Ashton Athletic 0-5 FC Halifax Town
Tom Denton scored after just two minutes before goals from Danny Hone and Jordan Sinnott ended the game as a contest before it even reached half-time.
Two goals in two minutes after the restart from Alex Simmons and Richard Peniket addded some gloss to the scoreline, but it could easily have been double-figures.
The Shaymen’s level of dominance and the hoardes of Town fans around the pitch were reminiscent of Halifax’s Evo-Stik days under Neil Aspin as the club swashbuckled their way up the leagues.
It was probably the kind of game Town needed after their recent struggles in the league, as the match quickly resembled an attack v defence training exercise.
Ashton were winners on the day too though, smashing their previous record attendance of 201 as they crammed 479 into their modest ground.
But any nerves over a potential banana skin were settled by Town’s first attack when Jordan Sinnott’s dinked cross was met with Denton’s diving header six yards out for his first goal in half-a-dozen matches.
Only two minutes in and Halifax were already ruining Ashton’s big day; talk about party poopers.
The difference in quality between the teams was immediately apparent though, with Ashton’s first attack in response seeing winger Daniel Regan miscue his attempted cross straight out for a goal-kick.
Billy Heath fielded the 4-4 2 formation that some Town fans have been longing to see, and the front pairing of Denton and Peniket looked simply too powerful and athletic for the hosts’ defence to cope with.
Josh Macdonald saw a shot cleared off the line from a Sinnott corner after a mix-up in the Ashton defence saw Chris Webster forced off when his back-header missed the keeper Martin Pearson, who ran straight into his team-mate.
Denton looked at home among the hustle and bustle; he was usual focal point of most Town attacks and was enjoying having a striker partner to play off.
He linked up well with Peniket and played a superb first-time pass to Macdonald, who held off a challenge before Pearson saved his low shot.
Pearson produced another decent save from Simmons’ rising, angled drive as the visitors attacked unrelentingly.
There were echoes of Tuesday night at Gainsborough as Town racked up the chances but remained only one-goal ahead.
That was until another fantastic Sinnott corner was headed in by Hone, and Halifax got some breathing space.
That was quickly becoming a chasm as, three minutes later, the ball was cut back to Sinnott on the edge of the box and the midfielder lashed his shot across Pearson into the far corner.
Ashton skipper Paul Watson curled a 25-yards shot just over the angle of post and bar, but it already looked a forlorn hope for the hosts to rescue even a replay, with Hone and Scott Garner impenetrable at the back for The Shaymen.
Peniket twice cut in on his left foot before half-time, but his first shot whistled a couple of yards over while his second was kept out by Pearson at close-range.
There was not let up for Ashton in the second-half as Town maintained their dominance, with Simmons scoring his second is as many games with an excellent low shot across goal from 20 yards.
Barely a minute later, Peniket finally got his goal with a tap-in minutes after he had struck the post with a drilled effort from the edge of the area.
Substitute Jordan Burrow should have notched Town’s sixth with a free header, but directed it straight at Pearson.
There were further chances for Peniket, Sinnott, Burrow and Liam King; if it was a boxing match, it would have been stopped long before full-time.
Ashton: Pearson, Cringle, Howard, Kay, Wilson (Holden 17), Webster (Farnworth 72), Regan, Watson, Kusaloka, Brownhill, Bailey (Gilchrist 52). Subs not used: Farnworth, Mygona, Simpson, Foulds.
Shots on target: 2
Shots off target: 2
Halifax: Drench, Moyo, Garner, Hone, Roberts, Macdonald (Hibbs 76), King, Sinnott, Simmons (Hughes 60), Peniket, Denton (Burrow 63). Subs not used: Nicholson, Khan, Baldwin, Hibbs.
Scorers: Denton (2), Hone (33), Sinnott (36), Simmons (56), Peniket (57)
Shots on target: 16
Shots off target: 13
Town man of the match: Jordan Sinnott
Referee: Steven Copeland (Wirral)