Dover 1-3 FC Halifax Town: Waters at the double as Shaymen win on south coast
Two goals from Billy Waters and one from Kieran Green saw FC Halifax Town win 3-1 at bottom club Dover.
Town deserved their win, but it wasn't easy against a plucky Dover side who briefly equalised through Ben Williamson.
Nearly two years since they last met, the match was closer than the league table and the form table would have suggested.
But Halifax defended well when they had to, created a hatful of chances and, in the end, showed the ruthlessness required to get the victory.
Other than Jesse Debrah replacing the unavailable Tom Bradbury, it was the same Town team that started against Maidenhead. And why not.
But any Shaymen fans anticipating their team's early goal would herald the start of a second consecutive goal-fest against the team with the worst defensive record in the league were mistaken.
It was the kind of composed, calm finish we've come to expect from Waters, who slid the ball underneath the keeper one-on-one for Town's first away goal in just over seven hours of football.
That came just moments after Dover went close to scoring with a Ryan Hanson header from a free-kick.
And the hosts responded well to their early setback. What Dover lacked in quality, they made up for in spirit
There was more finesse and fluidity to Town's approach, and the visitors were smarter and smoother on the ball.
Green was in full on beast mode in midfield, winning countless headers, tackles and 50-50's, and he nearly doubled Town's lead with a header from a corner but for Adam Parkes' excellent full-stretch save.
When Town got into their groove inside the opposition half, Dover were chasing shadows, such as when Waters' quick change of direction midway through the first-half saw two Dover defenders wrong-footed and left trailing.
Jack Vale was a threat down the right, and Waters' movement caused problems, but the home side grew in confidence in the opening half.
Dover went more direct more often, with mixed results, but showed admirable spirit for a team without a win in ten months spirit, staying in the game and not letting their heads drop.
The hosts got into some decent crossing positions, especially through the impressive Travis Gregory down the left, but were let down by poor deliveries.
Gregory almost equalised when a corner fell to him on the edge of the Town box but his shot dropped just the wrong side of the post.
Gregory then brought a first save from Sam Johnson shortly before the interval with a shot from a tight angle after his tenacity had won the ball from Tyrell Warren near the corner flag.
Debrah and Jack Senior in particular had defended well, helping keep Dover at bay, especially at set-pieces, but the ball had been coming back at Town with greater regularity as the opening half went on, with the break coming at a good time for Halifax.
The second 45 continued in the same vein, with Dover applying more pressure and Town unable to really do the same,
Debrah had a shot cleared off the line from a corner ten minutes into the second half. Despite their pressure, Dover weren't creating the chancres Town were, with Warren bringing a save from Parkes at an angle after Vale's clever pass.
Vale's replacement Elliot Newby should have done better when a one-two with Waters got him in on goal to the right of the box, and he dragged his shot well wide.
Warren was again denied by Parkes as Town sought the killer second goal. Maher was leading by example at the back, remaining calm, while Newby had added some energy to the attack.
Warburton's shot was deflected for a corner, from which Green headed just wide. Town had found a second wind, with Dover back to chasing shadows.
It should have been all over for Dover, but having failed to kill them off, Town were pegged back when Williamson drove the ball in low across goal after it had bobbled around the box after a long throw.
But Halifax showed some fighting spirit of their own, typically from the tireless Green, who headed The Shaymen back in-front barely a minute later from a corner.
Waters then sealed it two minutes from the end with his 12th of the season when he was left with a tap-in after some good build-up play resulted in a low cross from the left,
Dover: Parkes, Collinge, Goodman, Tiensia, Ransom, Woods (Caton 69), Bramble, Hanson, Cosgrove (Bentley 83), Williamson, Gregory. Subs not used: Bexon, Wood, Carney.
Scorer: Williamson (77)
Shots on target: 2
Shots off target: 5
Halifax: Johnson, Warren, Maher, Debrah, Senior, Green, Spence (Summerfield 69), Vale (Newby 61), Slew, Warburton (Gilmour 77), Waters. Subs not used: Swaby-Neavin.
Scorers: Waters (8, 88), Green (78)
Shots on target: 7
Shots off target: 11
Referee: Lloyd Wood
Town man of the match: Kieran Green. A performance that typified what he brings to the team - tenacity, work rate, composure, energy, commitment. Outstanding.