47:40

Foul by Adam Smith (FC Halifax Town).

47:40

Ryan Donaldson (Cambridge United) wins a free kick.

46:51

Foul by Tom Champion (Cambridge United).

46:51

Lois Maynard (FC Halifax Town) wins a free kick.

45:59

Attempt missed. Paul Marshall (FC Halifax Town) left footed shot from outside the box is too high.

45:25

Corner, FC Halifax Town.

45:00

Second Half begins FC Halifax Town 0, Cambridge United 0.

45:00 +1:01 Half time

Half Time First Half ends, FC Halifax Town 0, Cambridge United 0.

41:51

Attempt saved. Ryan Donaldson (Cambridge United) left footed shot from the left side of the box is saved.

41:03

Attempt missed. Matthew Pearson (FC Halifax Town) header from the left side of the box misses to the right.

40:02

Attempt missed. Adam Smith (FC Halifax Town) left footed shot from outside the box misses to the right.

37:38

Foul by Liam Hughes (Cambridge United).

37:38

Chris Smith (FC Halifax Town) wins a free kick.

33:40

Foul by Marc Roberts (FC Halifax Town).

33:40

Tom Elliott (Cambridge United) wins a free kick.

33:07

Attempt missed. Matthew Pearson (FC Halifax Town) header from outside the box misses to the right.

31:30

Attempt missed. Lee Gregory (FC Halifax Town) right footed shot from the right side of the box is too high.

29:46

Attempt missed. James Bolton (FC Halifax Town) right footed shot from the right side of the box misses to the right.

29:34

Attempt saved. Scott McManus (FC Halifax Town) left footed shot from outside the box is saved.

28:51

Corner, FC Halifax Town.

28:40

Attempt saved. Lee Gregory (FC Halifax Town) header from a difficult angle on the left is saved.

26:28 Booking

Booking Matthew Pearson (FC Halifax Town) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

26:19

Foul by Matthew Pearson (FC Halifax Town).

26:19

Ian Miller (Cambridge United) wins a free kick.

25:03

Foul by Tom Elliott (Cambridge United).

25:03

Marc Roberts (FC Halifax Town) wins a free kick.

23:10

Hand ball by Sam Smith (Cambridge United).

22:37

Foul by Luke Chadwick (Cambridge United).

22:37

Danny Lowe (FC Halifax Town) wins a free kick.

21:53

Foul by Paul Marshall (FC Halifax Town).

21:53

Luke Chadwick (Cambridge United) wins a free kick.

20:34

Foul by Matthew Pearson (FC Halifax Town).

20:34

Ian Miller (Cambridge United) wins a free kick.

19:12

Foul by Paul Marshall (FC Halifax Town).

19:12

Tom Champion (Cambridge United) wins a free kick.

18:10

Attempt missed. Sam Smith (Cambridge United) left footed shot from the left side of the six yard box is too high.

17:36

Foul by Adam Smith (FC Halifax Town).

17:36

Greg Taylor (Cambridge United) wins a free kick.

15:56

Corner, FC Halifax Town.

15:24

Offside, Cambridge United. Tom Elliott tries a through ball, but Tom Elliott is caught offside.

13:44

Foul by Sam Smith (Cambridge United).

13:44

Marc Roberts (FC Halifax Town) wins a free kick.

12:56

Foul by Tom Elliott (Cambridge United).

12:56

Lois Maynard (FC Halifax Town) wins a free kick.

11:27

Foul by Chris Smith (FC Halifax Town).

11:27

Sam Smith (Cambridge United) wins a free kick.

10:30

Corner, FC Halifax Town.

7:35

Attempt missed. Chris Smith (FC Halifax Town) header from the left side of the box misses to the right. Assisted by Adam Smith with a cross.

6:32

Foul by Kevin Roberts (Cambridge United).

6:32

Scott McManus (FC Halifax Town) wins a free kick.

6:09

Attempt saved. Ryan Donaldson (Cambridge United) left footed shot from outside the box is saved.

5:18

Attempt missed. Liam Hughes (Cambridge United) header from the right side of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Ryan Donaldson.

4:53

Corner, Cambridge United.

3:52

Attempt missed. Ryan Donaldson (Cambridge United) header from the centre of the box is too high.

3:08

Foul by Lee Gregory (FC Halifax Town).

3:08

Tom Champion (Cambridge United) wins a free kick.

0:00

First Half begins.

0:00

Lineups are announced and players are warming up.

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