Curzon Ashton 4-2 FC Halifax Town
FC Halifax Town slipped to a 4-2 defeat against eight-man Curzon Ashton in an extraordinary game as the hosts won at home in the league for the first time this season.
The Shaymen conceded four goals for the first time since losing 4-1 at Barrow back in March and never got going against a Curzon team who were sharper, quicker and hungrier on the day.
Halifax conceded the first goal in a game for the first time since winning 2-1 at Telford on September 3 through Niall Cummins, which was soon added to by the impressive Adam Morgan.
Cliff Moyo halved the deficit just after half-time, but Morgan scored an excellent third as Town took one step forward and two back, with Joe Guest adding a barely-believable fourth on a miserable afternoon for The Shaymen, who only added a bit of respectability to the score-line thanks to an own-goal by Connor Hampson.
Curzon, who already had captain Alex Brown dismissed, then remarkably had both Cummins and Jamie Stott sent-off.
There were echoes of Gainsborough away in Halifax’s static defending and a lack of protection from midfield, with a team they were expected to beat instead beating them all too easily.
Unlike on Tuesday night, Town were slow out of the blocks; a little ponderous on the ball and wasteful in possession - a shadow of the team that swept aside Dagenham and Redbridge in midweek.
Curzon looked sharper and attacked with greater numbers, with Morgan volleying wide of the near post from left-back Hampson’s deep cross a few minutes in.
An indication of Halifax’s slow start was Tom Denton not winning his first flick-on until the 13th minute, and it wasn’t until a couple of minutes later that Denton registered the visitors’ first effort, heading wide from a left-wing cross 12 yards out.
If the Dagenham replay was the Lord Mayor’s Show in terms of drama and entertainment, this was certainly after it.
Morgan and Liam King both had shots over the bar but the game mostly consisted of both teams conceding possession through a combination of aimless high balls and hard work from the opposition.
The first effort on target didn’t arrive until 10 minutes before half-time, and required a magnificent save by Hakan Burton, at full stretch diving to his left, to keep out Denton’s header.
Steve Drench produced an equally good save shortly afterwards when a Curzon free-kick found Morgan inside the area, but Cummins tapped in the rebound, with the referee ignoring Drench’s protests about a handball.
That save from Burton looked even better now.
Just after one added minute had been announced at the end of the first-half, Curzon doubled their lead when, after another excellent initial save from Drench, this time from Cummins’ close-range shot, Morgan tapped-in the rebound.
Billy Heath will have had a long checklist at half-time to talk through, with Denton looking isolated up-front, Sinnott not exerting his usual influence over the game and Josh Macdonald being marked out of the game by Hampson.
Perhaps with that in mind, Sinnott was replaced at the interval by new signing Danny Clarke.
And if Heath wanted a response, he got one straight away as Moyo headed in at the back-post from a corner.
But Town failed to clear a Curzon attack a few minutes later and were punished when Morgan fired in a superb low shot across goal from 20 yards.
Denton should have scored Town’s second moments afterwards but put his free header over the bar when unmarked eight yards out.
Confusion swirled around the stadium when Curzon captain Alex Brown was sent-off, despite him being fouled by Town substitute Matty Kosylo, with practically all the home players surrounding referee Aaron Jackson in protest.
But even that, and the introduction of superb sub Kosylo, made little difference.
In fact, it got worse as Guest latched onto a long ball over the top of a Town side mostly caught up-field, and outpaced Moyo before finishing confidently across Drench.
Curzon were then their own worst enemies as, first, Hampson scored an own-goal when trying to chest the ball back to the keeper, and then Cummins was shown a second booking for a dive.
By the time Stott was dismissed late on for his part in a massive melee that broke out involving both benches and most, if not all, the players, after a poor tackle on Josh Wilde by Liam Tomsett, there was little more the game could conjure up.
Denton again wasted a good chance by heading wide from six yards before Liam King lashed a pile-driver just wide and Scott Garner headed against the bar as Town applied some late pressure, but to no avail.
Curzon: Burton, Baillie, Stott, Tomsett, Hampson, Hunt, Guest, Morgan (Rowney 64), Howard (Hall 84), Brown, Cummins. Subs not used: Ennis, Mason, Gorman.
Scorers: Cummins (40), Morgan (45, 50), Guest (74)
Shots on target: 7
Shots off target: 3
Halifax: Drench, Moyo, Roberts, Garner, Wilde, Macdonald, Lynch (Peniket 66), King, Sinnott (Clarke 46), Simmons (Kosylo 53), Denton. Subs not used: Nicholson, Hibbs.
Scorers: Moyo (46), Hampson og 78)
Shots on target: 4
Shots off target: 7
Town man of the match: Kevin Roberts
Referee: Aaron Jackson