DCSIMG

FC Halifax Town 4 Lancaster City 0: Town move closer to title

TOWN struck a potentially crucial blow in the race for the Unibond One North title, dismissing their main rivals with consummate ease at the Shay.

It had been billed as the clash of the Titans but only one of the Titans showed up as the Shaymen stormed to the top of table.

Lee Gregory scored twice on his return to the side after injury with Steve Payne and James Dean also on target in a victory every bit as comfortable as the scoreline suggests.

Lancaster simply had no answer to the Shaymen's power in every area of the pitch as Neil Aspin's side swept them aside every bit as easily as they had another of their challengers, Colwyn Bay, a month earlier.

The visitors' big players were never allowed to settle by Town, who produce a display worthy of champions.

Now all the Shaymen have to do is win their final five games and their title dream will become a reality.

How easy it all sounds as we reach the climax of an energy sapping campaign.

Town had a glorious chance in the first minute when Marshall played the ball forward for Gregory but the pacy frontman blazed his shot over the bar.

And two minutes later Gray pulled the ball back for Marshall whose shot was only parried by Martin Fearon, but the rebound eluded Dean.

Town's early pressure paid off as the Shaymen broke the deadlock in the fourth minute from a Dean break down the right. He pulled the ball back, Marshall stepped over it and Gregory swept it home.

Lancaster failed to make anything of the first corner of the game and Town almost bagged a second goal after eight minutes, Marshall dispossessing Chris Ward before sending a left footed effort narrowly wide.

Town forced a couple of corners round the 15th minute and Gray volleyed wide from the second, taken by Baker on the left.

Lancaster's first real threat came midway through the first half when Adam Farrell looked to play the ball forward for Michael Rushton but Jonathan Hedge nipped in to snuff out the danger.

Moments later Baker's long ball forward was superbly controlled by Gregory on his right foot before turning inside a defender and firing over.

Rushton was the visitors' major threat, firing wide from the edge of the box before being wiped out, entirely legally, by a brave save from Hedge.

After a quiet spell, the Shaymen burst back into life six minutes before the break when they doubled their advantage.

They broke well from the back, Baker sending Lowe racing away down the left before he played it forward to Dean.

The big striker's shot was helped over the bar by Fearon, but from the resulting Baker corner Payne headed home from eight yards.

Town had a glorious chance to increase their lead four minutes after the break when Dean played a shot pass forward to Gray on the right of the area, but he slipped and the ball bounced off a defender into Fearon's arms.

Baker's shot from the edge of the area flew over the bar before Gray escaped down the right and sent in a low cross.

Fearon got down bravely to deny Dean and while the keeper was down injured Marshall fired wide of the target.

Town kept pouring forward and grabbed a third goal just past the hour mark when Dean headed down and in from Gray's right wing cross.

Lancaster boss Tony Hesketh made a triple substitution, but could not change the flow of the game, which was towards his side's goal.

Hardy's cross from the right was spilled by Fearon who somehow managed to recover to deny Marshall as he was about to pounce.

Gregory's short pass sent Gray surging into the area but his shot was blocked by a defender and Hardy tried his luck with a left foot curler that sailed over.

Town moved four goals clear of their title rivals with 14 minutes remaining when Dean crossed deep and low from the right and Gregory slid in to force home his second.

The loan man might have had a third soon after but his header from a Baker corner was saved magnificently by Fearon and Gray cut in from the right only to send a left footed effort over the bar.

Substitute Michael Wilde turned well on the edge of the area before rolling his shot a yard wide of the right-hand post and Michael Stringfellow cleared a Mark Peers cross with Wilde and Gregory waiting behind him at the far post.

MATCH FACTS

FC Halifax Town: Hedge, Hardy, Lowe, Payne, Riley, Phelan, Baker, Marshall (Hotte 78), Gray (Peers 84), Dean (Wilde 79), Gregory. Subs (not used): Senior, Richardson,

Goals: Gregory 4, 76, Payne 39, Dean 61,

Booked: None

Sent-off: None

Lancaster City: Fearon, Henry, Marshall, Teague, Smith (D Ward 64), C Ward (Rothwell 64), Rushton (Hattersley 64), Stringfellow, Connerton, Farrell, Jarvis Sub (not used): Heffernan, Jackson

Goals: None

Booked: None

Sent-off: None

Attendance: 3,152

Referee: C Kavanagh

STAR SHAYMAN

It was a simply stunning afternoon at the Shay as Town overwhelmed their only remaining rivals for the Unibond One North title.

And chief among the City tormentors was Richard Marshall, playing in a more withdrawn role in midfield.

It is a position which allows him to show off his full range of skills, from tackling back to regain possession through to getting forward and testing the opposition keeper.

Marshall ran his blood to water before eventually leaving the field to a standing ovation.

When Lee Gregory went down after a crunching challenge at Rossendale on Easter Monday many wondered if he would play again this season.

On Saturday, he returned to the side and marked the occasion with two fine goals.

His first was a sweeping shot after Marshall had done well to step over a James Dean cross, the second sliding in at the far post - and both were thoroughly deserved.

Tom Baker revelled in the big match atmosphere as Town took another step towards promotion.

He was at his industrious best as the Shaymen completely dominated.

Marshall picks up three points, Gregory two and Baker one

PLAYER POINTS

Marshall 39, James Dean 36, Gray 36, Phelan 34, Baker 25, Payne 23, Lowe 20, Riley 16, Crossley 15, Hedge 10, Winter 13, Wilde 10, Codman 9, Hardy 9, Hotte 7, Gregory 4, Sykes 4, Richardson 3, Harrison 2, Peers 2, Luke Dean 2

 
 
 

Back to the top of the page