Tom Denton scored twice as FC Halifax Town came from behind to beat Fylde 2-1 in an entertaining clash at The Shay.
Town conceded their first goal in nearly five-and-a-half hours when Danny Rowe scored at Halifax for the second season running, but Denton turned the game round for Town with a second-half double to make it three wins from four for Billy Heath’s side.
As a measure of how far Town have come since last season against their fellow promoted team, it was a useful exercise, and the conclusion must be they’ve come about as far as Fylde have, despite the visitors’ full-time status and superior budget.
Fylde were creative in attack but there was a soft underbelly to the away side, who were unable to hold onto their lead as Denton, whose physicality was a thorn in their side all afternoon, trebled his tally for the campaign.
Halifax are well and truly into their stride now, offering much more of a threat going forward than the early weeks of the season and looking like a team who have found their feet in the fifth tier.
Dion Charles, replacing the suspended Matty Kosylo, looked in the mood to impress against his old club, firing just wide from range before tigerishly regaining possession and setting up Adam Morgan, who attempted an exquisite chip from 25 yards that was brilliantly tipped over by Rhys Taylor.
That was after Denton had headed against his own crossbar trying to clear former Halifax man Jack Muldoon’s long throw into the Town box.
Fylde were reminiscent of Aldershot from the opening day, playing some nice football, confident in possession and with some good movement in attacking areas.
From the impressive Andy Bond’s pass, dangerman Rowe worked half-a-yard of space midway through the first-half before curling a low shot just wide; a reminder if one were needed of the striker’s often latent but nevertheless potent threat.
The Shaymen also looked bright going forward though, with Josh Macdonald making some surging runs down the right and Denton causing his usual havoc in the air.
The forward sent a free-kick just wide after a clumsy tackle by Nathan Hotte just outside the box before he then skilfully jinked past two challenges near the goal-line before skying his shot across goal moments before the break.
Town were creating just as much as Fylde though, with Connor Oliver sending a shot crashing just wide from 30 yards, and Morgan breaking free down the left before blasting a shot over when a cross would have been a wiser choice.
The resolute Town defence that was homing in on six hours without conceding a goal looked suddenly porous after the interval when slack play by Scott McManus let in James Hardy, but Sam Johnson kept out his shot. Hardy got another chance moments later with the Halifax back-line still in flux, but he lashed his shot skyward from eight yards.
A terrific through ball sliced open the hosts’ defence again and saw Hardy race clean through on goal but he finished tamely. Rowe’s shot was then blocked by Scott Garner.
A goal looked imminent, and arrived when Simon Grand played a superb through ball for Rowe, who delicately dinked it over the onrushing Johnson.
But Town hit back immediately when Denton nodded in from two yards after Morgan’s header had hit the bar from Macdonald’s cross.
Rowe and Muldoon both had efforts off target for Fylde before Oliver and Morgan could have scored for Halifax as the chances came thick and fast.
A third goal seemed inevitable too, the only doubt being who would score it. But from Macdonald’s deft pass, Denton curled a well-placed shot past Taylor from 12 yards to complete the turnaround.
Muldoon hit the post from Luke Burke’s excellent cross before substitute Matty Blinkhorn was sent-off barely two minutes after coming on for an alleged stamp on McManus.
Halifax: Johnson, Garner, brown, Wilde, Macdonald (Clarke 80), Oliver, Hotte (Lynch 46), Charles, McManus, Denton, Morgan (Tomlinson 74). Subs not used: Nicholson, Dixon.
Scorer: Denton (58, 77)
Shots on target: 5
Shots off target: 7
Fylde: Taylor, Montrose, Tunnicliffe, Bond (Blinkhorn 88), Grand, Hardy (Smith 76), Finley, Burke, Ezewele (Richards 70), Muldoon, Rowe. Subs not used: Lynch, Jones.
Scorer: Rowe (57)
Shots on target: 4
Shots off target: 10
Referee: Glen Hart
Town man of the match: Tom Denton