Two goals from Matty Kosylo helped move FC Halifax Town into the play-off places in the National League as they beat Maidenhead 3-2 at The Shay.
Maidenhead had won at high-flying Sutton last time out and were above Halifax in the table before kick-off, but were brushed aside here in style as Town made it four wins out of their last five games and moved into the top seven and only two points off top spot. Not that anyone’s getting carried away.
Town didn’t have it all their own way in the first-half, but were excellent after the interval and accelerated away from Maidenhead with some purposeful, penetrative football that the visitors couldn’t live with.
Adam Morgan converted Josh Macdonald’s cross to give Town a slender half-time lead, but Kosylo’s double after the break put the result beyond doubt, despite Jake Goodman’s effort for the away side and an even later goal by Sean Marks, but it was too little, too late by then.
The Shaymen seemed subdued early on, with a game that struggled to come to life only pepped up by the occasional sight of goal, such as Sean Marks’ scuffed effort wide six yards out from Harry Pritchard’s left-wing cross, and Morgan’s inventive long-range effort that went just over.
Town looked liveliest when Kosylo and the excellent Josh Macdonald got on the ball down the flanks and they ran forward, with the ball, at pace.
After a spell of torrential rain forced those at the front of the South Stand to move back under the shelter of the roof, Macdonald brightened a fairly dour contest with a lung-busting dash down the right, past befuddled left-back Max Kilman, before a clever cut-back found Morgan, who shot wide.
Maidenhead didn’t heed that warning though, and barely five minutes later, Macdonald again burst down the right flank before Morgan tapped-in his precise low cross.
Maidenhead would have been 2-1 up within 10 minutes of conceding had it not been for two outstanding saves by Sam Johnson in the space of a minute, first to keep out Sam Barratt’s rising drive across goal and then an even better stop to tip over Remy Clerima’s free header from the resulting corner.
The visitors had responded admirably to falling behind though, with the impressive Barratt again going close in what was now a very watchable contest since the goal, but mostly thanks to Maidenhead.
Halifax only really came to life through Kosylo and Macdonald, but when they didn’t see the ball, The Shaymen lacked a cutting edge, with Denton not having his usual impact.
Town were guilty of allowing Maidenhead too much time on the ball in midfield in the first-half, but snapped into tackles with much more bite after the interval.
From Nathan Hotte’s tigerish tackle, Kosylo found space down the inside-left channel and drove towards goal before his shot was deflected off Clerima and looped over goalkeeper Carl Pentney.
Town’s passing was much crisper and their movement was much better since half-time. Their growing confidence was emphasised when Morgan displayed his superb vision and technique by trying to chip Pentney from 50 yards after a slip by Alan Massey, but the keeper just got back in time to keep the effort out.
By contrast, Maidenhead now looked like a busted flush, playing aimless balls forward and making half-hearted tackles.
Not for the first time this season, Kosylo then produced a fabulous individual goal when he bamboozled Clerima by turning right then left past the full-back before his low shot across goal went in off the far post.
Connor Oliver nearly scored direct from a corner before Goodman got one back for Maidenhead when he turned in the rebound following Johnson’s save from Pritchard.
Marks then headed in Clerima’s cross with seconds to go, but the points were already in the bag.
Halifax: Johnson, Wilde, Garner, Brown, McManus, Macdonald, Hotte, Oliver, Kosylo (Lynch 87), Denton, Morgan (Tomlinson 82). Subs not used: Nicholson, Moyo, Charles.
Scorers: Morgan (29), Kosylo (55, 67)
Shots on target: 8
Shots off target: 8
Maidenhead: Pentney, Clerima, Odametey, Massey, Comley (Mulley 68), Marks, Barratt, Pritchard, Kilman (Clifton 60), Goodman, Smith Subs not used: Steer, Inman, Peters.
Scorers: Goodman (79), Marks (90)
Shots on target: 7
Shots off target: 8
Referee: Simeon Lucas
Town man of the match: Matty Kosylo