Non-League Finals Day: Halifax Town and Morpeth Town cause double Wembley upset

Keith Graydon
Morpeth Town staged a second-half comeback to win the FA Vase.

Morpeth Town and Halifax Town caused a double upset in the first Non-League Finals Day at Wembley.

Morpeth beat Hereford FC 4-1 to become the seventh Northern League side to win the FA Vase in eight years.

Hereford went ahead after 75 seconds through Rob Purdie's 25-yard shot, but Morpeth rallied to clinch victory.

In the FA Trophy final, Scott McManus scored the only goal of the game as Halifax beat promoted Grimsby 1-0 in their first visit to the stadium.

Halifax end long wait for success

Grimsby Town were at Wembley for the second time in eight days, having won promotion back to the football league after a six-year absence with last weekend's victory over Forest Green in the National League promotion final.

But it was Halifax Town, recently relegated to National League North and on their first trip to Wembley, who started the brighter with McManus sending a curling free-kick over the bar.

Scott McManus
Scott McManus's sister, who plays for Man City Ladies, was knocked out of the Women's FA Cup in the semis

Following a first half in which neither keeper was really tested, McManus scored the game's only goal in the 48th minute.

The 26-year old sent the 10,000 Halifax Town fans wild when he lobbed Town keeper James McKeown from 25 yards.

The Mariners upped their intensity, almost grabbing an equaliser in added time, but Halifax cleared off the line to hold on for a famous victory.

Second-half comeback in Vase

In their first season in their new existence, following the demise of wound-up Hereford United in December 2014, Peter Beadle's reformed Bulls had already won three trophies this season - notably winning the Midland League at their first attempt.

Hereford had three players on show - Purdie, Ryan Green and skipper Joel Edwards - who also used to play for the Bulls in their Hereford United days.

After Purdie's explosive early opener, roared on by more than 20,000 travelling fans, the Bulls dominated the first half, hitting the bar and wasting a string of other first-half chances.

Rob Purdie took little over a minute to fire Hereford FC ahead in their 4-1 FA Vase final defeat by Northern League side Morpeth Town at Wembley
Long-serving Hereford midfielder Rob Purdie fired the Bulls ahead in only the second minute

But the game turned on 45-year-old Chris Swailes'external-link leveller when he chested in after a goalkeeping error to become the oldest scorer in a Wembley final and it triggered the Highwaymen into action.

Luke Carr scored from close range straight after the break, followed by further goals from Sean Taylor and Shaun Bell to earn Morpeth their first FA Vase triumph.

That earned veteran former Ipswich, Bury and Rotherham defender Swailes his third winner's medal, having won the competition in 1993 with Bridlington Town and in 2012, with another north-east side, Dunston.

And, in the end, they deservedly maintained the Northern League's recent stranglehold on this competition. which began with Whitley Bay's triumph in 2008-09.


Grimsby Town manager Paul Hurst told BBC Radio Humberside:

"We didn't get the icing on the cake, that's all I would say. Congratulations to Halifax, they played very well."

"We had our day last week. Its a learning curve for us all. I think at the start of the season if we'd have said we'll win promotion and get to a trophy final, everyone would have snapped our hands off."

"What we can look forward to is league football and that's what we'll celebrate tonight together."

Top Stories