All too easy for Town at Giant Axe

Lancaster City 0

Halifax Town 3

Town cruised through to the FA Cup fourth qualifying round for the third successive season with a comfortable win at the Giant Axe.

But the game was marred by fighting on the terraces after just six minutes which forced the referee to suspend play - and take the players from the pitch - for 25 minutes.

Town were ahead thanks to a Brett Renshaw strike by the time play was halted by skirmishes behind Town keeper Phil Senior’s goal.

Players and staff from both sides did what they could to end the trouble, which eventually calmed, but the match official ruled there would have to be a police presence at the ground before he took the players back out.

When play eventually resumed, the Shaymen continued to press and they were two up by the break, Simon Garner firing home.

Rarely troubled at the back, the Shaymen completed victory late on with Lee Gregory taking his tally for the season to eight five minutes from time.

Town could hardy have made a better start, going in front after three minutes following a foul on Jason St Juste.

Tom Baker swung the free kick in, the ball bounced off two defenders and Renshaw turned superbly to fire home from 10 yards.

That was the end of the action for 25 minutes as the players were taken from the field and the game did not re-start until the police arrived at the ground.

Before that, both clubs’ physios and several players tried to quell the trouble in the apparent absence of stewards inside the Giant Axe.

Lancaster looked the more threatening on the resumption without ever suggesting they were going to get a shot on Phil Senior’s goal.

At the other end, Gregory tried an ambitious overhead effort, as did Baker from a Garner mis-kick.

Garner’s free kick was claimed well by Martin Fearon, who had the strong sun shining in his eyes as he caught the ball with Gregory challenging.

St Juste conceded a corner when a free kick bounced behind off his legs as he tried to let the ball roll dead but Danny Lowe defended the situation well.

Town responded well and Garner curled an effort just over the bar from the edge of the area as the half approached its midway point.

Liam Hogan did well to hook the ball clear as Danny Hattersley looked to get goal side and Renshaw got in a couple of telling touches to clear danger.

The Shaymen doubled their advantage after 27 minutes of playing time from a ball played in from the left.

Gregory was unable to get a clean shot in, but Garner was lurking just to his left and found himself in space before firing home.

Lowe did well defensively to get a block on a shot from Lee Dodgson, who had far too much time in the Town box to turn,

And, as the disrupted half drew to a close, Gregory narrowly failed to send a ball through to Baker as he raced into the City area.

Lancaster might have pulled a goal back a minute after the break but Alex Meaney sent a rasping shot narrowly over the bar.

Town responded with Winter sending Gregory free down the right but his drilled cross was dealt with well by the home defence.

Liam Hogan blocked a Meaney shot as Town struggled to clear a free kick and the whole defence stood firm from a second free kick, catching the home forwards offside.

There was nothing to choose between the sides, with City enjoying the territorial advantage and Town happy with their two-goal advantage

A Winter cross, after he was sent clear on the right by Ryan Toulson, deflected into the keeper’s arms while a Scott McManus break down the left ended when the substitute stood on the ball and crashed to the floor.

McManus showed good feet moments later to skip round the full back but his cross eluded Gregory in the middle.

Gregory did well to turn Neil Marshall with 11 minutes remaining then pulled the ball back for Garner, whose shot failed to curl sufficiently to trouble the Lancaster goal.

The Shaymen eventually got their third with five minutes remaining after McManus had found Garner on the left. He crossed perfectly for Gregory who had the simplest of tasks to volley in from close range.

David Haggerty got a flick on a Scott Hogan ball in, but it was a heavy touch and the keeper watched as it sailed over the bar.

And Gregory fired into the side netting in stoppage time after doing well to cut in from the left.