United into the promotion final
Delano Sam-Yorke was the two-goal hero as Cambridge United booked their place in the Skrill Conference Premier promotion final.
Sam-Yorke, who had been recalled to the starting line-up by boss Richard Money, opened the scoring in the 11th minute when he was on hand to sweep home Ryan Donaldson’s goal-ward prod.
And with the R Costings Abbey Stadium rocking, in the 37th minute Sam-Yorke nicked the ball off Chris Smith, ran through on goal and placed a shot coolly beyond Matt Glennon.
Adam Smith was rarely called into action, with the United defence successfully keeping 29-goal Lee Gregory quiet. In fact, it was the U’s who came closest to adding to their lead, with Josh Coulson having a goal ruled out for offside and Luke Berry seeing his head stopped by a superb save from Glennon.
Money made three changes to the team, with Sam-Yorke, Berry, and Harrison Dunk coming into the XI. The boss had called for vocal backing from the supporters ahead of the match, and was rewarded with a wall of noise which greeted the players as they emerged onto the pitch.
And within 11 minutes the volume had been cranked up further. Danny Lowe failed to clear a cross from the left, Donaldson poked it towards goal and Sam-Yorke was in the right place to finish.
Several pot-shots from the visitors flew over the bar, but the second goal fell to United, as the live-wire Sam-Yorke picked the pocket of Smith, strode forward and held his nerve to slide the ball beyond Glennon’s outstretched hand.
A third goal would have put United firmly in the driving seat, and Coulson thought he’d got it when he arrived to meet Miller’s flick on and plant a header home. However, the linesman’s flag cut short his celebrations.
Then Berry arrived to meet a Donaldson corner, but saw his downward header parried away by Glennon.
Halifax cranked up the pressure in the closing stages, throwing balls into the box, with Glennon joining the attack for a couple of corners. But they were unable to get a shot on target, and the final whistle saw hundreds of fans stream onto the pitch to celebrate booking a place at Wembley on May 18th.
Gateshead or Grimsby await the U’s, who are now one match from the football league.
May I Claim Man of the Match: Delano Sam-Yorke
Cambridge United: Smith, Roberts, Taylor, Coulson, Miller, Donaldson, Dunk (Hughes 66), Champion, Berry (Chambers 80), Elliott, Sam-Yorke (Cunnington 71). Subs not used: Chadwick, Barnes-Homer.
FC Halifax Town: Glennon, Lowe (Crowther 80, McManus, Smith (Ainge 45), Roberts, Bolton, Maynard, Pearson, Maynard, Marshall (Spencer 61), Gregory. Subs not used: Senior, Worthington.
Referee: Darren Handley
Attendance: 6,262 (away 1,074)