FC Halifax Town 3 Frickley Athletic 1: Champs close in on the ton

Actions from the game FC Halifax Town v Frickley at the Shay Stadium, Halifax'Pictured is Danny Holland and Lee Gregory celebrating Lee's goal
Actions from the game FC Halifax Town v Frickley at the Shay Stadium, Halifax'Pictured is Danny Holland and Lee Gregory celebrating Lee's goal
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Town turned it on when they had to as they cruised to a 30th league win of the season and onto 96 points with a couple of games remaining.

Frickley needed the points in their battle to beat the drop and gave themselves a chance when they took a 12th minute lead.

That proved to be a mistake as the Shaymen went through the gears and struck twice in two minutes through Lee Gregory and Danny Holland.

They were always in control after that although a solitary Tom Baker goal in the second half was scant reward for their almost complete dominance.

Simon Garner returned in midfield for the Shaymen while Frickley included former Town winger Mark Whitehouse in their side.

Town looked to be in control from the off and almost prised open the Athletic defence after five minutes when Holland picked out Aaron Hardy on the right.

He crossed deep looking for Garner, but Ben Starosta just managed to get in front of him to put it behind for a corner.

Baker took the kick from the left and it was met by Liam Hogan whose glancing header went across goal and wide.

Danny Lowe was prominent in the early stages and was often one of the furthest forward in a blue shirt.

Whitehouse managed to get into the box on the left for the visitors after nine minutes only to slip to the ground before he could do anything with the ball.

He kept his composure three minutes later though, as Hardy and Liam Hogan hesitated and Whitehouse pounced to run through and fire home from the edge of the area.

The response was almost immediate as Gregory raced through and unleashed a curling shot that Athletic keeper Ben Simpson palmed away unconvincingly.

Gregory did not have to wait long to make his mark, grabbing the equaliser as he lashed the ball home from 10 yards after Holland had nodded down Andrew Milne’s diagonal ball into the box.

Frickley must have wished they had not scored first as Town struck for a second time in two minutes to go ahead, Garner bravely winning possession in midfield and Holland supplying a sublime finish to tuck the ball inside the far post.

The Shaymen might have scored again two minutes later when Garner turned Holland’s pass into Gregory’s path, but the keeper got out quickly to save.

The Shaymen were in full flow with Holland’s exquisite cross field pass picking out Hardy and Baker’s acrobatic overhead effort bouncing inches wide.

Soon after Holland and Garner combined to create an opening for Hardy on the right but his well struck low shot was deflected behind.

And on the half hour Lowe crossed with the outside of his left foot for Holland who just could not get high enough to keep his header down.

Holland scuffed an attempted right footed volley but recovered well to shoot goalwards with his left, Simpson saving.

Steve Woods then found Baker who poked it through for Garner but his speculative effort, with the keeper off his line, flew well over.

Lowe narrowly failed to pick out Baker with a pass six minutes before the break and Gregory was unable to get to Holland’s flick as the Shaymen continued to push forward.

Hardy had the first chance after the break, racing into the area on the right before slicing his shot well wide of the target.

Holland then did well on the right to beat the first defender and cross, but the ball was too far in front of Gregory for him to capitalise.

Hardy’s cross from the right looked inviting for Garner but he failed to get a touch and it was put behind for a corner.

Baker sent the ball into the box from the left and Mark Bower met it perfectly only for James Kay to leap high and head off the line.

The movement and passing was too much for the visitors who were constantly scrambling to repel the Shaymen.

Jonathan Hedge’s goal was threatened briefly as he was hurried into a clearance from a strongly hit back pass from Liam Hogan.

But at the other end, Hardy crossed for Garner whose volley was blocked but only as far as substitute Scott Phelan who fired wide.

And the third goal duly arrived after 65 minutes when Baker tried his luck from 30 yards, keeper Simpson went down to his left but allowed the ball to dribble through his hands and roll over the line.

Moments later a poor free kick from the back fell to Woods who fired it back into the area but just too far in front of Gregory.

With the game already in the bag, Town continued to look for more and, with 10 minutes remaining, a fine move involving Hardy, Holland and Phelan ended with Holland being denied by the keeper at full stretch.

Hedge was finally called into action with six minutes remaining when he got down to tip Ashley Longstaff’s shot on the turn round the post.

And a Whitehouse free kick in stoppage time fizzed across the face of the Town goal, but the visitors were never a major threat.