FC Halifax Town 4-2 Salford
FC Halifax Town produced a stirring second-half comeback as they beat Salford 4-2 at The Shay and moved back into the play-off places.
Town looked down and out at half-time, trailing 2-0 thanks to a Sam Walker penalty and a goal from Mike Phenix.
But The Shaymen roared back after the break, with debutant Daniel Nti, substitute Liam King, Matty Kosylo with another penalty and Adam Morgan scoring against a Salford team who hadn’t lost in the league since October 22.
That outcome was unfathomable after an underwhelming first-half from Halifax, who didn’t pick up where they left off at Tamworth.
But they were back to their best in a superb second-half in which Salford simply couldn’t live with the movement and creativity of Town’s attackers.
A ponderous first-half was replaced by a sharp, incisive Town after the restart, who have now racked up an impressive hat-trick of wins against their play-off rivals.
As he did in the return game at Salford, ex-Town man Walker found the net from the spot, sweeping the ball past the returning Sam Johnson into the far left corner, after Nathan Hotte had fouled Phenix inside the area after some hesitant Town defending had failed to halt the striker.
Adam Morgan’s rasping drive brought a decent save from Jay Lynch in reply, but Town didn’t settle well, misplacing some simple passes or choosing the wrong option altogether.
New signing Nti started on the left but rarely stayed there, often coming off the flank onto his right foot, sometimes leaving Morgan or Richard Peniket to plug the gap and Halifax were unbalanced as a result.
From Peniket’s left-wing cross, Morgan spurned a glorious chance when he headed over unmarked from six yards out.
That miss looked even worse when some poor defending led to Salford doubling their lead.
A throw-in wasn’t properly dealt with and lead to an avoidable corner, which was floated right under the Halifax crossbar, with Johnson surrounded by a host of players from both teams.
The keeper’s poor punch went only as far as Phenix six yards out, who had time to turn and volley high into the net.
Johnson redeemed himself with a superb save at full stretch to keep out a Salford header across goal, with Town continuing to leave too many gaps at the back.
After the antics of a Tamworth opponent helped get him sent-off last week, Peniket was then accused of the same offence when he was booked for diving inside the penalty area.
Saldord striker Phenix was then cautioned for the latest in a long line of fouls on Scott Garner, with the uncompromising approach of the visitors raising the heckles of an already frustrated home crowd.
Town’s performance was deteriorating as half-time approached, with Phenix spurning a good chance to perhaps put the result beyond doubt when his low shot was kept out by Johnson’s legs.
Salford looked more composed and controlled on the ball, with Town disjointed; did they really score six this time last week?
It wasn’t any better after the interval, with Salford’s lead appearing almost insurmountable.
But after some awful corner-kicks, Town’s next one was taken short, with Kevin Roberts’ cross nodded in at the near post by Nti, who improved as the game went on.
Suddenly Town were given a shot in the arm and now looked a different team, and from their next attack, Josh Wilde’s cross was turned in from the middle of the penalty box by half-time substitute King.
Now this was the team that put six past Tamworth last week.
The momentum nearly swung back Salford’s way when Michael Nottingham’s header was cleared off the line.
But Town’s comeback was completed when Roberts was shoved over chasing a pass towards the byline, and Kosylo buried the penalty into the same corner as Walker had done over an hour ago.
It got even better as, moments after Lynch had kept out Nti’s low shot, Morgan lofted a superb flick header over the keeper from a right-wing cross by Kosylo.
Who’d have predicted that at half-time?
Halifax: Johnson, Roberts, Garner, Hotte, Wilde, Nti, Clarke (King 46), Lynch, Kosylo, Peniket (Denton 72), Morgan (Moyo 88). Subs not used: Drench, Macdonald.
Scorers: Nti (55), King (58), Kosylo (71), Morgan (75)
Shots on target: 8
Shots off target: 8
Salford: Lynch, Nottingham, Grand, Priestley, Brough, Hine, Walker, Barnes, Allen (C King 46), Poole (Johnston 77), Phenix (Hulme 56). Subs not used: Howson, O’Halloran.
Scorers: Walker (6), Phenix (24)
Shots on target: 7
Shots off target: 3
Town man of the match: Matty Kosylo
Referee: David Underwood