FC Halifax Town 3-1 Southport

Jackson scores in the Halifax Town v Southportgame  at the Shay
Jackson scores in the Halifax Town v Southportgame at the Shay

FC Halifax Town saw off Southport 3-1 on the day Neil Aspin agreed a new full-time contract at the Shay.

Goals from James Bolton, Marc Roberts and débutante Jamie Jackson earned Town a richly-deserved win as Southport struggled to contain the Shaymen for long periods, although the visitors were level at the break through Danny Hattersley’s tap-in.

But the statistics tell their own story as Town forced 10 corners to Southport’s none, with 16 shots to the away side’s five.

And at this rate, Lee Gregory’s goals will be replaced by a free-scoring Halifax defence after Scott McManus’ goal at Dover on Saturday.

As if that opening-day win hadn’t fostered enough optimism ahead of Town’s home bow, the news of Aspin’s new contract ensured a buzz of anticipation at kick-off.

Town went close to an early lead with headers from both Roberts and Steve Williams, who replaced the suspended Simon Ainge.

Fellow defender Bolton then collected a loose ball from Roberts’ long-throw before hitting a sweet low strike into the bottom corner.

It was an onerous start for the visitors, especially the sight of Matt Pearson marauding down the right flank at every opportunity.

With Scott Boden playing a more unorthodox role tucked in on the left, Town’s attacks naturally slanted to Adam Smith down the right.

Ross Dyer had a penalty appeal waved away after a coming-together with keeper Daniel Lloyd-Weston as Town carried a threat every time they went forward.

It looked like a matter of time before the hosts doubled their lead as barely a minute went by without a long-range shot or a dangerous cross that needed scrambling away.

But the best deliveries came from Roberts’ long-throws, which never fail to cause sheer panic among opposition defences.

If the Town centre-back doesn’t have an assist bonus in his contract, he should consider negotiating one.

Meanwhile, referee Simon Bennett was quickly guaranteeing himself a place in this season’s hall of shame with some dodgy decisions.

He provoked the wrath of the home crowd by booking both Pearson and Luke George, despite George appearing to move his head towards the Town midfielder.

Ironically, from one of the decisions he appeared to get right, a foul by Williams on Dominic Collins, Hattersley gobbled up the rebound after Glennon saved Stephen Brogan’s free-kick, which was Southport’s first shot on target.

Town could count themselves incredibly unfortunate not be in-front at the interval, and Bennett was predictably booed off at half-time.

The introduction of Danny Schofield gave Town a more balanced appearance as Boden was shifted up-front.

The striker showed some nice touches but still found chances few and far between, with his former Macclesfield team-mate Williams going closest as the second-half progressed.

Set-pieces continued to produce chances as Williams’ header was saved by Lloyd-Weston from a Smith corner before he headed over again minutes later.

Southport stood up to Town fairly well in open play, despite seeing precious little of the ball themselves, but looked vulnerable from every dead ball into the box.

And so it proved as another exquisite delivery from Smith was turned in with a bullet header by Roberts at the far post.

Aspin was angered further when pushing-and-shoving in the box resulted in a Southport free-kick rather than a Town penalty.

It was the Evo-Stik days all over again with the visitors well and truly on the ropes.

The game then threatened to boil over as Hattersley’s late tackle on McManus earned the striker a booking and stoked an incensed home crowd.

Then on cue, the heavens opened again to cool the rising temperatures on the pitch.

Substitute Jackson then sealed it in the last minute of added time after he raced through and finished confidently.

Halifax: Glennon, Bolton, Williams, M Roberts, McManus, Smith (Peniket 69), Pearson, Maynard, Marshall, Boden (Jackson 78), Dyer (Schofield 46). Subs not used: Senior, K Roberts.

Scorer: Bolton (15), Roberts (60), Jackson (90)

Shots on target: 7

Shots off target: 9

Corners: 10

Southport: Lloyd-Weston, Mitchell (Rutherford 73), Collins, Foster, Fitzpatrick, Kay, George (Whitehall 73), Brogan (Joyce 79), Connor, Hattersley, Marsden. Subs not used: Smith, Lynch.

Scorer: Hattersley (44)

Shots on target: 2

Shots off target: 3

Corners: 0

Attendance: 1,463

Town man of the match: Marc Roberts