FC Halifax Town climbed to fourth in the Blue Square North with victory at Vauxhall Motors.
Scott McManus got The Shaymen off to a flying start by opening the scoring after just five minutes to erase the frustration of Saturday’s shut-out against Stalybridge.
However, it wasn’t until midway through the second-half that Dan Gardner effectively won the game for the visitors with a fine effort before another superb team goal saw Lee Gregory round off a good night’s work for Town before Tom Rutter’s late consolation.
Neil Aspin was forced into two changes from the side he had stuck by recently, with the injured Jon Worthington and the departed Paul Marshall replaced by the excellent Sean Williams and Chris Worsley, who returned after his three-match suspension.
Town’s opening goal said a lot about their attacking intent following the Stalybridge stalemate as right-back Ruan Toulson’s low cross from the left was turned in at the far post by his opposite number McManus for a rare goal for the full back.
Such an early goal didn’t quite warm up the crowd on a freezing cold evening in the North-West though, with the atmosphere as quiet as the aforementioned car company probably claim their newest model is.
But those that were in attendance were treated to a largley entertaining spectacle, with the early goal shaking off any inhibitions either team may have had, resulting in both sides trying, if not always succeeding, to add to the score.
If Sean Williams saw Paul Marshall’s unexpected departure to Stockport as an opportunity, he certainly grabbed it with both hands with an outstanding display in central midfield.
A taste of what was to come was provided with an early sighter that flew just over from outside the box before Vauxhall also foretold of the dangers they were to offer when their top-scorer Rutter had a shot cleared off the line by Toulson.
Former Town striker Ashley Stott then broke in behind the Town defence but wasted a good chance by shooting wildly over before Karl Noon also misfired after stealing a march on Halifax’s back line.
The Shaymen seemed to have taken their foot off the gas after getting in the driver’s seat so early on, but Williams suddenly burst into life with a run and shot that needed to be deflected over.
Gareth Seddon then had a blistering shot tipped behind by Zac Jones as Town ended the half as strongly as they’d started it.
Worsley then appeared to have a good shout for a penalty waved away after the restart before Liam Needham got on the end of McManus’ cross from the left but fired wide from a great position inside the box.
A second goal in the game looked an increasingly likely prospect as both sides continued to rack up the chances.
Stott and half-time substitute Gary Msrtindale found themselves in good positions within shooting distance of Matt Glennon, but both shots finished way off target.
However, Dan Gardner’s effort midway through the second-half arrowed past Jones to complete a flowing move involving him and Seddon to create a crucial two-goal cushion.
But Town saved their best until last when Williams’ sweeping pass found Gardner on the left wing before the former Droylsden man slid the ball into the area for substitute Lee Gregory to tap in.
Gregory then headed off the bar as Town really began to enjoy themselves, with their game of keep-ball drawing a few ‘ole’s’ from the travelling support.
The muted home fans were then given something to cheer too when Rutter pounced on a loose ball to slide it past Glennon from ten yards out.
Vauxhall: Jones, Wainwright, Noone (Martindale 46), Kocsis, Nicholas, Clair, Mahon, Moss, Rutter, Stott, Noon. Subs not used: Wright, Ellison.
Goalscorers: Rutter (90)
Shots on target: 3
Shots off target: 6
Halifax: Glennon, Toulson, McManus, Hogan, Needham, Lowe, Worsley, Williams, Titchiner (Moke 73), Gardner (St Juste 86), Seddon (Gregory 65). Subs not used: Senior, Alex Johnson.
Goalscorers: McManus (5), Gardner (65), Gregory (76)
Shots on target: 7
Shots off target: 6
Man of the match: Sean Williams