FC Halifax Town defeated their second Football League opponent in five days as they thrashed League Two Morecambe 6-2.
Morecambe were dispatched in the same confident manner Sheffield United had been seen off on Tuesday as pre-season optimism continues to grow around The Shay.
Rather than talking up Town’s chances, Billy Heath may now feel the need to calm expectations after two impressive results against strong opposition.
Town are second favourites to win the Conference North, and on this evidence, AFC Fylde must be some side to justify their favourites tag.
Halifax were 1-0 down at the interval; whatever Heath said to his side at half-time, he should memorise it and repeat it ad nauseam.
Paul Mullin gave Morecambe a sixth-minute lead which they held until just after the restart, when the floodgates opened.
Matty Kosylo equalised before substitute Josh Macdonald gave Town the lead for the first time, and not the last.
Mulliin got his and Morecambe’s second before Scott Garner’s close-range header put Town back in-front with the fourth goal since the restart in the 58th minute.
Billy Heath retained the same back four from the win over Sheffield United, suggesting that may be the defence for the season opener at Nuneaton.
But ahead of them, only Tom Denton and Liam King kept their places, perhaps also suggesting there are plenty of starting berths up for grabs.
Morecambe, helpfully playing with no numbers on their backs, took an early lead when Mullin beat Hone for pace to a through ball and squeezed the ball past Steve Drench at his near post from inside the box.
Richard Peniket, already with four goals in four pre-season games, could have equalised immediately but side-footed over from 10 yards after meeting a left-wing cross.
Matty Kosylo got into some good crossing positions deep into Morecambe territory on the right flank but failed to find a blue shirt, while the Morecambe defence were coping much better with the physical threat posed by Denton than Sheffield United had in midweek.
The visitors offered more movement and played at a quicker tempo than United had too, and therefore frustrated Town in their efforts to equalise.
While The Blades had offered little to suggest they were a League One title-challenger, Morecambe’s Football League quality was apparent as they kept possession neatly and efficiently.
Heath had predicted the Sheffield United game would see the visitors dominate possession, but it was actually the following friendly that was threatening to turn out like that.
The impressive Kevin Ellison produced a rare effort at goal in the game on the half-hour with an adroit turn and shot from 18 yards which Drench palmed away.
Referee Jane Simms hadn’t endeared herself to the home supporters by stopping play with Town in possession so a Morecambe player could receive lengthy treatment, only for Halifax to be told to hand possession back to the away side when play restarted.
After ironic cheers when she awarded Town a free-kick 35 yards out, she rejected the hosts’ penalty claim for an alleged push on Denton as he tried to reach Josh Wilde’s cross.
Hone did meet it at the far post but couldn’t divert it goal-wards on the stretch.
Moments later, Scott Garner headed straight at the previously untested Danijel Nizic from another decent Wilde delivery.
It was as if Ellison’s shot had sparked Town into life, with King next to get a sight of goal after he latched on to Denton’s flick-on before skewing his shot high and wide.
Connor Hughes was then found in space by Kosylo and charged towards the box before firing just over right-footed from 20 yards, with Morecambe’s attempts at retaining possession now wilting in what remained of the afternoon sunshine.
The referee then ended a poor half with another questionable decision when she blew for a foul by Peniket, who was through on goal after shrugging off a Morecambe challenge.
It was enough for Heath to charge down the touchline in anger and the crowd to greet the decision with more derision and cries of ‘you don’t know what you’re doing’.
That’s Entertainment then came on the tannoy at half-time; as a review of the first-half, it was a little too hopeful.
Town were still on top after the restart though and equalised when Hone’s header from a corner was nodded in by Kosylo from close range when he beat Nizic to the ball.
The Town man got another chance from an identical position minutes later but his close range shot was brilliantly kept out by the Morecambe stopper.
Kosylo, now revitalised having switched to the left flank to accomodate Josh Macdonald, then sent in a delicious cross that just evaded both Denton and substitute Jordan Burrow.
It seemed only a matter of time that the comeback would be completed, and it was when Macdonald superbly volleyed into the far corner when King’s cross from the left eventually reached him.
But less than a minute later, the League Two side levelled when Mullin bundled the ball in after a cross from the right flank.
Scott Garner then notched the game’s third goal in four minutes when he powered a header in from four yards after Denton had nodded a corner back into the danger zone.
Either Town were working up an appetite for the post-match meet-the-players barbecue that started cooking mid-way through the second-half, or Heath’s half-time demands for a quicker tempo and higher work-rate had bore fruit.
There was a slice of luck too though, such as when Nizic’s punch clear fell straight to the prone Denton and he looped the ball back over the keeper and into the empty net, despite lying on the ground.
Peniket then nearly added the icing on the cake - or the ketchup on the hot dog - but his fierce drive was beaten away by Nizic, before Kevin Roberts’ volley was cleared off the line.
Peniket did get the goal he deserved though with a thunderous volley from eight yards following Macdonald’s cross.
The striker looks like a different player to the one who made his first tentative steps back into the game back at the start of the year following a 10-month injury lay-off.
And he rocketed in a superb 20-yard drive to finally round-off the scoring in the 89th minute.
Halifax: Drench (Nicholson 72), Moyo (Baldwin 82), Hone (Roberts 46), Garner, Wilde, Kosylo (Sinnott 67), Hotte, King (Hibbs 70), Hughes (Macdonald 46), Denton (Peniket 70) (Khan 90), Peniket (Burrow 46). Subs not used: Harrison, Brown.
Scorers: Kosylo (47), Macdonald (54), Garner (58), Denton (67), Peniket (84, 89)
Shots on target: 11
Shots off target: 6
Morecambe: Nizic, Wakefield, Conlan, Worley, Winnard, Kenyon, Wildig, Ellison, Molyneux, Carson, Mullin. Subs: Roche, Edwards, McGowan, Rose, Stockton, Fleming, McDonakd, Barkhuizen.
Scorer: Mullin (6, 55)
Shots on target: 4
Shots off target: 0
Town man of the match: Matty Kosylo
Referee: Jane Simms (West Yorkshire)