Halifax Town 2
It was another Shay shocker as Town crashed to defeat at the hands of an Altrincham side they would consider to be rivals for the play offs.
On another day the talk would have been about fine goals from Jamie Rainford and Simon Garner, both of which flew in from outside the area.
But the visitors took full advantage of some woeful defending to collect only their second away win of the season with Damian Reeves and Jack Redshaw bagging a couple of goals each.
Few would have foreseen the collective off-day suffered by the Town back four or the fact that they could be overrun in midfield.
Unlike Altrincham, they also failed to make the most of the opportunities that came their way.
Throw all those factors into the melting pot and it is a recipe for disaster, which it was.
James Dean returned after suspension while Jamie Rainford was back in the senior side after missing the FA Trophy tie with Colwyn Bay because he was cup tied.
Danny Holland dropped to the bench with Aaron Hardy, who suffered a twisted ankle in midweek, missing out completely.
Town almost made the perfect start when Ryan Toulson released Lee Gregory on the right and he crossed for James Walshaw.
But the loan striker was denied twice by Altrincham keeper Stuart Coburn and in between by Mathew Flynn who cleared off the line.
Moments later the action switched to the other end with Gregg Anderson sliding in to clear for a corner under pressure.
Altrincham almost broke the deadlock after nine minutes from Nicky Clee’s corner on the right hand side.
Shaun Densmore got a touch on the edge of the six yard box but the ball hit the post then rolled along the goalline before it was cleared.
Rainford played Walshaw in on the right a minute later but his cross was behind Dean who could not direct it on goal.
Having gone close, the Shaymen were behind as Damien Reeves raced onto a long ball forward and expertly lifted it over the advancing Simon Eastwood.
Worse followed after 14 minutes when Nicky Clee got his cross in from the left and Reeves was there to direct home his second from the edge of the six yard box.
The Shaymen pulled one back in the 17th minute when Gregory played a short pass to Rainford on the edge of the area and he curled his shot beyond the diving Coburn.
Rainford flashed another effort over the bar before the Shaymen had a great chance to level in the 25th minute from a Tom Baker free kick.
The initial delivery caused consternation in the visitors’ defence and when he sent it back in with his left foot Dean sent his effort over the bar.
Town lost their way momentarily, Eastwood having to race out of his area to clear from a Baker back pass.
And the skipper’s free kick shortly after, aimed towards Rainford, was far too strong and raced out for a goal kick.
Reeves almost completed a hat trick seven minutes before the break when he got the better of Toulson, only to be denied by Eastwood’s legs.
And the Shaymen almost levelled within a minute when Walshaw crossed in from the left and Adam Flynn sliced his attempted clearance across the face of his own goal and out for a corner.
It was 2-2 in the 41st minute when, after a Walshaw effort had been blocked on the edge of the area, the ball fell to Simon Garner who hammered it home.
But Town were only level for two minutes as Jack Redshaw was allowed to dribble straight through the middle of the Town defence and fire home.
And in first half stoppage time Reeves got his head to a corner from the right and Gregory was forced to clear the ball off the line.
Anton Foster replaced Walshaw at the break as Aspin moved to stem the supply of ball to the Altrincham frontmen.
Rainford continued to look lively and he did well to get a cross in from the right three minutes after the break which led to a corner.
Nothing came of it but moments later Toulson’s long throw down the right was flicked on by Dean for Gregory who did well to get into the box, only to be denied by the keeper.
Altrincham were in no mood to sit back and could have increased their advantage after 51 minutes but Eastwood made a reaction save to deny Adrian Hawes.
Town then went close at the other end with Liam Hogan stooping to head a Garner corner but the ball looped over the bar.
The Shaymen produced their move of the game to date on the hour when Anderson cleared to Gregory who played it back to Rainford. He returned it to Gregory who raced forward and crossed but just too far in front of Dean at the far post.
Reeves snatched at a 65th minute shot when well placed and Toulson did well to get back with a sliding challenge on Redshaw to deny him one on one with Eastwood.
Hogan’s long clearance from the back was then controlled brilliantly by Gregory who fired a shot on the turn, but Coburn got enough on it to keep in out.
Altrincham, who had been far less attacking, restored their two goal advantage after 71 minutes when Redshaw was allowed too much time and space and picked his spot from 20 yards out.
Dean had the ball in the net nine minutes before the break when he fired home after the keeper had only parried a Baker shot, but the linesman’s flag was up to deny him a goal on his return.
Redshaw was also denied a goal, which would have been his hat-trick, when he turned in Reeves’s miss-hit effort from an offside position.
And the visitors were denied a fifth with three minutes remaining when Eastwood saved a Reeves penalty, awarded after Scott McManus had handled from a corner.