Four goals from Lee Gregory helped FC Halifax Town begin their run of four games in eight days with a 5-0 win over Worcester at The Shay.
Gregory’s four goals and one from strike partner Alex Titchiner were the least The Shaymen deserved as they outclassed their opponents with a dominant display.
If monthly accolades are supposed to carry a curse, then they were cast on the opposition as Worcester were subjected to a masterclass by player of the month Dan Gardner as manager of the month Neil Aspin guided his side to their fifth league win in seven games.
Most of the early action took place off the ball as Ryan Toulson and Ellis Deeney squared up after the Town full-back was booked for a foul on Danny Edwards.
Moments later, a larger melee broke out which saw Stuart Whitehead appear to raise a hand to Chris Worsley’s face as the game threatened to boil over barely ten minutes in.
Referee Mr Coy had hardly endeared himself to the Shay faithful after an indecisive start, but a superb piece of officiating then helped Town take the lead after 12 minutes.
Sean Williams was fouled on the right edge of the box, but the referee gave the home side the advantage, allowing Titchiner to find Gregory, who calmly slid the ball past Glyn Thompson.
Gregory nearly had a second when his shot was deflected off the bar and over as Town dominated the first quarter of the match, by which time there had already been bookings for Toulson and Worcester duo Matt Birley and Danny Glover.
The visitors’ torrid start got even worse when top scorer Mike Symons was forced off injured 20 minutes in, while Halifax’s main man emphasised why he was named player of the month with some exquisite touches and wonderful range of passes.
Among the endless stream of havoc Gardner was creating came a perfectly weighted through ball for Titchiner, who kept his composure to slipped the ball past the on-rushing Thompson after 30 minutes.
Gardner then launched a raking pass, inch perfect of course, to the striker, who appeared to be pulled back inside the box before shooting harmlessly over moments later.
Gardner’s performance once again oozed quality as he drifted right and left into pockets of space before delicately manipulating the ball with the finesse.
The midfielder also seemed to inspire those around him, with the diminutive Sean Williams also impressing with some simple but effective passes backing up the star performer in front of him.
Worcester offered next to nothing up front as Halifax completely controlled proceedings, with Gardner the beating heart of a first-half almost exclusively played in the away side’s territory.
After Whitehead’s cynical shove of Titchiner just as the striker threatened to latch on to Gregory’s superb through ball, Gardner saw a low shot strike the foot of the post after his initial free-kick was blocked.
Such was Worcester’s inferiority during the opening half that Glover tried a speculative effort from 45 yards with no other option available, presumably to register his side’s first shot before the interval.
During the break, an announcement was made calling for the Worcester coach driver over the loud speakers; on the evidence of the first-half, it was to start the engine an hour early.
Gardner’s cut back presented Titchiner with a chance shortly after the break, but he failed to connect properly and his shot rolled into Thompson’s clutches.
But Gregory could hardly miss after 65 minutes when Ayres failed to clear Toulson’s cross, leaving the striker with more than enough time and space to side-foot the ball home.
Gardner was then withdrawn as Town notched the third goal Neil Aspin was seeking, with the midfield maestro being saved for next week’s fun and games.
Gregory then grabbed his third with an easy finish from eight yards out after Thompson had kept out efforts from Williams and Moke before Worcester, by now waving the white flag, conceded a second goal within the space of five minutes as Gregory converted Liam Needham’s cross at the far post.
Halifax: Glennon, Toulson, McManus, Hogan, Needham, Lowe, Worsley (Pearson 78), Williams, Titchiner (Johnson 69), Gardner (Moke 65), Gregory. Subs not used: Senior, St Juste.
Scorers: Gregory (12, 65, 83, 87), Titchiner (30)
Shots on target: 12
Shots off target: 5
Worcester: Thompson, Weir, Edwards (Reece 60), Thorley, Whitehead, Ayres, Deeney, Elling, Symons (Breeze 19), Glover, Birley (Mills 60). Subs not used: Rowe, Sergeant.
Shots on target: 2
Shots off target: 1
Man of the match: Lee Gregory