Shaymen collapse to defeat

Hinckley United 3

Halifax Town 2

As capitulations go, this was a big one.

Up to 67 minutes the Shaymen were cruising, two goals to the good and completely dominant.

What happened next is hard to explain.

Put simply, Town folded like a pack of cards.

Why? Only the players themselves will know.

But they changed from a fluent passing side creating chances - enough of them to have won three games - and playing the home side off the field to a team that looked hesitant all over the pitch but especially defending in and around their own six yard box.

They still ought to have been able to hold onto their lead, but they couldn’t.

Seven days after conceding a first minute goal to Workington, Town almost made the perfect start when Harry Winter released Lee Gregory down the right, but the striker’s touch into the box was a little strong and home keeper Danny Haystead was off his line quickly to claim.

And within a couple of minutes Terry Dixon had turned well and found Tom Baker on the right, but his low shot was straight at the keeper.

The Shaymen continued to press and Gregory did well to control a long Baker pass before trying to set up Danny Lowe, but Paul Lister nipped in to clear for the home side.

Winter and Lowe combined to send the ball racing across the Hinckley six yard box, but no one could get a touch.

Town suffered a blow after 18 minutes when Gregg Anderson, who has been in fine form in recent weeks, went down after a challenge and was helped from the field clearly in pain.

But they continued to push forward and, after Lowe had been fouled on the left, Baker curled a low free kick in from the left.

It did not appear to be too troublesome until keeper Haystead spilled it, but he made amends by blocking David Haggerty’s effort from close range.

A long ball over the top from the home side threatened to undo the Shaymen, but Liam Hogan got back to block Andre Gray’s attempted cross.

But it was a rare foray forward from the home side and Town deservedly hit the front 11 minutes before the break when Baker released Gregory and he waited for the keeper to advance before lifting the ball over him into the waiting net.

Minutes later Lloyd Kerry’s pass back to Haystead had the keeper scrambling to clear under pressure from Lowe.

Dixon, who was showing some neat touches, gave Lowe a chance to cross, but the ball went behind for a corner off the first defender.

It was cleared, but the ball was worked back to Dixon on the left and his cross was headed wide by a stooping Haggerty.

The Shaymen forced a corner within a minute of the restart, a defender heading Simon Garner’s cross behind.

That was cleared but Town were soon threatening again, Dixon playing in Baker whose shot was deflected behind off a post.

Garner was prominent as the Shaymen were quickly into their stride but Gregory was unable to control his 48th-minute cross

Gregory and Baker combined to create a shooting chance for Lowe who fired over and Dixon flicked on for Winter whose volley went the same way.

Hinckley threatened again after 56 minutes through Gray who got free on the right but pulled the ball across the face of goal and wide.

The Shaymen gained some breathing space after 64 minutes when they doubled their advantage from a Gregory cross.

The ball reached Dixon, whose shot was saved, and Winter was there to bundle the rebound over the line.

The two goal lead did not last long as the Shaymen failed to deal with a 67th minute free kick and Gray forced home from close range

There was another scare moments later when Eastwood was forced to race off his line to clear from Gray.

Gregory then did well on the left and rolled the ball back for Dixon whose well-struck shot was turned round the post by the keeper.

Gregory then had a shot saved by the keeper and Dixon hammered a left footed effort from the rebound wide of the post.

Former Shay loanee Luke Dean tried his luck from then edge of the area but Eastwood was up to the challenge.

And Town’s lead was wiped out after 72 minutes when Gray crossed from the right and substitute Danny Newton headed home from six yards out.

Dixon was unlucky to be denied by a sprawling save from Haystead moments before he made way for Danny Holland.

At the other end Garner was rescued by Liam Hogan who slid in to deny Gray after the midfelder had misplaced a pass.

But the game was turned on its head when Gray went clear, Eastwood raced off his line and the Hinckley striker went down under the challenge. Dean stepped up to fire home from the penalty spot.

Gregory had a half chance to level in the final minute, volleying over on the stretch after Haggerty had headed on a Scott McManus free kick.

And there was a shout for a penalty when Holland went down under a challenge as he tried to get on the end of a Gregory cross.

But there was no way back.