Lee Gregory’s second hat-trick in as many games helped FC Halifax Town to an emphatic 7-0 win against rock-bottom Hinckley at The Shay.
Town have now scored 15 goals in their last three league outings, with Hinckley the latest victims of a rampant home side for who the games can’t come quick enough, with Harrogate the next visitors on Thursday.
Gregory took his tally to 22 for the season as he maintained his eye for goal that saw him notch four at the weekend, with substitute Alex Johnson bagging a brace along with a goal apiece from Alex Titchiner and Dan Gardner.
A record of one win and 101 goals conceded from 31 league games suggested Hinckley’s travelling band of nine supporters may have been better staying at home to watch Man United v Real Madrid, with the rest of the world according to Jose, and so it proved.
It will take a miracle of water-into-wine proportions to save Hinckley from the drop and they offered effort but not much else against an unstoppable Town side.
The Shaymen were never forced to reach top gear against the Knitters, and had the win sewn up by half-time.
Neil Aspin made three changes to the side that saw off Worcester so comprehensively on Saturday, with full debuts for Matt Pearson and Adriano Moke in place of Alex Ttchiner and Ryan Toulson, while Jason St Juste replaced Liam Needham.
Town’s opening goal would have fitted in perfectly among the dazzling display Town gave against Worcester, as Hinckley’s resistance lasted all of ten minutes.
The goal had been on the cards as Moke forced a save from Martin Conway, one of three with that surname in the Hinckley squad, before his cross was prodded wide by Gregory from ten yards out.
Hinckley did come within inches of taking a shock lead when Luke Richards’ curling shot from inside the area shaved Matt Glennon’s far post.
But their lead wouldn’t have lasted long in the face of Town’s response as Gardner swept home after a flowing move saw St Juste release Scott McManus down the left before the full-back found the player of the month with a clever cut back to the edge of the box.
Lee Gregory added the second six minutes later from Moke’s cross, with the winger already giving Hinckley left-back James Hartland a torrid time, and the rest of his defenders gave Gregory far too much time and space as he brought the ball down before side-footing past Conway.
Hinckley already looked more fragile than a Ming vase on a wobbly step-ladder as St Juste was next to burst in behind the overwhelmed Hinckley defence with a lung-busting run, but his shot was saved at the near post.
Liam Hogan then sprang forth with a marauding run to the edge of the Hinckley box before laying the ball wide to St Juste, but Gregory could only head his cross straight at the overworked visiting keeper.
Hartland was then withdrawn five minutes before the break with an injury, although he may well have had the hook at the interval anyway, before a gap the size of Cheddar Gorge materialised when Chris Worsley played in Gregory, who was again given the freedom of the Shay to roll the ball home.
It was difficult not to feel a modicum of sympathy for the visitors given their plight, but Town didn’t let up after half-time and Gregory completed his second hat-trick in as many games when his speculative shot from 35 yards out slipped past Conway, who couldn’t even blame the increasing fog for his blunder.
Gregory’s goalscoring feat hasn’t been seen at The Shay since Jamie Vardy came within a whisker of a hat-trick of hat-tricks, so Harrogate had better beware on Thursday.
With that in mind, Aspin withdrew Gardner and Gregory before the hour mark as even the mist started to sympathise with the visitors as it descended on The Shay to slightly obscure the view of the end Hinckley were defending.
It continued to be a sight for sore eyes as St Juste raced on to McManus’ beautifully flighted pass down the left, but Titchiner was tripped as he attempted to make contact with the cross in the middle, with substitute Alex Johnson putting his penalty into the bottom right corner of Conway’s net from 12 yards.
That made it ten times this season that Hinckley had conceded five or more goals in a league game, but Town weren’t finished there as Matt Pearson’s rampaging run down the left culminated in a cut back to Titchiner, who was left unmarked on the penalty spot before lashing the ball in.
Titchiner then turned provider after latching on to St Juste’s through ball as he squared it to the unmarked Johnson, who was left with a tap-in.
Halifax: Glennon, Pearson, McManus, Hogan, Moke, Lowe, Worsley, Williams, St Juste, Gardner (Titchiner 46), Gregory (Johnson 54). Subs not used: Senior, Toulson, Needham.
Scorers: Gregory (16, 44, 50), Gardner (10), Johnson (70, 81), Titchiner (76)
Shots on target: 14
Shots off target: 6
Hinckley: Martin Conway, Towers (Malhotra 66), Hartland (Moraka 40), Richard Conway, Kalonsi, Lopez, McGrath (David Conway 46), Headley, Richards, Canavan, Brown. Subs not used: Baldwin.
Shots on target: 1
Shots off target: 1
Man of the match: Lee Gregory