FC Halifax Town 2-0 Dartford

Halifax Town v Dartford at The Shay Stadium.
Halifax Town v Dartford at The Shay Stadium.

Lee Gregory scored his third goal in as many games to help FC Halifax Town to a 2-0 win over Dartford at the Shay.

The hosts eventually eased to their second win in five days thanks to second-half goals by Gregory and kevin Holsgrove’s first of the campaign.

But the result was on the cards long before that as Town took their place among the early pace-setters in the Conference Premier and rounded off an encouraging opening week in fine style.

Dartford were the highest-placed part-timers in the country last season, a mantle Town would be delighted to take from them this year.

On this evidence, they might have a chance as the Shaymen controlled the majority of the game in stark contrast to the two evenly-matched meetings between the sides last season.

As expected, Matt Glennon returned between the sticks in place of Phil Senior, but captain Danny Lowe had to be content with a place on the bench.

Town’s first two games of the campaign have illustrated the type of tests that await them in the Skrill Premier, but the opening to this game was like a step back in time to the days of the Evo-Stik.

Dartford replicated many of those visiting sides’ approach by packing the midfield, and subsequently the game quickly settled into a pattern of one-way traffic towards keeper Alan Julian.

Gregory tested the stopper with a very early sighter before Matt Pearson’s prod towards goal from Marc Roberts cross forced a superb reaction save.

Gregory went closer when Adam Smith’s fizzed cross just evaded him and Scott McManus in the middle, while Josh Wilson’s free-kick flew milimetres wide of the upright with Julian beaten.

Dartford looked a shadow of the side that knocked Town out of the FA Trophy last season as the Shaymen continued to dominate proceedings, with Roberts’ looping header dropping just the wrong side of the post as the Dartford goal lived an increasingly charmed life.

Lois Maynard’s stab towards goal was then brilliantly saved by Julian after a Town free-kick as the visitors began counting down the clock until the interval, with Julian taking his time over goal kicks, much to the consternation of the home supporters.

Many one-sided contests of this nature at the Shay down the years have featured a sting in the tale of an away goal, and Jason Prior nearly provided it but for a superb block by Pearson six yards out.

It was enough of an injustice for Town to only be level at the interval, so a Dartford goal would have been especially cruel after a opening 45 minutes played almost exclusively in the visitors’ half.

But the second period picked up where the first left off as Roberts headed over from a corner before Gregory gave Town the most deserved of leads.

Despite Dartford’s inferiority for most of the match, they should have been ahead themselves but Prior somehow contrived to head over from inside the six yard box before a poor back pass that had echoes of Cambridge last Sunday let in Gregory moments later, who rounded Julian and rolled the ball in.

Julian had reason to be disppointed with Town’s second five minutes later too as he failed to collect Gregory’s long-range drive and left Kevin Holsgrove with a simple finish.

Town didn’t ease up having opened up their two-goal cushion though, which could have been doubled only for Smith’s well struck shot to be tipped onto the bar and Holsgrove’s low drive from a tight angle to be parried behind.

Halifax: Glennon, Toulson, McManus, Roberts, Ainge, Smith, Maynard, Pearson (Williams 72), Holsgrove (Marshall 64), Wilson, Gregory. Subs not used: Senior, Lowe, Johnson.

Scorers: Gregory (49), Holsgrove (53)

Shots on target: 11

Shots off target: 8

Corners: 12

Dartford: Julian, Clark, Burns, Mitchel-King, Cornhill (Woodyard 63), Harris, Noble (Collier 72), Bradbrook, Rogers, Prior, Birchall. Subs not used: Monger, Porter, Welham.

Shots on target: 2

Shots off target: 1

Corners: 8

Attendance: 1,296

Man of the match: Matt Pearson