FC Halifax Town 4-0 Eastleigh: Shaymen go top of the league after comfortable win
FC Halifax Town went top of the National League after a comfortable 4-0 win at home to Eastleigh.
Two goals from Jordan Slew, both superb finishes, and one each from Jamie Allen and Matty Warburton ensured The Shaymen converted their complete control of the contest into a comprehensive victory by their biggest margin of the season.
Town took a while to get going, but once they did, Eastleigh could not live with them.
After two tough away games, the onus was definitely back on the Shaymen to make things happen, with Eastleigh happy to sit back and try to counter-attack.
Off the ball, the visitors had five defenders stretched across the pitch and three midfielders in-front of them, inviting Halifax to do their worst. And the hosts were far from their best.
Town were dominant, controlling the game and offering some decent movement, but their pace was far too pedestrian, simple passes going astray and little link-up play.
Eastleigh's plan was working, until one of their defenders was caught on the ball near the corner of their box by Slew, who kept his composure to slide a shot across goal and in.
After that the game continued to be utterly one-sided, with Eastleigh forcing a couple of corners but looking toothless.
It was still a largely flat contest, played in a flat atmosphere, but enlivened when the excellent Kian Spence showed terrific technique to find space and then superb vision to find a team-mate, with Billy Waters' shot turned behind.
Spence had been the starting point for most Halifax attacks, the midfielder always on the half-turn, always ready to spring forward or find a team-mate.
Jay Benn was getting forward well down the right, where most of Halifax's attacks came, but the right-footed Tyrell Warren, again solid defensively, didn't provide the same bursts down the left.
It was all too comfortable for Town, with Eastleigh offering hardly anything as an attacking force. The Shaymen were working hard off the ball, trying to win it back high up the pitch, but on it, didn't quite have the cut-and-thrust required, just needing to move things up a gear.
Eastleigh finally tested Sam Johnson just before half-time when Tom Whelan twisted and turned to the edge of the box before the Town keeper kicked away his shot.
Matty Stenson, who replaced the injured Harvey Gilmour for only his second start in a Town shirt, then shot into the side-netting.
Stenson wasn't heavily involved in Town's approach play but worked hard and held the ball up well, which was reflected in his ovation when substituted midway through the second-half; following his endeavours, a low shot was flashed just wide by Warburton shortly after the restart.
The Shaymen were missing Waters' pace and movement through the middle, as well as Senior's runs up the left, but still should have doubled their lead in the few minutes after the interval, but for a superb last-ditch tackle by Tom Broadbent on Stenson, and then but for Joe McDonnell's good saves with his feet from Waters and Warburton's low shots.
After a fabulous pass from Warren, a great first touch saw Waters one-on-one near the penalty spot, only for him to blast the ball over the bar, and then Spence's shot was awkwardly saved and scrambled behind.
Town had found that higher gear, and a second seemed inevitable.
Things then went from bad to worse for the visitors when Eastleigh boss Ben Strevens was then sent-off.
Town's dominance was finally rewarded with another goal, and Slew sent The Shaymen top in style with a 25 yard piledriver into the bottom corner.
He nearly had his hat-trick when a shot from the corner of the six-yard-box was deflected just wide.
Substitute Allen then marked his return to the side with a goal as he fired the ball high into the net from 15 yards.
There was now a chasm between the sides, with Town looking every bit a table-topping outfit.
And Warburton added a sensational fourth with a beautiful strike that arced into the top corner from the corner of the box.
Any concerns about Halifax lacking any cut-and-thrust seemed a long time ago now.
Halifax: Johnson, Benn (Senior 81), Maher, Bradbury, Warren, Green, Spence, Waters, Warburton, Slew, Stenson (Allen 66). Subs not used: Summerfield, Debrah, Woods.
Scorers: Slew (22, 65), Allen (73), Warburton (80)
Shots on target: 8
Shots off target: 9
Eastleigh: McDonell, Hare, Broadbent, Boyce, Kelly, Pritchard (Harper 75), Maghoma, Hollands, Whelan, Barnett (D Smith 79), Whitehall (S Smart 66). Subs not used: Flitney, Bragg
Shots on target: 1
Shots off target: 3
Referee: Aaron Jackson
Attendance: 1,822 (54 away)
Town man of the match: Perhaps a bit harsh on two-goal Jordan Slew but Kian Spence gets it for another assured, composed midfield display.