FC Halifax Town delivered a thrilling performance as they steamrollered Grimsby 4-0 at the Shay.
Dan Gardner capped a magnificent display by scoring twice, while Marcus Carver and Adam Smith both bagged their first goals for the club on an exhilarating night for the Shaymen.
It’s 23 years since Grimsby last came to the Shay and on this evidence they’ll want it to be another quarter of a century before they return.
The Shay has been the subject of frenzied speculation lately, but Town continue to find plenty of home comforts as they recorded their fifth straight win on their own patch.
Indeed, Town fans’ concerns about their club’s home were overshadowed on the night as Carver’s opening goal arrived in the 19th minute - the same start time as a planned protest over the possible sale of the Shay by Calderdale Council.
Neil Aspin opted for Paul Marshall as the man to deputise for the suspended Lois Maynard in midfield, with Lee Gregory making a welcome return on the bench less than three weeks after undergoing hand surgery.
Any fears of a hangover from Saturday’s crushing defeat at Forest Green were quickly dispelled when Adam Smith’s cross was met by Scott McManus’ header at the far post before James McKeown produced a superb reaction save, with McManus then blasting wide from a tight angle on the rebound.
McKeown then flapped at a long throw by Marc Roberts, punching the ball straight to Matt Pearson, but the midfielder chose to take a touch rather than shoot with the Grimsby keeper temporarily out of his goal and the chance went.
Another arrived soon afterwards though and Carver justified his selection ahead of Gregory and Jordan Ball as he expertly cushioned Smith’s dinked cross back across McKeown with a perfectly-placed header to give the Shaymen the lead they deserved.
There couldn’t be much argument when they doubled their lead less than 10 minutes later either when Gardner typically left a Grimsby defender with twisted blood and needing a ticket to get back in the ground before drilling a low shot across McKeown from just inside the box.
Forest Green was well and truly consigned to the history books as Gardner got his second in five minutes as he raced on to Smith’s outstanding through ball and smashed in the rebound after McKeown saved his first shot.
Such was Town’s exuberrance and Grimsby’s inferiority that the visitors made a double substitution after 36 minutes - a move that was almost a back-handed compliment to just how well the hosts had played.
The Mariners were all at sea and didn’t register their first effort of the night until the 43rd minute when a looping header from a free-kick was comfortably saved by Matt Glennon, who’d had a great view of the first-half entertainment down the other end of the pitch.
The fact that it was done without four of Town’s regular starters only made the half even more impressive.
Grimsby’s opening 45 minutes was summed up when former Town man Ross Hannah’s first touch since coming off the bench was to block a team-mate’s cross and send it out for a throw-in.
The visitors wondered back out onto the pitch after the interval like a boxer who’d just been floored in the first three rounds, and they soon felt the punch of Town’s attack again.
Grimsby boss Paul Hurst might as well not have bothered with his half-time hairdryer as Carver sent Smith through on goal two minutes after the restart before the winger produced an assured finish past the beleagured McKeown and in off the post.
Town were really enjoying themselves now as Gardner produced an outrageous piece of skill Johan Cruyff would have been proud of on the halfway line before spraying a delightful ball out to McManus on the left flank.
Gardner then picked out McManus again before the winger’s back-heel to Gardner, who flicked the ball around a bemused Grimsby defender before his fierce low drive struck the foot of the far post.
Even Grimsby’s search for a consolation was doomed when Hannah’s shot from eight yards out was saved by Glennon before substitute Jordan Ball squandered his chance to get in on the act when he fired over after fellow sub Sean Williams had instigated a swift counter-attack.
Halifax: Glennon, Toulson, Ainge, Roberts, Lowe, Smith (McReady 71), Pearson, Marshall, McManus, Gardner (Williams 77), Carver (Ball 71). Subs not used: Senior, Gregory.
Scorers: Carver (19), Gardner (27, 32), Smith (48)
Shots on target: 9
Shots off target: 11
Grimsby: McKeown, Goodall, Pearson, McDonald, Bignot, Neilson (Jones 36), Thanoj (Hannah 36), Kerr, McLaughlin, Rodman (Colbeck 63), John-Lewis. Subs not used: Doig, Cook.
Shots on target: 4
Shots off target: 3
Town man of the match: Dan Gardner