FC Halifax Town 1-0 Cambridge United

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:

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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."