Danny Hattersley scored twice on his début as FC Halifax Town thrashed bottom-club Telford 5-0 at the Shay.
Adam Smith’s first goal for nine months, Scott Boden’s fifth of the campaign and Paul Marshall’s second of the season added to Hattersley’s second and third at the Shay this term, having scored against Town for Southport.
The win maintained Halifax’s unbeaten home record and moved them up to third in the table; no wonder the bookies were linking Neil Aspin to a return to Port Vale this week.
Whoever ends up in the Vale hot-seat, there’s at least 1,500 folks in West Yorkshire ready to recommend current caretaker-manager Rob Page for the job.
The Town boss perhaps raised one or two eyebrows after swapping Hattersley with Ross Dyer for a month, but those eyebrows were soon lowered as Hattersley made an impressive start.
He couldn’t have wished for better first opponents than rock-bottom Telford, who made five changes and altered their formation from their last outing, which was hardly surprising given their manager Liam Watson’s comments in midweek.
And they started as if that outburst was still ringing in their ears, with Mike Phenix forcing Matt Glennon into a save before Tony Gray’s shot was deflected behind.
Smith then raced onto Boden’s excellent through ball but hesitated in front of goal and his shot was blocked.
The reaction from the Town bench told of a glorious early chance squandered.
Having failed to score only twice this season, scoring goals clearly wasn’t Telford’s problem, as evidenced when Adam Farrell blasted just wide from 20 yards.
It’s keeping them out that’s Telford’s Achilles heel, and as soon as Smith opened the scoring, Hattersley’s soon followed.
This time Smith struck first time, a magnificent volley from 12 yards, prompting a very different response from the dugout.
He then turned provider with a superb cross which Hattersley buried with a header at the back post.
Rod McDonald, switched from central defence after the club’s two left-backs were both transfer-listed, simply couldn’t cope with a Smith seemingly powered by rocket fuel in his boots and was duly booked for a late foul as Telford threatened to capitulate.
Jonathan Hedge, not used to such a heavy workload between the sticks at the Shay, must have feared the worst.
Boden, dovetailing nicely with Hattersley, headed over Marshall’s free-kick.
With the taller Hattersley taking the brunt of the aerial challenges and Boden floating nearby, it had the makings of a promising partnership.
Telford were like a rickety door in a force-nine gale, hanging onto Town’s coat-tails as the hosts threatened to blow them away.
Hedge yelled encouragement from his goalmouth but an attacking Town line-up ensured it was one-way traffic towards the former Town keeper.
Watson didn’t need Sherlock Holmes to see his team had been outplayed in the opening half, and duly brought on defensive midfielder Mike Grogan for another ex-Town man Sean Clancy.
Only a fine save by Hedge prevented Richard Peniket adding a third as Town remained in the ascendancy, although the number of chances created had decreased since Telford’s half-time switch to 4-3-3.
A second-half lull in proceedings culminated in Josh O’Keefe’s header shaving the crossbar, briefly raising the prospect of an unlikely comeback.
Instead, Boden’s delightful back-flick from close-range put the result beyond doubt minutes later.
Among a flurry of corners, the latest of several headers at goal from Hattersley was cleared off the line before Boden’s effort was brilliantly saved by Hedge.
Another Hattersley header was then diverted onto the bar by Boden.
After six months without a goal, Marshall then made it two in two games with a low drive from 20 yards, capping some terrific approach play.
Hattersley then added the coup de grace with a tap-in from McManus’ fine cross.
Halifax: Glennon, K Roberts, M Roberts (capt), Williams, McManus, Smith (Ainge 74), Marshall, Pearson (Hibbs 90), Peniket (Schofield 63), Boden, Hattersley. Subs not used: Senior, Worthington.
Scorers: Smith (12), Hattersley (16, 90), Boden (69), Marshall (86)
Shots on target: 9
Shots off target: 7
Telford: Hedge, Higgins, Byrne, Akrigg, McDonald, Phenix, O’Keefe, Poku, Clancy (Grogan 46), Gray, Farrell. Subs not used: Pryce, Todd, Platt, Barnett.
Shots on target: 3
Shots off target: 2
Town man of the match: Danny Hattersley