FC Halifax Town ended their five-game winless run at the Shay and regained fourth place in the Blue Square North with a 2-0 win over Corby.
There have been few home comforts for Town lately, but what a difference 48 hours makes as they returned to winning ways with a comfortable victory over a Corby side who rarely looked like earning the point they played for from the off.
Goals from defenders Scott McManus and debutant James Bolton eased Town to the win, with McManus’ all-action display earning him a pat on the back by his manager at full-time.
Town understandably tired towards the end as their unrelenting schedule continues, but there was more than enough in the collective tank to see off a limited Corby side.
Neil Aspin made four changes from the team that started against Bishop’s Stortford, with Ryan Toulson replacing Matt Pearson in defence, Chris Worsley coming in for Jon Worthington in midfield and Jason St Juste and Alex Titchiner replacing Dan Gardner and Gareth Seddon in attack.
Thursday night football will be a permanent fixture at the Shay, at least for the rest of the month, so if the Town boss has ever wondered what it’s like to manage in the Europa League, he’s about to find out.
The Town fans are seeing more of their team than their own families at the moment as the Shay becomes their second home, and they got a sight for sore eyes with Corby’s pink kit and their goalkeeper’s luminous green top.
The visitors weren’t quite as bright as their shirts, but like Bishop’s Stortford two days before, set their stall out to defend and ask Town if they could break them down.
The initial answer was no as the visitors played like a side on the receiving end of a tongue-lashing from their manager after their 6-3 defeat to already-relegated Hinckley earlier this week.
As in the last game, The Shaymen enjoyed the vast majority of possession but, as in the last game, faced a team intent on crowding out any space Town could find in and around the box, with Nat Wedderburn especially catching the eye in front of the almost immovable back four.
The hosts tried to move the ball as sharply as the bobbly Shay surface would allow, with Sean Williams playing the role of conductor in the centre of the pitch, spraying passes right and left as Town attempted to find a gap in the massed wall placed ahead of them.
One did appear after 21 minutes when St Juste’s cross eventually fell to Worsley at the far post, but his low drive was cleared off the line.
St Juste looked to be Town’s best outlet as he then slipped in Titchiner after a run down the left, but the striker’s weak shot was saved by Paul walker.
But it was third time lucky for the winger as his near-post corner was met by McManus, who stooped to nod Town in front and notch his second goal in three games.
One seasoned observer commented that perhaps Matt Glennon should start taking his time over goal-kicks like so many visiting keepers have done, but time-wasting was the last thing on Town’s minds as Williams fired just over from 25 yards out at the start of the second-half.
Corby finally had their first shot of the night just before the hour mark as joint top scorer Ryan Semple’s effort rolled narrowly wide from long range moments before Titchiner’s snap shot from six yards out was well saved after Lee Gregory’s flick header.
Town were working extremely hard considering their fixture pile-up of late, with the front two of Gregory and Titchiner running themselves ragged, so much so that the duo were eventually replaced by Gareth Seddon and danny Glover.
The former set up the latter soon after coming on as Glover’s curling shot whistled just past the post before McManus suddenly sensed a golden boot award with a marauding run forward, but his shot sailed high over the bar.
But Corby suddenly sensed an equaliser as the previously redundant Matt Glennon was forced into his first save as he tipped over a close range header from their first corner.
The resulting set piece then resulted in a goalmouth scramble as a few nerves began to permiate around the Shay.
But they were allayed when James Bolton capped his debut by heading in Williams’ corner from six yards out to put the result beyond doubt.
Halifax: Glennon, Toulson, McManus, Needham, Knowles, Lowe, Worsley, Williams, Titchiner (Glover 68), Gregory (Seddon 68), St Juste (Bolton 78). Subs not used: Senior, Bolton, A Johnson.
Scorers: McManus (38), Bolton (85)
Shots on target: 5
Shots off target: 5
Corby: Walker, Crowe (Cuffy 89), Jellyman (McGowan 27), Abalimba, Malone, Piergianni, Semple, Wedderburn, Vieira (Moreman 78), King, Webb. Subs not used: Galinski, Greer.
Shots on target: 1
Shots off target: 1
Man of the match: Scott McManus