Danny Schofield and Scott Boden scored in each half as FC Halifax Town beat Rochdale 2-1 in their latest pre-season match at the Shay.
For the second time in four days, Town ended up looking far more like a League One side than their opponents from the third tier.
Again, Town appeared fitter and sharper than their loftier visitors and produced some quick, incisive football during anoother performance full of encouraging signs for the season ahead.
While Rochdale seemed to be hankering for the M62 as soon as Boden doubled Town’s lead, despite Callum Camps’ late reply from close range, the home side bristled with confidence throughout.
Trialist Schofield was given his second start in three games and slotted in well alongside Lois Maynard and Matt Pearson, who played the pre-season friendly with the intensity of a World Cup final. Lionel Messi take note.
Town looked well balanced with Richard Peniket wide left and Smith on the opposite flank, both of whom looked dangerous with the ball at the feet.
Smith’s blistering pace saw him charge clean through on goal just five minutes in but he opted to crosss rather than shoot.
But from the resulting corner, Schofield collected the loose ball and scored with the aid of a deflection.
Schofield was the man with no number but that may change if he’s taken on permanently, something which will seem increasingly likely if he continues to catch the eye.
Rochdale, without former Town winger Scott Hogan, should have opened the scoring but Joe Bunney spurned a great chance after hesitancy in the home defence with Matt Glennon charging off his line to save.
It was hand-on-the-forehead stuff until the sun dipped below the Skircoat Stand, but it was worth the gesture as Town, donning their new red away strip, competed well with the opponents, who fielded two players called Lancashire and Rose to emphasise which side of the Pennines they’d travelled from.
Pearson went close with a 25-yard thunderbolt as his typically-energetic performance probably left the visitors wondering why on earth they let him go.
The 20-year-old’s cajoling screams rang around the Shay at one point in the first-half when Town were chasing the ball.
Goodness knows what he’ll be like when the season starts.
Rochdale’s lack of width played right into Town’s hands as the hosts mopped up most of their attacks through the centre of the pitch.
That wasn’t a problem for the Shaymen though as Ross Dyer almost headed in Peniket’s superb cross from the left-wing.
Done was probably still seeing stars as the two sides walked off for half-time after having the ball smashed into his face a few minutes before the break from a Rochdale throw in an incident welcomed almost as much as Schofield’s goal.
Dyer again went close at the start of the second-half but his effort shaved the bar from Boden’s cross.
Boden then missed a glorious chance to double the lead when he rattled the bar after great work by Peniket, a recurring feature of the evening, to win the ball and supply the opportunity.
The introduction of Scott McManus gave Town an extra dimension going forward and from a Town corner earned through McManus’ endeavours, Boden tapped in from a knock-down.
On a night when Lee Gregory was making his first appearance for Millwall in their freindly at Datford, Town fans will certainly have been reassured of Boden’s capability to fill his boots.
Halifax: Glennon, Bolton (Ainge 46), K Roberts, M Roberts, Williams (Marshall 46), Pearson (McManus 46), Maynard (Hibbs 63), Schofield, Smith (Boden 46), Dyer, Peniket. Subs not used: Senior.
Scorers: Schofield (6), Boden (60)
Shots on target: 5
Shots off target: 6
Rochdale: Lillis, Barry-Murphy, McGinty, Rose, Lancashire, Vincenti, Lund, Henderson, Donnelly, Bunney, Done. Subs: Cannon, Camps, Tanser, Hery, Eastham, Park, Rafferty, Bennett, Allan.
Scorer: Camps (90)
Shots on target: 3
Shots off target: 5
Town man of the match: Lois Maynard