A Lee Gregory hat-trick helped FC Halifax Town cruise to a comfortable win at Corby.
The Shaymen had to wait over a month for their first league goal of 2013, and then five came along at once as Shaun Kelly and Gareth Seddon added to the three from Gregory.
Town’s last league goals came against Gainsborough back on Boxing Day, but they followed up excellent recent displays in the FA Trophy to claim their first league win of the year to boot.
Neil Aspin spoke of the need to rotate his squad after the Dartford game with so many fixtures to be played, but he came up trumps here after shuffling his pack ahead of Wednesday night’s FA Trophy quarter-final replay in Kent.
The Town boss made three changes to the side that drew with Dartford on Wednesday, with Sean Williams and Tom Platt making their long-awaited debuts in place of Paul Marshall and Chris Worsley, who both dropped to the bench.
Kelly also made his league debut at left-back in place of Scott McManus, who sat the game out with a groin strain, while newest signing Adriano Moke started on the bench.
Like Town, Kelly has had to wait for his chance since joining the club last year, but the absence of McManus let in the youngster, and he made an immediate impact when a Dan Gardner corner was spilled by Paul Walker and Kelly swept home the loose ball.
Williams and Platt also looked assured on their first starts as Town’s midfield dominated the middle third.
A Corby side fresh from a 6-1 hammering against Harrogate seemed to know what was coming already as Town soon added a second.
Dan Gardner’s delicately weighted through ball fell perfectly for Gregory to roll past Walker as The Shaymen threatened to run away with it after only ten minutes.
Gregory then had a curling shot tipped away from just inside the box shortly before Gardner’s fierce drive from a short corner went narrowly over.
Seddon’s daisy cutter from the edge of the box also rolled inches wide as attacks came at Corby from every angle.
Not only did Town’s performance continue to improve, but so did their goals as Gregory added a delightful third.
Seddon’s clever flick on sent his strike partner through, and Gregory confidently chipped the stranded Walker to put a chasm between the two teams that Town’s performance thoroughly merited.
The sun was beaming brightly on Steel Park by now, but shielding your eyes from the glare was a must to see what Town came up with next; the Corby manager must have just wished he’d shielded his eyes from the game.
But just as his players were surely anticipating a half-time dressing down, Matt Glennon spilled Sam Ives’ speculative long-range effort and Tom McGowan was on hand to lift the ball over the prone ‘keeper.
There was still time for Halifax to restore their three-goal cushion before half-time though as Gregory returned the favour to Seddon with a low cross from the right which was easily tapped in.
Corby had the third worst defence in the league before the match, and by half-time there was plenty of evidence to suggest the defence at Steel Park resembled a far more fragile material.
If anyone deserved a rest after that first-half, it was Dan Gardner, following another exuberant display at the heart of the Town midfield.
His half-time replacement Paul Marshall forced Paul Walker into a fine save shortly after the interval, while Paul Malone headed just over at the other end from a Corby free-kick.
Seddon’s goal on the brink of half-time appeared to have eliminated any hopes of a Corby comeback as the hosts looked a lot further adrift than the three-goal gap suggested.
And so it proved as an incisive counter-attack culminated in Marshall dinking a cross to Gregory, who tapped in his third and Town’s fifth.
after that, Corby’s fight was all but gone as Town’s wait for a return to league action was made entirely worthwhile.
Corby: Walker, Horne, Crowe, Malone, Piergianni, Ives (Kaziboni 76), Semple, Wedderburn, Manga (Green 46), McGowan, Moreman. Subs not used: Richardson, Webb, Vieira.
Shots on target: 3
Shots off target: 5
Halifax: Glennon, Toulson, Kelly, Hogan (Worsley 49), Needham, Lowe, Williams, Platt, Gardner (Marshall 46), Gregory, Seddon (A Johnson 68). Subs not used: Senior, Moke.
Shots on target: 8
Shots off target: 5
Man of the match: Lee Gregory