Football: Halifax go seven points clear at top

NON-LEAGUE notebook
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Halifax Town beat struggling Gateshead 2-0 yesterday and extended their lead at the top of the GM Vauxhall Conference to seven points.

The Shaymen took their time to see off the league's bottom club, but two second-half goals from Geoff Horsfield sent the majority of an impressive crowd of 3,194 home happy.

The day's biggest crowd, and the largest of the season in the Conference, was at Aggborough, where 4,693 fans watched Hereford United cruise to a 4-1 win over their local rivals, Kidderminster Harriers. The game drew 22 more people than the reverse fixture: a 1-0 home win for Hereford over Kidderminster on Boxing Day.

The man with most to celebrate at Aggborough was Richard Leadbeater, a 20-year-old striker on loan from Wolves, who scored a hat-trick for Hereford within 37 minutes. The experienced Tony Agana added the fourth goal in the 89th minute, closely followed by a consolation for Harriers from Wayne Thomas.

Mickael Madar, Everton's new recruit, is not the only Frenchman hoping to make a big impression in English football in the second half of the season. Sutton United have high hopes of Naseem Akrour, whom they signed from the French semi-professional club Olympique Noisy-le-Sec last year. After 18 goals in nine games for Sutton's reserve team, the Algerian-born striker scored twice on his first-team debut in the top-of-the-table Ryman League encounter with Dagenham & Redbridge just before Christmas.

Tomorrow Sutton, the Premier Division leaders, are away to Bishop's Stortford, who will be staging their home fixtures at St Albans City for the rest of the season, having sold their Rhodes Avenue ground for housing development. Stortford's new stadium on Dunmow Road should be ready at the start of next season.