FC Halifax Town beat last season’s play-off conquerors Gainsborough Trinity at a soaked Shay to claim a precious three points.
A period of dry weather plus impressive work by the club’s groundsmen meant the Boxing Day clash was able to go ahead - but the heavens opened ten minutes before kick off and it continued to rain throughout the duration of the game, causing difficult playing conditions.
Despite standing water on the pitch the referee allowed the game to continue - and Town will be glad he did after goals from Jon Worthington, Lee Gregory and Ryan Toulson wrapped up a vital three points, despite a first half equaliser from former Shayman Darryl Stamp.
Neil Aspin showed two changes from the side which scraped past Maidstone United in the FA Trophy in Town’s last game, with Chris Worsley and Scott McManus coming in for Dan Gardner, who dropped to the bench, and Jason St Juste, who wasn’t in the matchday squad due to a hernia problem which will rule him out into the New Year.
Town got off to the perfect start when Worthington fired them ahead on seven minutes - the ball dropping to the midfield man 12 yards out following a scramble after Jan Budtz failed to deal with a corner from the left.
The Shaymen had earlier had two half chances after good deliveries from Liam Needham and Gareth Seddon, but it was from a delivery at the other end that the game saw the next goal.
A jinking run from Terry Hawkridge left turned Scott McManys inside out, with the wide man’s tempting delivery punched by Matt Glennon straight onto the thigh of Stamp as the ball trickled into the Town net for an equaliser.
With the rain beating down on the Shay pitch the game became scrappy with niether side creating any clear cut chances until a deep cross from the Trinity right picked out the unmarked former Manchester United and Middlesbrough midfielder Mark Wilson, who glanced his free header narrowly wide from inside the six yard box.
Chances were at a premium at either end as the half wore on, but just before the break it game to life.
First, Gregory looked to have won a penalty when he latched onto a long ball which defender Luke Waterfall misjudged and rounded Budtz - only for the referee to book the striker for diving.
At the other end dangerman Stamp powered his header straight at Glennon from an inswinging free-kick, and that looked to be the final chance of the half.
But Town found time for one more attack and it proved vital, with Ryan Toulson crossing deep to the back post and Gregory heading beyond Budtz, despite the keeper getting hands to it, to send the Shaymen in ahead.
Aspin replaced Worlsey, who was booked for a lunge in the first half, with Phil Bolland at the break as Town switched to a 3-5-2 system, and the extra witdth told in a busy start to the second half which saw wing backs McManus and Toulson both get decent deliveries into the box.
And with an hour gone, it was Toulson, playing against his former side, who scored the third.
After a powerful run by Gregory down the left, his cross dropped to Toulson 18 yards out, and the defender drilled his right foot shot low and hard into the bottom corner on the hour mark.
In truth the goal against the run of play, with Trinity having looked the more threatening after Town’s promising start to the half, and they looked to hit back immediately when Barraclough saw his thumping effort palmed away by Glennon at the near post.
With their two goal cushion Town looked to control the game until the end, but it proved difficult to keep the ball on a heavily saturated pitch.
They were able to limit the visitors to only a few chances - including another Stamp header which this time came back off the foot of the post with Glennon beaten on 74 minutes.
Aspin replaced Seddon with Alex Johnson and the striker was soon involved, winning two free-kicks in quick succession, the second of which saw Danny Lowe try his luck from 20 yards but his effort was straight at Budtz.
Dan Gardner continued his comeback from injury with a seven minute cameo at the end but he was unable to influence the play as Town dug in to seal the win, despite Trinity seeing late appeals for a penalty turned down and a great clash ditch block by Lowe to deny Paul Connor.
The Shaymen are back in action on Saturday at home to Corby Town.
FC Halifax Town: Glennon, Toulson, McManus, Hogan, Jarrett, Lowe, Worthington, Needham, Worsley (Bolland, 46 mins), Gregory (Gardner, 83 mins), Seddon (Johnson, 68 mins). Unused subs: Senior, Gardner, Marshall.
Gainsborough: Budtz, Roma, Wilde, Waterfall, Hone, Leary, D’Laryea, Wilson (Knowles, 64 mins), Barraclough (Yates 64 mins), Stamp (Connor, 77 mins), Hawkridge. Unused subs: Williams, Nelthorpe.
Goals: Worthington (7) (Stamp 13) Gregory (45+2) Toulson (60)