Gregory is Town’s goal hero

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Hucknall Town 1

FC Halifax Town 2

Lee Gregory bagged two goals - the second four minutes from the end - to give the Shaymen another three valuable points on the road to the Evo Stik Premier Division title.

The shocking Watnall Road pitch ensured it was never the prettiest afternoon’s football you will ever see and there were times when it looked as though Town were going to blow it.

Both of Gregory’s goals came from his head and that was not a major surprise given that playing the ball on the ground was little short of impossible.

And it might have been more comfortable had Tom Baker converted from the penalty spot just before the break.

But at this stage of he season, the result has to be the all-important thing and Neil Aspin’s side got over the line for the 23rd time in 32 attempts this season.

The Shaymen almost caught Hucknall napping after a couple of minutes when Jonathan Hedge threw the ball out for Scott Hogan who raced forward.

Danny Holland made a good run into the area but when he latched onto the pass, Wayne Diuk got across to block.

At the other end, Josh Burge tried his luck from distance but Hedge held onto the ball after it had bounced awkwardly in front of him.

Town immediately went onto the attack and Jamie Vardy controlled well on the edge of the area before lashing an effort narrowly wide.

The game really opened up and Callum Lloyd should have done better when he got away on the Hucknall left, but his attempt to curl home at the far post with his right foot failed horribly.

The breakthrough came after 14 minutes following a foul on the left on Vardy. Baker swung the ball in and Gregory rose above the Hucknall defence to head home.

The pitch beat Vardy soon after as he latched onto a Baker pass only for the ball to bounce up off the surface as he shot.

James Jepson curled a free kick into the side netting just past the midway point of the first half as the home side sent out a reminder that they were ready to battle.

Danny Lowe sent an effort high over the bar and Baker forced the keeper to make a save low down to his left as the Shaymen looked to build on their lead.

At the other end, after what appeared to be a foul on Simon Garner, the ball fell nicely for Dion Chambers who hammered a shot through a crowd of players only to be denied by a reaction save from Hedge.

The Shaymen went straight up the other end and Vardy was bundled over by Diuk in the area, but Baker’s fine run of scoring from the spot ended as Ross Whalin dived to his left to save.

Gregory then dummied, allowing Holland the chance to get to the edge of the area but his well struck effort flew narrowly wide.

The Shaymen started well after the break with Scott Hogan going on a fine run down the right before feeding Holland. He crossed low looking for Gregory, but the ball was just too far in front of his strike area.

Moments later the same three combined again, Holland feeding Gregory this time before the ball was worked wide for Hogan, whose first time effort went over the bar.

Hucknall’s first chance almost resulted in an equaliser as Chambers hooked the ball in from the right for Ty Nightingale, but his touch was blocked behind by Liam Hogan.

And Nightingale was in again after the Shaymen failed to clear a free kick, but his effort on the turn flew across the face of goal.

Baker had a chance to double Town’s lead after 55 minutes when he was picked out by Gregory, but he blazed over.

And the ball went the same way soon after when Scott Hogan worked an opening for himself on the right of the area.

Having failed to add to their lead, the Shaymen were pegged back midway through the second half when they failed to deal with a long, bouncing ball down the middle and Fabian Smith managed to get a toe end on it to direct it past the advancing Hedge.

The Shaymen could have been back in front within a couple of minutes after Vardy’s break down the left. The keeper parried his cross and Scott Hogan pounced only to be denied by a stunning sliding block from Jepson.

Lee Ellington replaced Scott Hogan and almost made an immediate impact as he hooked the ball goalwards, from a seemingly offside position next to the post, but the keeper saved.

And 30 seconds later Gregory crossed deep from the right for Holland whose header flew over the bar.

Hucknall also had opportunities, Nightingale twice being denied by Hedge on the edge of the area in the space of a few seconds.

Gregory headed a Garner free kick down and wide with seven minutes remaining and the second goal finally arrived three minutes later.

Vardy did well on the left and ignored Ellington at the near post to send his cross deep where Gregory headed over the keeper and in.