FC Halifax Town 0-4 Wrexham: Shaymen stunned in heavy home defeat to play-off rivals
A hat-trick from Jordan Davies helped Wrexham to a stunning 4-0 win over FC Halifax Town at The Shay.
A win would have given Town a six-point cushion over their play-off rivals, but three goals from Davies and one from Dior Angus ensured Halifax came crashing back down to earth after their excellent recent form.
All the pressure was on Wrexham coming into the game, but it was The Shaymen who played as if the weight of the world was on their shoulders, producing a display a million miles from their recent performances, and suffering their first home defeat since the end of January.
There was no cutting edge to Town in attack, while defensively they were badly exposed by a clinical opponent.
Wrexham lost 4-0 on their last visit to The Shay, but Town were down by that margin after 36 minutes.
After efforts by former Town striker Gold Omotayo and Paul Rutherford had been kept out by Sam Johnson, Davies converted Jamie Reckord's corner at the near post to cap the visitors' strong start.
Town's response was decent, consisting of plenty of possession, although not enough was done with it, and a shot by Niall Maher forcing keeper Christian Dibble into a save.
As expected, Luke Summerfield, starting for the first time since the reverse fixture between the sides in January, was the starting point for Halifax attacks, although the precision of his passing wasn't up to its usual standards.
Town were in the ascendancy, but they didn't make it much further than midway through the Wrexham half due to a combination of a lack of movement and ingenuity from The Shaymen, and some solid, organised defending from the visitors.
After Jeff King's shot was blocked, Wrexham broke quickly and played in Angus, once on Halifax's radar, who should have done better than seeing his low shot saved by Johnson.
That was a warning Town didn't heed though, and Angus drilled a low shot across goal and in having been left in acres of space.
Angus could have had another as he again got sight of goal against the beleaguered Town defence, but Neill Byrne blocked his shot.
it was the porous nature of Town's defence that was alarming. After such a watertight display at Altrincham, Halifax's back-line looked uncharacteristically vulnerable.
Wrexham's third summed things up, as Davies pounced on a loose ball by Nathan Clarke and rounded Johnson before sliding the ball in from an angle.
Town were getting worse, locked in a spiral of frustration, attacks breaking down and avoidable goals.
Wrexham were playing with real hunger and desire, buoyed by their lead. Even Omotayo had been transformed into a strong, powerful target man, unrecognisable from his time at The Shay, where he failed to score in five games.
An absolute screamer from Davies from 20 yards out was like a boxer's final knockout punch after a flurry of blows as The Shaymen disintegrated.
What was astonishing was the form of both sides coming into the game, with Town losing only once in 10 and Wrexham losing their last three.
But the visitors had been excellent, with defensive midfielders Luke Young and Rutherford protecting their back-four superbly, and each member of that back four alert, alive to danger and switched-on.
Town had switched off long before half-time.
After some long overdue aggression to win the ball back in midfield, a stunning strike by Jack Earing crashed off the underside of the bar a few minutes after the restart, before appearing to bounce over the line, but no goal was given.
Summerfield's left-footed shot was then tipped over by the under-worked Christian Dibble as Town at least showed some belated fighting spirit.
After Niall Maher was fortunate to only be booked for fouling Omotayo just outside the box, Johnson tipped behind Young's free-kick.
Any edge to the game had long since disappeared, but substitutes Martin Woods and Billy Chadwick came close to a consolation goal as The Shaymen tried to at least salvage something.
Fellow sub Kieran Green then headed against the woodwork from Summerfield's free kick.
Halifax: Johnson, Byrne, Clarke, Bradbury (Woods 46), King, Summerfield, Maher, Earing (Green 76), Senior, Hyde (Chadwick 64), Allen. Subs not used: Davison-Hale, Williams.
Shots on target: 4
Shots off target: 8
Wrexham: Dibble, Carrington, Pearson, Kelleher, French, Young, Rutherford, Reckford, Davies, Omotayo (Sang 87), Angus (Redmond 81). Subs not used: Jarvis, Marsh-Brown, Hall-Johnson.
Scorers: Davies (4, 32, 36), Angus (22)
Shots on target: 8
Shots off target: 3
Referee: Rebecca Welch
Town man of the match: Extremely slim pickings, but Luke Summerfield, on his first start in nearly three months, gets the nod. Not one of his finest performances but never shied away from wanting the ball and tried to get Town playing.