FC Halifax Town 2-0 Luton

Halifax v Luton
Halifax v Luton
7
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Lee Gregory moved to the top of the Skrill Premier scoring charts as FC Halifax Town produced a stirring performance to beat leaders Luton 2-0 at the Shay.

Neil Aspin said Town would be on the front foot against the Hatters and his side didn’t disappoint against a League Two side in all but name.

In front of the biggest home crowd of the season, the Shaymen announced themselves as genuine play-off contenders by inflicting the second defeat of the week against a top-five opponent.

The result is hardly likely to dent Luton’s coronation as champions, but will surely do wonders for Halifax’s hopes of promotion as their remarkable home form reached a new high.

An unchanged Town side inflicted only the visitors’ second defeat in 12 games as goals from Marc Roberts and Gregory in each half made it a perfect week ahead of what is now a crucial clash against Braintree on Thursday.

For Luton fans to practically take up the same room as the home faithful at the Shay by also taking up the North Stand suggested their inevitable return to the Football League was where a club of their stature should rightly be.

It was certainly a throw-back to the good old days seeing all four sides of the Shay in use, and a hint at what might lay ahead for Town if they can somehow follow in Luton’s footsteps.

And Town’s start suggested they might take a big leap in that direction as they forced a couple of early corners and free-kicks before Adam Smith’s floated corner was met with a bullet downward header by Roberts to increase the noise levels of the already vociferous home support.

They then greeted some tenacious Town defending with equal fervour as the Shaymen were forced into some desperate defending at a Luton corner.

Matt Pearson, in full Duracell bunny mode from the first whistle, then saw a fizzing drive fly over the angle of post and bar as Luton struggled to launch a response and give their magnificent 1,179 travelling fans much to shout about.

But Roberts did have to win a growing number of headers in his own box as the opening half wore on, although the Halifax defence were given a breather when Gregory showed outstanding control to trap a high ball before his shot was blocked and Smith then fired over.

There were tentative chants of ‘The Town Are Going Up’ shortly before Luton registered their first shot after 40 minutes, with paul Benson’s toe-poke lopping over the bar.

Simon Ainge was certainly winning the battle of the former house-mates with Andre Gray, who was struggling to get in the game playing wide on the right.

Inevitably, a Gray shot that ballooned way wide just before the interval was met with chants of ‘You’re Not Lee Gregory’.

Luton saw a penalty appeal rejected shortly after the restart after a collision between Ainge and Gray as the battle of the former house-mates continued.

But the pattern of the game remained much the same, as Town continued to stand toe-to-toe with the champions-elect.

Gregory managed to help a high ball beyond goalkeeper Mark Tyler but the angle was too acute and his shot rolled wide with the goal gaping.

Neil Aspin was left with his head in his hands when Smith’s drilled cross just evaded a touch in the middle as Town built up a head of steam.

Luton still hadn’t registered a shot on target with an hour gone as Town put in the hard yards to stop them playing, with Lois Maynard and Paul Marshall putting out fires left, right and centre in front of the back four.

Gregory had seemed on the verge of finding the net since the interval as he broken in behind the Luton defence time and again.

And he finally got the goal he’d been threatening when the ponderous Steve McNulty’s error let the Town striker in before Gregory kept his cool to double Town’s lead and equal James Dean’s record tally of 27 league goals in a season for the reformed club; a record that will now surely be broken very shortly.

To rub salt in the Luton wounds, Gray was then taken off after a below-par afternoon; much to the delight of the ecstatic Halifax fans, who were now singing of Wembley.

Halifax: Glennon, Bolton, Ainge, Roberts, McManus, A Smith (Wilson 81), Marshall, Maynard, Pearson, Crowther (Jackson 70), Gregory. Subs not used: Senior, Lowe, C Smith.

Scorers: Roberts (18), Gregory (69)

Shots on target: 5

Shots off target: 7

Corners: 7

Luton: Tyler, Franks, McNulty, Henry, Griffiths, Lawless, Ruddock-Mpanzi (Cullen 67), Robinson, McGeehan, Benson, Gray (Rooney 72). Subs not used: Charles, Shaw, Justham.

Shots on target: 0

Shots off target: 4

Corners: 10

Attendance: 3,586

Town man of the match: Lois Maynard